Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo WITH ME?


Are you ready for the 30 day challenge?

 


If you're up for it, let me know. We'll go through this together, motivating each other to the finish. I didn't "win" last year. I tried, but I came in at 46k at the end of the thirty days. If you're interested, here is the link to my 2011 NaNo experience. 
 
I finished QUEST in January, and I'm super excited about how this story came into being. I took risks I wouldn't normally take because it was a NaNo project. I'm so glad I did.

 
 
 This year I'll either be working on the sequel to QUEST or the sequel to Juju's Child. FIXED starts where JC ended, but I think the rollicking fun of Quest II will get me through 30 days. One of the idea's I'm toying with is writing QII through the last book's side characters. I think it's time for Raphael and Dominique to have a voice.
 
As you can see, I'm pretty excited. I have outlines for both stories, so I need to decide which will be my NaNo project.
 
 After spending the last two months editing, I'm ready for the creative spark to shoot lightning out of my fingertips as they fly across the keyboard.  
 
If you're participating this year, please leave me a comment with your NaNo user name, and I'll be Writing Buddy. Also, for those who have read Quest and Juju's Child, maybe help me out. Which story do you think I should write?

Good luck and happy writing.

UPDATE: after brainstorming with my daughter and critique partners, I've decided to go with FIXED:)

 

Monday, October 29, 2012

SHARING OUR VOICES- IAN ISARO

"What is snow like?"

I didn't expect that question, though maybe I should have. I'd just been in the United States, and people who had never left Tanzania were naturally curious. So I did my best. "Cold and wet."

"That sounds great. If you got hot, you could rub some on yourself to get cool!"



That conversation (very loosely translated from Swahili) is one of my favorite demonstrations of worldview. It's the assumptions we don't consider that get to us, limiting what we can imagine of the world. Even though our ability to travel or get information is unparalleled in human history, all too often we don't venture very far beyond what we know and understand.

Books are the antidote for that. They tell us that reality is stranger, more terrible, and more wonderful than we know.

That's why I write fiction. Fiction exercises our ability to consider things that are new and unfamiliar, to reconsider our beliefs, to listen instead of judge. Non-fiction prepares us for specific things that exist, but fiction prepares us for anything that could exist.
 

So when I write, I try to show the diversity of the world. That means I end up writing a wide variety. You can see many different points of inspiration in Sorcery and Scholarships, which is packed with different things. Arguably too many.

One is globalization. The world is increasingly interconnected and I wanted my story to reflect that. All too often, stories about supposedly global conflicts center on one country and the rest of the world just sort of floats in undefined space. It's fine for fey/wizards/vampires/whatever to be based in Europe, but are we supposed to believe that they just ignore rising powers in South America and Southeast Asia? Is it too much to ask for Africa to... well, exist?

Not that stories shouldn't have focus. Two countries in particular fueled mine. One is Japan, which exported many elements of anime and manga to me. The ability to have action without the limitations of a special effects budget is something that it does well, and there's no reason fiction can't do the same.

Another is the cultural perspective of the US. There's something very valuable in the irreverence toward tradition that you find there. Since I assume most of you are Americans, you may take this for granted. In all too many parts of the world, "Why?" is a question that simply isn't asked, and "Because it's always been this way" is considered an adequate explanation for anything. Tradition has much to offer as well, but I find attitudes that question far more fascinating.

One last thing that inspires my writing is the breadth of human morality. We tend to assume that everyone believes what we believe, which makes discussion difficult even within one country, much less between them.


For example, I've commonly heard people say that all human societies believe that murder is wrong. That would be nice, but it isn't exactly true because "murder" has slippery definitions. This can get ethically tricky, so let me skip to one end of the continuum: I know cultures that believe murder is only killing a member of your nuclear family - killing anyone else is fine or even expected. That's not hypothetical, either. Less than half an hour's drive from where I'm typing this, there's an ugly conflict over water rights that has left dozens dead, with no moral judgment from anyone in either community.

That exists. So do hundreds of other things that are important, and in-depth discussion of them would probably make everyone angry eventually. Justifiably so, because our beliefs about the world matter.

Therefore fiction matters. Especially with fantasy, where we can encounter things even more radically alien than anything on Earth. I may have waxed philosophic above, but there's another part of me that just loves writing about crazy new things. You can have everything from fey with slightly different moral codes to creatures that exist in completely different modes from humans and fail to comprehend the difference between a living and dead body.

So for me, the same thing that makes fiction fun makes it important. We spend most of the day within our own homes, cultures, and understandings. But eventually, you'll run into your equivalent of snow, and what you've read will determine how likely you are to understand.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

40 WEEKS OF ME- Week 13, Movies

Do you remember Video Home System (VHS)?

The day my dad brought home our VCR changed my life. We had two recorders set up in the living room. One would play the rental, and the other taped the movie. Each tape held four to five movies, and my job consisted of pressing the record button. Which meant I had to sit through a lot of movies. 

I had unusual taste, I guess. Campy, cheesy...movies I'm sorta embarassed to mention. Here is my top five favorite list of childhood movies.
 
Source
1. The Pirate Movie- not expecting this one, huh? It was a remake of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirate's of Penzance. I can still sing these songs and recite the dialogue from memory. This movie came out in 1982, and it starred Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol. I had a crush on the Pirate King.







2. The Neverending Story- this movie came out in 1984. Whenever I hear the title the theme song goes through my head. Do you remember? The Neverending storyyyyy, ah ah ah ah.  It starred Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Barret Oliver as Bastian. I love this movie. Love it so much I showed it to my kids, forgetting how dark it is. There are some scary scenes, like when the horse dies. Or, when the darkness attacks. Mega creepy.


SOURCE



3. Princess Bride- yeah, 'nuff said. If you don't know this show... Cary Elwes (pure hotness) as Westly, Robin Wright as Princess Buttercup. Some of the most iconic lines ever written are in this movie. I admit I liked the movie better than the book. Maybe if I had read the book first it would've been a different story.

SOURCE





4. The Goonies- this movie came out in 1985. My son loves it. I liked the book more than the movie, which is saying something since I adore the movie. Chunk, Data, Sloth. Best nicknames, ever.

SOURCE



5. Barbarians - in 1987, twin body builders Pete and Ron Paul played Kutchek and Gore (I had a crush on Gore) barbarian brothers who used the curse holy Isis, a lot. I knew this movie my heart. Don't hate me.






There are you go. My five favorite childhood movies. I could add: Dragonslayer, Krull, Conan the Barbarian, Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome (two man enta. One man leave), Willow, Time Bandits, Roots, The Color Purple, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark...the list goes on and on.

What were your favorite movies as a child? I'm curious about the not so famous ones. The ones you may be a little ashamed to admit to watching. Sure this is a 40 Weeks post, and I'm obligated to divulge embarrassing information about myself, but if you have the courage, please share so I'm not alone. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

SHARING OUR VOICES- E.B. BLACK


I'd like to welcome a special guest who is not afraid to share her inspiration with you today. I appreciate that she agreed to come on.

Welcome to the blog, E.B.

Thank you, Angie, for having me on your blog!

The thing that inspires me the most as an author is fear. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. I have enough fears without having to chase them and those are always at the forefront of my mind when I write.
When I created my blog, the url name “ebblack” was already taken, so I had to create something else. I’ve been afraid of death since I was a young child. It’s typical of me to wonder on a daily basis where people will go when they die and what happened to those I loved who are gone. I used to have nightmares about it every night as a little girl.
So of course, I thought it would be a good idea to pick “Death Author.” In fact, it has become a nickname of mine among people who know about my blog.
I also thought it would be fun to write about necromancers, which is something I regularly do. Why? Because what sounds more amazing than people who have power over death? The thing that scares me most is the thing they’ve learned to master.
When I wrote my novel, Medusa’s Desire, I was struggling with body image issues. This is not unusual for many women, but it can be crippling. I fear that I’m too ugly to be loved sometimes or refuse to look in the mirror because I’ll start criticizing my reflection.
I thought about Medusa. She’s so repulsive that people literally die when they look at her, yet as a human, she was once beautiful. How would it feel as a woman to go from being one of the most beautiful women in the world to the very ugliest? I had to write her story.
When I write, I can take every bad thing about the world, everything that has hurt me or others I’ve cared about, and gain control over it. I can struggle to make sense of an issue or just find a character who is sympathetic to something I or a loved one has gone through.
Writing is an escape for me, but also a coping mechanism. It’s no wonder that many writers become addicted to their craft.
-E.B. Black

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It all started the day her god raped her.

She transformed into an abomination through his touch. Her skin grew scales. Her eyes turned red. She screamed for help, but all who saw her became stone.

Medusa thought she would be alone forever, until the day a man came to kill her and fell in love instead. Now Perseus is running from those who hired him as he continues to love a girl who could kill him with a glance.


Friday, October 19, 2012

40 WEEKS OF ME-Week 12, Title Trauma

As you can tell by my oh so inspired blog post titles, especially the aptly named 40 Weeks of Me, I have difficulty coming up with titles. I'm always in awe of those books where the title perfectly reflects the content of the book making it unforgettable.

I don't have this particular skill...title maker.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my amazing sparks of creativity. A little background first. I told you about my first writing endeavor. My horror story HOUSE. After horror I moved into the romance novel phase. This was the 80's... Bodice rippers and Fabio.

I spent my teens lusting over any book which had Fabio on the cover because I knew the best authors had him for a model. LaVyrle Spencer, Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey were my favorite authors in high school because they knew how to make me laugh. Each book had an element of funny that made reading these books an escape from the daily grind. I still have my collection in storage, and I'll never give them up.

I LOVE HISTORICAL ROMANCE!

These authors inspired my historical romance writing phase. I didn't have titles for those books. I just named them after the characters. Mara and Kiwani, Mac and Eliza, Gabriella and Jace. I wrote these in high school. Nobody read them but my mom. My biggest fan, lol.

I have those stories in hard copy form because my computer died in 1994. I thought I'd transferred them onto floppy disk, but I can't find it. Remember kids, always back up your work.

The next few stories, I wrote in college. I never actually finished. They're in various stages. Some are a couple of chapters and others are upwards of 120,000 words, but incomplete: 5149 and a half, Death, Equal, Jericho David.

Psychic Journey- this title was a play on words because the main character was psychic and her name is Jurnee, ha! I talk about how I came up with this idea in an earlier post if you're interested.

Emerald Ocean- this is a fantasy. No elves, but I have a magic sword and a psychic creature which may or may not be a dragon. Since I never finished the book, I haven't had to decide. I want to add a scifi twist to this one, and I'm still working on it off and on. The world building got a bit too info dumpy. I need to streamline and condense it.

Stink- horror, which has a toilet facilitated suicide. It is everything the title implies. I will finish this one after I revise the beginning chapters because I love the cast of characters. Unfortunately, I had a head-hopping habit with this story. I didn't know better back in the day.

Psyche's Redemption, I went back to my romance roots with this one, and I finished it, ha! I later changed the title to Dying For A Kiss. I know, I know ...

I have many more, but they're even more ridiculous so I'll end it here. So, how do you come up with a kick ass title? Is there a trick to it? If so, please share. I'm desperate for help.


Monday, October 15, 2012

PHANTASMIC FASHIONISTAS ON THE VIRTUAL RUNWAY

Hello Folks, I’m Angie Sandro and I am the blog host of Oh, the Things I’ve Learned. Please help me welcome the book cast of Neverlove by Angela Brown, and Givin’ Up The Ghost by Gwen Gardner.

Today we’re showcasing fashion styles and introducing some of the cast from these two young adult paranormal novels. First, reach beneath your seats and put on the special ghost-gander glasses. You’re not going to want to miss this.

First up is Franny Bishop, from Givin’ Up The Ghost.

 *Angie shuffles to the first style index card and begins to read as Franny glides stately down the runway*

Franny is a Victorian-aged ghost and former brothel owner. She enjoys the modern day medieval village where she resides in a Victorian-style home with the Eady family. She is dressed in a scarlet, off-the-shoulder gown with petticoats underneath, forming a bell-shaped skirt. Her midnight-black hair is woven into an intricate bun and contrasts nicely against the scarlet. Her corset cinches her waist to the size of a Barbie doll, and enhances her considerable bosom, which overflows the bodice of her plunging neckline.

*Franny nods majestically to the crowd as she makes her turn and completes her round of the runway*

*Angie shuffles to the next style index card*

Next on the runway is Pam from Neverlove. Pam is a Harvestor and currently works for the Devourer. She enjoys fighting in the Withers and stealing souls. Today Pam is wearing skin-deep beauty, beneath skin-tight black leather from neck to steel-toed boots. Her blonde hair is a striking contrast to her black costume. The ensemble is complete with black mask, whip hanging from her hip, and a small pouch attached to her wrist.

*Angie shuffles to the next style index card*

Again from Neverlove is Abigail Bishop - no relation to Franny. Abby is wearing a red turtleneck and jeans beneath a red cloak. Abby’s warm, milk-coffee toned skin is set off by her hazel green-speckled eyes and high cheek bones in a heart-shaped face. And what’s this...?

*Reaching the end of the run, Abby snaps her fingers and holds out her hands. The audience oohs and ahhs at the ball of fire nestled in her palms. Another snap, and the fire is gone*

Very impressive Abby, very impressive.

*Angie flips to the next style card and looks confused, flipping from front to back. She shrugs*

Next is Indigo Eady from Givin’ Up The Ghost. She’s wearing jeans with a pink sweat shirt, and uh, hmmm. Bunny slippers. Yes, it says bunny slippers, and, yes. There - you can see the six inch ears sticking up. Uh, Indigo is also wearing a black, rather messy braid, has midnight blue eyes which contrasts nicely with, uh, stuff she’s wearing, and...

*Indigo walks red-faced and awkwardly down the runway, makes her turn and dashes toward the stage curtain*

 ...she speaks to ghosts, reads energy and enjoys...running.

I guess Indigo’s a little shy or something.

So, you’ve seen the stars and their styles.

Which one is your favorite?

 
Neverlove - For Abigail and Basil, there is a choice they both fear making. Duty or love? There can be only one.
 
 




Givin' Up The Ghost - Indigo Eady's life erupts into mischief and mayhem when a ghost enters her teen abnormal life demanding answers for his death.

Purchase Gwen Gardner’s Givin’ Up The Ghost at Amazon US and Amazon UK.


And there are two giveaways! Visit Partners in ParanormYA for the Big Swag Giveaway and for the Week Two Giveaway


Friday, October 12, 2012

40 WEEKS OF ME- Week 11, UPDATE


I’m back. I say this with relief. My descent into funky town last Friday morning was a precursor to a weekend spent in bed with a cold. Achy, tired, sinus headache, yuck! No bike riding for me at all this week.

Oh, I guess I should update you on my progress. As those of you who have been following my 40 weeks posts know, I started this series on my 40th birthday. I gave myself certain goals that I wanted to accomplish.


  1. Quit smoking.
  2. Start exercising
  3. Be more open

I have now been cigarette free for 11 weeks. I had tried three or four times over the last seven years to quit, but I couldn’t. I think the difference this time is that I mentally prepared myself to quit. I set up a plan for myself to follow. I researched how nicotine withdrawal affects the body so I knew what symptoms to look for during each stage. This helped me to find ways to counter the psychological and physical aspects of quitting, like depression and cold symptoms.

I used the patch for three days, then went cold turkey. I had the mega pack of spearmint gum to help with the oral craving. I still have days where I really wish I could smoke a cigarette, but I know if I have one cigarette, I’ll convince myself it’s okay to have another. Then I’m stuck again.

I also started biking again the same weekend. I had five days off of work so each morning my father-in-law and I hit the road. For those who are bike riders you know that in the beginning it’s not so much the actual distance that is difficult. It’s that each day, you have to contend with the bruises on your posterior. Padded bike shorts are a life saver.
 
I am now riding three days a week. We rotate from fast days where we do the 8 miles through the park as fast as we can. Long days are where we try to go at least 15 miles. Speed isn’t a factor. I’m a huge fan of the “lets stop and take pictures of the wildflowers” portion of this ride. Hill days are brutal. ‘Nuff said.

Being open. Well, I’ve definitely done that. My rant last week was proof of this. I’m still having a hard time coming up with topics to write about for the blog. This may have to do with my having two stories in my head that are wanting to come out. I’m trying to decide which to go with for National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). I haven’t fallen in love with one idea over the other yet.

I have finished up most of my editing projects for my critique partners. They’re such talented people and their stories are so much fun. This last project, well, I honestly don’t want it to end. I’m so entertained by this world I’ve been sucked into. I even dream about it. Thanks, Joyce.

So, is anyone else gearing up for National Novel Writing Month? Have you made any goals for yourself for this year? How are you progressing on them?

Monday, October 8, 2012

SHARING OUR VOICES- RICHARD PIETERS



I'd like to extend a special SOV welcome to someone whose writing has the ability to transport me into his world, to make me cry, to make me think.

Thank you for coming on the blog,

Many thanks to Angie for her invitation to talk about what inspires my writing.

Short answer: the magic of words.

 I began reading early, and early discovered the power of words to transport me, to show me the world in new ways, to take me to places unknown. I didn't begin churning out stories as a kid, as many seem to do. I absorbed and observed. I read, not just for the stories, but for the magic of the words themselves.

I've always read slowly. To me, a joy of reading is in the rhythm and color of beautifully constructed sentences, of images that startle me with their clarity, that cause me to read a sentence or paragraph over again just to immerse myself in it. I always will stop to smell the roses.

My early years as the son of a Presbyterian minister whose father had been a missionary to Korea, where my father was born, exposed me to a world of music, art, and spirituality. I played piano, and later, guitar and other folk instruments. I learned the power of art in its many forms to move people. And I learned, as I grew through school, that I had a talent with words.

For a brief time, I taught high school English, and my greatest reward (maybe the only one) came from seeing my kids awaken to their own power with words. I assigned controversial topics for essays and drew stories out of them. Convince me, I said. Make me believe.

Somewhere along the way, in college (isn't that where it always happens?) I began to question dogma.  New possibilities, worlds beyond worlds, unseen forces teased me to look, to wonder.

I wrote songs. Love songs. Songs of social protest. I used the power of words to influence, to move, and to entertain. I wrote poetry, unstudied, free, spontaneous, and the world around me became a live canvas from which to draw.

I'm moved to write because I can. Because the world is a huge, fascinating, terrifying place. A place of ecstasy and sorrow, of heroism and cowardice, of generosity and love and cold, hard malice.  And I've come to feel that we who write have a power to inspire the better aspects of our humanity while seeing all the colors and shying from none. We can entertain. We can offer distraction from pain. We can paint with words. We can show the strength of love in the unlikeliest circumstances.

If, with my use of words, I can transport a reader to a new place, make her look up from the page in an "oh, wow" moment, or cringe in horror, or laugh, or cry, then I've worked a bit of magic.

The pen may well be mightier than the sword. In good hands, it's a magician's wand.

To follow Rick on his journey, please check out his BLOG, TWITTER, FACEBOOK
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

40 WEEKS OF ME- WHAT WEEK AM I ON?

I skipped out last week. So this is week 10.
One thing you'll learn about me is I like to come up with fun projects. I’ll be all gung ho. Storm the castle! Then halfway through the project, all the fun dribbles out. I’m left with a project, not so much fun anymore.
 
Things like painting the kitchen cabinets, alphabetically organizing my eff'd up bookshelf. Writing about myself for forty freaking weeks = boring.

Yes, I said boring. I'm totally mind-blasted from talking about myself. I don't find myself that interesting. At least not to talk about for 40 weeks.

I wish I could've gone back in time to warn myself how this would be destined to go down in history as one of my more impulsive, not well thought out ideas.

I'm private for a reason, for goodness sakes.

Rant over.

Call me a cry baby if you want. I deserve it.

I’m not a quitter so I’ll still do these posts, but occasionally I’ll feel the need to vent.

I guess I should share why I’m so very cranky.

Last week, I got a streak of gray in my hair from the insanity. The day job, whew! I would’ve thought it was a full moon, but I think that’s this week. I went home every night totally exhausted. Then I had edits to work on. Lots and lots of edits.

My own edits.

My four critique partner’s full manuscript edits (I swear we’re all psychically linked).


My daughter’s thirteenth birthday party with eight wonderful teen girls (so much fun and that wasn’t sarcasm. I really enjoyed watching them do teenage-y things). 

In the grand scheme of my life priorities, blog posts are way on the list. I’m feeling a wee bit burnt out. So, here are some some pictures that make me feel refreshed.
 
Burney Falls
 
Yosemite National Park
 
 
 


 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SOUL EATER



Due to my being insanely busy with edits, Kiwi volunteered to write a guest post for me. She is far more knowledgable about manga and anime, so it's for the best that she handle these mini reviews. I still haven't finished InuYasha...so yeah.

Take it away, Kiwi.

Source

Soul Eater is a shonen manga from 2004. It is written and illustrated by Atsushi ลŒkubo, and is still coming out today. An anime came out in 2008. It takes place at Death City, Nevada, and the plot is basically students at Shibusen (Death Weapons Meisters Academy) fight kishin eggs to protect the world. Some students can transform into weapons and are handled by meisters.


It’s a really cool show and its very funny as well.

Monday, October 1, 2012

SHARING OUR VOICES- CATERINA TORRES

I would like to welcome a special guest to Sharing Our Voices. Her source of inspiration is apocalyptic in nature...or, I guess in opposition to nature would be a better description since the natural order does not apply in this case. Please say hello to Caterina Torres.
 
First I just want to say thanks for letting me guest post on your blog. It’s so great to share my experiences as a writer with others, especially what inspires me to write what I write about. What do I write about? Oh, you didn’t hear?

 
I’m sure you’re probably expecting some sort of deep, heartfelt reason behind what pushes me to write. But honestly, I write because I want to. Plain and simple. I love imagining a life outside my own; something that’s different from the daily grind of working 9-5, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, being a wife, etc. And I want to evoke an emotion from my readers. I want them to be so engrossed in the story, they forget about their own lives.

I didn’t experience something life changing. I don’t live in poverty. I have a great husband, a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and loving family and friends. I hope this post doesn’t come off as rude, but I got bored with regular life and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the apocalypse hit and zombies took over?” Truly, it would be a horrendous and scary experience, but the thought also excites me. No rules, no laws, no reason to go to work anymore. People’s true selves would come out as we band together to survive.

So I guess what inspired me to write my first book, Zombie Whisperer, was because real life wasn’t exciting enough. I kept coming to work, expecting something different, but getting the same old, same old: People sitting at their desks, typing away, ignoring everyone else, and waiting until it’s time to go home so they can repeat the entire thing the next day.

And if you really think about it, we’re already zombies in this world. We go through the same motions day in and day out until…what? My books help me escape that reality so I can create my own and share it with others.


Ciao-Cat
 


She can speak to the dead. Only problem is, they’re still walking around.

After enduring a week-long flu, Jane Smith wakes to find out a terrorist organization has spread a deadly virus over the nation, changing anyone who’s infected into the walking dead. With no choice but to flee her home, Jane teams up with her boyfriend, Josh Williams, as they venture to find something better than the desolate land that was once called the home of the brave and the land of the free.


Driving across the country, Jane encounters some of the newly turned and finds she can hear their thoughts inside her head. Before she can understand her link to the undead, Jane and Josh are captured by the terrorists responsible for the virus because of one special reason: they know she can communicate with the infected
and they want her to be a part of their fight to take down the rest of the world.

Afraid for their lives, Jane must decide if she should join the terrorists or use her new found powers to stop them.
Blog/Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Zombie Whisperer.
 


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