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Showing posts from July, 2008

Now THAT Is How You Play A Villain

Clint and I went to see The Dark Knight the day before I left for San Francisco. I was both excited and nervous to see it. With all the hype, the ticket sales, the gushing reviews over Heath Ledger's performance, I was worried the movie wouldn't hold up.

Plus, it's 2 1/2 hours. A movie has to be truly incredible to hold my interest for 2 1/2 hours.

The movie opened and I leaned forward, watching intently. Waiting for the fantastic. The amazing. The absolutely magical to happen.

It did.

From the moment Heath Ledger walked into the room and performed the disappearing pencil trick, he had me in the palm of his hand. Disturbing. Haunting. Mesmerizing. He stole every scene he entered. I couldn't look away. I searched his eyes for something false, something to hint at the man who won my heart in A Knight's Tale and it was gone, submerged beneath madness, viciousness, and careless disregard for everyone, including himself.

Heath Ledger became the Joker and I became a believer…

Monday's List

1. I checked my stat counter again last night to see if any new "key word searches" popped up and lo and behold, I found this search parameter landed someone on my blog:

2. Redwine murders wife.

3. Not yet, he hasn't, though if I ever experiment with canned salmon and soup again, he just might.

4. I am completely in love with the Dark Knight soundtrack.

5. I am once again master of the laundry. The formerly elected general in charge of the infamous Hamper Mutiny has been charged with treason and sent to its demise via some hot water and a scoop of Arm & Hammer.

6. Now I'm going to have people searching for Arm & Hammer landing on my blog too.

7. I'm nearly ready to leave for San Fran. All that's left is writing my one sheet, running some copies, and organizing my workshop binder.

8. Oh, and choosing which shoes to pack, of course.

9. I am not looking forward to flying.

10. I can only hope that a) dealing with the airport is easier than I expect, b) I'm no…

Random Weekend Fun

In the continuing saga of How Did People Find My Blog, I thought I would share the latest key word searches others have used to bring themselves to me (besides the obvious searches for either my name or literary topics).

1. Deli names: Again. I begin to feel bad that so many people are looking to me for inspiration for their burgeoning business. Let's help them out, shall we? Anyone have some good deli names?

2. Free book downloads: Not here, but I did post a link to Tor who is giving away free downloads through this Sunday. However, if you want to read my book, you must either qualify as a critique partner or shell out the cash.

3. Nostalgia redwine: Hmmm...either you're missing me and/or my hubby's family or you don't realize you can solve your problem with a quick trip to the liquor store.

4. Orchestral free bird: I don't know what to say. I really don't. What is an orchestral free bird??? I get "orchestral" and I certainly know "free bird&quo…

Poetry Blog is Up

I've started a new blog for poetry, songs, and the occasional creative rambling (perhaps...had to give myself some leeway just in case.)

There's a link on the sidebar but you can check it out at Write of Passage. I've posted one poem today and I'll post one or two a week, I think. Perhaps more. Possibly less. How's that for definite?

Also, I'll head over there and put up a disclaimer, caveat, whatever you want to call it-feel free to copy and post any poem you enjoy onto your own blog as long as you give me credit for the writing and you link back to my blog so others can read me too. =)

Behold the Mighty Flatulent One!

Last night, I met up with Kailani at Borders, one of our favorite haunts. Borders has books, coffee, music, books, cool journals, games, books, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Jelly Beans, books...it only lacks an international cheese aisle and 200 square feet devoted to stilettos to make it the Most Perfect Place Ever.

But I digress.

We browsed, bought books (My TBR pile is ridiculous at the moment and since I'm about to get a duffle bag full of free books in San Fran-Oh happy thought!-I won't get through this pile until October.), and then headed over to Friday's for dinner.

It was fairly busy at Friday's, just a few open tables, and the noise level was comfortably loud (we work in a restaurant, we're used to it). We enjoyed our dinner and were lingering at the table, talking above the volume throughout the room, when it happened.

A table three rows over and two rows up was filled with what appeared to be college-aged boys.

That wasn't particularly amusing.

The table bur…

Week In Review

1. I learned this week that a spa in Washington D.C. offers pedicures a la carp.

2. I'm not sure I'm down with sticking my tootsies in a tank full of fish and letting them nibble away.

3. But maybe that's just me.

4. I've crossed two more items off my conference To Do list: writing my logline and ordering updated business cards.

5. Ordering the business cards took three and a half hours.

6. Why? Because every time I told Vista Print to do something, it balked, did things halfway, or made it seem like I was on the right track but then fooled me in the end with much evil laughing on the part of my computer.

7. Soooo, the process took 3 hours of me nearly yanking my hair out in frustration and half an hour after my hubby got home and took over the process.

8. The lesson learned (as he so gently pointed out to me) is that I should never, under any circumstances, try to do anything that requires technical finesse until he is home to help me.

9. Stupid Vista Print.

10. I will be …

Impromptu Pitching

There will be opportunities for impromptu pitching in San Fran (and no, not because I'll be stalking my favorite agents into the bathroom and cornering them...although I may lie in wait outside the door. mwuhahaha) and it's wise to have a short, "impromptu" pitch ready that flows easily in conversation.

There's a big difference between what will sound great on paper and what sounds natural when you talk.

So, with that in mind, I've created my logline (a one to two sentence description of my project) to use for those elevator meetings with agents or editors. Here you go:

My book is about a girl who is more than human and thinks her supernatural abilities are only useful for delivering some vigilante justice on the streets of New York City. When another non-human comes to town and hunts her down, she has to choose between claiming her birthright and unleashing a demon army onto humanity or losing the only man she's ever loved.

Hump Day Hodgepodge

A few interesting things from this week:

*I found a truly amazing eye liner. Usually, eye liner lasts all of 20 minutes on me, especially when I'm working. This stuff lasts all day and at the end of my shift, I still look like I just put it on. And the best part? It's not expensive. You can pick up Jane Be Pure Mineral Eyeliner Gel at your local drugstore.

*The air conditioner on the 9-4 refuses to work. We bought a freon charge or something of that nature and the obstinate vehicle still blows nothing but hot air. The downside to this is that with the weather in the 90s and humidity abounding, rolling down the windows doesn't improve the sweatbox-nature of our vehicle. The upside is that now I don't have to upgrade my gym membership to include the sauna.

*I've agreed to write a short story for an e-zine published around Halloween. The genre will be something along the lines of Gothic Romance and even though I'm focused on SHADOWING FATE, ideas are starting to …

One Week To Go

One week from today, I leave for the beautiful city of San Fransisco and the whirlwind of RWA Nationals.

My To Do List:

1. Buy an incredible gown to wear for the Golden Heart/Rita Award Ceremony

Status: Done

2. Pick which pair of stilettos to wear with my gown.

Status: Done. I think. Oh heck, I'll bring two pair.

3. Make a list of what to pack so I don't do something really dumb like arrive in San Fran with nothing but stilettos and spare underwear.

Status: Done. I'm pretty sure I even remember where I put it.

4. Finish SHADOWING FATE and send to agents who've requested it.

Status: 5 chapters left, requesting agents all updated on my progress.

5. Plot out my daily schedule for Nationals on a grid so I arrive at all of my appointments and receptions with time to spare.

Status: Done, but not by me. My hubby stepped in yesterday and organized my whole itinerary for me to lessen my stress. Because he's awesome.

6. Figure out how I'm traveling from airport to hotel 1 to down…

Monday's List

1. Today is Daredevil's 9th birthday.

2. We'll be spending a chunk of it at Chuck E. Cheese.

3. This doesn't bother me because I'm adept at ignoring copious amounts of background noise (I live with boys, remember?) and because the kids will spend an hour happily playing while my hubby and I get to sit and talk.

4. I spent four days revising a chapter on SHADOWING FATE this week.

5. I don't think the dictionary definition of "frustrated" accurately conveys the depths of my jaw-clenching, head-beating-against-my-keyboard angst.

6. The solution came to me Saturday night at work while I was making an apple dumpling for a table.

7. I left the dessert sitting there, whipped out my ordering pad, and jotted plot notes to myself.

8. The book will be finished this week if it kills me.

9. In other news, I had a Murphy-In-Charge night at work last week...I won't go into all the gory details but the final straw was the moment I was frantically working to make hot fudge…

DON'T Keep the Change!

I just saw an article about Zimbabwe issuing a 100 billion dollar bill.

No, that is not a typo.

Yes, it says 100 billion dollars.

Here are three good reasons why this is a bad idea:

1. That's one piece of money you don't want to accidentally put through the wash.

2. Sucks if you lose it.

3. How on earth could you ever cash the thing? There will be signs at every store reading "We cannot break $100 billion dollar bills here, fool".

Come And Get It

This website is giving away a free download of a story-writing software useful for writers, poets, and other creative sorts. As of this post, there are 13 hours left to take advantage of the free download. =)

Cotton-Eyed Joe

Where did you come from? Where did you go?

I have a stat counter so I oughtta know.



I've had a stat counter at the bottom of this page for a while now. I don't remember to check it very often. I remember to check the actual stat counting website even less.

But tonight, I checked in and found a function that tells me what keyword search people used to land on my blog.

There are some very interesting combinations. Here are my top 10, either for amusement factor or because they're just too disturbing to keep to myself:

10. Zuchinni near sidewalk - Well, yes, I once posted about the Master Gardener and his unique zuchinni pruning method.

9. Love Jet Li - I do, yes. You too? Great! We're like, twins separated at birth or something...oh, leaving so soon?

8. Unique deli names - Honestly, people, there are WAAAAAY too many of you looking for this. Pause and think for a moment. Don't you think if you lift a name for your burdgeoning business from another deli, it loses the qu…

Ooh

I was browsing youtube this morning looking for something inspiring for my Get Creative! post on Swords & Stilettos and found this guy.

Watch, be inspired, and come share your inspiration on S & S. =)

The Plan

All of my fellow GH nominees are now trying to come up with speeches in case we win. The goal, of course, is to speak with a modicum of dignity, not forget the names of our husbands or critique partners, and avoid such obvious faux pax as tripping up the stairs or initiating a wardrobe malfunction while reaching for our notes.

Here's my suggestion.

We can model all of our acceptance speeches after those Geico customer commercials (C.J. is a real Golden Heart winner, not an Experienced Public Speaker, so we've hired one to interpret for her).

C.J.: OMG!

EPS: I find myself deeply honored and excited to be up here onstage accepting this award.

C.J.: Holy Freakin' Cow!

EPS: While bovines did not actually play a part in the creation of my winning manuscript, several others did and must be thanked.

C.J.: WOOOOOOO!

EPS: Thank you to the contest judges, my fellow Pixies, my critique
partners, though not one of them clapped eyes on this particular manuscript, my family, RWA, other writers…

No Cardboard Cut-outs Here!

I love reading books by authors who know how to create vivid, real, three-dimensional characters for me. I'm a big fan of plot twists, suspense, and humor, don't get me wrong, but if all of that is coupled with cardboard-cutout characters, I'm just not interested.

Loving three-dimensional characters and learning how to write them are two different things. Here are a few tips on how to do it well (please add your own in the comments section if you think of anything I've missed!):

1. Give your characters a past. Your character's life doesn't start on page one of your manuscript. He/she has friends, family, schooling, hobbies, first dates, injuries, lessons learned, camping trips, vacations, fears and reasons for those fears. Characters don't spring fully-formed into adulthood. They are shaped by their past and the choices they've made. You don't have to give every detail of that past in your writing but you should reference it comfortably to give yo…

Taking a Stand

I saw this headline today. Bravo, ICC. It's about time the world did more than watch a few relief agencies do their best to stem an overwhelming tide of violence and hate against the Darfur tribes in Sudan.

Who Do You Love To Hate?

We're talking about the Villains (yes, yes, these deserved to be capitalized!) we love to hate over on Swords & Stilettos today.

Come by and tell us about your favorite Villain as well as the ones you just can't take.

Monday's List

1. We saw Get Smart on Sunday and I laughed until I cried through much of it.

2. I believe Steve Carrell to be the best comedic actor working today. Light years beyond anything the likes of Will Farrel and Jim Carey are producing.

3. Carrell's genius lies in the fact that he never once points a neon sign toward the jokes/slapstick/humor. He maintains his air of dignity as best he can, oblivious, willfully or otherwise, to what the rest of us find so funny about his current predicament, and delivers his lines with dry wit and perfect timing.

4. No overacting for him, thank God. Let the frat boys crowd into theaters for more brain-cell-killing Farrel and Carey movies. I'm sticking with Carrell.

5. Saw the preview for the upcoming Mummy III and holy cow! I'm so going to see that.

6. I haven't seen the other two...Paul is trying to remedy my woeful lack of movie experience but he is only human...but this, this, looks amazing.

7. Jet Li, a three-headed dragon, the Wall of Chin…

Week In Review

1. It's been a busy week: writing, working, writing, cleaning, swimming, writing...

2. Not too busy that I haven't found myself tremendously entertained by a few things, however.

3. At the pool this week, Starshine and Daredevil were playing a game that appeared to involved one of them floating while the other tried to hang onto him, apparently using his brother as a mini-lifesaving device.

4. Since this scenario was repeatedly unsuccessful (how many times must a child be dunked before he realizes he is not a lifeboat?), I decided to investigate.

5. I asked the following very innocent question: What are you doing? and received the following answer, shouted across the neighbor-infested pool:

6. We're Boobies!!

7. Having already established early on in my career as a mom that the ground never once opens up to swallow me, you'll understand why I didn't waste any breath praying for that and instead, lunged for the pool in an attempt to quiet my children who were still earnes…

Own Your Own Piece!

I've been thinking lately about what it means to own your own piece of the artistic landscape. Understanding your unique Voice, whether that be in literature, painting, jewelry-making, cake decorating, web design, pottery, gardening..., is crucial to establishing your self-confidence as a creative person.

We're surrounded with incredible examples of creativity, masters of their craft, and while I always advocate steeping oneself in the masters to learn, to be moved, and to gain inspiration, there's an inherent danger in admiring others when we've yet learned to accept and admire our own talent.

When you own your own piece of the artistic landscape, you can appreciate someone else's work and pull from it lessons to use in honing your own talent without falling into the trap of comparing yourself and coming up short. Comparing yourself leads to fear which cripples your artistic instincts until you turn away from that inward light and allow your budding talent to whithe…

Where In The World Is C.J.?

Where have I been this week? It's a toss up between being locked into the back office of the restaurant, orienting new employees to all the finer points of their new job (THAT is the bathroom you may use, THAT is the parking lot you may use, THAT is not a word you may ever use in front of the guests and Seriously? We're discussing tampons? Yes, that THWACK you heard was the sound of my head banging voluntarily against my desk.) and being locked inside the Adventure Science Center which, while having the definite advantage of being family friendly and thus giving me much-needed time with my kiddos, is also home to the Farting Slide.

Yes, that's right.

A slide. That farts. On purpose.

It's the mode of exit from one's climb through the lower intestines.

Starshine and Daredevil found it impossible to resist.

Speaking of bodily functions, Starshine has been working hard to develop a talent that he alone, out of all three boys, possesses. No, I'm not talking about commun…

Surfin' USA

Taking a well-deserved vacation from medieval brawling, Juan Pedro visited the fair islands of Hawaii and learned three valuable lessons:

1. Going swimming while wearing a suit of armor provides excellent protection from sharks and jellyfish.

2. Also, the ladies love a man who can surf while carrying a sword.

3. Unfortunately, the consequences of spending hours in salt water while dressed only in metal are too horrible to discuss.



*New readers confused by the appearance of our blog mascot Juan Pedro should click on the label below and read through the back posts to appreciate his history.

Monday's List

1. In the course of watching an episode of Dirty Jobs (there's a man with a sense of humor I can appreciate!), I learned that honey, one of my favorite condiments, is essentially bee vomit.

2. I haven't yet recovered from this revelation.

3. How is it possible for one boy to lose three pairs of flip flops in the space of one month?

4. I dreamed last night that we received our packet of info from China and our daughter had shoulder-length hair.

5. Starshine has announced to me that he does not want me to give him more than 10 grams of sugar a day.

6. He then asked if having a piece of banana cream pie (left over from the 4th) for breakfast would violate this new principle.

7. I have the last few chapters of SHADOWING FATE outlined now.

8. That's a huge relief because I've figured out where every twist goes, what revelations to save for the end of the book (oh yes, I'm leaving you with a definite "Oh crap!!" moment to hold you until the next book!), and in what …

Week In Review

1. We did not continue our tradition of blowing up cakes this 4th.

2. Instead, my hubby (and our new neighbor) and my children experimented with what would happen if you threw a lit M90 into a bucket of water (serious water displacement), what would happen if you piled used fireworks containers on top of an M90 (serious bonfire), and how high Mom's voice could go if you stuck a handful of lit sparklers into an empty Diet Coke can.

3. I can tell you this: if Daredevil thinks he's ever going to get his license or his own car or, for that matter, his own book of matches, he's got another think coming.

4. I have to take a moment to express our entire family's deep gratitude to those who are serving or have served (and to the families of those who serve) in our military. We honor your service and your sacrifice.

5. We took the kids to Nashville Shores on Thursday because my hubby had a radio gig there. Translation: we didn't have to pay to get in. ;)

6. There are pools, foun…

One-Legged King Pigeon

I need a viable exercise plan for summer time because my current "toss the kids into the air while at the pool" routine isn't doing much to build lean muscle and disguise my addiction to Hot Tamales (which are of the devil).

Fall through Spring, I walk 1.6 miles around our neighborhood, about half of that uphill. Summer, though, I don't because a) it's freaking hot and I really don't want to do something embarrassing like pass out or walk into someone's mailbox (which I have not done and if the man living in the white two story with the wrap-around porch says otherwise, he's a dirty, rotten liar) and b) the kids are home and I don't pay enough taxes for the kind of emergency response team needed to mop up after leaving three boys on their own for 20 minutes.

Someone suggested jogging but I have to be honest here - I won't willingly run unless something meaner is chasing me with the intent to cause serious bodily injury. This includes running o…

Pep Talk

You Make Me Laugh

I love authors who can make me laugh, especially when I don't see it coming and I end up laughing out loud for five minutes, desperately trying not to snort the mouthful of Diet Coke I was in the act of drinking.

I still remember one scene from an early Stephanie Plum book (author - Janet Evanovitch) where Ms. Evanovitch gave me a one-two punch of physical comedy and dry wit that made me laugh so hard, I couldn't see the book through my tears. I reread the scene three times and laughed just as hard each time.

Humor is a significant element in my own writing. I like the effect of combining humor with dark urban fantasy as well as with romance. If I can keep you on the edge of your seat with my suspense and still surprise you into laughing, I've done my job.

I think humor is one of the hardest things to write. I've read many books where the author clearly tried to be funny but failed. Ouch. That's a fate best avoided.

Here are my tips for writing humor well:

1. Use your…

Quote of the Week

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. ~William Faulkner

Art As Inspiration

Today at Swords & Stilettos, we're viewing an eclectic selection of art and seeing where our muse takes us. Come see the creative responses already generated and then post your own! You don't have to be a writer to get in on the fun. :)

Jumpstart Your Creativity

Guest Blogger - Becky Clark

I used to hate any form of exercise, even leisurely walking, unless that leisurely walk took me to the ice cream store or Starbucks. Or both. That was before I started writing. That was before my sweet, angelic baby girl turned into Alien Toddler.

I started writing when my daughter was one year old. I started walking because if I put her in the stroller and gave her a lollipop (I know — bad, bad mommy), she wouldn’t scream or otherwise make my nerves go taut as a violin string for at least 20 minutes. I knew every morning I would have peace and quiet, time to gather my frazzled thoughts. Soon, those walks became addictive. Sometimes, I went for two walks a day. Sometimes even three, depending on whether or not Alien Toddler felt like napping.

I soon learned another benefit of daily walking. It was a great way to work out the kinks in my WIP. Almost like magic, for the scene I was having so much trouble with, the plot point that had me staring at the blinking c…

Learn From Example

I read a new-to-me author this past weekend and loved the book enough to recommend it to my readers who enjoy dark urban fantasy.

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

As my Writing Process post today, I decided to catalogue what I think Ms. Liu did right:

*She opened with a killer sentence. Instantly grabbed my attention. I literally stopped and reread to make sure I had it right.

*She plunges the reader straight into action, with some veiled references to things that would be explained later. I enjoyed being able to get an instant sense of the stakes in the novel without being overburdened with details before I cared about the characters.

*Her first person POV pulled me into her m/c and never let me go.

*Ms. Liu's descriptions are haunting, dazzling, and gloriously mesmerizing by turns. I found myself rereading certain passages just to soak in the beauty of her world-building.

*The pace is quick enough to keep me turning the page. I was reluctant to put the book down, even for some much…