Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Courage.

Courage in writing comes in many forms. It's in taking that tiny idea and putting the words to paper. It's in finishing that draft, editing that draft. Sending it out to beta readers, critique groups, and then swallowing your pride to edit some more. In querying, no matter how many rejections you rack up, no matter how discouraged you might get, it's sending out one more.
 
Those are all courageous things, it's true. But there's another kind of courage in writing, and that's writing with reckless abandon. It's telling the story how it's meant to be told, not how society thinks it should be told. It's laying your soul bare on every page for everyone to see, to feel. To experience. To tell a story in all its truth and beauty and horror, to hold nothing back even when it feels like you should. When others say you should. Sometimes it's telling that story no one thinks they want to hear, but in fact so desperately need.
 
That is courage in writing, and I only hope one day  to be so brave.
 
"I wanted you to see what real courage is,
instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.
It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
 --Atticus Finch 
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Monday, December 10, 2012

Writing, in 12 Words

 
 
 Ever tried.
 
 
Ever failed.
 
 
No matter.
 
 
Try again.
 
 
Fail again.
 
 
Fail better.
 
--Samuel Beckett's Worstward Ho

Friday, December 7, 2012

Perspective//New Problems Are Good Problems

It's amazing how time and distance can grant perspective, especially when you're trying to revise a manuscript that's Just Not Working.

I'm the kind of person who struggles to accept anything that's Just Not Working. Call it hardheadedness, a stubborn streak several miles wide, whatever, but I'm a grit-my-teeth-til-it-gets-done sorta person. And for the most part, it's worked well for me.

But not lately. Not in my writing. I've been trying to get a choke-hold on some perspective for months now.

But the thing about perspective is you can't tackle it, pin it, make it tap. It yields to no one, no matter how ugly a face you make at it or what names you call its momma.

Lately the feelings of impatience and behindness (today a word) have been suffocating. Why can't I finish this manuscript? Why does this thing still stink to high heaven? Why can't I query yet? Why why why why followed by a thousand general internal boo-hoos and lamentations. My cousin's a psychologist, and after a very general Hi-how-are-you?-oh-I'm-frustrated conversation, she encouraged me to write down exactly what I thought my problem was in hopes it would spark a solution. It didn't take me long to come up with the following:

My problem is me and my manuscript that refuses to go all Handyman Dan and fix itself already.

Stubborn as I may be, actually writing and reading those words made me realized what was necessary. I needed perspective, and the only way to get that was through some time and distance. Both of which I hate. There's nothing worse than idle hands when you're trying to be productive. But then I finally realized something. Trying to fix my manuscript without knowing what, exactly the problem was (or which new direction to take) was about as productive as repeatedly running into the same wall. So I gave in. Stuck the story, which in a fit of temper frustration got renamed THAT DAMN BOOK, in the proverbial drawer and didn't even open the file for two months. Did my best to forget about the thing and anything associated with it. Piddled around and wrote something else for NaNo that hasn't really gone anywhere but that's okay.

A few days ago, I reopened THAT DAMN BOOK. Read a little, made a some notes. Realized where I went wrong, developed a couple potential solutions and decided to just start over from a clean slate. I'm about 10k in now and I can already see the improvement. I'll run into new problems I'm sure, but I can guarantee I won't have the same issues as I did with the first version. And that's learning for me: not screwing up the same way twice.

All it took was a lot of patience, a bit of time and some damned old perspective.

#

How's everybody else doing? How'd NaNo go? Hope it's all bueno :)


Currently listening to The Perishers//My Heart

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life. Writing. NaNo.

*Shrugs off Worst Blogger Ever Mantle*

*Dusts off blog*

*Breathes deep*

OMG IT'S NANO TIME, GUYS!

:) This, as you can probably tell, makes me very, very happy. I love NaNo. I've been doing it both officially and unofficially for a couple years now and even though I've never actually won, I adore it all the same.

I never really set out to win. Mostly I just try and get words for new ideas from my head to the paper and let the chips--or the word count--fall where they may. As I generally write more intently in the winter months (and let's be real here, Texas doesn't really HAVE winter months), November's the perfect time for me to reestablish my Butt In Chair routine.

NaNoWriMo: Just what the doctor ordered.

This year I'm less prepared than normal (which is no small feat, let me tell you). I have absolutely no friggin' clue what my project is going to be. (Can you tell I'm a pantser to the core?) I've got a new idea for a YA contemporary that sure is tempting, but I've also thought about going back to an older story and restarting it from a clean slate. What to do, what to do. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. (And yeah, I'm that person at the restaurant who can't ever decide what she wants until the waitstaff is eyeballing her over the order paper, foot tapping impatiently. It's a disease.)

That said, I'll probably pop by every couple of days to give an update, even if it's only for my own accountability: I'm going to shoot for 30k in 30 days.

Anybody else participating in NaNo? Got a project in mind? Got opinions about what my project should be?

Best of luck to all!

Currently listening to: Ballada by Gusstavo Lima

Thursday, September 6, 2012

cover design: when boredness strikes.

When you develop a blister by 9 a.m. you know the day is going to be a long one. True to form, by the time I got home all I wanted was a cup of coffee, a chocolate bar and a nap, not necessarily in that order.

Still, I had things to be doing besides caffeinating,  bingeing or sleeping. Most specifically I should have curled up with the monstrous stack of papers in dire need of my red pen's attention, but I just couldn't make myself. Opening any WIP revisions made me want to eat fifteen pounds of m&m's, and that's not really conducive to the current fitness torture regimen.

Instead I dragged my body and laptop to the nearest recliner and collapsed. Ended up opening GIMP 2, a program I've been meaning to master and just haven't put in the time or effort. (Because I'm pretty goal-oriented, jacking around--on something that's not writing, anyway--with no real project in mind isn't my idea of a good time.) I needed a project that was simple and pretty straightforward to A) not murder my little fried brain and B) not exceed my very limited GIMP skills. The end result was a mock cover for the WIP, which felt like actually working on it but at the same time not. (Best of both worlds, really. Delusions are wonderful.)

In the end I edited the flowers in GIMP and then crapped out and copied/pasted/rearranged/resized in Paint, which is when things got a little distorted, but hey. All's well in procrastination. Some of the text, the tagline specifically, is kind of hard to read, but I'm actually pretty pleased with it. Hereyago:



Right. Now to [try and] actually get something productive done.

Currently listening to: The Perishers--My Heart

Thursday, August 30, 2012

TGIF! + Things I don't say.

It's nearly Friday.

The first one of the fall semester. This means I have basically survived the first week of my job educating the youth of America. (Yeah, you can laugh. I do too. Insanely. Hysterically. Uproariously.) Friday is always appreciated, but especially on introductory weeks like this one. As always, the first week back mostly involves lots of safety talks and waiver signage, all so the university doesn't get sued in the event of catastrophe/extreme stupidity. Or catastrophes caused by extreme stupidity. Whatever.

My labs are all off to great, running, jumping, enthusastic starts. My students are always eager to learn and love to ask lots of great questions. Unfortunately, I'm not going to mention any of those here. Instead, here are a few of the gems I've gotten thus far:

Student: Waves syllabus in air, right after I hand it to him. 'Do we really need this?'
Me: No. We kill rainforests for fun, and in your magnificent honor.

Student: Picks up box clearly labeled 'Delicate Task Wipes.' Squints at box. Turns box over in hands, examining all sides. Asks, 'What's this for?'
Me: It's a stable for teacup unicorns.

Student: 'So do we, like, have to cut stuff up in here?'
Me: 'It's biology lab.'
Student: 'Like, what do we dissect?'
Me: Students who ask stupid questions.

Student looking at preserved bucket of crayfish: 'Can we eat those, after we're done with them?'
Me: Please do. Wash it all down with a cup of the formalin that it's preserved in while you're at it.

Student: *During the middle of lab* 'Why won't my texts send?'
Me: -_-

Student: *Looking at a one-dimension, side-view illustration of an octopus.* 'Do they really only have one eye?'
Me: I quit.

As you can see, folks, it's looking to be another greatly educational year.

Monday, August 27, 2012

If you need a laugh for your day...

...go to Nathan Bransford's blog.

There's tons of fantastic information there, but this post is hilarious and oh so true.

Have a great one!

~l

Saturday, August 18, 2012

the random picture post:

Some random mariposa. (I'm a failed entomologist.)
Some random blue curls, Phacelia congesta.
A random axis deer stag, Axis axis. They're also called chital, and an example of an introduced species (native to India and surrounding areas) that was brought to Texas in the 1930s. Now there are self-sustaining herds all over the place, but especially in the hill country (central/south central Texas). My family goes to the hill country area around Kerrville every year, and sometimes you actually have to stop driving and wait for the axis herd to cross the highway--there's that many of them.

Right. So there's some randomness for your weekend. Have a great one, all!

Currently listening to: Home--Phillip Phillips. And snoring Ridgebacks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Recipe for a bad blogger:

Uh, hi.

*twiddles thumbs awkwardly*

So. It's been a while. Apparently I'm sort of like a holiday blogger or something, and that, good people, was never my intent. Life has come between me and my blog, stealing any spare words I once had and directing them elsewhere. My blog has abandonment issues now I'm sure. (Though I log in every day and creep stalk read everyone else's fantastic posts. Love soaking up the wisdom out in the bloggosphere.)

It's just that I haven't had the words to blog. They've all been thrown at my novel writing (in the midst of a redraft on one project, a rewrite on two others..oye), my emailing of the strange people who make livings doing wedding stuff (talk about gluttons for punishment), and writing cover letters (which is basically like querying yourself...and so when you fail it's not like it's your book that's crappy--it's really you. Can we say fun?)

But, those are really all excuses. I'll make time to nurture this blog now, dammit. Really. I might even stumble upon something humorous or *gasp* informative to say (hey, a girl can dream.) Until then, here's what's changed:

I went to the dark side and joined twitter. Stage name: @leeonagomez . (Yes, that's me, and yes, that's a set of shark jaws behind me. No, I do not have any makeup on, nor am I wearing photo-acceptable clothing, but I was at the beach on vacation, 'kay?)

Entered some query contests. Did pretty well. Now panicking..erm...I mean trying to make the actual manuscript have as much of a splash. On that note, stop by Taryn Albright's fantastic blog (here) and say hello to my MC, 'Rissa :). Maybe one day I'll lay my soul on the line and get her out into the world. (And if you'd like to go post a comment on how to improve the query, what you liked or disliked about it, I'll love you forever. Srsly.)

My dogs are bad--wait, nothing there is new.

I have fifteen pounds of purple M&M's being delivered to my house in three days. That they're supposed to be used for wedding favors should keep me from utilizing them as a stress-coping mechanism, but I make no promises.

180 adorable, hexagonal, 1.5 ounce jars are also en route a mi casa, to be filled with the above mentioned candy. Here's to hoping there's actually a filler left.

Downloaded Gimp software. Have absolutely no idea how to use it, especially because the user manual won't open on my computer.

I started playing music again, specifically with my flute and violin. The latter sounds so terrible that my fiance ran home for the weekend when he saw me pull the case out. Even the dogs have stopped howling. Now they just glare.

My guitar is out of tune...oops, that's not a new development either. What is bad, however, is that I've convinced myself it doesn't sound that bad. Como se dice denial en espanol?

I've been working on my Spanish and my Czech. The former is much easier than the latter, though I can insult you quite fluently in either. And say belly button in Czech (pupĂ­k!). I'm not sure how that word will ever come up in conversation, but it seems to be the only one I remember on a daily basis. Oh, how proud my Mimi must be.

Ehem. Well. I daresay that's quite more than enough from me. So how're y'all doing? Well? I hope so. :)


What I'm listening to: So Blue--The Trishas

Monday, May 28, 2012

thanks.

 Sometimes the only thing you can say is thanks.




Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.





Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Blogger:

Yes, I know layouts (and the interwebz) have to change.

Yes, I know you warned me about it for atleast a few weeks.

But even with the warning, I'm still lost as one of last year's Easter eggs.

www.toonclips.com

Like I need more help to be a bad, bad blogger.

Befuzzledly yours,
~l

Currently listening to: Ridgebacks snoring. I swear they both have deviated septums.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Jaded Texan.

After spending my whole life here, I've grown pretty fond of my state. Even though I've travelled around a bit, there's no place I'd rather live (though Northern Ireland or Hawaii run a close second). Sure, us Texans get stereotyped. Some of those are valid. Others are annoying (lookin' atchu, Geico commercial).

Biologically, we're a diverse state with a whopping 12 ecoregions, in which there are many distinct sub-regions. You can go to the mountains, the beach, the forest(s), the hill country, or the desert--just not all in the same day. We've got lots of endemic species of plants and animals. Como se dice 'biologist's dream'?

I grew up in a really rural area, on a commercial cattle ranch. This past weekend a friend from the Dallas area came to visit and 'experience the country' (her words, not mine). I always feel like a hayseed whenever she's around. Hayseed may be my Granddad's vocabulary...

Country bumpkin, maybe?

Anyway, we loaded up in the truck and headed out, me thinking all the while how she was going to be bored stiff for the next three hours. Granted, she's a biology nerd too, but what can I show her that's 'country?'

A lot, apparently.


Seeing her joy at the landscape and wildlife made me realize (again) how freaking lucky I was to grow up where and how I did. Lucky that I could see something like this every day. My friend loved it all, and her enthusiasm was madly contagious. Not many people get to climb to the top of this...

Yucca aloifolia, more commonly known as Spanish Dagger. In some places
it's common to fry/cook and eat the blossoms. No idea as to the taste but,
until I get really hungry, I'll pass.






and see for miles, like this...





My dad found this several years ago, while he was riding horseback and
looking for some missing cattle. This picture doesn't even
come close to doing it justice.





Or quite literally stumble upon natural wonders like this.












I believe this is some kind of Ferocactus, but maybe it's Echinocactus texensis.
  (If that's the case, the common name is Horse Crippler...pretty flowers, serious name.)

Or get pictures like this, which, even though I'm not much into plant biology, are beautiful to me.
I'm not sure what kind of flower this is, but I've got a date with a botanist later this
week to find out. I've never seen this before.
 


What good would pictures of Texas wildflowers be without some bluebonnets?
Hello, Lupinus texensis, good to seeya. 
Reminders to stop and smell the flowers are always a good thing.



As always, if you like the pictures, please feel free to share them--linkage back to this blog much appreciated!


Currently listening to Nottingham Burns--Marc Streitenfeld

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lucky 7

Randi Lee recently tagged me in the Lucky 7 Meme that's been making rounds through the blogosphere. I'd been hoping to get tagged in one, so Randi, thanks! :)

The idea is to...
Turn to page 77 of your WIP.
Go down to line 7.
Copy down the next 7 lines--sentences or paragraphs--and post them as they're written. Don't cheat!
Tag 7 authors and let them know.


I couldn't decide which one to put up, so I decided to technically cheat and post 2. They're both first drafts, but hopefully they're readable.

From THE PAINTED QUEEN:

     Cayden drew his claymore, the whisper of the tang muted as it slid from the scabbard. He slipped silently from Artan and crouched next to the nearest clump of brush. Jocelyn's shriek made him want to break cover and rush back to the narrow point in the path where she disappeared, but there was no telling how many or where their attackers were. He scanned the area and tried to calm his pounding heart. The canopy blocked most of the weak moonlight, leaving the forest below dark and forbidding. Stray beams of pale light wafted in as clouds above moved and lent a mystical quality to the undergrowth. Mayhap Tam Lin did dwell in these treetops.
     The sounds of night resumed before he spotted his quarry. It took a moment to make the figure out, but it was there, crouched by a nearby tree, almost invisible. Had the light not trickled in through the trees he might have missed the brief glint from the claymore. A careless mistake on part of the stranger. 
      He whispered the words to an ancient prayer and moved silently as the breeze, trading his claymore for a smaller dirk. The man was pressed against the tree, only half turned away, but Cayden moved like a wraith across the distance.
     “I think you’ve chosen poorly,” he whispered as he reached around the stranger’s neck with one hand, his dirk in the other. The stranger gripped Cayden’s arm with his left hand and rustled around  with his right, no doubt reaching for a close-range weapon. “And I think your decisions are getting worse,” Cayden added as he applied a little pressure behind the dirk. There was enough light now to see the drop of blood fall from beneath the point.
      “If we were to rate decisions, friend, you’d be the one in a bad way. My brother wouldn’t let you—a McLeod—kill me.”
     Cayden laughed and turned the man loose. “Jamey McAllister, you groveling worm. A McLeod could kill you in his sleep.”
      Jamey threw back his head and shouted, “Robert, the old one’s caught onto us,” before the forest erupted with howling men.

From HELL TO PAY:

     A few miles on the other side of town, it had started. The cheery and unerringly loud melody blared from somewhere in his bag, hardly muted by the insulating clothes. He swerved into the other lane, struggling to correct and dig through the bag at the same time. It had taken a moment of staring to realize what the small black square was. Joann had insisted he take Ben’s cell phone, in case they needed to reach him. He doesn’t ever use it, she’d said with a stern look at her husband.
     I don’t know how to use it, he’d thought in reply, but offered up a thank-you and reached out his hand anyway. If he hadn’t seen a similar one being used in the diner one day, he’d of never thought that it slid open, much less how to answer it. And even that had been an accident. He’d half thrown, half dropped it to the dusty floorboard when it buzzed in his hand like a diamondback rattler. When he’d picked it up and wiped it off, he heard her voice.
      So he sat on the side of the road, phone pressed to his ear with one hand, the other rested on the steering wheel.
      “Yes ma’am,” he said finally.  
       “Oh, good. Would you mind picking up a few things at the store? I forgot I’m hosting the study club supper tonight and I’m in desperate need of some staples we’ve been running low on.”
        He bounced his fist on the top of the knobby steering wheel and breathed out a quiet sigh. The war inside him that he’d been ignoring the whole drive ramped up to deafening proportions.
       Throw it out the window and drive.

To keep this thing going, I'm tagging these people. Even if they don't participate, they've got some pretty cool blogs you should check out.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Need Query Help?

Hey all,

Have query woes? Want to know what's not quite clicking on all cylinders? Need to get an objective, non-judgemental opinion before you send that thing out into the world?*

If you're like most writers, the answer is probably yes, hell yes, and friggin' hell yes. (Followed closely by 'right now yes'.)

Well, you're in luck.

In the blogosphere there exists a Goblin who'd love to look over your query. She lives here. What she does is simple: she eyeballs queries (for fun!) and lets you know what she thinks about them. She reworks them, smoothing out awkward phrasings or just to show you where the problems are. Or that what you're trying to say isn't what's being communicated. Basically, if goblins could be rockstars, she'd be one.

How do I know all this? Basically, she's helped me with two queries**. Not only do I think both queries are substantially better for it, but the process has helped me identify problems I commonly have and can therefore avoid in future queries. It's a win all the way around.

You should check out her site, even if you don't need help.

 The Query Goblin



Hope everyone's doing well--two more weeks of thesis hell, then I'm back to fun writing.

I can't wait.


* Or before you dive into Query Letter Hell on AW?
**Yes, The Painted Queen query is there, in all it's problem child glory.

Currently listening to: Too Close by Alex Clare

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In which I have nothing to say, but pictures to share.

I'm in the throws of despair from constant thesis work, so I thought I'd cheer myself up.
Is there anything more cheerful than puppy pictures?
Yeah.
I think not.

Yes, I was born without a tail. I'm a genetic weirdie, but still adorable.




Flying Leap!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

This is how I feel.


The good news is I'm done with my thesis in no more than 30 days.
The bad news is that 30 days is a long time.
I will make this thesis my #)(%#&^#
That's a promise.
Run, thesis, run.


Currently listening to: Meghan Tonjes--This Year. <3

Sunday, February 19, 2012

For The Love of Anubis

Do you like paranormal romance?

How about mythology?

Egypt?

Jackals? (Hey, I just got back from a mammalogy convention. You're lucky I didn't put Canis lupaster.)

Sexy mens and strong female heroines?

Way back there, about two years ago (jeez, it's been a long time), I met a paranormal romance writer on AW. I needed something to do; she needed a beta. She wrote, I read. She published. The rest is pretty much history.

Oh.

And she's got a new book out from Musa publishing. Of course I bought a copy (it's gorgeous, even on the inside). You should too, if you like any of the stuff above. Or if you think you'd like to like anything from the above list.

Here's the cover and blurb:

Storm's Fury
Sometimes the very thing you've run from all your life is the one thing that can save you


A street-wise hustler, Stormy has been running most of her life from the creature that killed her family. However, when she meets Fury, a being so stubborn he could give a mule lessons, running is no longer an option. When he claims he’s her protector and the other half of her soul, Stormy would rather take her chances with the beast chasing her.

His dogged determination to protect her and his seductive expertise spark to life dreams she’d all but given up on: dreams of belonging to a family, and of having a life where running is nothing more than exercise. But with vile creatures hunting her, demanding her blood, and pack members who want her head instead of her help, Stormy will have to find away to place her trust and heart in Fury’s care. If she can’t, then neither of them will have a future to dream about.





You can purchase STORM'S FURY in various formats from Amazon (here) or Musa's website (here). Nya is also holding a contest to win a free--yes, FREE--kindle. Find those details on her blog here

Hope everyone is doing wonderful--have a good one :)

Currently listening to Ax Men on The History Channel

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Old Soul.

I've always been told I have an old soul.

It's true that my 'Buelo was my best friend growing up. My great-uncle told the most amazing stories about things he did and places he lived that I'll never see. That my basketball coach was (and is) like a surrogate grandfather. Old things--people, places, things. I love them. I love old stories, and to hear about how things were for my grandparents when they were growing up. The struggle during the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl. The war stories. How my 'Buelo cowboyed back in his youth. How my Mimi didn't speak English until she was 10, and what a challenge it was to learn English in her very traditional Czech family. How her dad (who I never met) walked 20 miles to work every Sunday, lived on the jobsite until Friday, and then walked home on every weekend.

If loving those kinds of things make me an old soul, I guess I am.

It doesn't hurt that I enjoy hanging out with older generations more than with my peers. Or that it makes my heart swell when I see an older couple walking in the mall, hand-in-hand. I don't care that they're going slow and holding up traffic. If I'm blessed with a marriage that lasts long enough to make me a slow morning mall-walker, I'll consider myself lucky.

It's also no surprise that my YA WIP centers around the relationship between a  nursing home-bound war veteran and a juvenile delinquent. Or that letters factor heavily into the story, because I can't imagine a time when people actually wrote out missives longhand, instead of sending a Wht r u doin text. (Is there anything more romantic than handwritten love letter? Not that I can think of.)

Anyway, at one time there was a point to this blog post. I think it was because this has been plastered all over my facebook wall.


They're adorable. And I bet they've got some great stories.

Currently Listening to: Meghan Tonjes' cover of Africa (by Toto)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Setting the Hook.

Any writer seeking publication has heard all about hooks. Not the treble, fishing kind of hook. The book hook.

Your query should hook the reader. Your first sentence should hook the reader. Your blurb should hook the reader. Your style and word choice should hook the reader. Your concept better have a good hook. Your voice should hook. Your first page should hook. Your first chapter. Your first three chapters.

So many hooks, so little time.

To make things even more subjectively thrilling, no one hook works for all readers. Sure there's general concepts/themes that intrigue lots of people, but you never know how effective your hook will be. Take Hannah Moskowitz's INVINCIBLE SUMMER. A big part of the hook was the triangle between one girl and two brothers. Did it squick some people out? Probably. Did some people feel intrigued enough to read on? Definitely.

Different strokes for different folks.

Books aren't universal. Yes, I know--your book won't be universal. In all likelihood, it will appeal to a very small niche market. I know my current WIP, Hell to Pay, is most assuredly a tiny niche-market book. It might be so niche-y it doesn't sell. Who knows. But I do know that the underlying hook of the book is pretty universal. The theme is pretty universal. Will it make a difference, I have no idea. Time will tell.

The same idea of hooking the audience also goes for movies. Like books, visual entertainment connects or hooks an audience on an individual basis. There have been countless times I have walked out of a movie theater with a friend and had a completely different reaction than they did. Completely. To the extent of them saying 'I loved it' and me barfing on the floor in response, or vice-versa.

But good movies and good books have one thing in common: they connect with you. They hook on some level that ellicits emotion, whether that emotion is joy, anger, despair, playfulness. They make you feel something. How strongly you connect is largely dependent on not only what you feel, but whether or not you like feeling that emotion.

I know writers have it tough to create hooker queries (ha!), I do. I struggle with them myself. But the cinematic world has a rough go with movie trailers--that's basically their version of the query. And we all know that some movie trailers are effective and make you want to see the movie. Some are not.

The Hunger Games trailer made me want to see the movie even before I'd read the books. In fact, I read the books because of the movie trailer. I'd heard lots of buzz surrounding Suzanne Collin's megaseller, but my to-be-read pile was (and is) enormous. I didn't see why I should add THE HUNGER GAMES, at least until I saw the movie trailer.

You know the part that hooked me? It's when the officials are leading Prim forward after her name's been drawn for the games. It's how Katniss struggled and fought and screamed, "I volunteer--I volunteer as tribute."

Every time I watch that scene a little part of my stomach clenches and the hairs on my arms prickle.

I love my sisters as much as life itself. That scene made me identify so strongly with Katniss (ass that she can be) that I rushed to my local bookstore and bought the series. Read them all in three days.

I'd say that hook worked for me.

What're yours?

Currently listening to: The time ticking down until I have to go back to work.

Friday, February 3, 2012

But wait, there's more!

A door-to-door salesman came by today.

Naturally he knocked when I had just hopped out of the shower, so I rushed around and pulled on the nearest available clothes before I opened the door. Yeah. A powder pink baby tee and a pair of long, red basketball shorts. It was high fashion, y'all.

Factor in two barking/growling/wanting out the door Rhodesians, and it was probably a pretty comical exit from my house to the front porch. Not to mention the fact that my feet were clad in my trusty leopard-print houseboots. (they're not houseshoes--they're houseboots. true story.)

But. There, with barely controlled soggy hair, a horribly mismatched color scheme and my houseboots, I was ready to listen, bells on.

It's true that there for a moment I considered not opening the door.

I really did think about letting him keep on knocking. While my dogs went berserk and tore down every available curtain/mini blind on the west side of my house to get a better look at the offender. It was sorely tempting, window treatments aside. But I've got some serious respect for people who go door-to-door to make a living. I mean, like, SERIOUS respect.

I couldn't do it.
I'm getting nervous and red and sweaty just thinking about it.

I know loads of people are naturally better at talking to strangers than I am. Though it still has to be a little daunting, especially because regardless of your pitch, factors beyond your control influence the potential buyer's decision*. There have been times when I really wanted to buy something, but financially I couldn't swing it. Even though I really, really wanted to. Ah, life.

As it happened, this salesman was really aggressive with whatever he was selling (honestly not sure I could tell you). It took about five seconds for me to realize that whatever it was, I didn't need it. Dude, however, was not to be deterred. At one point, he actually started trying to invite himself in my house** (we were both on the front porch, the door to the house closed. sometimes I can stifle my upbringing and not invite strange people inside and put a beverage in their hand. sometimes.) (common sense, FTW.) I would have been impressed with his tenacity if it wasn't holding me up from my day.

Short of getting irritated, I did what anyone with seven puppies in the backyard would do.

I tried to sell him a puppy.

That, my people, is the unspoken magic trick.

Not only did he bring his rather aggressive pitch to a screeching halt, but he left shortly thereafter.

The only downside to the situation was that he didn't take one.

Apparently we're both bad salespeople.

~~

Currently listening to: Kelly Clarkson--What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)


*Sounds like publishing, no? Just be thankful we can email query, rather than go door-to-door with our pitches.
**This would have solved the problem. I guess he didn't hear the 160 pounds worth of growl and teeth on the other side of the door. When I walked back in, Bella and Roo were both laying side-by-side, facing the door. I love those crazy dogs.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Courage Is.

I follow some amazing blogs.

One is Corrie Wachob's, and she'd got an extra-amazing post up here.

Click it. Read it.

And take a stand.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Weirdness Around Us, Volume I

It should come as no surprise (given my title line thingy up there ^^^) that biology is a big part of my life. I've always been fascinated by how stuff works, from simple things like staplers to complex genetics stuff. The latter is keeping me quite busy and will hopefully some day soon land me a job (#please).

Anyways, with a fairly serious emphasis toward those pesky gene thingys, I'm set to finish up my M.S. in Biology this semester. IF I can pass my oral examination and thesis defense in, oh, a terrifyingly looming 6 weeks.

Grad school has caused me to develop some serious test anxiety, probably due to me overloading my schedules in order to get done quicker. It goes without saying I've been doing A LOT of studying here lately. Especially because I jokingly asked my main advisor what I needed to know, and he unjokingly replied 'everything'.

Cue fits of panic. Often before I go to sleep at night. It's lovely.

Deciding to devour a few textbooks in only a few short weeks has had its challenges. Namely, if I've got to know it all, where the eff do I start?!? (Imagine a panic attack here--Go.)

Given that my first ever college biology class was plant-oriented (snore), and it met MWF at 8am, and I kind of thought socializing was important (ehmm)...yeah. You can imagine how well that worked out. So I have begun my quest to modestly know 'everything' in the next six weeks starting with a lovely, wonderful, freshman-level general biology book. Most of the big picture things I already know. But now, wised up by the years and perspective (and panic), I've started to re-realize why I freaking love this discipline so much in the first place: it's awesome*.

It's fascinating. And frustrating. And it tells me how cool, real life stuff works.

I am Lee, and I'm a biology nerd.

As I was reading this general biology book, I came across a term that I've heard often enough, but never really thought about. It's called cryptobiosis.

Basically, cryptobiosis is when an organism under stress (from drying out, freezing, running out of oxygen, etc) enters an ametabolic state that it can stay in (without change) almost indefinitely. There's several other flavors of stimuli, like chemical changes, solute concentration changes, that can also cause an organism to enter cryptobiosis. Once the environmental conditions get back to ideal, the organism can essentially reanimate itself back to a fully functioning, metabolizing state.

How sweet is that?

Tardigrades, or water bears, whatever you want to call them, are able to enter cryptobiosis. It's been reported that water bears can remain suspended for up to 60 years. Here's a picture of one:

While they are microscopic and not exactly as cuddly looking as other bears, they're still pretty amazing. (Tell me that doesn't look like a monster straight out of a sci-fi flick?)

And they say science fiction's cool**.


Currently Listening to: Hans Zimmer everything, FTW.

*Com'on, you know it is.
**For what it's worth, this is not a dig at Sci-Fi writers. At all. I love science fiction. I just also happen to love science fact :).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Struggle.

Currently listening to Jason Isabell--The Devil Is My Running Mate.

Today it took me two hours to write 600 words.

For the record, I'm a pretty speedy typer, so it wasn't the mechanics holding me back. Nope, it was the unflexed writing muscle. Unfortunately I've been on a bit of a self-inflicted writing hiatus ever since the new year rolled around. I've got this pesky thing called a thesis that REALLY needs some attention. Like, if it's not done in the next six weeks, I don't graduate in May. *cue panic here*

Given options, I'd much rather write from-my-head fiction than thesis fact. (Yeah, hybrid zones, I hate you.) Rather inconveniently, my fiction writing isn't looking to pay my bills any time soon, so thesis it is. (Why I'm in a science master's program is anyone's guess. 'Cuz I've got absolutely no friggin' clue.)

Anyway. I made myself a deal--No novel until the dreaded thesis is done.

I've already broken that contract, of course.

Citing good behavior (I've been studying and generally being super--and unnaturally--productive), I gave myself a little reprieve today.

Too bad it sucked.

The 600 words today were a struggle of epic proportions. Were they epic words?--oh hell no. But perhaps they were functional. I'm afraid to reread them, so I can't tell. I'm not the type of writer who can go for extended periods of no writing without it showing. It's painful, really. But hopefully it'll be over soon and I can get back into the groove.

Only six more weeks to go.

How's your writing going?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Writing Perks.

I don't tell many people that I write.

Firstly, I'm a pretty private person. (Odd, maybe, for a blogger. Clarification: I enjoy the anonymity of the Internet, but try not to hide behind or abuse it.)

Secondly, I can often do without  people's odd/ignorant/stupid comments. (only one of those type comments is a bad thing. still, I'd rather avoid all of them.)

I'll probably tell curious people I'm a writer when/if I'm published. Until then, I won't say much about it. But inevitably you've probably got to tell someone what you're doing, if only to justify why you're spending X number of hours locked away with only the computer for company.

Eventually your significant other/grandma/etc. isn't going to believe that you're actually watching porn*. (Though, depending on your relationship with said person, you may only have to use this answer once...but I digress.) So, when they get too curious for their own good, you've got to fess up.

In my particular instance, the people who know I actively write in hopes of publication include one of my sisters and the loverman/fiance thing. Both are wonderful, nonjudgmental people. One found out because she has the nosey Czech gene from our grandmother. The other knows because he hoped it was actually porn (<--joke.)

Given that I see the latter every day, it's often that he's around while I'm writing.

Then, on days when I'm a little out of sorts with him (like today) and he pokes his head in my office to ask what I'm doing, I get to answer with delicious honesty.

Plotting, I'll say.
Add smile.
Turn back to computer.
Then let him wonder.








*Speaker discretion advised.


Currently listening to Nothing Else Matters/Despedida Medley--Shakira

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can You Hear That?

Listen closely.

...

There! Hear that high, keening, ear-splitting shriek, probably from somewhere in Texas?

Yep. That's me, wading my way through the first few chapters of The Painted Queen. Wading is probably the wrong word.

Slogging?
Stumbling?
Straight up drowning?

But that's what happens when you change ideas midstream (ha. bad joke. laugh with me people. it's better than crying. *Maybe*)

Just when I think I'm about to drown, I take a quick break and find this on the book of face:



I don't think what I'm doing is quite as good for my gluteus (muy) maximus.

Damn you, uplifting encouraging message, damn you!

And now back to the slog.
(I think slog is the best word for this.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I lack productivity.



 I have a good reason--I swear.
(Double swears!)



PUPPIES! :)

Get something done with these guys yipping and squirming around?

Right.

Puppy Jumble. :)


Since this photo, all their little noses have turned black.
In Rhodesian Ridgebacks, liver/brown noses are resultant of
a homozygous recessive pigment gene. The sire of this litter has a
brown nose, meaning he is homozygous recessive for that particular gene.
The dam has a black nose--meaning she could either* be homozygous
 dominant or a heterozygote (one 'brown copy' of the gene and one 'black copy').
However, given that all the puppies wound up having black noses, it's highly
likely that the dam is homozygous dominant (and therefore the puppies are heterozygotes).

She may seem content, but in reality she was growling at me the whole
time I was snapping these photos. Basically, the ideal momma dog.




Alas, even playing the puppy card has its limits. So now I'm back to work in this area.
(Is it any wonder I don't get much done?)



Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday!

~l


*given that I don't remember what her parents were--otherwise the alleles would have been pretty easy to figure out, once you do all the probability stuff.