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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Present Me, Future Me

After a much longer blogging hiatus than I'd expected, I've brought back two activities to those starved for a taste of time travel. At a season when our thoughts naturally turn to the new year and the goals and accomplishments we anticipate will burst the seams of the coming year(s), why not set in motion communication with your future self?

FutureMe.org offers you the opportunity to send yourself an email at a future date you specify. Imagine sending a letter to remind your future self where you are at this exciting moment in time, or injecting your goals as a kind of cosmic post-it note to keep going. You can keep your email private or post it to the community anonymously and read other's cyber-dips into time travel.


Over the break, I also researched the best method to make a time capsule. According to the International Time Capsule Society, outdoor (in-ground) capsules are the least desirable. Many city and town municipalities have tried 100 year ones only to discover someone forgot the location. If you do attempt to bury a time capsule, consider marking its location using a GPS device. The Minnesota Historical Society has great tips on the best materials and procedures for preserving specific items such as photos and important documents. Barring high-tech capsules, the contents are often subjected to the destructive elements of water, humidity, heat, etc., so make sure you don't put anything in there you can't bear to see ruined.


In addition to ideas on how to secure the contents and mark the celebration of a time capsule, the ITCS will add your capsule to their database, ensuring someone at a future date can find it again. While you're there, check out the nine most wanted time capsules in history yet to be found, including the story of one the M*A*S*H cast and crew buried in the 1980s.


What I'm reading: This is my Best : Great Writers Share Their Favorite Works

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

Kudos to Maureen McGowan for letting me know I missed "Pretend to be a Time Traveler" day on December 8th. Have no fear, though. As unconventional holidays go, this one is slated to return in April. Not unlike a ripple in time where centuries can pass in a week.

The idea is to spend the entire day in costume, immerse yourself in the role, and most importantly, not tell anyone you are a time traveler. According to Dresden Codak, who first declared the holiday, there are three possible options:


1) Utopian/cliché Future


- "If the Future did a documentary of the last fifty years, this is how badly the reenactors would dress." Think Star Trek: TNG or the Time Travelers from Hob. Ever see how the society in Futurama sees the 20th century? Run with it. Your job is to dress with moderately anachronistic clothing and speak in slang from varying decades. Here are some good starters:

- Greet people by referring to things that don't yet exist or haven't existed for a long time. Example: "Have you penetrated the atmosphere lately?" "What spectrum will today's broadcast be in?" and "Your king must be a kindly soul!"

- Show extreme ignorance in operating regular technology. Pay phones should be a complete mystery (try placing the receiver in odd places). Chuckle knowingly at cell phones.


2) Dystopian Future


- This one offers a little more flexibility. It can be any kind of future from Terminator to Freejack. The important thing to remember is dress like a crazy person with armor. Black spray painted football pads, high tech visors, torn up trenchcoats and maybe even some dirt here or there. Remember, dystopian future travelers are very startled that they've gone back in time. Some starters:

- If you go the "prisoner who's escaped the future" try shaving your head and putting a barcode on the back of your neck. Then stagger around and stare at the sky, as if you've never seen it before.

- Walk up to random people and say "WHAT YEAR IS THIS?" and when they tell you, get quiet and then say "Then there's still time!" and run off.

- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell "NOOOOOOOOO"

- Stare at newspaper headlines and look astonished. - Take some trinket with you (it can be anything really), hand it to some stranger, along with a phone number and say "In thirty years dial this number. You'll know what to do after that." Then slip away.


2) The Past


- This one is more for beginners. Basically dress in period clothing (preferably Victorian era) and stagger around amazed at everything. Since the culture's set in place already, you have more of a template to work off of. Some pointers:

- Airplanes are terrifying. Also, carry on conversations with televisions for a while. - Discover and become obsessed with one trivial aspect of technology, like automatic grocery doors. Stay there for hours playing with it.

- Be generally terrified of people who are dressed immodestly compared to your era. Tattoos and shorts on women are especially scary.



Now that NBC passed on ordering Journeyman's back nine, I have to amuse myself somehow :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Writer's Palm


Recently, another author made me aware of the unique features writers carry in the lines of their hands. Of course, this opens up an entire discussion about whether the ancient mysteries of palm reading hold any truths about our inner selves and the path we're meant to follow in this life. How is it possible that even in utero, before the movement of the hands have created patterns of folds, these lines are visible?


Each February when I was young, I'd go to the annual Psychic Fair with my sister. We'd spend the entire day in the realm of the supernatural. Palm readings, tea leaves--you name it, we did it. I remember being fifteen, laying my hands on the black velvet in front of me and screaming inside, hoping she would say the man I would marry looked exactly like my high school crush. I can't remember much about the reading, we lost the sheet of notes my sister furiously scribbled as she spoke, but I do remember Carson Bell wasn't in my future.


In sixth grade, I made a project of studying palmistry, complete with a hokey demonstration--crystal ball and all--of me reading my teacher's palm. He'd Xeroxed his hand several weeks earlier for me to study, and the reading came out remarkably accurate. What happened after put an end to my curiosity.


After I'd nailed almost everything about my first "subject", the remainder of the class would ask me over and over to read their palms. I'd learned a little, enough to be freaky dangerous with the knowledge, and enough to know when not to say anything at all. One day a boy named Kevin asked me to read his palm while we were waiting in the milk line at lunch. Standing there, the pungent smell of corn chips smothered in chili wafting through the narrow hall, I saw the life line on both his hands were cut short. Judging from my sparse experience, in his twenties. The inevitable question most people ask when offering their hands is, "How long am I going to live?"

Kevin asked. It was the first life line I'd seen that didn't wrap around the thumb's mount, the completion of a long life stretched to the wrist. I didn't know what to say, so I replied, "I can't tell you." For six more years, through the halls of jr. high and high school, I'd encounter him from time to time and he'd hollar across a crowded throng of students, "How long?" with a smile on his face. It had become a running joke to him. To me, not so funny.


Today, I'll look at my own. I consider it a project in self-discovery, but I won't look at the palms of others. Maybe the metaphysical types are more highly evolved than I am at looking into the future and holding secrets I'm not sure we have a right to know, but when I hold my children's hands, I never look. Some things are better left unknown.


And Kevin? Sadly, I don't know what happened to him. I'm hoping when my twentieth reunion comes around, I'll find him, alive and well. If not--if by some cosmic mapping I still don't understand his life was cut short--I'll know I gave him nothing more than the knowledge most of us carry. Not knowing. How differently he might have led his life if I'd blurted out in eleven year old ignorance that he wouldn't make it to adulthood. Would he have embraced life or lived in fear? A small stone dropped into his pond in sixth grade could have changed everything.


So I stay with the safe in this post. The pursuit of self-awareness. If you're a writer, here's what to look for:


~Mercury and Jupiter fingers with rounded tips signify creativity.


~The Apollo (artistry), Mercury (communication) and Luna (dreams, creativity) mounts should be pronounced.


~The "writer's fork" is found at the end of a drooping Head line indicates literary talent. Usually medium-sized.


~A small cross (X) on the Mercury mount is also known as a "writer's cross"


The dominant hand reflects those abilities that are closer and more prounounced in your nature.


Check out the comments section for which of these I have and post your own...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Love, Texas Style

Cover art is complete for Love, Texas Style, the Wild Rose Press anthology due out Spring 2008. Amongst the other highly creative and talented shorts on Southern-bred heroes and their Texas ways, you'll find a taste of the paranormal and the nostalgic in mine, The Lost Highway.




Back Cover:

Rugged men. Spirited women. Romance as breathtaking as the Texas landscape.


From the Boot Scootin’ Bliss and Roadside Grill to the slick Dallas skyscrapers and all the highways and ranches in between, this heartwarming collection of love stories by debut and award-winning authors celebrates the heroism and passion found only in the Lone Star State.


What do you think? Did the artist capture Texas?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Letter to Me - c. 1998

Dear L,

On the cusp of ten years down this writing path, I'd almost forgotten the joy you find yourself in. A tiny diner in an even smaller town. Tentative forays into the written word, sitting amongst other beginning writers. Experimenting and creating, blissfully ignorant of the "wrongs", everything sounding right. Creating each day for an audience who hangs on your every word, your daily installment as addictive as any true high shared in the spirit of friendship.

The days of an audience held rapt by your stories won't last. Hold on to the intoxication of creation. Ration it for the days and months where you alone live with the words, not knowing if they resonate with truth and vitality or lay mediocre, unworthy of the space in which they occupy.

The greatest asset you'll acquire on the journey is the company you'll meet along the way. Nurture their ideas and words, as they have done yours. No one quite understands the pastimes of your mind like other writers. Don't lose touch. Regret can be a bitter pill.

Value truth. Forget the judgements of a few and strive to find realism and rawness in the human condition. Don't think about your great Aunt sitting down one day to read it. She has much richer text to draw from at the convent than your words. Honesty is the only real path to good writing.

Don't let your page count become a casualty of your commitment to writerly pursuits. Engaging in the business of behaving like a writer does not certify you as one. The only litmus for being a writer is writing.

Just as I now struggle to add "author" to my vernacular, don't hesitate to add writer to yours. The mere pursuit of capturing language and translating thoughts to words for others to feel and see is the only criteria needed.

The harsh criticisms--in particular, the one hemorrhaging red ink you'll encounter on a frigid night in Memphis--are necessary. More than that, they were right. Be angry, then accept it as the gift you're given. One day that bloodshed will become award-winning.

Forget the young adult novel. It'll be covered with more intensity and on a grander scale than you can possibly imagine; after which, the world will be over saturated on the idea. Cut your losses and move on.

When someone you believe to be an expert says, "Greater talent could not pull this idea off," don't listen. Write it anyway.

Above all, don't give up. You won't find what you're striving for in the time that separates us, but without your road ahead, there would be no success in tomorrow for me.


Signed,

L.

c.2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Duality of Soul


There is a belief in some spiritual circles that each of us, as we travel through life's journey, develops a duality of soul. One becomes encumbered with the burden of trials, the masks we present to others and the consequences of our choices. This is the side we present to the world, for better or worse, and the one we believe is our true self.


The dual part of us begins simultaneously, at our birth, but remains unblemished by the everyday bruises we all encounter. It is not swayed by spilled coffee or harsh words from others. It is the most evolved part of ourselves, growing and ever-changing by the larger lessons in life. Courage. Faith. Love. It is the part of us that endures after we take our final breath.


Many spend their entire lives striving to find this inner core, rooting out relationship after relationship or career after career, believing that true self is a reward to be collected at the end of a winding path. Is it possible that our authentic selves are not something we left behind in a moment of wrong and must retrace our steps to find? The thought that this perfect, untouchable part of ourselves develops alongside the flawed first and will be there at the pinnacle of our lives when we most need it lends comfort to the inevitable end of our time here. That for all our imperfections we present to others, there is still a part of ourselves that is truth.


Is there a way, then, to nurture our authentic selves? Does some kind of peacefulness or one of those inexplicable warm glows wash over us in moments when we are in harmony with who we are becoming? Can we glimpse our authentic selves through a panoramic lens that takes in the bigger picture of our time here? What we're meant to learn?


What do you think?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Writing or the Egg?


If you buy into horoscopes, mine today said to take an hour to live in the moment and reflect on where I am in the present time because a big change is coming my way. Apart from the fantasy of several houses bickering for my novel at auction, I can't foresee anything. But really, who does? Life happens.


So in honor of not fighting against any kind of karmic wave of the future, and in honor of Thanksgiving, I offer my blessings: The biggies, of course. The tennis balls in that infamous jar as a metaphor for a full life. My family, friends, health and the opportunity to spend more time and money than just a fleeting moment in a dream on writing. But as it relates to the truest part of me, I'm thankful for my hard-boiled egg this morning.


Stay with me...


Ten years ago, I'd never have noticed the perfect striated texture of the yolk. How the smoke curling upward from my breakfast table reminded me of a scene I just wrote in my current novel. That perfect scent of home released as the coarse pepper fell from the grinder. These details cushion me from a life lived in the anesthetized state of daily rituals. Writing gifts me with the moment, a full sensory onslaught of the present time when so many around me live in the past and future. I delight in being a voyeur of the dialogue and movement of strangers I encounter each day and wonder if they'll remember the moment in their own lives as I remember it when I need character inspiration.


A Thanksgiving blessing just wouldn't be whole without including the writers I surround myself with. The richest friendships I've ever known. The final piece of my reflected hour. I don't know what's down the road, that impending change foretold, but for now, today, I am thankful to just be.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Next



Next, starring Nicholas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel, is the latest Hollywood offering involving the manipulation of time to hit DVD. Cage plays Cris Johnson, who earns a living as a magician in a seedy Las Vegas act, but his authentic talent is being able to see into the immediate future--two minutes to be exact for every aspect of his life but the mysterious woman he's captivated by (Jessica Biel). Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) is a government agent trying to recruit the reluctant hero to help stop a terrorist group from detonating a nuclear bomb in the middle of Los Angeles.




The best part of this movie is the directing. Imagine having to translate a script that explores several--even infinite--possibilities Cage's character sees ahead as he chooses his next move. One scenario will play out to disastrous effect, only for the audience to realize he had played it forward in his mind and it hasn't happened yet.



It tackles the common themes associated with time manipulation movies--fate, predestination--but does it in the context of an authentic, wounded hero. Reminiscent of Deja-Vu, this is a non-stop thriller complete with requisite ticking time bomb (literally) and romantic subplot. Overall, a great ride with a fantastic turn at the end and the possibility of a sequel on the horizon. Oh, and what would a Nicholas Cage movie be without an Elvis song? Listen for it.




What did you think of the movie?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

John's Clock Shop


My wall clock broke. The minute hand, long and graceful, remained steadfast. The hour hand hung lifeless at six. Removing it from the wall sent me into some bizarre zone of timelessness. The central timepiece of our family's existence, at the epicenter of schedules and meals marking comings and goings, its absence made me feel lost and realize that maybe my obsession with time isn't just something that comes across in my stories. Maybe a week on some rocky coastal island with no way to tell time but the rising and setting of the sun would do wonders to deprogram me.

Not too far from here, I found a homegrown clock repair shop nestled in a tiny brick structure on the backside of a property in suburbia, complete with french doors, a stalwart iron sign and an unassuming name: John's Clock Shop.

I'd never been in a clock shop. I can't lie. The prospect of going into one, the symbolism and time references in my stories fresh on my mind, seemed more than just an errand sandwiched between the grocery store and dry cleaners. It also made me wonder what kind of craftsman would choose to specialize in clocks? Would that person have the same semi-obsessive thoughts about time as I do?

I found John bent over his elevated worktable, the sun through a window at his back lighting his gray hair. Already a portrait of time. His chin rippled along his neck, compressed in a downward concentration of his task at hand. The air in the one room shop too warm. Too close. And filled with the random ticks of fifty or more clocks.

At first, the clicking, both chaotic and rhythmic, felt like standing in the middle of airport security, the movement of pendulums simulating the presence of nervous people clogging personal space. But the longer I stayed, the more the independent sounds became one, a white noise not unlike ocean waves or classical background music. Maybe this is the body's coping strategy to deal with too much sensory input.

I toured the room's periphery. Every object moved in some way--brass dials clicking, second hands sweeping, old-fashioned pulley systems keeping track of the passing moments. Some clocks lay stripped bare, others hidden in the bowels of some ornate wooden cabinet. Only a few showed the accurate time.

"I'll bet the time change wreaks havoc around here," I said.

"Nightmare, actually," John replied.

Had he given up calibrating them to Daylight Savings? Maybe the mere fact that they moved forward with time was enough for him. John didn't need a week in remote isolation to put time in perspective. Just the notion time is what it is and sometimes there's nothing we can do to control it.

John fixed my clock, free of charge. Doing what he loves to do. If you ever need a clock repaired, he's your man. Drop me an email and I'll get you in touch with him.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Waiting Room




Since I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest last month, I've become entrenched in this alternate reality of authors pacing in a cyber-waiting room. Some, who stress about margins and word count and punctuation and dozens of other things they're powerless to change at this point are the equivalent of the hopeful squeezing their Styrofoam cups charged with espresso. Some profess free love and dance around the forum spouting mantras about how we are all artists on the same canvas. Some burst through the door wielding previous publishing credits--more of a divide and conquer mentality.


With such a broad contest, the diversity of manuscripts is staggering. Religious. Aliens. Coming of age. Epic war-torn tragedies. Self-indulgent literary works. It begs the question: How will the judges receive genre fiction when pitted against more mainstream "literature"? The word "breakthrough" brings to mind popular fiction, but what about the closet sleepers brushed with magical Oprah dust? The final judges are accomplished in the distinctive literary fiction realm, but before a manuscript reaches that point, customers and reviewers en masse will crawl through these manuscripts. Will the demographic of book buyers reflect the end result?


Meanwhile, the countdown clock on Amazon's site reads 64 days until customer voting begins. 18 hours. 5 minutes. 11 seconds. What is it about a precision readout revolving backward that sends people into the most urgent display of human emotion? As if the supply of snark will run out long before the coffee and cigarettes.


Who am I in this waiting room? The one with a laptop clicking thoughtfully on my next project. No spoken words to add to the din. Just the words that count.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Gift of Time

For the time-obsessed person on your holiday list:


Wall Projection Clock

Celebrate the intangible nature of time with this projection clock, which creates a large clock image on any wall surface. Discovery Channel Store ($129.95)

A little philosophy thrown in with a sales pitch, anyone?


Distorted Wall Clock

Made in the surrealistic tradition of Salvador Dali's famous Persistence of Memory. Fluid lines of the shiny, brushed aluminum, wooden frames contour and bend around the gold-tone inner trim. Touch of Class ($199.00)

This one is screaming at me to say something profound, but I digress...


Sonic Boom Clock

Guaranteed to wake up even the heaviest sleepers. When the alarm goes off, the user can select to wake up to any combination of loud pulsating audio alarm, flashing lights, or shaking bed (vibrator sold separately). Amazon.com ($37.00)

Not sure about you, but waking up to an apocolyptic onslaught of sensory stimuli wouldn't put me in my happy place to start the day. And yes, I am holding my tongue.


ChronoArt Clock


Chimes, color, light, and time combine into an ever-changing functional work of art. This wall clock uses a series of multi-colored lights and a system similar to the binary clock to display the time of day. Entertaining and unique, ChronoArt clock features a face that changes every single minute of the hour, and a chime which announces every hour.
If anyone knows the actual time on this clock, leave it in the comments. I'll consider a clock vibrator for you for Christmas.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Through a Mirror, Dimly

Yes, I used *gasp* an adverb. Sloppy, maybe, but this is the exact phrase I heard this morning. Although in a completely different context, it captured my attention. Of course, the writer in me instantly starts playing with the word choice and connotations: through a mirror, darkly; in a mirror, darkly; "can someone look through a mirror?" and "*warning-cliche ahead*"


The point, however, is that some of what we see in our reflection is not always what others see--it is a dimly lit place of truth, clouded by messy human emotions. A reversal of the power we normally attribute to mirrors. Usually, we are to see in them the honesty we share with no one else, but is it possible for this image to distort in undetected increments the way time alters loved ones we see everyday?


The abused sees shades of unworthiness. The executive finds entitlement in the sharp lines of his brow. The beautiful see only the flaws. Is it possible this is the one thing that creates character depth above all things?


One thread common to all my stories is the longing to return to self. In almost all, the main character has slipped away on a tide of life and circumstance so far from what they believed they would become or what they're capable of, they barely recognize their own image. What greater sadness in a character's backstory could there be than that of a stranger they've become? And, the fact that we're all guilty of shades of untruths about ourselves to some extent, makes the story experience real. Candid. Raw.


Hold your protagonist to a mirror this week as you craft his story. What do you see? How is that different than what your character sees?

Friday, November 2, 2007

The "D" Word


What if you were gifted with knowledge of your future? A newspaper article, a snippet on the evening news projected two, maybe twenty years to foreshadow what your life would become? How your ambitions panned out?

For those of us who aspire to be New York Times bestsellers or live in a castle in England and type away madly all day, indulging in the eccentricities our success wrought, what if the glimpse turned out to be true? What if we knew one day our story would be the one to finally knock the Harry Potter empire from the collective lists? Would we change the way we live our lives? Work harder? Or would that knowledge lead to the paranoid fear of a misstep? Something that would blow us so wildly off-course, we'd never reach that snippet of the future?


It is all in what you believe of fate and pre-destination. The free will to make mistakes in the microcosm, but still part of the overall plan we're too closely focused to see. Would this knowledge really be a gift, or would it cripple us to seeing anything different or wiser or more important?


When we look back, do we see it and really understand it?


If I'd known nine years ago I'd still be marching the shelves at the chain stores and not find my own book, would it have stalled my dream? Would I have sprinted the path, more determined than ever to shorten the distance? Would I have never taken the first step?


These past nine years, fattened with highs and lows and all the frustrations and joys in between, I know absolutely have shaped me into the person I've become. Someone I love dearly used the "D" word to describe me. Determined. Not exactly a word at the forefront of my vocabulary nine years ago, but now, it's the exact legacy I hope to create for those who follow me.


Would knowledge of your future be a gift?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Psssst!


When I was little, my older brother would cloak himself every Halloween with a hooded black robe and hide in the half-moon wells in front of our basement windows. He'd jump out at unsuspecting trick-or-treaters and see how many of them he could scare, or in Little Mary Sitter's case, wet the porch.


Last year, I bought a fog machine, not knowing it wouldn't produce a constant stream of light mist on our porch. Charged with the sporadic duty and eventual boredom of watching for trick-or-treaters while the rest of the family canvased the neighborhood, I found out the fog machine makes a delightfully sharp burst of noise when the button is pushed. Pssssst!


Yeah. You can imagine, and I hope you'll not think differently of me, how much amusement I found crouched by the darkened window, red button in hand. I perfected the timing, calculating the precise moment I'd have to depress the button for the fog to erupt and the noise to hiss at the feet of visitors. Psssst! Some squealed. Some backed into the potted ivy. And a choice few even did the "electrical charge dance"--that embarrassing reflexive shimmy that only comes with the best startles.


Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. When else can you play dress-up, pretend to be someone you're not and delight in toying with other's most basic emotions? Oh, wait. Writers do that every day with their stories.


What is your favorite way to celebrate Halloween?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Writing Life is Not for Fortune Cookies



I saved a fortune from a Chinese cookie dated 5-7-07 that reads: Your hard work is about to pay off. For awhile, I hung my hat on the predictions of a pseudo-psychic and fellow author who predicted I'd sell soon, on a date with a three in it. I'm not sure what constitutes "soon" in the metaphysical realm, but that was almost a year ago to this day. Let's hope she didn't mean 2013. Oh, and I shouldn't forget, enough pennies tossed in a fountain to buy a base-line latte.

I'm thankful for all the amazing opportunities I've been given this past year. Being nominated for a Golden Heart award, signing with an agent, my first contract with a small press for a short story, and coming full circle to truly appreciating the amazing friends and writers I surround myself with. Most of all, perhaps, was entering a mental and emotional realm where I can no longer not write.

I know this isn't the traditional time of year to look ahead but for some reason Fall tends to be when things change in my life--a sort of bookmark each year in the greater picture. Today, I took down the Chinese fortune. Symbolic? Maybe. Fate and good fortune don't always just happen. Sometimes you must work toward them. Hard. Sometimes when you think you just can't give anymore, that's when you find the true artist inside, lurking. Lucky calls don't rain down on us like an unpredicted shower. They are the end result of putting our work and the faith we have in ourselves out there in more ways than we ever have. Maybe that's why I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition, first paragraph contests and took control of my writing future in one of the hardest ways imaginable this year. If success is based on numbers--daily page counts, number of times a writer puts her work out there, the number of rejections accumulated, then the coming year is when I play the odds.

What will you do the play the odds this year?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Reinventing the Wheel

I have a confession. With each new project, my structured thought process invents another way to organize my plot. Sure, I attend workshop after workshop, listen to tapes, read plotting books. I've tried almost all of them. Post-its, white boards, spiral-bound bibles, three-ring binders, loose index cards. I suppose some strange part of me--the same part that wants to yell "Squeee" in the Container Store--loves finding new ways to compartmentalize the vast amount of information required to write a novel.


Maybe each attempt at writing requires a different approach. Certainly Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a flowing, literary piece like Eat, Pray and Love from an entirely different structural place than novelist Stephen King wrote Lisey's Story, although I suspect the more notches on your publishing pencil, the more intuitive the entire process becomes. But each story has its own power and emphasis. To find that place of understanding and authority, it requires the author to root around a bit and follow a path not taken before.


Most writers are superstitious. They have their "lucky outfit" to wear to pitch sessions, turn their workspace a certain cardinal direction because career-boosting fortune happened in that space and surround themselves with ritual mugs and baubles like seniors at a bingo hall. Maybe when they sold to New York, they locked into what worked and held onto it, afraid to change for fear the magical dust of publication may not return.


For now, I reinvent the wheel until I understand more about the story than I do my own drive to write. I'm just thankful my left-brain doesn't control my passion to return to the story each day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Art is in the Attempt

Today marks the official day I begin revisions on my WIP, The Night Caller. At some point, even an obsessive plotter must stop and realize the writing will fill in the blanks I have yet to. But here, at the beginning yet again, it does put the entire project into perspective again. At a time when goals and daily page counts dominate my thoughts and the ending I just figured out must echo the beginning scene I am poised to write, I remember back to my other projects. The ones where the journey took me somewhere wildly off-course and the end result didn't reflect the scope and magnitude of the novel in my head.

No where was this more evident than in my short story, The Lost Highway. In my initial vision, there was a bridge responsible for the anomaly in time, a fiery inferno the protagonists had to reach before the window of opportunity faded forever. In the final version, the bridge is still there, in the past. But somehow along the way it became enough for the hero and heroine to simply be. Not racing a ticking time bomb but to simply pause, be in the moment with all the fears and confusion of their internal conflicts, and become aware of the opportunity they'd been given. To simply be.

Would the fiery inferno have made a better story? Perhaps. But when the detoured story is good enough to sell, as The Lost Highway has, does that mean that true art, the words we paint on the imaginary canvas of the reader, is in the attempt, not in the destination? Had I not buckled in and followed the story map of my mind to the bridge, would I have found the same story? Doubtful.

As writers, I don't think we're ever truly satisfied with our words. We're always finding stronger verbs or a different twist that would have taken the story in an entirely new direction. I suspect all creative people wage this battle in their own minds. What emerges is never truly what we envisioned, like something that constantly outdistances us. Who's to say the detour we stumble upon isn't better?

This lessens the looming expectations of the destination and allows faith to creep in. Threads that magically weave themselves into the fabric of our novel and the belief that the characters will find the path they're meant to travel. And for the writer, the freedom to realize that true art is in the attempt.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of October 15, 2007

I'll be taking a short hiatus from the Monday posts on Time Travel and Paranormal market news while I work on the meditation draft of my WIP. I still plan to post blog entries three times per week, so check back often...


This week:
~Market site: ralen.com
~Time travel romance friendly website
~NBC's Journeyman ratings



The best part about ralen.com, an extensive resource for authors of all genres looking for market information, links, response times, publishers and contests, is that the information is updated weekly. Especially helpful is the response times page for everything from book publishers to children's magazines. See where your manuscript falls.


Fans at "We Really Dig Romance" have an entire page devoted to archiving time travel romances, organized by story length and historical/futuristic period. Complete with summaries and links for ordering, this site is a great resource for both readers and authors of time travel romances.


Lastly, and sadly, Journeyman is on the chopping block for NBC if Nielson ratings don't improve. NBC has ordered three additional scripts, but now is the time to let your voice be heard. If you are already a fan and wish to contact NBC executives, go to Journeyman's message board at nbci.com. From there, you'll find helpful email addresses you can lend support to the show.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Lost Highway

The Wild Rose Press has selected "The Lost Highway" to be part of a Texas-themed anthology for Spring 2008! Here's a teaser:

On a desolate west Texas highway, a man at a crossroads in his life meets a beautiful woman, lost in more ways than any cardinal direction on a map. Her pristine 1959 Thunderbird, her matronly dress and her optimism conspire to place her firmly out of touch with reality. In a race against the clock to reconnect with an old love, he discovers the captivating stranger has driven straight out of her own time and into the abandoned shell of his heart.


Sadly, the exact '59 Thunderbird I used for my inspiration was sold and taken off its web page, but here's a look at the outside shape and the cherry-red and white interior that became so important in the story:






Looks like they were selling the American dream or something that closely resembled love (Unless, of course, he's making the universal man-joke gesture).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Reading Life Backward

Psychologist James Hillman, who wrote the 1997 best-selling book The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, speaks about "reading life backward." The intense study of a lifetime of choices and events, convictions, passions--the polar emotions of love and hate and everything in between that has given texture and shading to our lives. He calls these "symptoms" and urges people to use the study of these to discover the calling of your life. The one thing you're meant to be.

While others emphasize growth and nurture philosophy in determining the outcome of our lives and what we ultimately choose to give the world, Hillman adopts an "acorn theory of the soul." Like an acorn holds the pattern for an oak, he believes each individual owns, within himself, each soul's unique potential from the beginning.


He urges everyone to look back on their lives for clues to their calling. Trials, illness, accidents, obsessions and aversions all hold clues, when looked at through a larger scope of time passed, take on a more impactful stamp on our souls. It is a philosophy similar to an out-of-body experience, where the result is an increased sensitivity to the signs of our lives. A life lived with intention and awareness.

Do you believe our calling is a "seed" within our soul at birth we spend a lifetime trying to discover, or that the path of our lives determines our contributions to the world?

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of October 8, 2007

This week:
~Writing Contests for Full-Length Novels


The Paul Gillette Writing Contest, sponsored by the Pike's Peak Writers group, is accepting submissions for short stories and full-length fiction in a wide spectrum of genres, including science fiction/fantasy/horror. Expect feedback from experienced writers, final round editors and agents and eligibility to attend their prestigious 16th annual writer's conference in Spring 2008. Entries must be postmarked by November 1.


Chris Keesler, senior editor at Dorchester Publishing, is final round judge for specialized category of the 2007 Great Expectations contest, sponsored by the North Texas Romance Writers of America. Entries in this category, which includes novels with futuristic, fantasy, time travel and/or paranormal elements, must emphasize the romantic relationship. Entry deadline for the first twenty-five manuscript pages is December 29, 2007.


Amazon and its CreateSpace company is open to 5,000 submissions from aspiring novelists to find the next breakthrough novel. Judged by both Amazon reviewers and Publisher's Weekly staff, the blend of Amazon-Idol-like popularity voting and true literary industry "weeding" promises to be an interesting blend. Entry deadline is November 5, 2007. Visit Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award space for more details.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Of Similies and Thighmasters

I'm writing the third article in my Seven Facets of Deep Prose series: Language. Most writers know figurative vs. literal, similie vs. metaphor, so my aim is to dig deep into the word choices we make as writers and how the right use of language can impact every other aspect of the work.

While researching, I came across this list. One you've probably seen before, but it bears repeating because they are the perfect example of what can go wrong in our quest to find the right words to express ourselves...and because they're too funny not to post.

The 25 Funniest Analogies (Collected by High School English Teachers)
1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Intimate Truth


I'm completely captivated by the PBS Documentary War. I blink and an hour has sped by with the power of an emotional bullet train. An hour immersed in total darkness but for the stories of the men and women who lived these moments in history. An hour the writer within tries to lure me to the project at hand, the guilt of an unfinished project with too many miles to go to begin counting, until I realize every tear I shed along with these people brings me one closer to a realism I chase with my own words.


How is it possible to ground something so outlandish, and some would say frivolous, an idea as time travel is with the same powerful context as the universal human emotions the men and women of this war did? The same notes of loyalty and patriotism and unyielding love and despair that translate into the fabric of our own lives? Does living through such an unprecidented time make everything into shades of gray in comparison? Is it ever possible for someone so far removed from anything as intense a human drama as war to ever give these emotions justice in words?


The veterans in this documentary are dying at a rate of close to one thousand per day. Some of the places they revisit, for our benefit, I can only imagine would surface at the tail end of a lifetime, looking back. An urgency to speak the intimate truth--the raw honesty within--before time steals it away. It is this honesty writers struggle to capture, the translation of human experience that makes every one of us the same. No boundaries. No lines. Just the truth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Armchair Writer with a Remote

Journeyman on NBC. You knew I'd get around to an opinion about it, right?

Aside from the common belief that the general TV audience doesn't have the attention span or patience for a storyline this complex, completely disproved by the success of Heroes and Lost, I'm not convinced this show has longevity. And you all know how much I wish for time travel longevity, right?

Many comparisons have been made to Quantum Leap, for obvious reasons, but the similarities stop at the whole time-travel-make-things-right premise. Journeyman has the potential to explore deeper, more complex emotions and moral choices because the main character is traveling as himself, not the embodiment of another, and must return and face the consequences of his circumstances. However, because Sam Beckett communicated with the future via secondary characters and technological devices, he remained firmly in the storyline of the past, allowing the viewer full, uncluttered access to the problem at hand.

Now, this opinion is coming from someone whose novel unfolds backward in twenty-four hour increments, but Journeyman is symptomatic of the fast-paced--even hurried dramas that are becoming staples on network TV. Quick dialogue. Rushed scenes in an effort to break for more commercials and keep an audience from multitasking five other actions to stop long enough to become engaged. So many moments in Journeyman's pilot fly by. The emotional payoff to an amazing ending, where the entirety of the episode becomes clear was completely rushed. The moment he discovers his lost lost love might indeed face the same strange phenomenon he's struggling to understand, her line is rapid-fire and buried beneath an effective, but too-loud background score. Dan Vasser experienced one moral dilemma after another in the span of 38 minutes, yet the writers and directors only skimmed the surface of these emotions, asking the viewer to fill in the rest.

I applaud NBC for continuing to harness the success of Heroes and the craving the audience has for something fresh that offers complexities the viewer will analyze long after the credits roll. I hope the lightning speed of the pilot was merely set to engage a new audience and the pace will slow a bit to capitalize on the unique challenges facing the characters.
*
Oh, and note to self: if this fiction thing doesn't work out, I can, apparently, work as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco and earn enough to buy a four million dollar Victorian.

What did you think?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Book of Lasts

Something resonated with me a few days ago, as I'm preparing a member of my family for a rite of passage in our faith. Naturally, thoughts turn to other times I've made a similar journey in the past. Times when the merest notion of "firsts" called for celebration. First steps. First words. Even first teeth elicit a special road marker along the side of the road each of us must travel.

But with time, as it does most other things in our lives, those firsts slip away, a fond memory recalled in less frequent moments as the years stretch on. In place of first words, the infinite cacophony of questions or complaints or merely the lyrics to a song unimaginable in that captured moment in the past, take over and the memory slips into black and white and shades of gray. Instead of first steps toward you, they sprint away in their independence.

But if there is a book tucked away of "firsts" for each of us, a memoir of childhood to be brought out and dusted off, what if there were a book of "lasts"? The last time we kissed our spouse. The last words exchanged between an elderly parent and a grown child. The last glimpse we had of our child. How different we would live our lives. How much we would savor each moment as it slides into the next. How much we would yearn for the next to never come.

Without time travel, there can be no known books of lasts. Thankfully, perhaps. A safe, albeit unsure reminder of what is to come, we remain ignorant of these road markers, knowing they exist somewhere in the grand scheme of fate or merely the inevitability of our lives.

What did you do today as if it were written in your book of lasts?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 24, 2007

This week:
Time Travel-friendly romance publishers and links
Heroes Wiki
~ ~ ~
Dragon Moon Press
3521 43A Ave.Red Deer, AB T4N 3E9Canada

Currently seeking paranormal in the vein of Kim Harrison, Shanna Swendson, PC Cast, Karen Chance, or Kelley Armstrong, with the fantastic element key.


Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue New York, NY 10017

Currently seeking historical and contemporary romances, including romantic suspense and paranormals.


Juno Books
9710 Traville Gateway Dr #234
Rockville, MD 20850

Currently seeking contemporary fantasy often referred to as "urban fantasy" these days: a woman with "kickassitude" and supernatural power (or some paranormal connection).


Kensington Publishing
850 Third Ave.New York, NY 10022

John Scognamiglio is actively looking for historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance/urban fantasy. Word count: 85,000-100,000. Selena James is actively looking for African-American romance and women’s fiction. She’s also looking for romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and futuristic romance.


Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Avenue Ste. 2N Saint Charles, IL 60174

Currently seeking romantic suspense; historical including Medieval, Renaissance or highland; paranormal including vampires; futuristic or science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense/thriller and mainstream fiction including mainstream historical fiction.


Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020

Currently seeking single-title contemporary romances, historicals, romantic suspense, gothic and paranormal romance, African-American fiction, erotica, and women's fiction. We enjoy historicals with Regency and Scottish settings. Word length: 80,000-95,000.


Sourcebooks, Inc.
1935 Brookdale Rd, Suite 139Naperville, IL 60563

Currently seeking all subgenres: time travel, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, comedy, suspense. historical. The sexier the better!


Visit websites for specific submission information


~ ~ ~


For those of you anticipating the return of Heroes to NBC tonight, here's a Heroes Wiki that explores time travel.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Penny for Your Creativity



I'm blogging over at my Saturday blogging spot, Sparkle This, on filling the creative well with an "Artist Date". Come over and leave a comment about where you'd take your muse on a date.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Particle Theory and The Woo-Woo Factor

In the scientific realm, there's a theory that states:

If two particles have been linked at any time during the history of the universe, they will always be able to communicate with each other.

I found this statement again while reading through my notes from Michael White's book Weird Science and it occured to me this theory is a common thread running through my novels. This is the driving premise behind the ending to my last book, Chasing Midnight. Subconciously, but even stronger is this theory in my current work, The Night Caller, where communication and the breech of the space-time continuum play such a heavy hand in the story.


So what is it about this theory that's so compelling? It smacks of a romanticized ideal, taking scientific proofs to an entirely different philosophical level. It speaks to the connectedness we all want, but strive a lifetime to find or hold onto. Do particles on a molecular level behave with the same properties as such complex human conditions as love? Hate? Does this explain psychic phenomenon science has yet to find measurable evidence for? The experience when we meet someone for the first time and it seems we've known them a lifetime or from somewhere we can't ever quite place? The undeniable gravity we feel toward a place we've never been? Do the greatest mysteries of the universe lie in the activity of base particles?


Have you ever felt linked to something or someone you couldn't explain?

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 17, 2007

This week:


Short Fiction contests and markets


For those with a literary slant to their time travel short story, the deadline for Zoetrope's 11th annual short fiction contest is October 1. Entries must be previously unpublished, 5K words or less and accompanied by a $15 entry fee. Final judge: Joyce Carol Oates. Top Prize: $1,000 and inclusion in the spring issue of Zoetrope: All Story. All finalists considered for representation by the William Morris along with six other literary agencies.




The deadline for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers is September 30. Editors are looking for literary stories up to 12K words. Top Prize: $1,200 and first rights publication.




Science Fiction Writers of Earth is holding their 27th annual Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Story Contest. Submitting the $5 entry fee comes with a one year membership. Previously unpublished manuscripts must be 2,000-7,500 words. Top Prize: $200 and placement on the SFWoE website for 180 days. Deadline: postmarked on or before October 30.


The Magazine for Fantasy and Science Fiction is open to submissions of SF works up to 25K words in length. Submissions for fantasy fiction are always competitive, but editor Gordon Van Gelder is especially interested in science fiction and humor. Payment is 6-9 cents/word on acceptance with first North American and anthology rights.



Sunday, September 16, 2007

Magnetic Center

Fast Draft has officially come to an end, for me anyway. Some of my compadres want to harness the momentum and continue. Me? Catch up on life that happened around me for two weeks while I was in a turn-of-the-century house in a fictitious Colorado mining town with a tortured hero and a wounded spirit.


Fast Draft was more to me this time than just completing a first draft in two weeks. During those fourteen days, I celebrated a first booksigning with one of my CPs--a vicarious joy hard to put to words--and said goodbye to a feline love of eighteen years. Writing became more to me than just hitting a page count each day. Writing became my compass, my magnetic center, through the highs and lows. Several times I hit a wall, thinking the worst possible luck had struck me during this window of time I was supposed to be performing at maximum potential. Why couldn't life, and death, have waited just a few more days?


When I hit that wall, I'd take everything I was in the moment--the grief, the hope, the uncertainty and the love I felt so acutely--and pour it into my characters. My joy and darkness became their own. More than anything I've written to date, this novel is a labor of love in the purest sense.


To learn more about Fast Draft, visit Candy Haven's website.


Tomorrow, time travel markets...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Day Ten

FastDraft: Day Ten

"One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half a hundred half-finished tasks." ~B.C. Forbes

Today, this is me, but still I write. Three more days to go to a completed first draft. The fatigue I feel now--the same shared by the entire group I'm on this journey with for these two weeks--is nothing compared to the fatigue of a draft that lingers month after month, waning in enthusiasm and spark.


Write on. . .

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 10, 2007


Many of you may have heard Madeline L'Engle died this week, the legendary author of both children's novels and Christian works. This week's Time Machine is dedicated to things you may not know about her John Newbery Award-winning novel A Wrinkle in Time.


She conceived the story idea "during a time of transition" in her life in the Spring of 1959 when on a respite from moving her family back to New York City, she found herself on a ten week camping trip--an expedition where, she explains, "we drove through a world of deserts and buttes and leafless mountains, wholly new and alien to me. And suddenly into my mind came the names, Mrs Whatsit. Mrs Who. Mrs Which." She also had a keen interest in quantum physics at the time, which explains its presence in the story.


After submitting to "forty-odd publishers", L'Engle's agent returned the manuscript to her. Then, at a chance meeting--a tea party thrown for her mother at Christmastime--she met John Ferrar, who was not publishing children's books at the time, but took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time.

When asked why finding a publisher had been so difficult, L'Engle had several theories. Some publishing houses had simply told her it was "too different" and couldn't decide if it was for adults or children. She attributes their reluctance to the heavy themes of dark and evil and the consensus that it might be too difficult for children to relate to. She also believes having a female protagonist in a science fiction book just wasn't done at the time.


According to the New York Times:

"'She once described herself as a French peasant cook who drops a carrot in one pot, a piece of potato in another and an onion and a piece of meat in another.


“At dinnertime, you look and see which pot smells best and pull it forward,” she was quoted as saying in a 2001 book, “Madeleine L’Engle (Herself): Reflections on a Writing Life,” compiled by Carole F. Chase.

“The same is true with writing,” she continued. “There are several pots on my backburners.'"

Known as the Time Quintet, the remainder of titles in the series featuring the Murray family include: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986), and An Acceptable Time (1989).


In May 2007, a new edition of A Wrinkle in Time includes a previously unpublished interview with Madeline L'Engle along with the text of her speech when she accepted the Newbury award.



Oh, and as an aside, if you watch the television show "Lost", Sawyer was caught reading this novel on the beach, sexy-nerd glasses and all. Think the writers are trying to tell us something?








Next week :: More time travel markets and contests...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New Words and Classic Clip

This week, I'm heavy into FastDraft mode, cranking out pages for my new novel The Night Caller. Read more about it on my website.

If you're new to the FastDraft concept, be sure to visit Candy Haven's website to learn more about it. Sign up to be part of her Write Workshop on Yahoogroups. She has an amazing workshop that has changed the way hundreds of writers find success. It worked for my GH finalist manuscript. Check it out.

As I'm completely braindead for all things not related to cops, 1881 or photography, here's a time travel moment in a soon-to-be-classic. Even if you don't *get* the humor in Napoleon Dynamite, this is funny...


Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of September 3, 2007

This week ::


~Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
~The Book of Time by Guiliaume Prevost
~Celebrity Time Travel

Lovers of Harry Potter looking for new adventure will find it in this week's fresh releases in time-travel young adult fiction:




Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
Something frightening is happening with time. One moment, a time tornado rages through the streets of London, and those caught up in its path vanish without a trace. The next moment a woolly mammoth is seen lumbering along the banks of the River Thames. At the center of these bizarre time warps is a house called Tanglewreck, which is home to eleven-year-old Silver, her bony and bad-tempered aunt, Mrs Rokabye, and a mysterious clock known as the Timekeeper. Silver doesn’t understand exactly what the Timekeeper does, but when two sinister figures come looking for it, she knows instinctively that she must guard it with her life. (Grades 6-10)

*This novel is drawing critical comparison to Madeline L'Engle's classic, A Wrinkle in Time*



The Book of Time by Guillaume Provost





A statue; a coin; an old book. They look as dusty as everything else in the Faulkner Antiquarian Bookstore, where 14-year-old Sam Faulkner seeks his father, who's been missing for days. But when Sam slips the coin into the statue, he's swept back in time -- to Scotland in 800 A.D. -- where he must find both the statue and another coin in order to return to the present. It's the first step in an adventure that will take him to ancient Egypt, World War I, even Dracula's castle -- and a mystery that will end only when Sam saves his father, or loses him in time . . . (Ages 9-12)




~~~
The website worth1000.com has posted its finalists for the ninth celebrity time travel photo shop contest in which entrants post doctored photographs of celebrities in eras other than their own. Check out the fresh crop of your favorite celebrities or browse through the finalists from the previous contests.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blogging Detour


Want to find out who Maude is? Saturday is my day to blog over at Sparkle This! Come find me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hoarding the Magic

Remember that excitement that comes along and takes up residence in your every waking thought at the prospect of a new story? New beginnings always hold an incandescent magic that sweep us along. Our characters rush through our everyday thoughts like adrenaline attached to a forbidden love. Plotting when we should be driving. Daydreaming in the shower and not bothering to stop and dry off before you can capture words in the spiral before they're lost. Living in the new world you've created in moments where you appear to be doing nothing more than waiting in the carpool line like every other parent.

Pure magic.

But as with falling in love, the bruises begin to show. Holes in plot or research. Character issues you'd not anticipated. For many years, I'd mourn the loss of the first stage of exuberance and allow it to mire my passion for the story until I could go no further. The dreaded "sagging middle"; where like all of us in the real world, our imperfections can keep us bogged down.

Stephen King believes in having one "ideal reader." Someone whose opinion you crave and desire to please above all others. This person, whom you trust completely with the very essence of yourself you've poured onto the page, can only enter the love affair after it's finished. He believes writers should resist the temptation at all costs to give into the part of your internal editor that seeks reassurance and praise along the way. In doing so, we give away a glimmer of the magic. Words from our critique partners are no longer our own. Well-meaning readers can steer a story off-course as quickly as gale-force winds in what you thought was a solitary journey.

I'm in the infatuation stage with my current work, filled with hopes and anticipation of getting to each and every morsel that seems predestined and ready to write itself in my mind. I know the day will come when the bruises show, but this time I will hoarde the magic. Savor its every last breath until the time I can present my ideal reader this ultimate gift--a story uniquely mine, untainted by the fingerprints of other's thoughts and opinions.

And ultimately, isn't that what resonates with the reader?

Who is your ideal reader? When do you turn over your writing for others to see?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Time Machine ~ Week of August 27, 2007

This week ::

~Highland Press seeking Time Travel
~Hugo Nominee : The Walls of the Universe
~DVD release: Heroes
~Bumper Sticker, anyone?

Highland Press celebrates its first anniversary as one of the premier trade paperback and downloadable e-book publishers on the internet. They are dedicated to high quality fiction and offer complete editing and cover art services with royalties paid based on retail sales.

Submissions are open for a Time Travel anthology (word count between 10K-15K). For more information, visit their website.

~~~

2007 Hugo nominee Paul Melko offers up a novella entitled The Walls of the Universe about a man who can hop timelines to alternate universes. Originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction, you can read the story in its entirety on their website.

~~~

Tuesday, August 28 is the release date for season one of the hit television series Heroes. Features on the DVD includes backstage looks at stunts, special effects, the making of Heroes and 73 uninterrupted minutes of the unaired, extended pilot featuring a never-before-seen character.
~~~
Lastly, if this time-travel bumper sticker speaks to you, you can order it here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Everything Beneath the Kitchen Sink



All I ever find under my sink is the blue residue from SOS pads and those plastic sealers from the milk jug my cat likes to chase...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Word Spritz

I want to be a writer for Bath and Body Works. Have you noticed they've taken description for their scents from the garden variety "let the sweet, juicy scent of Mango Mandarin give your spirits a lift" to "Sweet wild honeysuckle dance in spring rain. Soft. Airy. Alluring." Poetry and enough fru-fru juice to cloud even the most potent body odor.

Somehow, in the land of BBW, flowers are capable of a minuet, taking on weighty verbs of their own and fruits couldn't own any more action tags unless you placed them under your arm and squeezed. Does any woman read this when deciding to purchase a scent? Helpful online maybe, but in the store, I doubt anyone is swept away by the descriptive Harlequin-esque prose.

Along the same lines, have you seen the commercial for the new "5" gum? At the beginning an announcer states, "Want to know what it feels like to chew the new "5" gum?" Okay, how hard is that, really, to experience the sensation a piece of gum gives you when you put it in your mouth by watching television? Almost impossible, right? So the actress drops into a wind tunnel, burglar-skydiving-style, while thousands of wind-generating heat lamps keep her suspended by their air current. Perfect example of show, don't tell.

To have to write tight enough to convey the entire essence of a product in a few, sometimes less, words is a talent we should all aspire to. Every word on the page should impact the reader in some way. Every adjective a subtle nuance to the emotional state of the POV character. Every verb a shade of universal truth we've all shared. Writers have the power to manipulate the story world for the reader, just as the marketing writers manipulate us into purchasing their products. Consumers of body lotion are buying into an experience as much as our readers.

Make sure every spritz of language leaves a lasting impact.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Time Machine ~ August 20, 2007



This week::
~Heliotrope E-Zine
~Time travel stories for children and young adults


Heliotrope, a speculative fiction E-zine, is now open to submissions for their Winter 2008 issue to be published in March 2008. Submit your science fiction, fantasy, mystery or horror short story (not to exceed 5,000 words) to Jay Tomio, editor. Stories that fall between these genres or ones that can't be easily labeled are also welcome. Payment is $.10 per word upon publication. Submission guidelines and Heliotrope back issues are available on their website.

~ ~ ~


Want to turn a young reader on to time travel? Here are some suggestions:

Reginald Pepper is Out of Time by Neil Sorenson

The son of a world-famous paranormal troubleshooter uncovers a strange family secret hidden in a forgotten wall is plunged back in time to 1905 where he must twart the evil deeds of a vengeful vampire. (256 pages, recommended age: early teen)

Betsy Ross's Star (Blast to the Past series) by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon

Awarded Learning Magazine's Teacher's choice award for 2007, this eighth book in the series takes Abigail and her history class on an adventure to set the record straight about who really sewed the first American Flag. (80 pages, recommended ages: 9-12)

Time Warp Trio : The Seven Blunders of the World by Jon Scieszka

Follow Joe, Fred and Sam as they travel back to ancient Babylon to recover The Book and discover cuniform and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. (96 pages, recommended ages 9-12)

What was the first book you read about time travel?