27 February 2013

Coming Soon: New Blog Author

In order to keep a steady flow of updates at Are We There Yet? I've invited a new author to join the site. I'll keep it a secret until she writes her first post. I know it's customary to introduce new folks, but I'm not the customary type. I'd rather allow her to make an entrance.

So, I will let you know a little about the new person, though her biography and writing career will be announced and linked in her first post.

She is a former journalist of 13 years with an MFA in Creative Writing. I'm super excited to have her join the blog and offer up valuable tips for our readers. I know we can't get enough opinions about writing and craft, so stick around to find out what's in store!

I will still be posting on a regular basis: Snarky, Gangnum Style!

Talk to you soon.

25 February 2013

What the Leprechaun Said

This month's prompt at Absolute Write: Suggest-A-Prompt

We have so many good prompt ideas that don't get used, so it's now time to mix it up. Posters get to suggest a prompt for the next blogger in line! Be sure to list the prompt and credit the suggester in your post. My prompt is "What the Leprechaun Said". Thank you, Carol, for this great inspirational challenge!

All that gold...

"He's a legendary figure, Eric." Gracie pulled gently on her son's hand. "We're late. Maybe we can come back later and visit." They shopped every year on St. Patrick's Day because it was her sister's birthday and she always waited until the last minute. Previous years were much easier. Eric's curiosity about the world had grown and there never seemed to be enough time to explain everything.

Eric didn't budge. "Is he good or bad?"

"Well, lots of people think he's good because he brings good luck. That's why he's always around a pot of gold."

"But why does he look like that?"

"Like what, Eric?" Gracie peered at the leprechaun in the display window of Macy's department store, her patience wearing thin. The same leprechaun they put out every year stood in its designated spot, a smile plastered across his green, ceramic face, and his left ear chipped at the top, exposing the white plaster beneath the paint. His lifeless eyes stared out from behind the glass and his hand held up in a gesture, waving hello, or in Gracie’s case, goodbye.

Eric wriggled away from Gracie and approached the window, placing his greasy palms flat against it. "Where is it? Where's the gold you crazy lepachon. Gimme, grrrr!"

Gracie reached down and grabbed Eric by one hand, balancing her packages in the other. "Let's go, Eric."

Unwilling at first, Eric conceded, but kept his eyes on the leprechaun while they walked away.

"Mommy, does the lepachon know where the pot of gold is?" Eric asked while Gracie tucked him into bed that night. She wished she hadn't made him wear a green shirt today and she wished she hadn't mentioned anything about leprechauns, four leaf clovers, and pinching people who didn't wear the festive color.

The reflecting light of the moon beamed through the window, casting shadows on the opposite wall. A waving hand and the outline of the leprechaun and his chipped ear appeared briefly and faded from the shadowy wall.

"Some think so, Eric. But nobody ever really saw a real leprechaun. He's just a fairy-tale character."

"Is Santa Claus a fairy-tale character, mommy?"

"Eric, that's not the same thing, honey."

"But I never saw Santa Clause, and he brings me toys on Christmas. If I ask the lepachon for a pot of gold, do you think he would bring it to me since it's St. Patrick's Day?"

Gracie knew better than to continue this conversation. She kissed Eric on the forehead and turned off the bedside lamp. "Goodnight, Eric."

The night drew on and from the shadows, a whisper. "Psst, Eric..."


A searing pain in the pit of her gut woke Gracie in the middle of the night. Eric sat upon her, straddling her like a horse, wriggling a knife through her stomach. "Grrrr, gimme!"

Gracie gasped and grabbed at Eric's hands. The exiting blade sliced her palms open, "What are you doing, Eric!" The pain, the rush of adrenaline, and the warm blood seeping into her night gown, all indications she was not dreaming.

His lifeless eyes looked through her and he plunged the knife in again. "The gold is in there, mommy. It's what the lepachon said!"


Visit these other participants:

orion_mk3  - Yuppies Who Hate the Family Business
ConnieBDowell   Unexpected Library Encounter
bmadsen   Cupcake Disaster
MsLaylaCakes   Unfortunate Sports
HistorySleuth   Less Than Fortunate Foods
writingismypassion   Blind Date with a Ventriloquist
katci13   Evil Cupid
KitCat   Hunting with Hounds
Angyl78   A Ghost's Bad Day
randi.lee   The Wrong Bar
Lady Cat   Visitors 
pyrosama -  (You Are HERE) What the Leprechaun Said
Ralph Pines -  Under the Bed
dclary -  Warm Kitty, Soft Kitty, Evil Ball of Fur
meowzbark -  Road Trip
SRHowen -  Faded Blue Jeans

21 February 2013

The Inspiring Blogger Award

Eve Gaal at The Desert Rocks has nominated me for an award I'd not received yet, so let me just say THANK YOU!!

Also, thanks to Ms. Charity at This Is Life ~ by Charity Pence for nominating me for another Liebster Award. It's a different graphic too, so it's going on my award board.

I’m supposed to start by mentioning seven things—hopefully inspiring things—about myself. Then I must nominate other bloggers, link to them, and make notification. So here it is, and here I go:

7 Things About Me, The Writer

What got me into writing fiction? I played a text-based role-playing game called Threshold. If you sign up to play, please indicate that Pyrosama referred you. How does one go from gamer to fiction writer? There are 10 Milestones.

The first article I'd ever been paid for was less than 500 words.  Go figure, it’s about a game, Legend of Kyrandia. Find it here.

Two years ago, I joined the Tallahassee Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. Both have secured me a network of like-minded people who share my passion for writing, and who are dedicated in helping others with learning the craft by sharing their experiences and valuable resources.

Last year, I became TWA's Electronic Newsletter Editor. I am ecstatic to serve in such a prestigious role and I would never have had the opportunity had I not put myself out there and volunteered to do the very things I'm passionate about, writing and collaborating in order to produce a product. How much more happiness can I ask for?

I've had a combined download count of 302 for my short stories, Snow Leopard (142) and Lethal Injection, The Seed (160). That means people are reading, I hope!

I made it to chapter 8 of my WIP, Precinct 9. There's a first. I never made it through chapter 5 in my previous attempts.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I want to say, "I write."

Why? Because that's what makes me feel alive. Forget that it doesn't pay the bills.

~ ~ ~

The reason for the award is inspiration, so here are the authors and/or bloggers who have inspired me and the reasons why. There are many more, but they have the award already! I looked for a smiley to put here, but I couldn't find one, so just imagine I put it right here, or about 20 words ago.

L. T. Dalin  for her word counts. They remind me to write, even if I don't feel like it.

Auden, Dark Treasury   for her dark fantasy fiction topics. A kindred soul.

J.W. Alden   for the deep thoughts that always get me thinking - NO, they won't stop...must stop...thinking!

Randi, The Emotional Process of Writing a Novel   for always creating the topics I love to talk about. Almost always about writing, which is definitely my inspiration to, you know, write!

20 February 2013

Who Do You Write Like?

Out of curiosity, I pasted one of my recent blog posts into the analyzer to find out who I write like. The result?

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I had no idea!

Try it, blog about it, and share the link in the linky thingy below!

15 February 2013

Emotional Setting In Your Story

I've decided to use some contrast and comparison techniques in a setting for chapter 8 of my WIP. One of the reasons for this is to try and stage the emotional process of an upcoming scene which happens to be an autopsy of a murdered college student.

What I don't want to happen is for the reader to view my protagonist as an unaffected, stoic police woman who, by nature of her work, would have the strength to withstand the emotional impact of certain situations which normal people would find disturbing. The police must be strong and professional, but at the same time, if they are protagonists, they must be liked.

So, where’s the setup? It's in the setting. I use the senses and innocence of small children and their actions to contrast the evils which lie ahead. I also use a subtle comparison of the living to the dead for another emotional transition. It is not the officer who is cold and stoic, but death itself.

Whether or not effective, I hope to hear one way or the other from my critique group next month. And you, of course. Please comment and let me know if it works or not.

Here's the segue into chapter 8 of my WIP:

The Café on the first level of Bradbury Memorial Hospital set itself aside from the rest of the building. If Kelly had walked into the small shop blindfolded, she would have thought she’d discovered a cake factory. The aroma of Colombian blend, mixed with caramel and brown sugar, swirled about while she made her way to the coffee station. She’d given herself a ten minute start before meeting Lyle for the autopsy of Jennifer Whorley.

She watched two small children chase each other around a table. A large woman in a wheelchair, her leg in a cast, called out to them in a southern drawl. “Ya’ll set your asses down.”

They giggled, then shrieked, but didn't sit.

“Do like your mama said!” belted out the tall man in biker gear. He had finished wheeling the woman up to the table.

The kids sat down in plastic, bucket seats. Still piping with energy, they touched each other’s arms, alternating turns.

“You’re it,” the boy said.

“No, you’re it.”

The innocence played out before her and the pit of Kelly’s stomach ached. The horrors which lurked should never occur to these children. They were protected from it. Or did it simply hide for now? Far gone were the days where there were no fears. Evil did not exist.

“You’re early.”

Kelly spun around to find Lyle holding two Styrofoam cups with cardboard sleeves around them. “Coffee?” he said. He walked with her to the condiments corner. “Are you up to this?”

“I’ll be okay.” Kelly poured some sugar in her cup and used two sticks to mix it.

“This your first autopsy?”

She avoided eye contact, “I had an infant a year ago. Died in his crib.”

“The babies are tough,” a standard response from her colleague. He checked his watch. “Ready?”

Kelly downed the last of her coffee and together they made their way to the base level above the parking garage, where Jennifer Whorley’s cold, lifeless body awaited their scrutiny.

This is still in draft, so feel free to pick it apart!

11 February 2013

Arguing With My Technical Adviser

Sometime last year, I asked my husband to join me in developing my story and to take on the role as my technical adviser. A perfect partner for this task, Tim brings to the table over 30 years experience as a criminal investigator, solving crimes such as larceny, rape, and murder. He also spent three years assigned to NCIS working undercover narcotics. Having him on board isn't going to cost me anything, right? It should be good, and we can spend more time together, wrapped up in productive conversations about my WIP. 

So, why does this warrant a blog post? Because, I've discovered that progress can be made, even when two people have complete different backgrounds and philosophies. You see, I've been a computer programmer and software developer for over 15 years. Nobody ever asked me why I designed something a certain way. I utilize the resources I have, the knowledge I've obtained, and my time. That’s it; and I have my product. Isn't that how it works in The Matrix? You need something? It's there.

Though my husband and I both perform analyses on a daily basis, our ideas and techniques which lead to success are completely different. His motivation and successes are based on the knowledge of people and how they operate. Mine are based on the knowledge of systems. Unlike Tim’s functional environment, mine has no feeling, no motivation, and no goal other than to perform as designed. 

Thus comes the argument:

"That won't work."

"Why not?"

"Because, the police captain would have no reason to show up at her house."

"I'm the writer. I can make him show up at her house. And then she's going to drug him."

"Oh really? With what?"

"I don't know yet, but he has to pass out."

"Why does he have to pass out? He wouldn't be there in the first place and now he has to pass out?"


"Okay, tell me why."

"Because, she has to get his swipe badge. She has to have a way into the secure area and his badge will get her in there."

"It's not plausible to expect a police captain to behave a certain way in order to make it easy for you to tell your story."

GRRRRRRAAAAAUUUGH!! Punch to the gut! 

I wondered why on earth I felt I needed a technical adviser. They just get in the way. I pouted all day long. If I were in law enforcement, I could definitely figure out a way into the secure area. I felt stuck, and my expert had no other advice. Of course not. I'M supposed to be the storyteller! He's the one who gets to shoot everything down.

It hit me so hard all air escaped me. Of course, I can find a way, can’t I? I’m a computer programmer

[system message from internal critic] Aha, Diane, but your protagonist is not a computer programmer; she’s a police officer.


I finally performed some research and discovered a realistic way to get my protagonist in the secure area (I’ll spare you the details for now), but it will take a little extra writing on my part. 

I now realize our protagonists must seek out viable solutions to their obstacles without the writer conveniently putting things in place which allow them to succeed, especially at the expense of another character's virtue. The character motivations of any secondary character are just as important, and I won’t soon forget this lesson. Had I insisted my technical adviser relinquish control and allow me to go my initial route, I'd have a pretty crappy scene, and I'd be considered a lazy writer. That is not my goal.

Do you have a technical adviser(s), or do you rely on your own research?

04 February 2013

L is for Linking Verbs

Why is this my topic for today? It won the toss up as the best choice over these others: language, literary, lexicon, and linguistics. I almost chose lexicon, because I find it tempting to poke fun of The Jargon File. Seriously? Who cares about some obscure "choice" words and phrases known only by the geekiest people in the world? I know, I know…maybe next time!

I am picking on linking verbs because I don't like to read them. They bore me to tears. I'm not a hypocrite, so I will admit I use them plenty, but I edit them out as much as possible. However, you don't want to go and edit them out altogether. People might think you’re inept, with a slight case of OCD.

And why should you listen to me anyway? It’s not like I’m an expert or anything, at least not in writing. But, I am a reader! That means, I’m reading your writing, and if I don’t like it, then you should want to know why, right?

But, Diane, what one reader likes or dislikes is subjective. Why should I listen to you? 

I'm not calling you a bitch, I just really love this graphic!

The answer is: Because, I’m loud. When I read something I like, I talk about it. I talk about it a lot. If you’re a writer and you want a loud mouth talking about your stuff (a lot), then you should listen to me.

Linking verbs are the words which refer to the state of being. They mark the condition of an object: Am, is, was, were, will be, has been, had been, can be, may be, should be, could be, become, and would be. I shudder now. I need to bathe myself in Clorox bleach.

Here are two examples using linking verbs I mentioned:

The dog was hungry.

Frank is nervous.

Boring, right? This is not what is meant by the phrase "less is more", and if it is, I'm giving up on writing.

Try something like this instead:

The dog stood staunch, each bone in his haggard body defined. His growl began low in his throat, and his eyes never left the 6 oz. sirloin blazing on the grill.

Is there any doubt this dog is hungry?

How about this:

Frank's palms clammed up and his heart beat faster. He waited three seconds too long to kiss her.

Have you ever waited for the right moment to do something like kiss someone for the first time? Were you nervous? Of course you were! You don’t have to tell us about the state of your character so long as you show us what is happening to them. It’s the whole point of the phrase show don’t tell. That’s why linking verbs are bad. You take away my power as a reader to interpret for myself.

More subtle and less common forms of the linking verb which we writers encounter in our works are "appear" and "seem". I don't mind these as much, but the over-use of these words grinds on my nerves.

Here's a double whammy:

The woman appeared to be sad.

Really? Why don't you describe her behavior, her body language, and her proximity to whatever it is that could possibly be making her sad and let me, the reader, decide if she's sad or not? Is she holding onto her husband who just died? Of course, if she's sobbing, that would clearly indicate she's sad.

And don't tell me the dog seemed angry. Is he barking? Growling? Have that mutt bite someone. We'll know he's angry, or at least irritated.

What about the sensory linking verbs? Describing an object using sensory linking verbs is also a little too safe and boring to me, but I do it myself in my drafts. The verbs look, taste, smell, sound, and felt are linking verbs.


The apple pie tasted delicious.

Just so you know, I'm using really gross examples so that my re-writes will appear extremely profound.


The gooey warmth inside the flaky crust of granny's apple pie melted on her tongue, spreading the sweet, cinnamon flavor like butter on a hot griddle. 

You see, we know it tastes delicious. I use the caring words of one who loves apple pie. If I wanted you to know that it was anything other than delicious, I'd have written it thusly,

The putrid concoction inside the pie exploded onto her tongue like Coca Cola on a corroding battery. 

See? I occasionally want brief explanations like whether something tastes like crap or not, but when reading and immersing within another world, I want a balance of both. That means, cut down on the linking verbs and give me a little creativity!

Do linking verbs bother you much? Do you prefer brevity over verbosity? We’re all different in the pleasures we gain from reading, so please share yours! What do you hate and what do you love?

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01 February 2013

A Day at the Gym

My husband and I designated Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays as our after-work "hit the gym" days. We'd been in our new routine for about 2 weeks. He already has a daily lunchtime routine at the YMCA, with workout buddies. So now he gets to work out twice as much. That's how I keep him looking great!

I don my usual workout sweatpants and over-sized black t-shirt with "USMC Marines" scripted in blood red around a really angry looking bulldog. Eat your heart out Sylvester Stallone.

YouFit, on Mahan Drive, has a wide selection of resistance machines, cardio machines, and free weights. Though pretty crowded during the week, there's always an open machine when you arrive.

I check my watch after performing a few running and jumping warm-up routines. Tim was supposed to meet me after he'd gone home to walk the dogs. Sure enough, he pulls in at exactly 5:30 p.m.

I scan the area to see how many of my favorite machines are open and my eyes lock with those of a bald man with a goofy grin. His eyes light up, and he shifts back and forth on the heels of his feet like Gomer Pile with a secret.

Why is he looking at me like that? He looks at my t-shirt. I decide he's probably illiterate, so he must be fascinated with the angry bulldog. The man's smile disturbs me. I get a twinge of Déjà Vu. This is a terrible feeling, and I think something is getting ready to happen, something bad. If he doesn't quit staring at me with that goofy grin, Tim will punch him out. Then, the man will be a goofy, grinning, illiterate, bald man—in pain.

“Hi, Mrs. Carlisle,” he says. “How are you?”

I don't know what makes it happen, but the goofy grin fades like Etch a Sketch art when you shake it. Gomer Pyle is gone.

Embarrassment forces me to smile, but I probably look more horrified than anything.

"It's me,” he says.

He waits on me to speak, but I’m speechless.

He makes like he's using a spray gun with one hand while holding a canister with the other, "Your exterminator—remember?"

Then, I recognize him. Of course it’s him! A nice young man, too. Always calling 30 minutes in advance. Always courteous with the "Yes, ma'ams" and the "No, ma’ams”. Never late.

Then I realize why you shouldn't have your characters meet in another story. I was perfectly happy knowing him as my exterminator. It wasn't a pleasant experience meeting him, in full workout gear, ready to pump iron instead of his insecticide sprayer.

Have you ever known someone from one place and met them in another place,  which made them seem out of place?

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