31 December 2012

New Year's Eve Party Goers

Last year I gave you the 5 Stupid New Year's Resolutions post. This year I decided to have a different list for you. I've compiled a list of different types of people you're likely to run into this New Year's Eve. That means tonight!

The Party Guy - There's always one of these at every New Year's Eve party. He does it all. He does the funnel. He does the Hulk Hogan flex. He does the random sucking of face with the drunk girl passing by. He does the belly flop into the pool. And, he does the face plant onto the floor after the dropping of the ball in Times Square. He'll be lucky if he doesn't drown in his own vomit before sunrise.

The Jocks - They come in a group of five. You won't get any free drinks from any of these guys. They're all married and too busy watching football or the Ultimate Fighting Championship. They're on a fixed allowance, it's the only night of the year they're given permission from their wives to hang out, and they're working on their Bromance.

The Loner - He's the guy all by himself at the bar, watching everyone. He's not sitting facing the bar either. He's facing the crowd...with his arms crossed. Think Jeffrey Dalmer scoping out his next victim. Creepy!

The Polite Charmer - He's the one sent over on a reconnaissance mission to a table full of women. He'll buy a round of drinks while conducting his research. Data bank indices: which ones are single, who is the hottest, who is the most DTF. Charming, ain't it?

Ok, enough picking on the guys. Here are the women you'll find. I'm staying in this year, so you won't find the grumpy old lady in this crowd! =)

The Eye Candy - All eyes are on her. The guys are appreciative, their dates, livid. She's typically wearing a skirt which doesn't fully cover her voluptuous ass cheeks. She's looking too cute bent over the pool table while trying to make a shot. There are ten guys trying to get to her to show her the correct stance and how to aim.

The Gaggle - A group of ladies who stick together no matter what. All have long, brown hair (more than likely extensions). All wear skin tight clothing, hoping to attract some idiot willing to buy them drinks for the evening so they can make rent at the end of the month.

The Drunk Dancer - You know, the one who climbs onto the bar or high top table to show off her pole dancing skills. For some reason it never really works out for her.

The Puker - She's the one who gets drunk an hour into the evening, thereby leaving her friends to take turns holding her hair back while she pukes away in the bathroom all night.

Happy New Year to all my friends in the Blogosphere! See you next year. ;)

30 December 2012

My First Photoshop Projects

We've been doing a lot of traveling lately, so I thought I'd share some of what I've been doing on my Christmas break. These are images I created in my online Photoshop class. Tim purchased the course for me as a Christmas gift.

I've always enjoyed working with photography and digital images, even though I don't get an opportunity to do so as much anymore. I'm more involved in my writing these days, so this bit of distraction has been a lot of fun.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed creating them. Remember though, I'm a newbie and have never used Photoshop in my life, so when I tell you this class is easy, I would know. You can register for any number of courses. They are all video based. What better way to teach than to show, right?

This is what I created in my first lesson. The lesson provides instruction on how to create shapes and move things around. I used a few different layers to create this image. The background was provided, I didn't do that part. This is a bit embarrassing to look at. It's like the equivalent of writing program code which prints out "hello world".

The second lesson on changing eye color was a little tricky, but this is where you start to duplicate some instructions and things start to sink in. I think I want to change my eyes to red! Mwahahaha.

I had to concentrate a little more in this third lesson, because more Photoshop features were introduced. The videos are perfect for this sort of learning, because if the video gets ahead of you, you can rewind it!

Transfixing a tattoo on a person was the easiest project so far. Doesn't it look real?

This project had me working with textures. I had no idea you could do these things in Photoshop. I'm so excited about learning Photoshop right now.

This project was a bit weird, but fun. My husband asked me why I created a winged elephant standing in nuclear waste. Okay, it wasn't my idea to put these elements together. It was part of the course materials.

Anyway, this has been part one in sharing my Photoshop projects with you. I'm looking forward to sharing more!

23 December 2012

Five Movies About Writers

I was reminiscing about older movies today. Not major mega hit movies, but the ones I can watch again today. I rediscovered these five movies. They are ones that make me smile when thinking about them.

What do they have in common? They have protagonists and/or supporting characters who happen to be writers. These writer characters carry, in a sense, some of my own spirit. If you haven't experienced these movies, please go out and buy them! I’d like to know your thoughts.

1. Funny Farm (1988), Andy Farmer (Chevy Chase) is a sportswriter. He and his wife Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith) move to the country so he can write the next Great American Novel.

However, so many obstacles keep him from completing his manuscript, including his struggles with the fact that his wife is also looking to publish a children’s book. I could sit down today and watch this movie in my PJs while having a cup of hot chocolate topped with those little mini marshmallows.

Andy Farmer (Chase): You don't know a thing about writing. You're a Goddamn schoolteacher.

2. Don’t Tell Her It’s Me (1990), Shelley Long plays a romance writer whose brother, a survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, crushes on a friend. Lizzie Potts (Long) transforms her brother into one of her stereotypical romance heroes in order that he wins over the woman he has fallen in love with from afar. Everything from his new name, Lobo, his tan skin, and new eye color, thanks to color contacts, conveniently disguises his former self. I won’t spoil it for you, but this movie is hilarious.

Lizzie Potts (Long): No! Annabelle! Don't play with the space heater coil. Piglet, if you breathe gas it will tie up all your available hemoglobin and there will be none left for oxygen transfer. Your lips and nail beds will turn cherry red and you'll die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Misery (1990), Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is a famous writer rescued by a fan and former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Annie kidnaps Paul (Caan) and holds him hostage so that he can write his next sequel to Misery, his famous series. This woman is psychotic, and when she discovers his latest manuscript involves killing off her favorite heroine, it is not good for Paul.

Annie Wilkes (Bates): [Right after smashing Paul’s ankles with a sledgehammer] God I love you.

4. Best Friends (1982), Richard Babson (Burt Reynolds) and Paula McCullen (Goldie Hawn) are screenwriters in a 5-year relationship. When they decide they should get married, plans are made to visit each other’s families, where they discover how different they are.

This is a perfect example of don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. Separate, they are perfect. Merge them and it doesn’t work. The same reason you shouldn’t mix genres, but everyone is doing it, right?

Breasts too large, Richard? Every female character you create has breasts too large.

Just an aside:

You can tell a dude wrote a female protagonist…

She stopped running to catch her breath, her breasts rising and falling against the soft cotton material of her blouse.

5. Seems Like Old Times (1980), Nick Gardenia (Chevy Chase) is a writer who rents a cabin in the woods in hopes to complete his novel. Forced at gunpoint, he commits a robbery and then seeks out his ex, Glenda Parks (Goldie Hawn), to represent him. In the meantime, he is being disruptive with her new life and ambitious husband, Ira Parks (Charles Grodin).

Note: Glenda Parks has a house full of dogs, large and small. She even has one that looks exactly like my Biscuit.

Glenda (Hawn): You are making me crazy!
Ira (Grodin): I’m not making you crazy…
Glenda (Hawn): Anyone who forces me to make chicken pepperoni is making me crazy. And YOU are making me crazy. (Exits)
Ira (Grodin): [to himself] I’m not making her crazy.

18 December 2012

10 Profound Mistakes Made by RPG Players

Unless you've played RPGs on a regular basis, you may not have experienced all of these or any similar form, but you might agree with me, these are pretty easy circumstances in which to fall victim. Some of these are text based and the rest are from PC games. One scenario would happen in a game I develop (which hasn't happened yet, but oh well). If you're the first to guess which one, I'll send you a free copy of Snow Leopard.

1. You fire your cross bow at a huge skeleton. The arrow flies through the air and darts between the two lower bones of his rib cage, missing the skeleton entirely, and striking the wall behind it. You have no other weapons.

2. You fall down a well. The only "obvious" exit is dragon

You exit dragon

3. You cast a 30-yard range fire storm at a goblin, killing him instantly, but wasting 20 seconds of fire damage on no apparent enemies within a 30-yard radius. After the spell dies out and while it recharges (which takes another 20 seconds), twenty Whiptail Devourers spring from the soil.

4. You stumble upon a trap door. After close inspection, something tells you, it doesn't REALLY look like a trap door, does it?

You open door

5. Before going inside to negotiate with the giant Cyclops, you say to your fighter friend, "Don't worry, I have a high charisma attribute."

6. Your new friend says, "Nothing bad is going to happen. I'm friends with the DM."

You follow new friend

7. You enter into combat with a giant crocodile. It is unusual this creature hasn't gone down yet and you're about to die. You look at your weapon. It is not wielded. You are fighting with your bare hands!

8. You didn't bother to read the room description when you entered the sewer, so you are unaware of the high concentration of methane gas all around you. It is dark.

You light torch

9. In an angry tirade, you tell an Admin to go screw themselves. 

10. Every potion you'd ever had identified turned out to be a healing potion. You are bleeding, but you find yet another unidentified bottle of potion. Why pay a spell caster to identify it? It will still work without being identified.

You drink potion

*Note: Unidentified POISON will still work, too!

16 December 2012

A Bag of Tricks - Find Your Next Protagonist

I love this newest exercise from The Five Minute Writer:

Imagine you've found someone's bag, briefcase, purse, or other smallish container. You don't know who its owner is but you decide to find out by being nosey. You open the bag and pull out the contents. Without thinking too hard, list at least six items. Don't just go for the obvious mobile phone and tissues, although you can of course include these, too.

I only chose to list five items, but I figured the result would be the same!

  1. Business card of a National Geographic photographer named Linda Kizecheck
  2. Old Zippo lighter engraved with the initials CSA, the "S" most prominent
  3. Pack of Chicklets Peppermint gum
  4. Set of keys from which hangs a medallion depicting an eagle and swastika
  5. A handheld audio recorder

Now, write a short character sketch based on the items you've discovered. 

His name is Christoph Schreiber, a German writer who migrated to the United States in search of his mother, an English woman who had been deported at the height of the 2nd World War. 


I don't know that this exercise would have us agreeing about the character sketch, because we each associate different items with different stereotypical cultures. So, who do you imagine this person to be based on my five items?

I challenge you to complete this exercise, because I'd like to do a character sketch based on the items YOU retrieve!!

12 December 2012

10 Stupid Things To Do Before The Mayapocalypse

This month's prompt at Absolute Write:
The End (of the World)

Yes, since the predicted Mayapocalypse only fails to materialize once every 500 years or so we are piggybacking on it. Write what you will about the end of the world (those disinclined to eschatology can write about "the end" in a broader sense). Hopefully, after these ends of the world as we know it, we'll all feel fine.

Here is my month's contribution. I'm going to list for you the top 10 stupid things you can do when you realize the world is ending. It's up to you, though. I've been reading people's lists, and these seem to be top items for many, but you know what? No matter how popular they are, they're still stupid. Here's why!

10. Sell your house! You can't take it with you. Though, some non-believer will be happy to buy it from you "dirt cheap".

9. Sell your car! Why not? See #10!

8. Give all your money away to charities. It's what you should have been doing all along so the government wouldn't take it away and do it for you!

7. Go on a crime spree. If the world doesn't end, and since you've sold your house, you'll at least have a home at the local prison.

6. Join a church and start prayers. God already knows you're a non-believer, so if you do this because it's the end of the world, you're just going to piss Him off.

5. Go wing suit flying! Projectiling into the side of a mountain like a bug on a windshield can't be nearly as painful as being nuked and evaporating off the face of the earth.

4. Confess your love to your crush. There's nothing like the feeling that you never had a chance, only to be struck by the knowledge that you never had a chance when she tells you she's not interested.

3. Gorge yourself, hoard all that food! Then when the world doesn't end, you can (again) blame your weight gain on something other than yourself.

2. Run naked through the streets declaring God loves everyone. What a great way to alert all those folks on crime sprees that it's open season for rape and sodomy.

1. Invest in yellow contacts and tattoo your face red with two horns on your forehead. Whether you wind up in heaven or hell, it should make for an interesting conversation with your host!

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3  (link to post)
dolores haze  (link to post)
randi.lee  (link to post)
writingismypassion  (link to post)
bmadsen  (link to post)
Ralph Pines  (link to post)
AllieKat  (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes  (link to post)
katci13  (link to post)
Angyl78  (link to post)
pyrosama  (YOU ARE HERE)
Araenvo  (link to post)
CJ Michaels  (link to post)
SuzanneSeese  (link to post)
BBBurke  (link to post)
gell214  (link to post)

SRHowen  (link to post)
meowzbark  (link to post)
Aheïla  (link to post)

10 December 2012

Replacing Cliches - Celebrate Originality

How many times do you run across these every day clichés? We hear them all the time, but in writing fiction, we’re cautioned against using them. But how do you keep yourself from using what’s already been established as the ole famous way of saying what everyone wants to say? That’s why originality is so important in establishing your voice.

Here's another writing exercise I read about in The Five-Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty. This fun exercise helped improve my confidence in stepping outside the box and being a bit more original. Maybe in doing so, I’ve missed the mark at some point, but it was still fun.

Try to rewrite these clichés by replacing the italicized word(s) below. I will never get bored with writing exercises. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Flat as a pancake

Flat as a girl who pads her triple A bra

Good as gold

Good as knowing you're wearing fresh underwear just before you wreck your car

Faster than a bat out of hell

Faster than Susan Rice making network rounds in order to blame a video for what happened in Ben Ghazi

Charging around like a bull in a china shop

Charging around like Napolean on a basketball court

Pretty as a picture

Pretty as Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway vent

Slow as a snail

Slow as Obama proclaiming Israel is our friend

Hard as nails

Hard as finding government employees in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy

Meek as a lamb

Meek as an English teacher from Great Britain teaching at a high school in South Compton, L.A.

White as a sheet

White as Michael Jackson at a rap concert

Silent as the grave

Silent as a crowded elevator when a midget steps in

Cold as ice

Cold as the first splash from a bidet on a flaming hemorrhoid

Go ahead, try them! This was so much fun my day has gone by faster than a speeding bullet (I had to).

07 December 2012

Life Metaphors - An Exercise

Here's a writing exercise I read about in The Five-Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty, which I absolutely loved! I can't tell you enough how much this exercise will get your creative minds turning out some really great ideas for metaphors. You’ll have to try it out yourself.

Step 1 - Ms. Geraghty asks that you make a list of five concrete nouns. Mine are: tire, snake, shoe, dinner plate, and penis (just for giggles).

Just so you know, I chose my nouns prior to reading step two.

Step 2 - Ms. Geraghty asks that you make your metaphors starting out with the following three words:

Life is like...

Here are my creative metaphors. I hope you try the exercise for yourself.

Life is like a tire: It is resilient, made to bounce back from rugged terrain. It comes full circle and guides us along a path of ups and downs, all the way to our final destination.

Life is like a snake: Left alone in its own path, it is graceful and self-sufficient. But if you mess with it, the unexpected viciousness with which it may strike back could leave behind dire consequences.

Life is like a shoe: There are many different kinds, but in the end, they all wind up in the same place.

Life is like a dinner plate: It presents to you opportunities at regular intervals, but be careful what you accept and be wary of the chef.

Life is like a penis: It grows and stretches the limits of existence until it reaches a peak, then it slowly declines until we're left with a wrinkled, old vessel.

Feel free to share yours in the comments! I’d love to read what you’ve come up with.

05 December 2012

A Kitten Makes Her Escape (video)

In the name of making progress, my daughter brought home this poor kitten who'd been abandoned. The little critter had such a spirit about her, I couldn't give up this opportunity to share my video. Oblivious to her surroundings, she finished off her food and planned for an escape.

Granted, my video production skills suck, but you get the idea. Hopefully, you will agree that this is indeed making progress. Next time, this will not be the mission impossible. It will be the mission accomplished as so eloquently stated by our beloved President George W. Bush.


P.S. No animal was hurt in the production of this video (maybe a few increased patterns of heart palpitations, but that's okay).

02 December 2012

J is For JESUS Help Me, I Have a Toothache!

Honestly, I'd rather be giving birth right now. This is why I save the pain medications prescribed after major surgery such as tummy tucks or painful procedures like breast biopsies. You never know when you'll really need them for something like a cracked molar.

I'd welcome a bone-crushing blow to the jaw, because that would drown out the last bit of niggling pain which pierces the ends of each swollen root of my bottom, right molar. There's always that constant annoyance which remains no matter how many milligrams of Hydrocodone you ingest.

I feel like there's a cancer growing in my gland, or maybe just some gremlin waiting at the end of the infected nodule with a pair of fingernail clippers, and every three seconds it snips a piece of infected meat off the pulsating nerve. My poor tooth screams out for some relief and the generic Oxycodone yells back, "Shut it! I'm doing the best I can."

Meanwhile, I watch the clock because if I don't take another pill exactly thirty minutes before my next scheduled dosage, I will be crying like a baby, curled in the fetal position, while attempting the shallow breathing technique I learned in yoga class, all this while waiting for my medication to kick in.

I will finally get some relief tomorrow morning when I undergo the much welcomed root canal. It can't happen soon enough and it will definitely be making progress.

27 November 2012

Cheats, Hacks, and Walkthroughs

Ever wonder how some people seem to breeze through a game with little to no frustrations? One day the gaming industry will wise up and stop creating difficult games and then providing solutions to "get around" the difficult obstacles. I mean, what's the point, right?

I work all day long analyzing, creating, problem solving, and debugging technical glitches. My mind is literally exhausted when I get off work. The last thing I want to do is sit down and play an online RPG and struggle with the logic of the story and the technical mechanics of the game play. Forget that it sucks when you die. It’s worse when some kid reaches level 100, dons a cape of invisibility and kills you with one thrust of his triple action bullwhip all the while screaming, "Die old lady!" This is the society we've created.

Well, I'm fighting back! I'm going to educate all those people like me who want to get back at these little cheaters, fight them at their own game. We need to take back our pride, show them we can do it too! Grab your walking canes, ladies and gents. So here goes.

First, you need to know the difference between 3 universal terms you'll find almost everywhere in the gaming world. Do not use them lightly. They are each very specific.


Cheats are special instruction codes shared amongst an elite group of players who, by way of leaks, receive them from those designers "in the know".

Scenario #1

I'm a software developer and I create a game called Diane's Dungeon, and I decide I'm going to create a special command or a group of commands which do special things. It could be anything from creating a crap load of gold or doubling your experience points so you can level up faster. On release day, I whisper to my friends who are aching to exact revenge on the kid down the road for kicking their asses in Diablanco III, a game created by my arch nemesis (who also made cheats for his game).

My friends tell their friends, who in turn tell their friends. Before you know it, everyone is a millionaire level 100 who beat the game already. It's not the end for the designer though, no worries. The gamers who really enjoy figuring things out on their own will take a leisurely stroll through the game world and request some assistance along the way until they are about 90 years old and still haven't beat the game, but we'll learn about walkthroughs shortly. I want to talk a little about hacks.


Hacks are designed by third party people who are not responsible for the game itself. These persons may have an awareness of unique features of a game and they utilize those features to enhance the user experience (I like the sound of that).

This is all client side stuff, so if you connect to a multi-user server and expect to keep your new enhancements, think again. Not all is lost though. You can seek out any number of hacker havens, places where you and other "enhancement seeking" players can log in and duke it out with your new hacked uber powers.

Scenario #2

If I’m lucky, I might get to level 100 by the time I'm 90 years old. Gaming is unbelievably time-consuming! But being the true hacker that I am, I want to see just how skilled I would be using my magic at level 100. I log into one of my hacker havens, perform the hack steps and increase my levels, TA DA! Uber fighter dude does the same thing.

Now we battle it out, a level 100 mage and a level 100 fighter. The fighter wins because he took additional steps in hacking room C, which got him unlimited amounts of healing potion. Silly me! I'll be ready next time. Just have to remember the healing hack.

Neither one of those scenarios ever got me too excited. I got bored too easily. Once you hit the maximum level, there’s nothing left to do! Cheat codes to get the most powerful weapons are no good when you’re in the newbie area. What are you going to do? Maul a tiny rat with a 3-skull, flaming flail? When you get to be my age, all that desire for the fancy stuff sort of dies, but you don’t want to stop discovering the fun, cool things by doing it the right way, the way game experience is intended. That’s why when I get stuck anymore, I use a walkthrough, or better yet, the Universal Hint System.


A walkthrough is the simplest form of cheating which does not harm the integrity of the game code or your PC. It is nothing more than a step by step instruction on what actions to take in order to beat a foe, clear an area, find a stone, or enter a secret passage. You name it and it will be covered in a walkthrough.

Scenario #3

Up until a point in the game, everything had been easy. You’re a level 10 warrior, but every time you try to enter the “Cave of Untouchables” a giant tarantula comes crushing through the wall and eats you. You’re at your wit’s end, it’s 2:00 a.m. and you have to go to work in the morning.

Google: Planet of Aros Cave of Untouchables tarantula walkthrough

Voilà! The step by step instructions lead you to the entrance, but before you enter the cave, you must click on the ninth point of the chandelier hanging above a pile of stones. Really. Isn’t it enough to make you want to strangle the programmer who came up with that logic? I’m not making this up either. No wonder kids need cheats and hacks!

And there you have it, in simplest terms and no techie talk, just good old fashioned English. Now, let’s go find us a game to play.  My favorite of all time was Baldur’s Gate. Do you have a favorite game? Multiplayer or single player?

21 November 2012

Four Levels of Showing and Telling

I loved participating at the Florida Writers Conference this past October. There were so many sessions I wanted to attend, but only one of me!

I would like to share with you one session conducted by Author and Editor, Chris Roerden. This was an amazing session, not because it dealt with showing and telling, but she describes what happens at each of the four levels of showing and telling while describing your characters’ emotions.

In your writing, you can share your character emotions in four ways or what she refers to as four levels. Here they are as described by Ms. Roerden:

1. Telling about emotion

Ms. Roerden didn't actually say this, but I will. This is the most boring way in communicating to your reader the emotions of your characters. You would only do this if you want your story to read like a sports commentator giving you the rundown on how a team responds to losing a game. The coach is not happy! The defensive coordinator is apparently displeased. Tebow is crying now. Wow, what a game!

Really? Can you get any more detached than this? I am not fully serious here. There are times when this is okay, especially when you want to pick up the pace.

2. Telling via description

This is better. At least it's much more refined than the first level. This is where you use the eight senses to tell how your character is feeling by way of describing what they see, hear, taste, smell...etc. Little details help build the description and put your reader where they want to be, "in the scene". Consider this, from Dean Koonzt's From The Corner of His Eye.

Junior shoved Naomi so hard that she was almost lifted off her feet. Her eyes flared wide, and a half-chewed wad of apricot fell from her gaping mouth. She crashed backward into the weak section of railing. 
For an instant, Junior thought the railing might hold, but the pickets splintered, the handrail cracked, and Naomi pitched backward off the view deck, in a clatter of rotting wood. She was so surprised that she didn’t begin to scream until she must have been a third of the way through her long fall. 
Junior didn’t hear her hit bottom, but the abrupt cessation of the scream confirmed impact.

It's as if you are standing there watching this happen, isn't it? I like this a lot. It's not that I want an entire story told in such a manner. We all need a break from the excitement, so we turn the page and listen to the commentator again. Wow, our guy there must have been really mad at Naomi to have shoved her off the deck like that, huh? And did you see that? She looked surprised.

3. Showing via character perception

You can show your character perceptions with the use of metaphors and symbolisms.

Her voice made me cringe like the sound of a cat sliding down a chalkboard. 
Her mouth vacuumed up the last morsels on her plate. 

Now, her mouth isn't a vacuum, but with the use of her mouth in this manner, you can actually see her slumped over the plate, moving along the flat surface, and sucking up the crumbs as if it were a vacuum cleaner. That's descriptive considering you've only used a few words. Be careful with this as you may start to see your writing become somewhat animated, and that's not good, unless you're writing for the sake of comedy.

4. Showing via visceral feelings

According to Roerden, you don't want to do this very often. Too much of a good thing can wear your readers down. This is a technique where you convey the feelings of your characters through their primal responses to survival.

Her stomach froze and the sweat poured from her temples. The pounding of her heart reached her ears and pulsed like an air pump.

These are internal observations of your characters and are not things they witness externally. The feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize your child has gone missing is called a visceral response.

Don't do too much of this to your readers. They'll start to think you're a sadistic psycho.

Anyway, this hour-long session with Ms. Roerden was superb. I enjoyed her passion for what she does and I hope to attend more of her sessions in the future.

17 November 2012

Son's Graduation Associate's of Science

I couldn't think of a better blog entry today than this one, being my blog theme really is about making progress with journeys of all kinds, and not just my own journey.

Today, I would like to dedicate a blog entry to my son, Cameron Carlisle. He received his Associate of Science Degree in Information Technology from Keiser University. I can't tell you how proud we are of him.

Congratulations, Cameron!  :D

16 November 2012

My 10 Newbie Writing Experiences

I remember in my first creative writing class, my instructor told me I started my story in the wrong place. I was like, "No I didn't. It starts on page one."

Having movement on the first page means a rock skipping across the lake, a motorcycle slamming into a semi, or a cockroach skittering along the wall. Unless you're looking to attract some disturbed readers, this movement does not include a turd dropping into the toilet. 

The first time my creative writing instructor red-penned Really? on one of my papers next to something fantastical and completely unbelievable, I commented back with Yes, really! and turned it back in hoping for a better grade. I never got the paper back. 

Don't just tell me it was painful; show me how painful. This doesn't mean, "It was extremely painful."

If grammatical mistakes make you cringe when you read them in a novel, imagine how they'd make you feel when discovered during mud sex. If you don't know what that is, you are missing the key element to the reader/writer bonding experience.

I once had an instructor tell us that readers like emotional characters, so I ended up with a wimpy, whiney protagonist. I discovered much later, in this context, emotional does not mean readers want your characters to cry, moan, or shamelessly grovel. They want your characters to use their emotions to empower. Their lust will conquer the mistress, their anger will break the antagonist, and their fear will force them to face the evils which threaten to harm them or their loved ones. 

I spent years writing and hiding my work so that nobody could copy what would become my masterpieces which would earn me millions. Then I realized writers are supposed to have readers!

I found out the hard way that stream of consciousness writing exercises are not good for a person with a mind like mine and that it is always a good thing to delete your exercises when done.

There's nothing that disturbs me more than when I read my own poetry. That's why I stopped writing poetry.

"Can I send you my manuscript?" in the body of an email is not a query letter.

Those are some of my more embarrassing learning moments in my young writing career. Do you have some to share, even if they are the same and can help me feel better about my faux pas? 

13 November 2012

Mock Review of Lethal Injection, The Seed

This month's prompt at Absolute Write:
NaMoReMo (National Mock Review Month)

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, write a mock review of a writing project that you have done or would like to do. Make sure to either give a brief, one-sentence description of what the project is or work it into the review somehow. You can review anything (poetry, prose, collected blog posts) and in any way you like (funny, serious, Dadaist). Each post should be less than 1000 words if possible.

Lethal Injection, The Seed

Lethal Injection, The Seed by Diane Carlisle is a tale so disturbing it makes one wonder if the author has had some experience with the subject matter at hand. Who can make up such things as what it feels like to come to terms with molestation and the mortality of its perpetrators? How does an author weave such a tale without disgust for her own words?

This story resonates with the haunting voice of a young man coming to grips with his demons and confronting the past before it is too late to repair the path to his own future. I have a feeling we will be seeing this character again as the ending seemed open to more of the same disturbing reflections, peeling the onion petals further and further away from the middle and exposing a core to this dark secret, one for which we never have the opportunity to render a closure.

It is an unorthodox weaving of what appears to be an attempt at literary work by an amateur writer. I was unable to stomach this short piece of work. Likewise, I was unable to stop reading for the horror of it.

I would recommend it only because I think Diane Carlisle is a great person and would like to see her make some profit off this one, even though it is her first published fiction and she has not earned herself recognition in the literary circles of such elite and prominent authors as J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Participants and posts:
Ralph Pines 
dolores haze 
SRHowen -  (link to post)
pyrosama -  (You Are HERE)
Angyl78 -  (link to post)
wonderactivist -  (link to post)

09 November 2012

Character of the Day, My Crazy Neighbors

Today I read a Facebook status of an ole high school friend. It was something along the lines of being grateful that she has wonderful neighbors. This got me thinking about my own neighbors whom I’ve had the displeasure to endure for several years. I started writing a comment, which turned into an epic rant, and so I decided rather than clutter her beautiful status with my obvious discourse, I would instead create this post on my blog.

Many years ago, when our neighbors moved in, there was the occasional chitchat across our respective lawns when leaving for work, arriving home from work, and checking the mail. That all changed when we put up our privacy fence.

The privacy fence is a required structure by the City of Tallahassee for any resident owner of a pool. Of course, we are law-abiding citizens and since we were having a pool installed, we erected the 6-foot standard privacy fence. That’s when things turned ugly.

It was as if the neighbors felt jaded, the privacy fence being our statement of drawing boundaries. Why does this happen? I don’t know, but it does. It doesn’t matter. Now we experience the full onslaught of Boundary Wars. I should pitch a reality show on this one.

First, there was the surveyor. I guess they wanted to ensure we hadn’t erected a portion of the fence on their property. We acknowledge and shrug it off. However, that wasn’t enough for them. A conciliatory nod and we figure things will be fine. Nope.

The next thing we realize, our neighbors are mowing their lawn twice as often as they used to, almost three times per week. The husband, like clockwork, moves back and forth across their lawn, a look of disdain upon his face, laboriously pushing the mower in order to get a quarter inch trim on their grass. One thing I notice is the caution he takes when pushing the mower down the property line, which separates our lawn from theirs.

How peculiar! Why were they so worried about getting it perfectly cut, right on the property line? After all, there was no fence in the front. We decide it’s just a quirk and when our grass is ready to mow, we mow our lawn up to the point where they distinctly, and with much effort, marked their property. It gets worse.

At some point, Tim was rolling up our garden hose and when it got a kink in it, he yanked and twirled it and about two feet of the hose plopped over onto our neighbor's lawn. You'd have thought we cast a spell of fireball explosion on their property from the looks on their faces.

A week later, we arrived home from work and the crew chief for the group we hired to rebuild our back deck approached my husband and profusely apologized for having stepped in our neighbor’s yard. After he explained the frenzy with which the female of the house, our illustrious neighbor, spiraled into when he’d attempted to carry a load of 2 x 4s into our backyard, I realized we were dealing with more than just bruised egos here.

The crew chief explained that an hour later she came out with sandwiches and iced tea for all of them and apologized for her outburst. She used this poor guy as a sounding board and went on about how me and my husband are inconsiderate, evil beings. This woman is badmouthing us to the people we hired to work on our home. WTF??!

Similar incidents have happened since, with the man we hired to paint our home, and with the lawn maintenance guy who parks his equipment trailer on the curbside. The best way to deal with this issue is to ignore our neighbors and their behavior.

They’re not hurting us, but it’s so obvious they are in some sort of distress about boundaries. I don’t want to approach either one because I believe it would only make things worse. Instead, I just tell people who visit us that our neighbors are a bit finicky about their lawn so please steer clear!

This picture tells me they are still hung up on boundaries. You can’t make this stuff up. This is why I write fiction. Because therein lies the truth!

What quirkiness do you deal with in your daily life? I'd love to hear from you. It would make me feel better about this dilemma.

06 November 2012

Writer and Muse are not Cooperating

Let's talk about productivity, just briefly. When my writer self wants to write, it tells my muse to do something, get me started...I need you! I liken my writer self to Wally and my muse to the pointy-haired boss.

When the muse is finally ready to do its thing, it seeks from the writer what the writer is unwilling to give, which is the time needed for this magic to happen.

I really do wish I could be more productive with my writing, especially with making progress on my novel. I just need some fresh ideas and something to get me excited again. I should probably re-address where I'm spending all my time, which keeps me away from the thing I enjoy most, writing. Maybe this post should be about procrastination.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. How do I get my writer self and muse to cooperate with each other?

31 October 2012

Balancing Your Story - 4 Elements

In my many years of playing RPGs, I can tell you a little about balance in your stories. Balance exists in the gaming world and it should exist in your novels as well. World building is my weakest point when it comes to fiction. There are four main things which I believe determine if a story experience is fulfilling for me in a way which makes me remember it for several years to come. This is what I refer to when discussing balance of these elements.

World Building – What you need in order to have a great setting.

Is the world fleshed out? It is tricky to get a reader to see your world like you see it in your head. You have to describe it. You cannot just explain that your story takes place in an old haunted house and expect to spook your reader. Provide enough detail so we get a better picture. Describe the cobwebs, the cracks in the wooden floor. Hell, mention a few spiders clambering up the wall. Maybe a large hairy one plops onto the floor, wriggles itself upright, and skitters away. Oh, hell no. Now I can't sleep! I hate spiders. I shouldn't have written that. Onward!

Is there balance in the number of characters you develop in your world? Are there enough characters? How boring would that be if the only character in your world had nothing with which to interact? Well, with the exception of those creepy spiders, it would be a bit boring. Likewise, are there too many characters in it? What happens when you introduce too many characters? You feel guilty when you don’t spend the time finding a fit for them in your story without making it an epic challenge. I break this down a little bit more in Matrix Revolutions, my critique. An obvious fan of this particular movie blasted me in the comments.

Is there enough interaction between world and characters? If you take the time to describe an area in your world, make sure at least one of your characters interacts with those details. Obviously, if there are spiders in this house and you take the time to describe to the extent I did, the reader is going to expect this to be foreshadowing something, so you cannot disappoint them. Maybe somewhere along the way someone is bitten, and therein lies a twist!

Quests – What you need to keep your story from flat lining.

Are there distractions? I liken this to twists and plots in fiction. The story can become flat and predictable if you do not introduce some form of deviation from the path of the known. If a reader suspects just another cookie cutter path, they will likely become bored and put your book down. However, if it's changed up a bit with something new and different, then you might keep their attention long enough to get them to the next plot point.

Just be careful in having too many distractions which may detract from the ultimate story line. It could inadvertently dilute your story and make it less important than the collective individual quests.

Intrigue – What you need to pull in an audience (readers).

Here is something I’d like to share with you about my favorite text based RPG. The first time I ever played Threshold, I struggled with navigating around and reading about roads and shops and different places, but it wasn't long before I discovered an intriguing room description. Here's what I read, simple yet very effective:

Academe Arcane

   This large powerful structure houses the Mage Guild of Threshold.
Within are numbers of potent mages, researching that which ordinary
folks cannot comprehend. The air is still, like that of the eye of
a hurricane.

A large sign is posted on the wall.

     Obvious exits are west and up.

          Mages Guild of Threshold
| inquire - tells you about the mage guild
| join    - joins this guild          

Let’s name a few things we all desire: power, a sense of belonging, purpose. See how effective this description is already? Look at the power words: powerful, potent, even hurricane…implying more of the same.

The first thing I did? Yes! I typed "inquire" and was immediately rewarded with a masterfully crafted synopsis of what to expect should I join this mysterious guild. The writing was even more powerful. I was not able to contain myself. I typed "join" right away. I was so anxious to join I immediately performed all required tasks which followed in order to be accepted. The writing seed planted, I was addicted.

A Journey – What you need before the final words “The End”.

A journey is comprised of several distinct relationships with systems around your protagonist/character. Does your character embark on a journey? Or as described by Christopher Vogler in A Hero's Journey, does your character answer the call to journey and then experience that full character arc?

Several of my RPG characters have joined guilds, clans, and churches. They've joined circles, they've opened lines of communications with other races, and they've established connections with other like-minded entities, good, evil, and neutral. However, none of my characters ever came full circle in their arcs.

I like to think I've come close though. What I ultimately failed at is giving my characters goals and objectives, never describing their inner desires in achieving their final destinations, the end of their stories. Maybe I’m not done playing! Er, journeying.

All of these relationships create friction and conflict for the character/protagonist, so if there isn't a journey, then there will be no conflict and your story will fall flat. Which means you will likely be rerolling your character to try it again. I did it several times and never got it right in the RPGs, but they were fun and taught me a little something about what I need to know before I can expect readers to love what I write. I'll find out one day when I finish writing my novel.

Keep writing! I’m still doing the balancing act and learning myself. Oh, and you can support my writing by checking out my one and only published short story - Lethal Injection, The Seed.

26 October 2012

Creating Strong Chapters

I had an opportunity to attend the FloridaWriters Association conference in Orlando, Florida this year and I had the best time. Meeting other writers, some published, some not, made me feel so at home. I found myself selecting sessions which intrigued me, looking for that next morsel of knowledge which makes it all come together in this mystical journey toward weaving the ultimate tale.

Here are some tidbits we gained about creating strong chapters. I think we already know these things, but have we seen them in a list, jumping off a page, or passionately lectured at a writing conference? I am not sure, but I will share it here. This was such a refresher and I was enthusiastic when I sat down to map out chapters six and seven!

Before you start your next chapter, ask yourself these questions and then proceed. Keep in mind, each character needs to have a goal, a desire for a favorable outcome.

These were questions asked in our session: How to Structure Your Fiction by Janice Decker

Who will be in this chapter and what are their goals/desires?

You will obviously have your protagonist or POV character, along with other known characters and characters you wish to introduce. List them and their goals. Every character in your chapter must have a desire or else why are they here? When every character has a goal, go to the next question.

What is each character's physical, emotional, and psychological state coming into the chapter?

The reader needs to know this so that when the story unfolds, there is a transformation which happens while you write your chapter. By knowing this information, you are able to write a natural story line and make your fiction more believable. Readers relate to your characters' emotions and psychological makeup, so long as they are believable, you can let the fiction flow!

Where do you want each of your characters to be with respect to their physical, emotional, and psychological state when the chapter ends?

If you know character A is anxious because she suspects her husband of cheating on her, then she cannot be anxious when the chapter ends. She will either be relieved to have discovered she was wrong, or she will be distraught to discover she was right. Either way, there has to be a change by the end of the chapter. If there is no distinctive difference, then your characters will come across as flat and your chapter a dud!

With all three questions answered, you will be able to move from point A (beginning of chapter) to point B (ending of chapter), keeping your chapter tight and strong. That was the lesson and I plan to put it to use from here on out. Thank you, Janice Decker!

19 October 2012

J is For Just Do IT!

Anticipation of the Writers Conference in Orlando, Florida this weekend inspires this post. The Florida Writers Association is organizing the event and I am super excited about attending. It was an extraordinary learning experience last year and well worth the cost. I am sure to absorb loads of material with which to share when I return. If you are unable to attend, please consider attending the TWA conference next May in Tallahassee, Florida.

Why the title "J is For Just Do It"? Because J was the next letter. Seriously, because that is the message I want you to take away after reading this post.

Two years ago, I made the decision to do something about my desire to write on a more serious level. Sure, I had written stories throughout the past 10 years, but I had never considered sharing my interest. I called it an interest because many years ago, that is exactly what it was. Today, that is not the case anymore. My writing has more meaning to me. It has been a base from which I have grown and developed a sense of identity and this growth has helped me discover things important in my life.

Writing seems to have an emotionally soothing appeal for me. My husband calls it self-medication. Whatever it is, wherever it may take you, if you love to write, don't let anyone stop you. It will bring meaning to your life and it will gain you an insight into the world around you, which you might otherwise miss.

Just do it. Write your future!

Visit my Alphabet Links:
A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

14 October 2012

Other Worldly Blog Chain

This month's prompt: 
Otherworldly at Absolute Write

Ghouls, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Old Hallows Eve, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween. October is the month where the veil between our world and the other things. Therefore, this month is about those things beyond our world, be they scary, funny or anything in between. Write wherever the prompt inspires you, fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry. Do try to keep things at a PG-13 level, though.

My Otherworldly Weirdness!

Who Art Thou?

"Who's there?" I insist.

The danger looms.

"I am that from which you have escaped many times," the low, raspy voice insists.

"Who are you?"

"I'm not here to harm you, only to help."

The kind sentiment puts me at ease. "You must know my dilemma." I ponder this aloud, attempting to unravel the mystery behind such a gracious offer of support.

The voice continues after a brief chuckle, "Ah, but you see, your dilemma is no mystery to me. By your escaping me, consistently and with much success, I can guess with relative surety what torments you. Your persistence, your tenacity, and your insistence in continuing escapades throughout my lands gives me a very clear picture of who I'm dealing with."

I wonder how I might respond to this interlude. I expect it to be brief. I will make an attempt to flee after I satiate my curiosity.

The dark figure, now looming over me, reaches out and lifts my chin. Red eyes glow brighter than rubies and burn into mine. They unleash a fire into my core, singeing my heart, and encasing its outer layer in a hard, blackened crust.

I feel hot tears fall down my cheeks, yet the curiosity lurks.

The figure speaks a final sentiment before it fades away, "Let your hardened heart heal on the inside. In time, you will understand my purpose in your life. For now, know that I am.

If you enjoyed this theme, please visit the other participants:

pyrosama:  (YOU ARE HERE)
xcomplex:  (post link here)

bmadsen:  (post link here)
bearilou:  (post link here)
CJMichaels:  (post link here)
Damina Rucci:  (post link here)

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