27 May 2012

50 Shades of Evil

A red-headed, twelve-year-old brat with matted, curly hair and a freckled face says to a middle-aged lady, "Wow, you're old."

The middle-aged lady says, "Oh yeah? Well, God blessed me with good hair."

What is evil and how do you find the simplest form of it?

Have you ever thought something in your mind, even if for a fleeting moment and then immediately scolded yourself, Shush! That's just EVIL? It’s as simple as that. Say what you thought and evil is exposed. In writing fiction, write that which you would not say. It's the purest form of evil you could ever imagine.

Because evil hides within the confines of the intelligent, all-knowing recesses of your mind, it is literally undiscoverable to the innocents of the world. That's why it is so powerful when exposed. Evil lurks just under the surface of our thoughts. Some unsuspecting evil doers allow the penetration of this surface, others dare not.

Here's an example:

A dear friend shows off her ring and says, "Look, Diane! Frank proposed to me last month." 
It looks a bit tight on her finger, she must have gained a few pounds in her month long complacency. Wonder how much she'll gain once she's been married a full year? (evil lurks)
"How lovely!" I say. (penetration does not occur)

Since we are in first person POV, the evil goes undetected by the other character. How can we change this and make the other character aware of the evil without exposing its source and outing our antagonist?

A dear friend shows off her ring and says, "Look, Diane! Frank proposed to me last month."
It looks a bit tight on her finger, she must have gained a few pounds in her month long complacency. Wonder how much she'll gain once she's been married a full year? (evil lurks)
"How lovely! Take it off and let me have a look," I say. (Subtle penetration, undetected)
The friend attempts to take off the ring and is embarrassed. The ring will not budge. (Effect of evil)
"I'm on my period and my fingers are pretty bloated right now." (Combatting evil)

Now let's do full on evil and not be so coy about it.

A dear friend shows off her ring and says, "Look, Diane! Frank proposed to me last month."
"How the hell did you get that thing on your fat finger? It looks like a knot in a sausage link."

My favorite is the subtle penetration. There's nothing more evil than someone who has control over the situation and goes literally undetected. That is pretty evil to me.

So tell us how you serve up your evil! Are your characters forth-coming or do they play coy and hide from the rest of the world?

24 May 2012

I Saved A Baby Squirrel, Sort Of

Two days ago my daughter ran over a squirrel and she felt horrible about it. The incident reminded me of a time where I saved a baby squirrel. Well, sort of.

It was a cold and rainy day. Just kidding.  Remember; never start a story with a weather report.

First, I have to introduce my tabby cat, Precious. She was a rescue from the Leon County Humane Society about eleven years ago. She enjoys her independence, coming and going as she pleases. Sometimes I wonder if she's not truly evil.

I came home from work one day and discovered a baby squirrel on my front porch. It had two small puncture wounds on the back of its neck. When I heard a tiny peep, I froze. It was still alive. The poor squirrel's hind legs kicked a couple of times. The poor thing's eyes weren't even open yet.

I could hardly breathe for fear I'd signal a “call to action” by the illustrious feline sitting on the porch next to it. I must have forgotten to let her in before I left for work. Either way, she sat there, watching me, tail swishing back and forth.

It was at that time I decided I would rescue the baby squirrel and with what I felt was a menacing scowl, I hissed at Precious. Her agitation evident in the swishing of her tail, she stood at attention. The hissing didn't work, so I jumped forward in a quick motion with one foot stomping down in front of her. She reared back and scampered off.

I wrapped the baby squirrel up in some cheese cloth and immediately called my husband. After fifteen minutes of howling into the phone, I said, "Just hurry home, we have to take it to the vet."

"You have got to be kidding."

"No, get home right away."

I held the squirrel all the way to the St. Francis Wildlife Association (the vet was closed). I rushed the animal into the reception area and explained to the young lady what had happened.

She gave me a form to fill out and while I was filling out the form, I allowed her to take my bundled critter. When she peeled back the cloth to have a look, I was overwhelmed with pride to see it was still alive. I knew I'd done the right thing.

"Ma'am, this is a rat."

I looked up, obviously surprised.

"But it's okay," she said. "It's not a problem."

The thing is, it IS a problem. You see, at every gathering, at every barbeque, at every social event you might conceive a great platform for introducing a story of stupidity, my husband takes the opportunity to share this experience with anyone who is willing to listen. Therefore, I am posting it as a blog entry and sharing with the world so he doesn't feel the need to regurgitate it, yet again, this Memorial Day weekend.

21 May 2012

Zompocalypse Now - Black Hawk Down

This month's Absolute Write prompt: 
Zompocalypse Now! Give us your take on the zombie apocalypse, be it a zompocalypse story, a zom-com, or a reflection on the genre and the films that inspired it. Write wherever the prompt inspires you, fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry. Do try and keep things at a PG-13 level, though.

Here's mine!

Skyhawk1122 and I are the only ones logged in at 2:00 a.m. Sometimes we’d see duddette69 online, but she always dies and logs off before either of us can get over to revive her.

I’m almost out of ammo and I’m pissed. Hawk ascends the staircase and I protest. “Dude, you need to rebuild the barriers." I adjust my earpiece, but I know he’s not listening. It’s too late anyway. A zombie hits me from behind and I can’t get away.

“Shut the hell up,” he says. “Come upstairs to the lobby.” Hawk’s voice echoes in my right ear and there's static in the line.

“I’m dead, moron.” It’s the only thing I can stomach as a response. I yank off my blue-tooth device and throw it at the television. Three more zombies munch on my brains while the screen goes black and white. Game over. All goes blank.


I am awakened by a nudge to my shoulder and when I push myself up on one knee, everything around me is orange and gray. 

A man standing next to me taps my arm and says, “Let’s take the east wing first.”

“What’s going on?” I manage to sound confident despite my temporary delirium. 

“We’re surrounded and the only way out is up those stairs and through the laboratory.”

I read the guy’s name tag above his right pocket, Skyhawk1122.

The room spins and I try to speak, but my speech is slowed and I feel like I can’t say it fast enough. “Dude, this is not happening.” I wait and hope for confirmation. Nothing comes but the realization we've been physically submerged into the wastelands.

Distant moans close in on us and I recognize the source at the top of the stairs. They come at us, slow at first, eyes gray with no thought.  The one leading the pack breaks into a jog straight for me and everything quickens to a normal speed.

With no time to think, I lift my weapon and fire. The blast sprays decayed flesh everywhere and the headless body topples onto the floor. A second shot takes off the arm of a crawler two paces behind.

“Quick, I need more ammo.” Hawk makes his way up the stairs. I follow, taking two steps at a time. My heart pounds in my chest and I wonder if he’s scared too.

He grabs four boxes of ammo and hands me two, then tosses me an AR-15 from the trunk. “Load up. It’s going to get ugly.”

I quickly load and insert my magazine, but before we make an entry into the room, two zombies and a ghoul spring forward and grab Hawk, pulling him toward the stairs. The echoes of his abandoned screams pierce my ears. I hear the quiver in his voice when he begs for me to fire. I can’t get a decent shot because they are all over him and the only thing I can see is the fear in his eyes. I decide it’s too late to save him. 

He screams while they drag him away, feasting on his brain matter. Then there is silence, with a trail of blood and pieces of flesh left behind. I can still save myself before the next feeding. I head toward the laboratory.

It is now also a blog hop! Try these.

Please visit the following participants and their posts:

dclary - (link to this month's image)
orion_mk3 -  (link to this month's post)
randi.lee -  (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines -  (link to this month's post)
writingismypassion -  (link to this month's post)
dclary -  (link to this month's post)
SinisterCola -  (link to this month's post)
PragmaticPimp -  (link to this month's post)
magicmint -  (link to this month's post)
SuzanneSeese -  (link to this month's post)
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areteus -  (link to this month's post)
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kimberlycreates-  (link to this month's post)

For more fun, come join our blog chains!

16 May 2012

Pacing For Pleasure - Where Are The Experienced Writers?

Ever read a scene in a book and feel this inkling that you’re getting frustrated? It might come in the form of a desire to skip a sentence or two, or maybe you find yourself counting the pages left before the end of the chapter. Either way, you might not be experiencing a boring scene, it could just be the delivery.

The disappointment I run into is when I buy a book because the back cover blurb sounds like exactly the type story I would enjoy, but then when reading it, I discover the pacing is off. I never really understood this before, not until I took an online course at Gotham Writer’s Workshop and found out exactly what pacing means in a story, and how it can have a positive effect on the reader’s satisfaction.

A pleasurable read for me is usually delivered by an experienced writer. Yep, I’m going to go there. It’s much like having sex. If your partner knows what they are doing, your ride is going to be especially wonderful. An experienced writer will pace their story correctly, because they care about your experience as a reader, and they certainly won’t have you getting all frustrated.

When to speed it up

Combat is not really my thing, but there are many readers who probably enjoy it, especially if it’s done correctly, with the right verbs and smooth pacing.

1. Don’t give blow by blows. Reading isn’t that sort of visual thing like in an action movie. Sure, it looks cool when Trinity and Neo climb walls, seemingly void of any gravity, while shooting at the bad guys. But, do you really have to give details of each bullet shot expelled from their automatic weapons? NO.

2. If a guy gets hit and he’s not going to get up, don’t have the reader waste their time with the drama of the guy hitting the floor, knees first, taking a few steps in a slow crawl, and having dinner before he checks out. Just have him collapse and be done with it. Concentrate your efforts where it will count.

Chases are scene transitions where a writer wants to get you from one place to the next, whether it's a physical location or a plot point, and at the same time, make some movement on the page. Don’t draw this one out. I've read chases where I had to scratch my head in wonderment, trying to figure out what it all meant. Sometimes I feel like the author was just trying to fill some pages with total disregard for my time and enjoyment.

1. Make the scene count. Don’t just have your character run down the alley, turn the corner, and run some more. They do all this running, finally encounter a bridge, jump onto the bank of some body of water, and continue the run. Get us to our destination quickly, or break it up some. I don’t care if you have to put them on a boat and row to their destination. At least you’ll have us thinking maybe they’ll run into a giant anaconda. 

2. A chase should lead to something big, not a dud. There’s nothing like reading about someone being chased, and then at the end of the chase, they are standing around going, “Gee, where’d they go? Oh well, I guess I’ll just go home and make some coffee and forget this ever happened.” It's sort of like the No-resolution Resolution. Unless something spooky or thrilling is going to happen at the end of it, stop with the chases.

When to slow down

Story details surrounding the plot have to stick in our minds or the story won’t make any sense to us when we need those details.

1. When you’re ready to reveal details which have some meaning to the plot, slow it down. Focus on the detail so it is implanted into the reader’s mind. Why? Because we don’t want to get into the story down the road and miss these details. We want to have them secure and at the front of our minds. 

2. Dialogue is another area where details can be revealed to readers. Dialogue helps make it stick. Readers love dialogue and watching your characters converse back and forth, even during their normal, everyday mundanity.

Character development is an important element in fiction writing, especially in longer pieces like novels. The best way to take advantage of this evolving element is to slow down the prose and use sensory descriptions which produce visceral responses.

1. There are probably more, but I like to use the 8 senses. Your characters will come to life when you allow them to see, feel and smell their environment. This is the best way to slow down the pace. I love it when I read a scene and it feels as if I’m right there. This trick will help your readers recall the experience, thereby remembering the details you feed them.

2. Visceral responses work in a similar way. It’s like when you’re experiencing really strong emotions such as fear or anxiety. Doesn’t it almost feel like everything slows, sometimes even to a complete halt? It’s the same thing. When you share emotional responses through your characters, we readers must slow down to hear the beating of their hearts, feel the sweat in their palms, and smell the decaying corpses out to get them.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say about pacing and the pleasures I gain when it’s done really well. Until next time, lover! Keep writing!

12 May 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award - I Accept

AND, for my Versatile Blogger Award!

You know the drill. Here are the rules:

1.) Thank the person who nominated you.

Thank you so much Lauren! Lauren Waters is the author of two novels of the Infinite Series–a reincarnation fantasy saga. She shares her Adventures in Self-Publishing, which all writers should appreciate.

2.) Share seven things about yourself.

* I have two English bulldogs, Maggie and Taz
* I am a gamer girl geek and old enough to be your mother
* I grew up playing Galaga
* I once drank a bottle filled with pond water and tadpoles
* I once believed pregnant women swallowed watermelon seeds
* I won a stuffed, 8-foot snake when I was 5
* I want to study Vodou.

3.) Nominate seven other Versatile Bloggers.

David W. Clary 
Stacy Green 
Julz Perri 
Kim Krodel 
Chantel Rhondeau 
S.P. Clark 

The Kreativ Blogger Award - I Accept

I am humbled again! I've received the honorable Kreativ Blogger Award. So here is what I must do in order to accept it, which I do so with great pride!

1. Thank and link back to the giver.
2. Answer the questions below.
3. Share 10 random facts/thoughts about yourself
4. Nominate at least 7 other blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

So let's get started! Thank you, thank you, and thank you to Debra Ann Elliot for this award. She is the author of High Heels and Hot Flashes, an exceptional blog about finding humor in the mist of menopause.

 10 Questions: 

What is your favorite song? Up Where We Belong
What is your favorite dessert? Cheese cake
What ticks you off? Politics
What do you do when you're upset? Silently fume
Which is/was your favorite pet? My Yorkie, Biscuit 
Which do you prefer, black or white? Black car, white bathing suit.
What is your biggest fear? Spiders
What is your attitude mostly? Positive
What is perfection? Fantasy
What is your guilty pleasure? Writing

10 facts: 

1. I sing in my car
2. I had a childhood crush on David Cassidy
3. I was a tomboy until I turned 15
4. I am a Google Play Developer 
5. I love the Food Network
6. I sometimes dream about food
7. I finished my first plot
8. I am going on a Voo Doo Tour for my 25th Wedding Anniversary
9. I will build a Voo Doo doll of an undisclosed person
10. I will poke needles in said Voo Doo doll

So...on to the 7...in no particular order...

Kellee Conrad 
Randi Lee 
JoDee Luna 
Nicole Pyles 
Super Earthling 
Crack You Whip

06 May 2012

I Learned The 6 Cs From Steve Berry

I attended the Tallahassee Writer's Association Conference yesterday and our Keynote Speaker was Steve Berry. Fascinating as it was, I attended his next session where he shared a very condensed subject matter which is included in his workshops for the History Matters Foundation. Since I've already plotted my story, I've used his 6 Cs to determine if I have a complete story and one any reader would enjoy.

  1. Character Do I have a character people will cheer for? Is she vulnerable enough to capture the hearts of my readers? I hope so.
  2. Crucible What is forcing my character to react to her environment in ways not normal for her? What drives her behaviors? She has a past which haunts her and until she completes her journey through her crisis, her soul will not rest. This is a bit cliche, but who hasn't done this before? I give this a little twist though. 
  3. Conflict Is there conflict in my story? There is conflict in every chapter of my story, including the first few pages, emotional and physical.
  4. Complexity Are there obstacles preventing your character from reaching her goals? I have almost 50 plot points, so I hope it's enough complexity.
  5. Crisis Do all major obstacles come to one point in time where they meet head on? Yes! It's crunch time for my character. She steps over that threshold and makes the ultimate sacrifice, one she never could have made had she not made this journey. The crisis in Top Gun was the huge dog fight over the Pacific Ocean. The obstacles: Maverick's ego, the haunting from his best friend's death, his fight to discipline himself and adhere to the rules and procedures learned at the Top Gun Academy.
  6. Conclusion This is the denouement. The ending where everything comes together and all questions are answered. I have that in my story. The conclusion in Top Gun was Maverick finding Charlie Blackwood in the bar where they met and played the song he sang to her back then, "You've Lost That Loving Feeling."
I'll leave on a note: The conclusion in a Romance Novel is the answer to the question "Does he get the girl?" In which case for a Romance Novel, the answer is always YES!

Check out your next project and tell us if they include these 6 "C" words.

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