Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekly Update: 12-14-13

My head is aswirl with cookies to bake, cards to send, and rooms to clean.  But rather than bore you with all those details, a few random highlights.

Good friend, Michelle Knowlden just published a mystery novella, Sinking Ships, the first of an Abishag Quartet.  When Leslie Greene decides to solve her monetary woes by becoming an Abishag wife--spending each night lying beside a dying, comatose man as a form of hospice therapy--the worst thing she's anticipating is an end to her social life.  Instead she finds herself entangled in a mystery that includes a dead body, stacks of hidden ledgers, and a Portuguese shipwreck.  I was fortunate enough to Beta read Michelle's novella and it was excellent: clean prose, good characters, and great emotion.  I recommend you buy it.

I saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Friday night, and I really enjoyed it.  Granted, the beginning was slow and the "Spiders and Flies" chapter got a short shrift, but as the movie went on, I began to enjoy more and more, the character development, the action sequences, and the landscape.  I'm an incurable romantic--transport me to a far-off land with beautiful costumes, kings and dragons, Shakespearean drama, and stirring speeches, and I just melt.

A less inspiring portion of my week was spent researching agents.  This is depressing for me, because I wind up judging myself by the industry standards and finding myself lacking.  However, I did find some interesting ewssays written by speculative fiction enthusiast agent Russell Galen.  His inights actually prompted me to think about how I write my stories and how I can improve them.   For example, in an essay called "Wired Differently," he explains how fantasy writer J.K. Rowling was able to secure mainstream appeal:

"[Scifi/ Fantasy readers] like us are eager to crack the code of a science fiction or fantasy novel by lewarning about all the complicated background necessary to understand it.  But the other 90% of the audience gets so annoyed by the homework--learning magic systems, the galactic politics, etc--that they can't enjoy the superb storytelling, characterizations, and ideas [...].  What JKR managed to do, probably without realizing it, was to introduce magical elements slowly, so that the heavy background lessons are held back until we are acclimatized to her world."

Finally, a funny thing happened during my subbing this week.  As I entered a Language Arts classroom, I found--in the teacher's handwriting--my name written on the whiteboard, followed by a line from a poem I wrote in high school called "Coffee."  I blinked, wondering if I was asleep.  Students later told me that the teacher found the poem on my website and liked it so much, she asked her studewnts to integrate it into their essays.  I tell you, it was enough to make me blush.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Unfinished Fiction: Blood on the Sand

Blood soaked the sand in an angry crimson patch.  

It was nightfall on the beach, and the sky was a cobalt blue with a faded orange streak on the horizon.  Star twinkled on the cold winter sky.  I'd walked here alone, hands shoved into the pockets of my windbreaker, my breath a wispy frost.  

I saw the body.  My back went stiff.

It wasn't the corpse that bothered me, but the fact that it was here, on my turf, on my hunting ground.  A man, stout and middle-aged in both body and dress, lay with a single bullet hole through his chest and a white handkerchief over his face.

That concealing cloth was an invitation, a dare.  Do I turn around, feign ignorance, and continue on my merry way?  Or do I take off the handkerchief and see?  Curiosity, morbid fearful curiosity, got the better of me.  I lifted up the cloth.

My stomach heaved into my chest.

Next thing I knew I was running, running over the sand dunes, running toward the foam of the surf.  As though my legs knew before my mind did.

They were coming for me.

They were on the hunt and I was the prey....

* * *

Now I leave it to you.  Who's the corpse?  Why are people hunting the main character?  How does the story end?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekly Update: 12-7-13

Whew! It's been a busy week.

It's the start of the winter writing semester for me, which means researching agents and writing events; reading, organizing, and editing the fall swemester's writing; starting the next segment of my Coffin story; and depositing my long-awaited check.

It's also the start of the holiday season.  This means Christmas shopping and baking; get-togethers with friends and relatives; and making, from scratch, 21 Christmas cards.  (I've been making cards out of stamps and paper scraps since at least the age of 13 and I'm pretty good at it.  This year's batch comes in two varieties: a pine-trimmed candle and a pine tree surrounded by snowflakes.)

Added to that, I had 2 much-needed sub jobs.  All in all, 'Tis the Season to be running around in a flurry, hoping to get everything done before the Cocoa rush wears off.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekly Update: 12-1-13

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.  I did.  I stuffed myself on all the usual: turkey, stuffing, yams, potatoes, cranberry sauce, crescent rolls, and pie.  And then, after that enormous food coma, I didn't feel like doing any work.

And I think I earned a good rest.  In my fall work semester, I wrote over 450 pages and sent queries to 10 agents.  To reward myself I bought three books at Barnes and Noble, read one, and saw Frozen. "Let it Go" is now stuck in my head.  :)  Afterward, I got frozen yogurt.

So it was a nice week, all in all.

Next week I go back to work.