Friday, October 30, 2009

A Bond Girl Halloween

Boo. I'm at the 007 Blog today offering up new romantic Halloween ideas along with some old favorites. Pop over to say hello and have a great Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Epilogue to a Bite

Please get a full assessment of your physical appearance before committing to a bare-chested Hulk costume

Where was I yesterday? Among other things, I had my nose bitten (yes, it was human; no, don't ask), was fingerprinted for the FBI (no, it does not speak to my Bond Girl status), and prepped yet another Golden Heart entry. Will third time be a charm? Who cares when it's an excuse to buy a great dress and sit near Nora Roberts? Kidding. Sort of. So you see, yesterday was full, not the least of which was finding this great little diversion for Halloween.

Visual aid time. Someone hit the lights, please.

I'm a huge fan of short film, as evidenced here and here and here (an awesome one for Halloween, too, BTW). This new animated short, Epilogue, is just the brand of creepy I love in my Halloween, more Hitchcock and Twilight Zone than Saw and serial killers. If you have four minutes, I think you'll enjoy it, too. I love the jerky style of animation. It adds so much to the tone.

Tomorrow, I'll strap on my knee-high Bond Girl boots and sizzle the 007 Blog up with Romantic Halloween ideas. Some of you may remember I did this last year, but the muse has had time to concoct more ideas for you and that special someone to celebrate Hallow's Eve. Be sure to come back and show me your fangs. Please, no biting. I've had enough of that this week.

What did you think of Epilogue? Why the 911 call at the beginning?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Will Bear Grylls Fit Into My Pocket?

The anvil that is FastDraft has lifted and it's long past time for fun around The Vortex. After much contemplation about the nature of such fun, and after a rather lengthy time-suck game of "I'm going on a trip and I'm bringing..." game at the dentist today, and after a particular rousing two-part MacGyver rerun where he entrusts his pocket knife to Merlin, of Knights of the Roundtable fame, it occurred to me such a thing has yet to be attempted here. True, the game loses the memory-challenge aspect in blog form, but we can more than make up for that in creativity, right? I'll start:

I'm going back in time and I'm bringing a SwissFlame800

...because my Girl Scout training neither perfected my ability to use a flint or a glass lens to start a fire nor did it help me channel my inner heroine like this beaut.
As an aside, there is a blog devoted to MacGyver. Who knew entire posts could be devoted to the love of duct tape? Must. Not. Read. Song. Lyrics. Creeeepy.

Who's next?
I'm going back in time and I'm bringing...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Addictions and Lifelines

The universe sent me gifts today.

Maybe it's my bleary mind-truly bleary, for the well of words is running dry, and I find it increasingly difficult to complete verbal thoughts-or maybe it's that I feel so out of touch with the overwhelming left-brain part of me that dominates my normal day-to-day that I pick up on things not neatly constructed into expectations, but the gifts are there. Something as simple as sitting in a coffee shop this morning, digging deep for a cathartic scene and the music piped into the space, into my brain, is the perfect soundtrack for the moment...a resonance of harmony and angst and grief and all the fuel I needed for the space of the two minutes it took to purge myself through my character.

And it's not just today, it was throughout the Fastdraft process. Secondary characters walk into my life, even a brief glance and I know it is them and they walk out again. I see symbols where I'd been a thousand times and never payed attention. My fingers fly across the keys before the thought is even a conditioned muscle memory inaccessible except in this vacation world of the right brain. Everywhere around me things resonate, the weather parallels my story, my mood. It's hard for someone who doesn't write to understand, but it is the stuff of addictions. The sense we are creating something larger than ourselves we cannot quite understand but something we have faith and trust is there. How many things in life can we say that about with any certainty?

I'd edit this, but it is the truest sense of where I am at the moment. Tomorrow marks the end of this novel's Fastdraft session. I have yet to figure out the exact black moment, though I know the ending. I have every confidence I've set up the perfect storm and it will come to me like the universe bestowing a gift when I least expect it. When I return from this right-brained vacation, I will return to post-it notes and lists and all the meticulous things I fill my day with which I'll need for the slow-endurance marathon that is the meditative draft, everything I'll need to get it right, but for now, I'm beyond grateful for the experience, the story that was gifted to me, and me alone. There is magic, as much for the writer as for the reader.

Many days, one in particular, I wanted to give up. I walked that dangerous precipice of self-doubt that comes around during every project where I felt like a fraud and crumbled into a crippling ball of nothingness. Some visitors asked me along the way why I bothered blogging during this time. Without the accountability I may not have come back from the edge of that island. I had to have something to put up, a magic number to justify the hours, the days, and so I pressed on. Thank you, everyone, who stopped by. You were more of a creative lifeline than you'll ever know.

Today's word count: 6421

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day Seven: 1 Week = Eternity

My hero takes my breath away. Too many Halloween Oreos. Uh. Did I brush my hair today? No, really. Did I?
Day Seven: 7044 words

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can't See the Forest For the Word Cloud

My word cloud pretty much sums up the past few days. The epiphany, mercifully, happened today.

A huge thanks to those of you checking in to see if I was still alive, sneaking away on tippy-toes. Yes, I see you and I adore you all.

Day Five word count: 112
Day Six word count: 6424

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day Four. I Take Mine Dark. Like My Plots.

Such a love-hate thing I have going on. When it happens all in one day, it feels schizophrenic.

Need. More. Chocolate.
Today's count: 6816 words

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day Three: The Smell of Progress

From the land of Am-I-Coherent?

Did someone seriously slap an author-I use the word author loosely here-at a book signing today? That degree of excitement would be a serious improvement over the guy who went on a diatribe about rattlesnakes and the pubescent boy that muttered, "I think my mom reads those things" at my signings. Bitch-slap me if it'll put my release on a top CNN headline. I can take one for the team.

Today, I steered clear of Starbucks. I think Walkingman messed with my Fast Draft mojo, so went to Coffee Shop #3. They're having a music fest Friday night. I'd SO be there *cough*unlikely*cough* if they'd fix the lone toilet in the women's restroom. Oh, and yeah, tell me it's broken AFTER my sixteen-plus ounces. What of the men's room you ask? Pshaw! Some of the male patrons were using it as their office with a capital O, if you know what I mean. No, thanks anyway. It was a battle-royale at day's end between my bladder's crippling need to go home and the sweet spot of magic that comes during Fast Draft long about day three.

Today's word count: 6754 (and I teared up twice! And it wasn't even the stench from the men's room!)
Total since Monday: 18,536

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day Two Yadda Yadda

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. A pathetic showing of words today: 4,818.

In my defense, I encountered a time-bomber this evening. We all have those in our lives right? Pure detonation of intent. Still no excuse.

Oh, and lest anyone think these are golden words-4,818 of them-to that I say, "Ha!" Fast draft is about spewing the subconscious. Sometimes they come out in a flash of blinding brilliance *cough* never *cough* and sometimes they'll look more like this gem:




Because who can enjoy a love scene written at the speed I can wolf down a granola bar? No thanks.

Tomorrow is Starbucks, incentive to make up for today's deficit. Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seriously? His Hair? And Day One Progress

Today's word count: 7,024.

And lo and behold, I pop out of my hole to find this newsy tidbit about Elvis's hair. I love me some Elvis as much as the next too-young-generation-girl-who-should-have-been-front-and-center-at-the-Classic-Comeback-'68, but purchasing his hair is just wicked creepy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Perfect Pair of Slippers

I'm fascinated by the processes other writers use to produce pages. Not so much the planning or research phase, but the arse-in-chair, blinking cursor phase. Creativity is like a fingerprint-no two persons are alike-but I'd be willing to bet other writers have rituals they talk themselves through when it's time.

Ten years ago, when I began writing in earnest, I modeled other writers' processes. Some begin the writing day reading literature they adore, akin to getting their toes wet in a sacred literary pool. I tried it and found my writing took on the cadence of what I'd read, it had been too fresh, too familiar. Some writers journal-slop pages to get the hand and brain juiced then erase and begin on their project. Mostly, I found my slop filled with self-deprecation. Not the best launch to a writing day. I've tried re-reading the previous day's work, re-reading much more than that, deep visualization/meditation, shoving the cats out the door, checking my emails, nursing that sacred first cup of my favorite beverage in the morning (different, depending on the season), lighting a candle, playing music; and sometimes, when the writing still didn't come, I'd hug my knees and rock back and forth in the corner spouting in tongues.

Okay, that never happened. Almost never. Seriously, it took years to groom myself to a ritual that works. And it didn't follow any paved path of well-intended writers who had offered me advice along the way. It came from me like a gift I'd possessed all along but didn't know how to unwrap it.

Starting Monday, I unwrap that gift again. It's been awhile, this creating new text, as I've been saturated with revisions of two manuscripts for the better part of this year. I have no doubt I'll find those well-worn comfortable slippers of creation inside the box. I would share the magic if I could, but we all know my slippers wouldn't fit you-especially the breezy hole near the big toe where unexpected ideas slip through.

For these two Fast Draft weeks, you'll find my posts simple, daily and accountable. I hope you'll stop by occasionally to say hello and toss me some chocolate for sustenance if I slip into tongues. I also hope you'll forgive me for not visiting elsewhere, but I look forward to catching up with everyone on the back end.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tell us about the best pair of slippers you've ever received.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Da High Concept. Da High Concept.

In my heated pursuit of high concept this time around, I'm always on the lookout for book-deal blurbs that scream "I-left-dozens-of-editors-salivating-at-auction-for-this." I think I found it today; and-what do you know?-it's time travel. Shocking, isn't it? Here it is:

Michael Sullivan’s Necessary Heartbreak, an inspirational time-travel novel about a single dad who has lost his faith and is struggling to raise his 14-year-old daughter when they discover a portal leading back to first-century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life.

Now that's an author who married two unlikely genres. Fist bump to you Mr. Sullivan for creating your own little Christian time travel high concept. What else can I marry time travel with? Time travel women's fiction? Done. Time travel mystery? Done. Time travel cookbook? No, really, the world doesn't need anything I cook. Past, present or future.

Speaking of high concept...

Last month while brainstorming said high concept novel, I ran across a list of odd occupations that included "Fantasy Broker." Apparently, there are people out there who pay obscene amounts of money to these brokers to orchestrate everything required to make one fantasy come true. It all smacks of Mr. Roarke, does it not? Imagine my delight when I learned Fantasy Island is being turned into a reality show. I am SO not a reality show person, but I cannot deny my youthful affinity for this post-Love Boat morsel. Mark Burnett and other developers are shooting for emotion-driven fantasies (does Josh Holloway count?), but it leaves me wondering if they'll preserve the darkish themes of be-careful-what-you-wish-for and the twisted moodiness that made it wicked-better than Gopher in high-waisted pants. If it smacks of Extreme Home Makeover or a Sally Jessie Raphael reunion show, I'm out.

What would your completely-P.G.-rated-I-won't-embarass-the-resident-Laura-Ingalls fantasy be?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Click Your Heels Three Times

And head over to the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog where I'm standing at the fork in the yellow-brick road between small press publication and Golden Heart eligibility for unpublished romance writers. Show the love by commenting and I'll show it right back with a chance at a detailed first chapter critique or an ultra-sexy coffee mug.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chew On This Research. Swallowing Comes Later.

I think I've visited every baby name and symbolism website known to mankind. Oh, and the most extensive database of Catholic Patron Saints. Ever. (Did you know there is a patron saint for dog bites?) Is this why it takes me what seems like a thousand moons to craft a novel? Is perfection so elusive that one superstitious wrong-turn of a key symbol or a character name has the potential to railroad the entire project?

This is the part of pre-writing I dislike. Nothing yet seems inevitable. Seldom does a location or secondary character name fall into my lap whole and perfect and ripe to enter the pages of my story. In the past twenty-four hours I've created entire government agencies and their subversive counterparts, invented a tattoo symbolic of said subversive group (a bizarre hybrid/reflection of well-known time symbols along with symbols of the group's nefarious intent) plopped a hundred year old seaside pier in North Carolina, divined an entire family of names that might be common eighty years from now (will classical still be in or will we all sound like Star-Trek walk-ons?) and birthed a heroine who is all the things I am not. None of my choices have gelled or settled into rightness, and I'm doubting each and every decision as if it were etched in granite.

So you'll understand my disorientation this week. I am at once on one of nine fictitious islands of monks named for Saint Giles, picking my way through a seaside port I've never visited, and studying the engineering behind turn-of-the-century Ferris wheels, all while wondering if I'm on the right path.

This makes me think of Stephen King's fossil analogy. In On Writing, he speculates that our stories already exist within us like a fossil waiting to be excavated, a skeletal foundation that can only be discovered slowly and precisely using instruments in the writer's toolbox. Somewhere deep inside my mind, the next novel, nay-the entire series, is there. Does that make them inevitable? Does this mean the choices we make as writers are already carefully crafted, awaiting the moment when light will reach them? Are our stories, then, fated to be ours or can we truly control their direction?

In five years, that fictional isle of monks will exist, not in some nebulous far-off glimmer, but in the absolute of my mind, through weeks and months of sweat and words. At what point is that transition? The end? Book three? The moment my feet sink into that fertile first chapter?

I'll let you know when I reach it.

Next week, along with my inaugural post over at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood, I'll be tackling the fun part of my research: a mirrored fun-house. Alone.
Pictures? Count on it.

For now, tell me the best fictitious town name you've ever created or read about. Chewandswallow doesn't count. That's mine.