Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scrooge Level: 5

Every year, millions of Americans suffer the stress and emotional hangovers that go along with everything December: Christmas/Holiday shopping and spending, end of the year realizations that goals have not been met, hot buttons being pushed by family members and friends, and everything else. It's like all our issues and flaws are amplified in December. 

Like a lot of people, I celebrate Christmas as a strictly secular holiday. I don't have children, and I live thousands of miles away from my own family, so I have managed to minimize a lot of the triggers in my life. Yet, every year I am faced with my own inefficiencies as a human being. I have many good intentions, but rarely follow through. There just never seems to be enough Time and/or Money!
  1. I intend to show my love and appreciation for the people in my life by rewarding them with something I know that they want, need, or like, and making homemade gifts like art and cookies. 
  2. I intend to carry on my Italian heritage tradition of making a homemade lasagna for Christmas Day. Perhaps even biscotti, and ambitiously, cannoli.
  3. I intend to clear my home, tidy up for the end of the year to make room for the new one, and decorate- SPARSELY- for the season. (A wreath, a few sprigs of mistletoe or holly, a small display of cards and stockings, etc. So far, I only ever get the cards pinned up on the wall each year.)
  4. I intend to send holiday cards to all my friends and family, well in advance of the 25th. In reality, some years I don't get cards out at all, and others, like this one, I am sure they are going to arrive Dec. 26th or later, if I'm lucky.
My job is busy. I'm not sure that it is busier now than any month of the year, but it is busy. And I'm still struggling with keeping my finances in some semblance of an order, but the timing is still never quite right. When I have time to shop or make things, I don't have the dough, and when I do, there's not enough time. I'm working on changing that; I am constantly reminding myself of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which I interpret thus: Time is relative, so there is always enough time. There is enough time to do what needs to be done, to do it well, and to enjoy it. I suppose it is a bit more of an affirmation than a reminder, at that.

So what were my goals this year? I had seventeen of them. (I prefer the term "goals" to "resolutions".) 

  1. Finish Revisions (3rd/4th draft) on How I Spent My Zombie Apocalypse novel.
  2. Take HISMZA to the PNWA Conference - buy tickets in March.
  3. Send out Query Letters for HISMZA.
  4. Send out 12 Short Story Sumbissions.
  5. Enter 3 writing contests.
  6. Get a kitten!
  7. Organize Home...Bedroom, closets, bookshelves, desk, kitchen...
  8. The Spare Room.
  9. Put together under-the-sink caddy.
  10. Get new regional DVD player.
  11. Get regular with the workouts.
  12. Find a damn dance class that I want to take (Could someone in Seattle please start a Broadway class or an Angie Dickinson 60's Style Jazz class?!?)
  13. Continue Language Skills... Brushing up on French & Japanese
  14. Start Italian lessons.
  15. Start using Juicer again.
  16. Work on Non-Fic Massage Manual Book.
  17. Submit two articles on Massage/IFR.
Six of those pertain to writing. I did finish the 3rd draft of my novel, How I Spent My Zombie Apocalypse (#1) and take it to the PNWA conference (#2), but haven't sent out my query letters, because I've discovered I need to do yet another draft of the novel to improve upon what I've got. Okay, well, this is my first time going through this process, with a 'finished' novel, so I'm learning as I go. No biggie. Sometimes I want to kick myself, but I continue to try to remember to be nice to myself, instead, and allow myself the space and time (it's all relative!) to create the best novel I can create.

As far as short work submissions go, I thought I might be behind, since I have been focusing on my novels most of the year. But, a quick check at my page on (the best website for writers ever), told me differently- I have actually sent out 12 submissions the past 12 months! Just the right number. I believe I've only entered one contest, not the three I had planned, but that's okay. It's not like I've been slacking!

I haven't touched goals #16 or #17, unfortunately. I will have to transfer them onto 2014's list. 

As far as the non-writing goals go, I did okay: #6 Yep! Frankie Fourpaws was adopted in January; #7/8 Some effort was made, but no major progress; #9 Yes; #10 No; #11 Inconsistent efforts and results; #12 Nope; #13/14 I downloaded some apps... does that count? #15 Another inconsistent effort. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sleepytime Now...

Hey. It's twenty minutes from midnight on Nov. 30th, the end of NaNoWriMo. I just validated my novel, at 50,006 words, on the website. Whew?

Why Whew? and not Whew! you ask? Hm... let me tell you how tired I am. I am so tired that despite cranking out nearly fifteen thousand words in a little over a day, I am still updating this blog. What is wrong with me?!? Hahaha... I'm going to go bed now. SNL is a rerun, I have a full day of massage work tomorrow, and I'm literally writing half mys stuff with my eyes closed this evening.

Good night, and congratulations to my NaNo writing buddies who are also winners! Yay, us!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Nearing the End of NaNoWriMo 2013

WHAT?!? 18 hours to go before the ind of NaNoWriMo?!? 
Uh... I've gotten off track. Several days I wrote under par, and many days I didn't write at all. I'm at 30,702 words - which leaves 19,298 to go. That's over a thousand words an hour - if I don't do anything else. Crap! What was I thinking? I didn't set an alarm today, and ended up sleeping in till nearly two pm. Lolling about lazily, long bath and a bit of a read, and now I'm finally at Starbucks, my Writing Office.
And my story? All over the place. I've written scenes that ultimately will be out of order, and changed my victims and villains several times. Ugh, this will be result in one hell of a rewriting challenge!
Okay, back to my (probably) futile effort to hit my goal of 50,000 words. Wish me luck! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013. Am I crazy??


Still revising both the synopsis and the manuscript of How I Spent My Zombie Apocalypse, I am yet embarking on the madcap adventure that is NaNoWriMo: an international project filled with writers of all types attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. November 1st (midnight) through November 30th (midnight) drives writers to dark corners of bedrooms, basements, and coffee shops with their laptops, ipads, and notebooks. Forget dates. Forget housework. Forget phone calls. There is only The Page.

There is only The Page... and my blog, my Facebook, my Twitter... I tend to get overly wordy during November. I write my words for the day, then I blog about it, post about it, research it, and other stuff. My netbook gets a workout each November, that is for sure!

I am a "pantser" - I write by the seat of my pants. No outlines, no plot points, no storyboards. I pick a topic, a place, a person and GO.

This year, I have been focussed on the many steps of revision and publication for my 2011 NaNo project, so I had no idea if I was even going to do it again this year. But, I can't resist the challenge. I love the international (and strong local!) atmosphere of furious writing and hearty competition. Also, Mercury is in Retrograde, which is Astrological-ese for "your life will be filled with dumb-fuckery for the next three weeks". Computers crash, credit cards don't work, appointments are missed, arguments are made from misunderstandings, etc., etc. I've spent the last week in Los Angeles, NOT doing anything I planned. Called it quits a week early, and here I sit, unprepared for my favorite Halloween, handing out candy to half-assed Trick-or-Treaters and watching a Ghost Adventures marathon on Travel Channel.

And lo, and behold, the new two-hour special episode is set in Romania, aka Transylvania, centered around Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes/Count Dracula, and this crazy haunted woods called the Hoia Baciu Forest, where paranormal is normal. Ghosts, orbs, disappearances, UFOs, voices, illnesses, you name it. My interest is piqued.

For the moment, my story is called The Sound of Sorrow's Sleep. We'll see where it takes me!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Head Is Swimming With Plot Points...

,,,and character arcs. Salient story lines and pertinent details; what makes make my main character (MC) tick? What drives her to do what she does? What is at stake for her? Who, of the other cast of characters, deserves to be pulled forth and presented in my two-page novel synopsis?

A lot of these questions are ones that a good writer addresses BEFORE starting the manuscript. But, I've never been one for planning! I'm a 'pantser', through-and-through: I pick a place and a couple of names and let 'em go.

This being my first foray into this part of the publishing process, I'm learning as I go. And, as those around me are wont to point out, I'm coming across as a bit "negative" / "too hard on myself" / "perfectionist" / "obsessive". Now, other than the last one, these are not labels usually attributed to me. I can laugh at myself, and the crazy, while simultaneously pulling my hair out.

I brought a two-page version to my writers group on Monday evening, and after reading it aloud, I was instantly struck by the places it still had left to go. Feedback was clear and useful from the group, but it made me realize that the page is about 40% of what I want it to be.

I am going on a trip in a week, and was hoping to have this done by then, but I'm not holding my breath. Upon the advice of several friends, I am getting out my head about it; I've been on new walks, dancing, singing, sitting at the beach listening to the waves... anything to turn me around and give me some new perspective, free of the pressure and meticulousness of my mind and open to the heart-space that can provide me with the proper words and efforts. The heart of writing - the heart of my love for writing - the heart of my story - the heart of my audience - the heart of it all.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Still working on the Book Synopsis? Yup.

We're nearing the two-month mark since I attended the PNWA conference. That's four times as long as I wanted it to be before I got my letters and pages sent off. Everything is taking much longer than I expected it to.  Here's a few things I've learned so far:

  • Before writing your synopsis, check the webpages of the editors and agents you are querying to find out how long of a synopsis they actually expect and want from you.
    I made the mistake of writing plot points first, which came to ten pages. THEN I found out that I should've only written one to two pages worth! A good learning experience for me, but unnecessary for this time. Sigh.
  • The best way to write a synopsis is to start short, and add as you go.
    The opposite of what I did, to start with. Instead, Do this: Write one sentence summarizing the entirety of your novel (The Elevator Pitch works well, here). The summarize your beginning: Who, what, where, when, how...Who is your main character(s), what  is their objective/goal/driving force and what is their obstacle? Next, summarize the ending. How is the objective met, obstacles overcome, and conflicts resolved? Save these three sentences as your starting point, and build from there.
    Read more about this process from author Beth Anderson, here. It's extremely useful!
I'm really, truly, definitely, hoping to get everything emailed out THIS week!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Writing a Synopsis?!

Alrighty then. No sweat; I'll just condense the main plot points, character arcs, conflicts and resolution into a one-page version. Sure!

Here's some links I'm using for resource:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

PNWA Conference 2013: Part Two

This is the Big Day. Not only is it the fullest schedule of events, the largest crowd of the con, and the busiest day of the weekend, but it is the day that I would be pitching my book in Power Pitch Block D, at 2:00.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

I made sure to pre-register for the entire convention by the Early Registration deadline, which included tickets to all the extra events, and a few other extras, like the 90-minute workshop called The First Page. It started at 8 AM.
I arrived in the room at 8:30. Which isn't bad for me! I spotted my friend, Laura, and grabbed a seat one over from her. She asked if I had turned in my first page, to which I said, "No, I just got here!" I didn't even look it over since yesterday's workshops, much less print a copy. I did, however have my manuscript with me. I ripped the first page from its spiral binding, and Laura ran it up to the moderator's assistant, Heidi, for me. (Thank you!) Heidi held the stack, from which random first pages were drawn and read aloud by the moderator. The panel of editors and agents would then critique them. Coming in late, and having blurry pre-noon eyes, I wasn't even sure who was up there, except Paul Fedorko (N.S. Bienstock, Inc.), who I recognized from the previous day. There was also Michelle Richter (St. Martin's Press), Sally Harding (Cooke Agency) and Kat Brzozowski (Thomas Dunne Books). 

Surprisingly, my page was chosen to be read. I have been told, by someone keeping track, that of the 25 pages read. only 7 were read to the bottom of the page. Often, one or more panelist would raise their hand to stop the reading, and begin the review. Not only was mine fully read, but I was absolutely shocked to hear fairly glowing praise coming from each of the panelists!

Luckily, Laura took notes, while I picked my jaw up off the floor. Here they are:
Zombie Apocalypse
No hands raised to indicate ready to stop.
  • I like this first page because it poses a lot of questions
  • It doesn’t give me too much info, or too many character names…I would probably keep reading to find out [sic]
  • I liked how it was set up, creating that scary world where you don’t know who to trust…it reminds me of some of the better (something)
  • It might need a new title. I like it, but it’s been done.
  • It wasn’t’ too much information. We don’t need all the info on page 1. It’s better to leave questions to keep reading. (I believe they were saying that you did this right.)
  • If the writer leaves you room to imagine, you start to own the book
  • That banner, “Humans Safe Here”, after reading that, I’m going to the next page.
  • People can learn something from this person:

The Coco Chenille Rule – you put everything on, then look in the mirror before you go out, and take off one accessory.

I do remember that it was Paul who said the first four things, and some were echoed by the others. Except the title change - so far, he's the only one to suggest that. I've actually had a lot of people tell me that they love the title, and, as far as I'm concerned, it tells you exactly what you need to know to know if you should read this book or not It's apocalyptic, kinda funny, and full of zombies. But I appreciate and take into consideration all comments made. I'm not real worried about it right now.

Before moving on, a panelist asked "Who wrote this?" and I raised my hand and stood up. The room applauded! I had seen them ask two other writers to take credit for their pages, so I wasn't the only one, but still-- I felt pretty singled out!

I could tell you about the other pages, good, bad, and ugly, and what was said about them, but honestly, I think it'd just be too much info and end up all confusing. If anyone wants the notes with other examples, leave me a comment below.

9:30, we all stand up to make our way out of the room. Michelle Richter comes running over to me!
"Are you the Zombie Lady?"
"Why, yes. Yes I am!"
"Are you coming to talk to me later today? I hope you are."
"Um, no, because you didn't list 'Horror' on your bio..."
"Well, that's true. I don't usually represent Horror, but I liked your first page. Come see me," she said, handing me her card.
"Okay, I will, Thanks!" I answered, taking the card and tucking it safely into my sunglasses case.
So, now I'm really excited.

Now, the other 8:00 AM classes that sounded appealing?

  • A Writer's Inspiration: Author Master Class with Bill Kenower, Editor-in-Chief of Author Magazine
  • Agent Secrets
  • Good Grief, Who Are All These Publishers?
  • Promotion and Marketing: Great Writing! Great Story! Author Platform?
  • The Edits System (Part 1): What It Is, Why It Works
  • The Romance of Travel Writing
  • What To Expect When You're Expecting Your First Book
I had planned to hit one of the 10 AM classes, as well, but after heading into the Pitch Practice room, I ended up getting caught up in conversation, listening and critiquing pitches, and rewriting and practicing my own. Then lunch, for which I was too nervous, but did head outside to call my mom and managed to eat the hard boiled eggs, apple and cheese I had brought.

2:00 Power Pitch
I arrived half an hour early, to an already established crowd. But there was no order to the rows of seating. We were told that the agents and editors would be sitting alphabetically in a long row, at tables. We were told that the doors would be opening, albeit a few minutes behind schedule, and we were to line up for our agents and editors of choice. We'd have four minutes, when a bell would chime, after a thirty-second warning. It sounds like a short amount of time, but it turned out to be perfect: Greetings, introductions, pitch, Q&A, chat.

I was fourth in line to speak with Laurie McLean, founder of Foreword Literary. I gave her my card. I pitched. She gave me her card and asked to see the first ten pages (actually printed on her card). She asked her assistant what her current turn-around time was, after receiving pages, and she answered "two months." Pretty fast, in publishing!

Next, I went to see Michelle Richter, since she'd asked me to do so. The pitch didn't follow the script, it was much more round-about and conversational, but that's okay. Luckily, I'm gregarious and good under pressure. She asked me the most about "comps" (comparison books) and I hated to admit that I hadn't read her comps of Zone 1 or The Passage, although I do own a copy of the latter and plan to get to to it this year. I was honest (as always) and told her that my reading list is very eclectic, from non-fic to classic lit to independent horror. She asked me to send her the first three chapters.

Rachel Letofsky (Cooke Agency)'s line was long.

I went to see Ethan Vaughn, with Kimberly Cameron and Associates. He said he wasn't really into zombies, but a good story is a good story, so send him the first fifty pages.

Kat Brzozowski (Thomas Dunne Books) was next. I told her Kat was the name of my protagonist, and we chatted, along with Renda Dodge of Pink Fish Press, who was seated next to her. I had met Renda years ago; took a Plot workshop form her. She was/is a liaison for NaNoWriMo Seattle. Anyway, Kat liked my pitch and asked to see the first three chapters. 

Rachel Letosky's line was still too long.

I decided to speak with Holly Ingraham, who also is an editor at St. Martin's Press. I was sure to tell her that I'd already talked with Michelle. Holly asked me if I'd talked to Miriam Kriss, an agent (not attending the con) with Irene Goodman Literary, to which I said no. She said that my novel was tight up her alley, and gave me her email address. She told me to send both of them the first five chapters and a synopsis.

(Holy Crap. I have to write a synopsis!!)

So I now had six requests!

4:00 I had planned to sit in on the Query Letters: How To Get An Agent To Beg To Read More... workshop, but another writer suggested I check out the From Apprentice To Master forum, with Sally Harding and Rachel Letofsky of the Cooke Agency, and two of their authors, Kat Richardson and Brian Mercer. It was interesting, but I wasn't entirely clear on the premise, other than the sharing of experiences, which is always informative in some ways. At the end, I walked in front of the speakers's table, and Rachel Letofsky waved me over. 
Rachel: "I'm so glad you're here. I saw you come in, and I wanted to talk to you."
Me: [thoughts: You did? o.O] I don't remember what I said, but I was basically glib despite being flustered. 
She gave me her card and asked me send pages to her and her assistant. \(^_^)/ Yay!

That makes a total of seven requests that must be filled very soon with pages and synopses and cover letters. Yipes! (So why I am spending an hour or more blogging this?!? LOL)

7:00 Literary Contest Awards Celebration 
I would like to enter this contest next year.

Dinner was good - I sat at a table in the rear of the room, therefore was served first. Food was hot for a change. I had the vegetarian option, which was a baked bun stuffed with mushrooms-- sort of a mushroom wellington--  served with broccolini.

The awards were punctuated with the announcements of the raffle winners. I had five tickets, but no winners. There was one prize to a random Tweeter, of those all weekend that used the hashtag #PNWA. It was won by my new friend, Mariah! We were both sitting there tweeting when it was announced, which I thought was funny. She got a Kindle Paper White. Pretty cool!

The whole day couldn't have gone any better.

Slept through the alarm.
Missed the 8:30 AM Literary Contest First Place Contest Winners Reading.
Missed half of Mary Bisbee-Beek's 10 AM speech.
Arrived bleary-eyed at 10:45. Sat at a table in the back and drank coffee, listening to the Q&A, and playing Words with Friends on my phone.

Afterwards, I was invited to lunch at 13 Coins with six other writers. We shared notes on various workshops and forums attended, talked shop, and ate. Fun was had by all.

Home to a three-hour nap on the couch.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

PNWA Conference 2013: Part One

What's it like to go to one of those expensive fancy Writer's Conferences?

Well, it's been a week since the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Conference at the SeaTac Hilton. It was my first time attending, and I'm really glad I went!
Everything started way too early, but I knew that. And anyone who knows me knows how rough that is for me. (I am blogging at 4:43 am - and it's not because I've risen and shone! I'll go to bed soon.) All the forums and workshops were at 8 am, 10 am, 2pm, and 4pm, with lunch breaks and dinner breaks, and dessert or dinner and dessert over keynote speakers and the Saturday awards ceremony. 

There was this Pitchcraft class with Katherine Sands at 10 am, but the rest of the day was all digital and self publishing forums, in which I had little interest. I read Sands's book, Making the Perfect Pitch, last year and found it very helpful and informative. But, of course, I had stayed up till at least 4 am Wed. night writing, so I was tired at 8, when the alarm went off, so I slept in till 1 and got to the Hilton around 3. I got my registration packet, full of little slips of paper, my name tag, the program book, a pen and post-it note pad, and some stuff for next year's lit contest. Also got a lime green messenger bag to put my stuff in. Yay!

I sat in on the 4 pm Amazon Publishing forum with John E. Fine, and took notes, mostly for a friend who's interested in pursuing that venue. I ran into a writer friend and we hit the Pitch Practice room for a while, where I began the first of seven revisions to come. Other writers came and went as well, and it was fun to hear others pitch their books. It's always easier to critique others than yourself! 

I forgot some meals were included (The Hilton does a great job!), but the first day's option was pizza. Half a personal pizza? About the size of a parlor slice, with some bits of unidentified veggies on it (I think it was olives or mushrooms). My gluten-free, dairy-free friend was presented with an even smaller slice (quarter of a personal pie) of thin gluten-free crust with a layer of tomato paste. Kinda sad. 

At 7:30, we had the dessert reception and Keynote Speaker, Greg Bear. Bear has many sci-fi writing credits to his name, and he was also one of the founders of the San Diego Comic-Con. He was very personable, and told some great tales of wallowing in the geek-genre trenches, as well as rubbing shoulders with some other true legends of the field, such as Isaac Asimov. He was, and is, a visionary, and I enjoyed his speech. 
I didn't touch the chocolate layered cake, and was allowed to swap it for a bowl of mixed berries. Never be afraid to ask for what you want! And as it turns out, I sat at a table full of fun and funny people. 

So there was some stuff in the morning. Apparently, it included free bagels. I managed to get there by 9:20am, after some emotionally charged dealings at the body shop where I was swapping my slightly damaged second rental car for my own. But that's another story.

I caught the last five minutes of the Editors Panel; not enough to know who any of them are. My loss. But at least I was there for the 10am Agents Panel, where each agent was introduced and spoke a little (or a lot, depending on the person) about who they are, what they are looking for in authors, etc. 

Unfortunately, I missed the noon panel on St. martin's and Thomas Dunne Publishing. I think I had gotten caught up in the Pitch Practice room with a group of writers. My loss, again, but I did have fun and learn a few things for my pitch.

2pm - 3:30 There were about four different workshops I wanted to attend, but decided on Margie Lawson's "A Deep Editing Guide To Making Your Openings Pop". I learned about the psychologist's approach to writing, and the importance of "power words" and rhetorical devices. None of the given examples were taken from anything I'd ever actually read, but it was still useful. Margie's voice was a tad soporific, with its soothing tones and soft timbre, but I managed to stay awake, and even connect with another writer sitting near me, after. 

4 - 5:30 Again, several simultaneous panels and workshops that all (mostly) sound enticing. I went with "Memoir: Make Them Care", presented by Lynn Price, since I've tried my hand a few times at it but have found it extremely challenging. I think I picked up a few tips and thoughts to keep in mind when writing from life. I heard the Introduction to Speculative Fiction was also very good, which would have been my other choice.

At 7:00, we had dinner. Sitting at a front table with some of the cool kids, we were among the last served. Hence, cold cheese ravioli with a side of baby asparagus. I didn't mind; I was a waitress for 15 years. Hot food was an urban legend for years. 

The Featured Speakers were Deb Caletti, Stella Cameron, Robert Dugoni, and Gerry Swallow. Authors who have made it through the wilderness, and lived to tell the tale and light the path for the rest of us. Pretty interesting, pretty casual and conversational, despite being sat on a raised platform, facing all of us. 

Six AM approaches. Off to bed, am I. Part Two coming soon. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Upcoming PNWA Conference

The Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference is in one week, and despite having months to prepare, I am living up to my reputation as Master Procrastinator, once again. 

Things I have ready:
  • Business cards ordered
  • New outfit to wear

Things I have to have ready this week:
  • Completed 3rd Draft of Novel
  • Memorized "Elevator Pitch"
  • Printed One-Sheets (Bio, Resume, Novel Synopsis, Stats)
No sweat. 


Well, I'm planning on continuing draft revisions tomorrow (Friday 7/19) & Saturday. Also Sunday and Monday nights after work, if need be. Depending on that, I will work on the pitch and summary. I actually wrote all that up last year, so I just need to find it, tweak it, and memorize it. 

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chapter One

Whilst embarking upon the third draft of my novel, "How I Spent My Zombie Apocalypse", I thought to myself, "How would it be if I were to begin at a different point in the history of my tale?"

As it stands, my first chapter starts with our main character, Kat, on roof watch of their post-ZA safehold, six months after the outbreak. She spies a station wagon approaching, and the newcomers are brought into the fold, so to speak, even if just for a while. One of the arrivals is injured, and there is some debate about the situation. But, Kat, being a nurse, leads the rally to save the stranger.

This is a somewhat slower opening to the book, but the reader should get a strong sense of who the characters are, especially Kat.

My Alternate Opening #1, "Hospital", begins as Kat arrives to work at the ER, amidst a chaotic kerfuffle of impending quarantine. This is a serious look at the progression of events in a classic medical context.

Alternate Opening #2, "Costco", is a much funnier first chapter, filled with ultra violence and absurdities. It is set with the first few days of the outbreak, and while there is a definite sense of each character, their stories and personal inventories are not so clear.

I've had a dozen or so readers of all three versions, and it's pretty even as far as votes go for 1, 2, or 3.

So, my dilemma now is to choose which introduction I want to use, rewrite and polish, and add it to the work-in-progress that I am HOPING to have done by next Monday.

Got my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oh, dear! It's been three months since I've posted a thing here. And I so meant to blog at least once a month...

Well, I've been spending my writing time transitioning into editing mode. After writing several new short stories, polishing up a few older ones, I've finally started the Third Draft of my novel, How I Spent My Zombie Apocalypse, written in late 2011. It's been staring at me for a year, awaiting my broad changes and minor tweaks. I hope to get it in good shape by the end of the first week in July. That's how I am planning to spend my Independence Day weekend - writing & editing.

I edited a YA fantasy novel from a fellow writer and a collection of horror short stories from another last month. I now feel like I should have a hip holster, holding a giant comma in place of a gun, for how fast I am at adding them.

When I want to catch up with somebody, I find myself most curious about where current influences and interests lie. So, here's my past few months, in a nutshell:

  • What I'm watching: March/April - watched all of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes (Yay for NetFlix) and recently began season one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Immersed myself in the world of Joss Whedon's Firefly and Serenity for a few weeks. Also rewatched all of the Arrested Development episodes, including the new fourth season exclusive to NetFlix. And this week, I finally watched Season Five of True Blood. So much better than the last season or two! Love love loved it. Also, loved listening to the episode commentaries, which included a lot with the writers.

    I've been to the cinema to see Mama (which was excellent!), Evil Dead (stick to the original), Star Trek Into The Darkness (fun), and This Is The End (Which was mostly funny and enjoyable). Tomorrow is World War Z, because I have to see it despite how short it may fall from the book.
  • What I'm reading: I finally read that first novel from Rob Brezny (known for his syndicated column "Real Astrology"), Televisionary Oracle. Published in 2000, it was a lengthy poetic prose work, espousing a lot of Bohemian Punk New Hippie Proto-Feminism, that frankly, just didn't speak to me. I also read Lilydale by Christine Wicker, a journalist exploring the history and lore of America's only Spiritualist Community. Read some anthology horror, a "Bizarro Fiction" book, an LGBT humor book, and Why Women Earn Less by Mikelann Valterra. Currently finishing Book Two of the Abarat series, from my favorite author, Clive Barker.
  • What I'm listening to: A little bit of everything, as usual. I got to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds recently, which was my first time seeing him live. He and the band were amazing. I'm also listening to William Shatner lately. And I put my iPod on shuffle very often, so that gives me an eclectic mix of Nina Simone, L'Arc~en~Ciel, Thompson Twins, Radiohead, Parliament Funkadelic, Sezen Aksu, and a slew of others. Nothing obsessive at the moment. But I am looking forward to finally seeing Gogol Bordello live in August!
  • What I'm creating: In addition to the writing of short stories, flash fiction, and now my novel's third draft, I've been working on a Goal Journal (of my own creation), and a plan for the Writer's Conference in July. I've begun to work with the above-mentioned author, Mikelann Valterra, on a regular basis to sort out my finances and any inherent personal issues thereof. I've also been incubating some big ideas on gender equality and issues, across many platforms. More on that in the future.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My six word story, "How Great Thine Art" a.k.a. "Sketchbook Thief",  has been included in the Penny Fiction section of the Spring 2013 Haunted Waters's eMagazine, "From The Depths." Check it out... there are some great tales there. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter Doldrums

Mid- to late January... I'm usually broke (after holiday presents and unpaid days off of work), tired, and stressed out. I'm actually slightly burnt out after 2012's NaNoWroMo- only managed to write one and edit two stories in December, and January's output thus far is a handful of extremely flash flash fiction. Better than nothing, though!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winter means the sun is out from about 8 am (I guess - I'm never up that early!) till 3 or 4 pm. It's now extending until about 5pm, but since I get up between noon and two, I'm not seeing much of it. Plus, what sun there is is usually obscured by heavy grey cloud cover, drizzling rainy mist, cold damp fog, and haze. It always looks to me like the great Nothingness from the Neverending Story. Ho hum. 

Don't get me wrong- I wouldn't trade this for the icy blasts of winter I grew up with in Maryland for the world. It's just that my body seems to want to go into hibernation all winter! I'm less motivated to do... well, anything, really. For many, this weather is the ideal cocoon in which to write away the days and nights. But, for some reason (could it be that pesky NaNo project each Nov.?) I've been letting days go by without so much as OPENING my laptop. Very unusual for me, but that's what it's been. Lots of movie and Netflix watching, and reading, and cuddling with my kitties (I adopted a new one- just under a year old- last weekend! He's a long haired dark grey kitty with a slightly silvery nose and pale green eyes. I've named him Frankie Fourpaws, and he's been getting along famously with my two year ole Scottish Fold, Rory Calhoun.)

I think it's a good idea to track the cycles and patterns in your life. If you are a writer or artist, which season is your most productive? Which months? Are there periods of inspiration and idea incubation before output? it makes it easier to stay unworried if you know what your cycles are. I think I may do best in Spring and Summer, and maybe even Fall. Summer is probably the number one season for me all around, because there seems to be so much more time for everything! An illusion, perhaps, but nonetheless, I usually work out more, get out more, write more, and everything else. 

Only another six months to go.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year's! 2013 Goals

I hope you are all feeling well, on this first day of 2013! I'm a little fuzzy in the head, myself, but this second cup of coffee should be helping soon.

Resolutions are a tradition, but I find the word sounds hard, to me. Resolve is something some dudley boring middle aged dour man-in-a-suit or woman-in-layers-of-foundation-garments-and-petticoats has. 

I like the word "intention", but New Years Intentions sounds too soft. Like they;re too easy to not get done.

So I settled on "goals" a few years ago. It fits, it's unpretentious, and goals are doable. Here are mine for 2013. (Some are not writing related, but I'm including them here anyway.)
  1. Finish Revisions (3rd/4th draft) on How I Spent My Zombie Apocalypse novel.
  2. Take HISMZA to the PNWA Conference - buy tickets in March.
  3. Send out Query Letters for HISMZA.
  4. Send out 12 Short Story Sumbissions.
  5. Enter 3 writing contests.
  6. Get a kitten!
  7. Organize Home...Bedroom, closets, bookshelves, desk, kitchen...
  8. The Spare Room.
  9. Put together under-the-sink caddy.
  10. Get new regional DVD player.
  11. Get regular with the workouts.
  12. Find a damn dance class that I want to take (Could someone in Seattle please start a Broadway class or an Angie Dickinson 60's Style Jazz class?!?)
  13. Continue Language Skills... Brushing up on French & Japanese
  14. Start Italian lessons.
  15. Start using Juicer again.
  16. Work on Non-Fic Massage Manual Book.
  17. Submit two articles on Massage/IFR.
Okay, then. I may make adjustments to this list, but this is the list for now. 17 items - I like the number 17, always have. And... it's the number of my favorite tarot card, "The Stars". Destiny, Fate, Kismet... here I come.

Addition: I forgot to update my reading goal!
   18.  Read at least 30 books.