Friday, June 24, 2011

Muse Fuel

Like many other writers, I'm inspired by lots of things. The ideas come from occasionally weird places, such as the bone my dog is chewing on, or The Beast*, a genetics machine/monster that I do my research with.

Most of the time, however, music really gets the creative pot a'simmering. Case in point, the latest WIP I've got going was not only kicked off by my love of history, but also this song:  

Then there was this one**.

 Most recently, it's this:***

So, what's your Muse Fuel?

*I mean this. It's the devil. An expensive devil. If I could get the 96 capillary array version, I'd be the happehest gurl in th' woirld.

**It's worth mentioning that The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack (Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman) is twelve kinds of awesome.

***My playlists (and cds) span many genres, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Short post here, as I don't have much to say (count yer blessings). Latest WIP busted into the 20k-ish range, which makes me pretty happy. I've seen on other blogs and AW that loads of writers reward themselves when that pesky word count reaches certain milestones: I think that's a wondiferous idea. I think a celebration every 10k is warranted, so obviously I get to have twice the party. :). Yes, I'm back-partying, cuz it's mah prerogative.

Anyway, whilst celebrating my two word count parties--I'm eating 2 cookies right now--I'm trying to remind myself not to enslave my person to that darn button, no matter how fun it is to click (sometimes). *Sigh*

It's hard being so complicated. I mean conflicted. I mean confused. Compulsive?

Anyways, I have a funny feeling that this rough draft is going to end up on the shorter side.

Tools --> Word Count sez so.


ps. Tell me I'm not the only one who struggles with the WC issue(s). Support group? Stepwise program? Something (besides more cookies)? (Ignore the last, more cookies is always a groovy idea.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In Real Life.

Recently, a post in the Wall Street Journal has garnered the ire of many a YA author and aficionado. Before I say more, find the article here .

The particular piece has been rebutted (aka, torn to shreds) by many, many other people thus far. It's caused a veritable outrage on twitter, making the '#YAsaves' tag/conversation the third most active twitterthingy going on in the US. That is A LOT of conversation.

And it's a good thing, don't get me wrong.

But for me, instead of getting all wound up over it, it's easy to just let it slide. Roll off, no problem. Why? Well that's easy: Because I don't care what some obviously narrow minded  woman has to say about my genre. Seriously. Couldn't give two shits. (Como se dice 'publicity stunt'?)

Should the article have been filed under the 'Opinion' headlines? Probably. Would it have still sparked off this wildfire of a debate? I think so, because we're all so passionate about what we write. (Which is why we write in the first place, right?)

I don't think anyone with a lick of common sense will allow the article to cast a cloud of distaste over all YA. It's clear to me that the woman in question didn't look very hard to find something suitable for her daughter to read. Anyone who does think blood and guts and torture is that all YA is, well, fuggetaboutem.

What I obviously DO take very obvious issue with is the free and easy way the writer drops names--not cool. She obviously never learned the golden rule of writing: Respect your fellow writer. If we don't respect each other, who will? It's hard enough to make it out there like it is, without all the backstabbing, etc. in the workplace. Who hasn't gotten the "Why don't you get a REAL job?" question? Pisses you off, huh?

That's the aspect of the article that made me most irritated--the lack of writerly respect. THAT pisses me off. THAT makes me want to say "Okay, darling, if you can do it better, by all means...."

Then you'll hear the crickets chirping.

I don't have gratuitous violence in my YA. As a matter of craft, it's my intention to not have gratuitous ANYTHING in my YA. Everything in the story plays an integral role. But there is violence. There is blood. There is loss. Because the stories I try and tell could be real to someone, somewhere. My characters get broken down, kicked around, but come out on the other side stronger for it. Some of the best people I've ever met in my life weren't raised in 'perfect' homes. Everything wasn't marigolds and roses all the time. They had hard lives, much harder than mine was as a child. And if I can ever measure up to 50% of them, I'll consider myself extremely blessed.

The YA section the lady perused obviously didn't fit her tastes. That's okay. Real hurts sometimes. I just turned off the news because hearing about some poor little girl who may or may not have been murdered is all anyone's talking about and it makes me think lots of people shouldn't be parents to dust bunnies, much less children. The story is incredibly sad. Should we not talk about that either?

If you want to shelter your children from some things, fine, I don't care. (And just because FOX owns the WSJ, it doesn't make this a conservative/Republican movement. My folks are VERY republican, but have always encouraged me to read whatever I wanted to.) Don't make this a politics issue; it isn't one. This is one misplaced opinion that's gotten a lot of attention, nothing more, nothing less. (We're so pumped about about it, I think we're actually making it more than it is. A LOT MORE.)

If you don't want real, I'm sorry, you won't like my YA. But that's okay. Because maybe there's someone out there, somewhere, who needs it more than words can say.

They're the ones I'm writing for anyways.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Welcome to the Blahhhhhg. [Subtitled: Voldemort Won't Be Dead, No Matter What the Last Movie Sez]

This week has been an epic, dismal failure on many fronts. Thus, for purposes of this post, I rechristen my blog a blahhhhg.

With extra helpings of blah.

I’m sick. In a fun, feverish, blah-kind-of-way. Thankfully, my momma's great. She demanded I come home when illness first reared its ugly, strepto-staphylo-infested head. (In my defense, I was planning a trip home to see the parentals anyways. Honestly.)

Okay. Initial trip to my friendly campus quack-shack (university health center) lead to a vague diagnoses (actually, I’m really not sure if I was given one, but with my mental acuity at the time, I probably wouldn't have remembered it anyways) and a prescription for pills that likely could have choked an bull elephant. And were a bright, obnoxious pink to boot.

This was on Tuesday. You can bet I started those badboys with the gusto generally reserved only for chocolate products.

Wednesday rolled around and I suspected I might live after all. I again had a zest for life: I moved from my bed to the couch.

Thursday happened and I felt like a million bucks. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. I felt like twenty bucks, but that’s a far cry in the way of improvement from my previously negative balance.

Thursday.5. Mysterious, full-body rash. I know, I know…SEXAH. Madre wigs out. She makes (I wasn't consulted on the matter) me an appointment with her doctor. We have several brief but intense arguments over the pink-elephant-pill continuation. She says stop. I say pshhh no moms, you be crazzzze*. I’m finally starting to feel better. So what if I look like a diseased tomato with straw for hair because I haven’t brushed it since the advent of Pill 1. So, like, dc! 

Moving on.

Friday. Doctor. (yay.) He takes one look at me and gives three possible causes, two of which passed for interesting in my fevered-congestion-aching-head. They were:

Bad reaction to the meds. [Snores] Level on interest scale**: -100.

Mono—when a dying soul has mono and takes this certain antibiotic, they get splotchy. I was game for this diagnosis: I could blame the so-called ‘kissing-disease***’ on the BF. (I always knew those darn boys had cooties, Microbiology or not.) Level on interest scale: +5. (Mainly because I could blame BF for all my troubles. He loves that.)

The last option was fascinating: scarletina. That’s Scarlet Fever, folks. How cool**** is that? It’s rarely (like hardly, hardly, hardly ever) fatal these days, but people still shudder when then hear the name. I love a good shock factor. Level on interest scale: +11. Archaic sickness, I think so.

Two lab tests later, I feel like I’m on a game show (one where there's no free oxygen in the room), waiting to hear if I get the prize behind the sure-to-be-the-winning door I picked.


Damn allergic reaction. Hello no-fun-story-to-tell plus a -100 interest rating.

Today: New pills. Feeling...meh. I believe I will survive. To pass the time, I’ve taken to divining the flavor of my Halls citrus cough drops without unwrapping them. It’s quite a challenge, requiring the perfect combination of lighting and non-watery-eyed vision. I could really use a pair of jewelers’ glasses, or whatever they’re called. Here’s what my discernment has led to thus far:

The pile on the left is considered safe. (Read: Orange.) The middle is a sketchy grapefruit flavor, which will do in a pinch but is inherently less desirable than orange. The farthest right is a septic pool of lemon-flavored atrocity. *Shudders*  I think they’re burning a hole and oozing through my mom’s mesquite coffee table. They’re an abomination. I think Voldemort created them. Maybe they're little bits of his soul. HARRYYOUMISSEDAHORCRUX!!!! Game Plan: Avoid. At. All. Costs.

Every once in a while they get sneaky, but I am wayyy dedicated to my sorting quest.

They all have captions on the wrappers. I tried to get a picture of couple of them, but they all turned out stinking blurry. But I'm noticing something--the lemons all have the most enthusiastic sayings, such as "Conquer Today!" or "Get Back in the Game!" which makes me think of a cheesy junior-high sports movie. Probably the strategy--get you so pumped you mistakenly eat one of the little bastards.

Oh how you try, you snaringly captioned little drops of poison. No matter your tactics, I shall not be fooled.


*Antibiotic resistance is bad, peeps. Always finish ALL the antibiotics that your doctorperson prescribes. Srsly. *Is glad something semi-intelligent came of this ramble.*
** For practical purposes, the Interest Scale ranges from -100 to +10.
***’Kissing disease’ is a misnomer. But BF doesn’t know that.
**** I’ll be the first to admit my nerdiness. It’s my blahhhg today and I’m running with it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Character Dynamics

Lately I’ve been reading a lot more than normal, mainly because my head’s so congested I can’t form coherent sentences for my WIP. I came across a few blogs talking about various aspects of character, so I thought I’d add my .02 cents, mainly pertaining to character dynamics and adversity. 

Writers know that characters need to be dynamic—nobody wants to read about a cardboard cut-out. Characters need to grow, change, etc. Bottom line is, if the character is exactly the same at the first and end of the book, the writer hasn’t done a very good job. People change continuously throughout their lives. Characters should be no different.

One way to catalyze character growth is by facing adversity. We all know someone who was a mean jackass until he/she interned at a Monarch butterfly farm and became the most wonderful person ever afterwards. Because internships at Monarch butterfly farms are really life changing. For the greater good.


But we’ve all heard the saying that adversity builds character and changes people. It’s hung around for so long because it’s true. Soldiers come home from war and never pick up a weapon again. A college student dies after being hit by a drunk driver—his/her mother then becomes a public speaker, educating people on the consequences of too much booze. A child who was abused ends up abusing their own children, eventually becoming the adult he or she swore to never be.

Adversity changes us, sometimes for the better, other times for the worse. But the point is, you have to change to grow. And often you have to experience adversity to change.

In the current ms I’m working on, the main character is a paramedic. She’s a passive healer, not a fighter, but she gets thrown into a world where she’s literally fighting for her life on a near-constant basis. She’s constantly forced into situations where she decides the outcome—roll over and die or fight. Change or suffer. Kill or be killed. Obviously it goes against her beliefs, but she changes to survive.

I once read that it’s not enough to put your MCs in a tall tree and write them climbing down. Around the tree you need to dig a moat and fill it with toxic water and wicked alligators. Then throw rocks at your MC. Maybe let some killer bees loose. Make it difficult—mucho difficult. Throughout all this adversity, the MC who finally braves the bees, stones, and the gator moat shouldn’t be the same as he/she was when stuck at the top of the tree. Those are the kinds of characters readers like to read about. 

So. Go throw rocks at your characters. Torture them. Make them HAVE to change. Stasis is bad. Make them grow.

Got those rocks yet?