Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twitter Dialogue Blog Hop

Juliana's hosting the Twitter Dialogue Blog Hop this week.
It sounded like too much fun to miss.

The requirements:

1. Write a scene using only dialogue...
2. The dialogue must be Twitter style (140 characters).

A great exercise in word economy, so here's mine! A scene (sort of) out of my ghost story WIP.

1. Start with a theme: A seemingly tidy case behind them, Emily and Tad are en route (by car) to report.
2. Add characters: @RangerEm (girl) @BeaslySight (guy) @Garrett (girl)
3. And have fun!

@RangerEm: Cling much? I might have super strength, but I still bruise. Jeez.
@BeaslySight: Can we not do this again?
@RangerEm: Don't tell me you didn't love picking that lock.
@BeaslySight: We should've told @Garrett. She could've--
@RangerEm: Renting the dive gear would've been a waste of money. Tonight was a no-show anyway.
@BeaslySight: Actually not so much.
@RangerEm: What'd you mean?
@BeaslySight: I think the Vagari was there the whole time. Watching you.
@RangerEm: Yeah, right. I would've felt it. Rangers aren't totally blind. Just cause you're my Sight, doesn't mean...
@BeaslySight: Em, listen. *I* couldn't See you. About six feet underwater, and you could've been dead. And I was stuck up there on the pier.
@RangerEm: ...
@BeaslySight: I couldn't *See* you, Emily.
@RangerEm: ...You never use my name.
@BeaslySight: I think someone put a glamour on him--on me. I think the Vagari was there.
@RangerEm: Then why didn't it kill me...? I was drifting. Oh God, Tad. I was drifting!
@BeaslySight: Like a baby in her fucking bathwater.
@RangerEm: Um, mixed metaphors much? ... But seriously, why didn't it--
@BeaslySight: possess you? eat you for a midnight snack? ... Maybe it needs you alive.
@RangerEm: Oookay *shiver* Off the record, I like it better when your eyes are green. Icy blue is just *shiver*
@BeaslySight: And how would you go kicking Vagari ass without me, SkitSkat?
@RangerEm: (So Emily "Em" Mars was M&M for a while, until Tad discovered my more rainbow fruity weakness. Thus, Skittles.)
@BeaslySight: Green's the color of the blind.
@RangerEm: *whispers* Maybe your eyes should stay green then. This is getting too dangerous. Tad--
@BeaslySight: We're in this together, Skittles.You missed the driveway. *crunch*
@RangerEm: Crap. @Garrett loved that gardenia.
@BeaslySight: Squoosh. *grins*
@RangerEm: Rub it in, jeez. Come on. Let's go report. And Tad...
@BeaslySight: What's up?
@RangerEm: ... Nothing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Book to Rule Them All

Last night, the world ended.

In my dream, the few of us remaining would be Noah's Arking it on a starship, destination: unknown.

I was allowed to bring one book. And if I didn't choose fast enough, they'd leave me behind.

How in the hell was I supposed to choose???

This wasn't a standard desert island scenario. We were trying to preserve not only our own species and any others we could herd along with us, two-by-two, but also the world as we'd known it before it ended. Which "mirror for reality" would do? Which would speak to the enormity of what had been?

I woke up, hands outstretched and hovering above me, as if my fingers were still fumbling at the bookshelf.

Which book would you choose?

...After talking with writer friend Kai Sunday morning, we decided this scenario requires teamwork. We'd each pick different books so the Ark would have something of a library. Whew. Now I think I can choose: I'd pick Orson Scott Card's Xenocide

Photo courtesy of http://images.google.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beyond On Love

Spoiler alert:
I just finished watching the final season of Angel.
Like two seconds ago.
Probably shouldn't be blogging now.
"Drink alcohol,"
they told me.
"It helps."

I won't offer analysis.
not on the ending,
or on plots that get out of control,
not on Big Bads that are really minions for even Bigger Bads --
and how annoying this is for an invested audience/reader --
not on the killing off of characters
or comic relief,
or on good and evil,
on free will,
fighting the good fight,
on champions and heroes, love and hope,
or whether, indeed,
there is "nothing in this world but grief." 

It had to end this way, didn't it?

I will say, there's something about love. Beyond romance (or bromance), beyond friendship or kinship or duty . . . That's what I'm left thinking about, as I watch them each die in my mind's eye, finishing off the story. How much they loved each other.

Such a sap, I know. Hope I'm not the only one. . . .

But oh how I want this. This kind of love in life. And if not in life, in art. Maybe it's a Joss Whedon thing. I think Firefly might do it too. Buffy sure does. Makes hell worth living in, worth loving in. And those stakes skyrocket, don't they? Makes the fight worth the dying.

It's why I read. Why I watch shows like this.
And you?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Real characters harbor real dreams
... and real fears

A few days ago, I read an article in the Times, "A Poverty Solution That Starts With a Hug" by op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. The gist is that while many factors contribute to poverty and delinquency in youth, a perhaps overlooked factor is "toxic stress" that can harm a child even before birth.
"It's not the natural stresses of childhood that pose a problem. Every baby or small child will be hungry or frightened at some moment. [Toxic stress is] the lack of a comforting, stable, protective, adult presence to help a child recover [from these normal stresses] that changes things." -- NYT parenting blog
Photo courtesy of Giglig

Toxic stress can have lasting debilitating effects, preventing the development of healthy coping mechanisms and contributing to behavioral, intellectual, and health problems.

“You can modify behavior later, but you can’t rewire disrupted brain circuits” -- Jack P. Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician (link)

Eliminating toxic stress also seems to be a key step toward breaking child abuse cycles.

As a Life Book Writer, working with nonprofit children's services and CPS, I'm always interested in searching out root problems and finding solutions to them.

As a fiction writer, these articles made me think about a post written by kidlit author Pat Esden. She asks the implicit question What is your main character's greatest fear? I've been struggling to get a good hold on my book's MC, and this question really hit home. I decided I'd ask Emily, but that aside...

What a person fears is at the root of a person's hopes and dreams. If I dream about making a difference in the world, going out with a bang, or whatnot, it's because I fear being irrelevant, overlooked, useless.

Thinking about fears, I read Small Voices, Big Dreams' second annual survey, which polls 100 children (ages 10-12) in 36 developing nations and 6 developed nations using 6 open-ended questions:
  1. What would you do as president [leader] to improve children’s lives?
  2. If you could grow up to be anything you wanted, what would you be?
  3. If you could spend the day doing anything you wanted, what would you do?
  4. Where do you feel safest?
  5. When you think about staying safe and healthy every day, what is the one thing you worry about most?
  6. If you were the president [leader] of your country, what is the one thing you would do to protect children? 
Among other things, the results show that
“Children in the poorest countries are placing their hopes and dreams on their ability to learn, and they want to use their education to improve their communities.” --Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International (link)

When I grow up ....
In developing countries, most children want to be teachers or doctors
In developed countries, most children want to be artists or professional athletes.

Our hopes and dreams point back to our fears, I believe, at every age.

Our environments dictate these fears, too. And if our earliest environments are saturated with toxic stress? --An odd idea, being suffocated by a lack of something. But isn't that what hunger is? What poverty, fear, disease, war are: simply the lack of food, lack of security, lack of health, and lack of peace? -- If even before birth, we're missing stability and the sense of safety that equips us to deal with natural stressors, how much more susceptible will we be to the effects of these stressors?


As a human being, I hope these articles help raise awareness about the need for solutions.

As writers presenting reality as it is or could be, what are some of the things your characters have feared most or wished for hardest?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Being Versatile

It's Wednesday!

Which means I should be running errands, not blogging, which I'm supposed to do on Sunday.

But hey! You know how life is. Sometimes you're at home, writing, reading, editing, the works. And sometimes, you're dancing around LA without your hammer.

... Er... Without your hammer...

So that's where I was Sunday--over at Anime LA, performing as Amy Rose again for Random Encounters. The panel went really well. Fun Stuff.

Which might (or might not) be the reason I received the Versatile Blogger Award from YA author and animal trainer LisaAnn Chickos over at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased. Thanks, Lisa! If you love animals and writing, definitely check out her blog. Always interesting and extremely well researched.

Now, the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. In a post on your blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
  3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
  4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
  5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
  6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

 ~~ 7 random pieces of information ~~
  1. My brother is having himself cryogenically frozen. Only costs about $25K.
  2. My great-grandfather was for serious like a really bad Nazi. Like a really bad one.
  3. My grandfather was a microbiologist who spent his life's research on energy production via the excretions of trash-eating microbes. Yuck.
  4. I have elevated antibodies to crab. Basically, if I eat the pincered folk and then do something that circulates blood faster -- e.g. exercise, drink alcohol, stress myself out -- I break out in severe hives.
  5. The first novel I wrote was 250K words long. At age 18, I printed that bad boy out, packaged it up, and sent it over the transom to Tor. #fail 
  6. I love airports
  7. and toe socks.
Most of my fellow bloggers have already received this award,
but I'll go ahead and nominate a few:

  • @CNHolmberg at her blog, Myself as Written: Charlie's posts are always thoughtful and interesting. I personally love her Link Blitz series. It's fantastic when somebody else does the sniffing around for great tidbits on writing and other fun stuff.
  • @KristaVanDolzer at her blog Mother. Write. (Repeat.): Krista offers a constant a schmorgesborg of writerly goodies. She is, at present, having a baby, so she's taking a short break for child #3. But expect great things from her. Her Agent Interviews and Agent's Inbox series have been wildly popular.
  • @Unikornaa at her blog Why I Wake Up Every Day: This isn't a writing blog, but I've found her sometimes racy, always thought-provoking, often heartbreaking stories fodder for my writing. She's graceful and kindhearted, and has become a great blogging friend. Right now, she's going through a tough time, so send your thoughts her way. She's also getting married!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Are you making New Year's Writing Resolutions?

Want a little help keeping them?

Join us!

Check in with a motivating team of fellow writers:

Leave your writing goal in the comments here. Then, tweet with the #wipmadness hashtag whenever you need a community. It's a great place for finding friends (and betas!).

I almost forgot to check in this first Monday of 2012. #Yikes #Omens #LetsHopeNot