31 October 2011

Halloween Fun 2011

by Diane Carlisle

Happy Halloween to all of you out there in the Blog-o-sphere!

I'm excited to share my Halloween blog with you. It's been exciting the last couple days. We went shopping for house decorations and I think we went overboard this year because my daughter is going through a break up with her boyfriend. We wanted to spice it up for her. After the purchase of the house decorations, it was on toward the next activity. Pumpkin carving!

Chelsey carved a ghost, I the Grim Reaper and my son a wicked looking pumpkin with jacked up teeth. I always forget how tedious the carving is, but this doesn't seem to deter me each year. My husband set up the platform in the yard hours before we even finished. Yes, he was just as excited as the rest of the family. Wait for the pictures at the end of this post, you'll see!

Just as the finishing touches were made to the pumpkins (lit candles and all), the end of "Black Swan" was upon us. Wow. Great movie, but not something to watch with your adult children, I promise you. I found out the hard way. We did purchase a DVD collection we thought might be good viewing. I plugged it in next. Sadly, I realized I should never purchase a compilation of 10 horror movies on one DVD that cost less than $5.00. The movies are painfully raunchy, for real.

Anyway, that's been my Halloween experience for this year! I rather enjoyed it, being that I spent time with both my children and got a really creative display this year. Enjoy the photos and the one video!

26 October 2011

5 Dos When Naming Your Characters

by Diane Carlisle

Let's talk about character names a bit. And I'm coming at this from a reader standpoint. Why? Because I'm a reader! I love to read. As a matter of fact I do more reading than writing these days. Here are 5 things to think about when choosing character names.

1. Please give your characters names that are not similar to one another. For example, don't put Kaleb and Kalee in the same story or in the same proximity to one another. The reader will become exhausted trying to follow who is doing or saying what. Reading should be enjoyable, not feel like we're tracking and sorting oranges and tangerines.

2. Be creative with names, but simple is better. Ofishella doesn't quite do it for me. And try to make sure that names belong in the culture in which the story takes place. If they don't, please give information to the reader which tells them why this foreign name is where it is. In other words, if Asish and Mahua live in India and hire a nanny whose name is Linda, please explain why Linda is there and how she came to be. Diversity is wonderful, just give some backstory, and I say this in the voice of Tony Montana, "you gonna has to esplanit to me."

3. Think about a character's traits before settling with a name. If I read the name Dustin or Brittany, I'm expecting a teenager. Don't ask me why, I just am. If I read Ruth or Martha, I'm expecting an old lady.

Martha stood up and stomped off toward the kitchen. Her wobbly legs gave out and she fell and landed on her tush, the padding of her diaper lessening the impact.

See? I just don't see Martha as a baby learning how to walk. In reality, there probably are a few baby Ruths (no pun intended) or baby Marthas out there somewhere. The problem is for the majority of readers these names are going to connote old ladies.

4. Make sure the social position of your character works well with the name you choose. You don’t want to have Billy Joe Baker running a software company and you certainly don’t want Edward Bentley Groesman, III selling hot dogs from a cart at Lake Ella.

5. Stick with one name. Richard shouldn’t be called Dick interchangeably, even if his wife is mad at him. A friend named Kimberly shouldn’t be referred to as Kim for short if you are introducing her as Kimberly. If anything else, you should make that distinction in the beginning and then stick with the shorter name throughout, “Hi, I’m Kimberly Johnson, but please call me Kim.” From that point forward, she is to be referred to as simply Kim. If you think about it, why wouldn’t someone just say their name was Kim if that’s what they want to be called? Why are you, the author, going against her wishes anyway?

In the voice of Obama, “Let me be clear…this is not a bitch session on character names…far from it. This is simply character name statements. I don’t think I can be any more clearer on this matter. Thank you.”

So, what tricks do you use when creating your character names? Do you have rules for naming your characters? Any peeves on character naming conventions?

15 October 2011

A Lesson in the 8 Senses

by Diane Carlisle

This was a fun exercise in my creative writing class. It was so much fun that I wanted to share these on my blog this week. Can you guess the senses I'm using in the following sentences?

The eight senses to look for are: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, sense of space, sense of time, and sense of the unknown. Some of the sentences might have more than one of the eight senses, so don't be shy, post your answers in the comments section below.

1. She scooped a gob of melted cheese from the edge of her grilled sandwich and sucked it off her finger.

2. The storm hurled bands across the courtyard and the winds howled, blasting leaves through the parking lot and rattling the chain link fencing.

3. Class was almost over, but Jessie pressed on with two questions left.

4. The little girl stood anxiously behind the monkey bars and plucked off each petal one by one, “He loves me. He loves me not.”

5. She pulled her semi-damp hair into a bunch to secure it with a clip, the sun having dried much of it, leaving behind a thick film of pasty salt.

6. The air was thick with cotton candy and funnel cake as they moved through the grounds, “Step right up, win the lady a prize!”

7. He had a picture of a human skull on the front of his shirt and it had a medieval sword stuck through its right eye socket, exiting an open jaw full of decaying teeth.

8. When she woke, his arm was draped across her shoulder and his leg across her hip and she wondered to herself why she never got a good night’s sleep.

Part II - we had to use all eight senses in one paragraph. What a challenge!

I grab a beer and step from the boat onto the dock. The loose planks creak and wobble beneath me, cold water from the river lapping between the boards and splashing my feet. Two ducks square off in the marsh and their wings seem to fan a mixture of dead fish and algae into the breeze. Seagulls cry out as they head home and the sun is setting, spraying its reflection across the glass surface of the still water. In all this, I stand alone with the sky and the earth knowing in less than a day the hurricane will reach this sanctuary and possibly destroy it. I pull the tab on my beer and it bursts open. I take two large swallows and welcome the cold and bitter liquid. I can’t tell if it’s the carbonation from the beer or the sadness in my heart that forces the tears to spring forward.

Can you find all 8 senses in that paragraph?

08 October 2011

Some Things Dark and Dangerous

Choose a word from this list of Lovecraftian words or this list of obscure words (or one from both if you're feeling ambitious). Use your chosen word(s) to craft your post. It doesn't have to be Lovecraftian or even horror, but it should be dark, or unsettling, or scary, or Halloweenish in general. This is part of the October 2011 Blog Chain at Absolute Write.

My two words are “manuscript” and “prosaic

The Manuscript
by Diane Carlisle

And there she was, in her house. He'd found her on Twitter. He loved her profile picture, long auburn hair, eyes hidden behind a pair of large black Oakley’s. Classy girl, he’d thought.

It was Halloween and the kids had all finished up with their greedy pleas for candy; the rambunctious teens had all gone home after they littered the streets with busted pumpkins, slimy seeds sprayed across concrete driveways. Not his concern. His concern sat in a chair at her computer, probably fucking around on Facebook where she posts all her lovely pictures. He was her friend. She accepted didn't she?

His breath sprayed a warm mist onto the interior of his plastic mask, the moisture sent droplets down the walls like sweat running off a cold beer can on a hot, sunny day. He lifted the plastic face to scratch his sideburns and wipe his mouth, then pulled it back down. He loved the clown look. He'd purchased the bright orange Afro wig on the same day.

He laughed and performed a little jig on the side of her lawn. The flood lights at the corner of the house cast a shadow in the grass, making his bouncing Afro appear unusually tall. He felt like a kid again. Just like Pennywise from that Stephen King movie. What was it called? Perfect, he thought.

He lifted his Remington fishing knife. His reflection in the steel blade smiled back and his coffee stained teeth peered through the opening. His eyes looked a bit wild for his liking. Then he poked his tongue through the hole and wiggled it, “How about a little kiss?”

He jumped and clicked his heels together, then shuffled his shoulders back and forth, running in place like a football player at practice. He let the jitters escape him, hyping himself up with the excitement of finally meeting her. Then he moved to the back of the house.

He turned the knob, no resistance. Home alone with the door unlocked? Stupid bitch. He let himself in and fought the urge to call out, “Lucy, I’m home!” He made his way to the aquarium. The bright blue moon lights made this all feel like a dream. He watched the creatures swim about in the tank. Maybe he would just wait for her to come out of her office, her den...

I stopped typing and pushed the keyboard away. Not bad. It only took me an hour to draft it up, but it felt like I’d been sitting in place for half the day. I minimized Notepad and logged into Facebook. I changed my status to “Another short story, done!”

I needed coffee, or maybe some hot chocolate. This would be the manuscript I submit for publication in the Annual Review of Oktoberfest. My mind was definitely not a prosaic one. I left my office and ran into something so hard it knocked the breath out of me. Surely I know my own house.

“Hello, Diane. Remember me?” I saw a steel blade go up in the air, a permanent smile on the clown’s face. Then the knife came down and I felt a pop on my neck. Warm liquid gushed from my throat, the smell of copper. I grabbed his wrists and screamed but my vocal chords only forced out spatters of thick, red blood.

His voice was muffled as if he were talking with a sock in his mouth. I must be dying. I wonder who will find my body laying here in a pool of blood. Will they read my story? Will they submit it on my behalf? Will I be published posthumously? Dammit! I wasn’t ready for this.

The End

Please visit the other participating bloggers for this month's challenge. Also, social icons are provided at the end of this post so that you can share with others and spread the Halloween spirit!

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
Cath (link to this month's post)
Diana Rajchel (link to this month's post)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
pyrosama (YOU ARE HERE)
dolores haze (link to this month's post)
leahzero (link to this month's post)
AbielleRose (link to this month's post)
pezie (link to this month's post)
MysteryRiter (link to this month's post)
Inkstrokes (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin (link to this month's post)
Alpha Echo (link to this month's post)
robieae (link to this month's post)
JSSchley (link to this month's post)
spacejock2 (link to this month's post)
Madelein.Eirwen (link to this month's post)
AlishaS (link to this month's post)
lufftocraft (link to this month's post)
Proach (link to this month's post)

02 October 2011

Rejection Letter From My Future Selves

by Diane Carlisle

I read a few intriguing examples of letters by authors wanting to publish their works. Strangely enough, the letters were written by their future self/selves giving valuable advice to their past self. The idea was to expose the reasons we are consistently rejected. These turn out to be lessons learned for many writers, good writers even.

We all know the things we've done in our journey as writers. But damn it! We knew we could write, so why did we get rejected? Why was my masterpiece not accepted for publication? It was masterfully crafted and beautifully written.

I loved this idea and so I wanted to share my letter to myself, the Diane back in 2000. I hope you enjoy. How am I supposed to grow if I can't poke a little fun at myself, right?

Dear Role-playing Gamer Chick,

I am sorry to inform you that we are not able to accept your fantasy novel as a sub-genre romance depicting the woes of your fairy character and her struggles to win over the dark elf of Norcastanomapostia.

Though your passion for writing is apparent to us all here at Carlisle-Publishing, we feel that you will do well to live life to its fullest, outside of the gaming world, in order to establish that much needed connection that will make your story more palpable to those lovers of fiction in our current market.

We wish you well,

Your future self, 2011

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