Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ten Reasons My Muse is Thankful

Every so often, writers need to belly up to the bountiful table of blessings because, let's face it, the starlight moments are few and far between. It's easy to let the weight of the literary world, with all it's rules and rejections, take us far from our intended course. With that in mind, and before the tryptophan short circuits creative thought and lapses me into a food coma, I offer up a Vortex 10 filled with writerly blessings.

Top Ten Reasons My Muse is Thankful:

1. We collaborate on love scenes unworthy of The Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Prize.

2. I do not beg for clarity of thought from her at ungodly pre-dawn hours.

3. My DVR stash/Netflix account is a See's Candy Store of visual hero inspiration. And no calories!

4. My large-capacity water heater is golden for those lengthy plot-pondering sessions in the shower.

5. My glee is not found in typical female traps-handbags, Jimmy Choos, maid service-but in office supplies so she can vomit organizational details in technicolor.

6. When the perky spinning instructor at the gym shouts, "You can see the finish line," the muse and I SO know it's not about visualizing a country road through a vineyard. We hear "You can see the signature line!" and "You can see the B&N book signing line!"

7. I don't go all postal on her when she va-cays for a few days. Even muses need mental health days.

8. I respect that she's trying to boldly go where no one has gone before.

9. Her people-watching skills have elevated waiting in a public place to an art form. Who needs CNN at the airport when we have Larry the Disenfranchised Horse Jockey carrying a Euro-bag housing a suspicious device?

10. From the time we became acquainted, I've never once abandoned her.

For my American friends, I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving weekend. For all others, I hope you, too, find a quiet moment filled with peace and blessings.

This Thanksgiving, cherish the time spent with your family as a reminder of why you moved very far away from your family

Monday, November 23, 2009

Please Pass the Awesome Sauce

Yeah, I know. It's been a week. And while I'd like to regale you with fantastic adventures and narratives about how kind my muse has been to me of late, I cannot tell a lie. My day job took over, my muse went on sabbatical and I abandoned my blog to the black hole of non-regular posting death.

On Monday, I could not have felt any worse had my head been duct-taped MacGyver-style to Titanic's anchor. Death and snot and all. Rearranging the deck chairs of coherent thought that day proved just as futile, so I slept Rip Van Winkle-style. Time-wise, not on a grassy knoll.

On Tuesday, I could have sworn a time-warp occurred at a Starbucks in north Dallas. You see, a friend came over five hundred miles to see me, for a few hours, just conversation. No shopping, no sight-seeing. She and I over a hot drink and the best soup I've had all season. Three hours passed in one precious blink. What a treasure I have in her.

On Wednesday, though I cannot divulge why, the pissboy scene from History of the World Part One, kept replaying in my mind. Though, on this particular day, it most certainly was not good to be the King.

On Thursday, I almost posted a haiku about my dentist, but I couldn't figure out how to make exasperate and con-artist adhere nicely to the required number of beats. In his own mind, and I'm sure his mother's, he missed his calling as a stand-up comedian. But when a temporary crown falls off three times in one week just breathing air, all things dentist cease to be entertaining. Even the whoopie-cushion-esque jokes when your Levi's hug the vinyl chair too long.

On Friday, I watched New in Town. And, while the always-handsome Harry Connick, Jr. was a visual treat that melted nicely into my weary sensibilities, the bizarre, post-plastic-surgery-movement that Renee Zellweger's once-beautiful face twisted into with each line of dialogue was more than enough to toss me out of my story-world-suspension nearly every scene. Why do women do this? My mother, at 70, is still one of the most beautiful women I know. Her strategy? Protect what God gave you, don't try to change it. And be a good person. Over time, long-term emotions wear on our faces like a worn set of radials. Her road-wear suggests laughter and the grace of time. I can only hope to be so lucky.

So what if they're excuses? They sounds infinitely better than I sat, I tried, I uttered, "Ugh" and gave up. This week promises more time, a few extra breaths, at least one more dental visit and a monumental backlog of ideas for the Vortex.

Tell me one event in your life I missed last week that could only be described as one piping-hot bowl of awesome sauce.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Haunted Swing

While doing turn-of-the-century amusement park research for my current WIP, I came across some ingenious ways park owners came up with to thrill their customers. Times were tough, but the Ferris wheel, a promise to see the land as only birds had before them, was enough to make even the stodgiest penny-pincher empty his pockets. Me? I like the simpler pleasures just down from the bawdy burlesque shows. When I read about the Haunted Swing, I knew it had to be part of my novel.

Picture this: a tiny room, a wooden swing long enough to fit four comfortably, cables affixed to each end that hang from a bent iron bar that bisects the room and rotates crank-style, walls dark and Gothic, the only light coming from the midway through the plank's uneven cracks. Customers sit, an attendant pushes the swing. The ride begins as all other swings do. After several full movements, the swing's amplitude increases. It feel high. Higher than any of them are comfortable with. They realize the attendant is gone from the room and the light coming in from the cracks takes a full 360 degree rotation around them. The trapdoor in their stomach opens at the full-circle ride. They scream.

You can imagine in the early 1900s what a thrill this would have been. Of course, the passengers never moved any higher than a ordinary park swing. It was a mere trick of the mind. The attendant would step out of the room and crank a lever which rotated the room a full 360 degrees around the bar. Cool, huh? I would dance in a burlesque for a chance at that ride.

When Googling to try to find out more about the Haunted Swing, I came across this little scientific nugget. Yes, the X-files theme music drew me in, but there is some solid science behind this supposed "Haunted Swing" in Argentina. Who knew?

What's your favorite amusement park ride? Don't forget to tell us where it is.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative Blogger? Me? Pshaw.

Vesper, ye of the wish-I'd-written-that prose, has awarded The Vortex a creative blogger award. I shall try to give my acceptance speech before someone jumps on the podium and declares it should go to another with far greater soul and fashion sense. My candy-apple posts and pop culture cracks hardly seem worthy of such a thing, but I do have moments of serious navel-gazing introspection. Like here. And here. But for now, the award's rules state I must offer up seven trivial things about me. I'll strive for fresh here, as my prior memes are just this side of the TMI border:

1. I've always wanted a Jeep, but I settled for a Toyota. I love driving my standard shift and think everyone should have one so drivers will stop 4-way multi-tasking behind the wheel and just drive.

2. A large percentage of high school and college I b.s-ed my way through because my writing was like a new penny, mint-clean and eye-catching but not worth much. The teachers/professors who saw through it were the ones I most admired.

3. I've chased tornadoes multiple times with teams of meteorologists.

4. My greatest fear is being submerged underwater in my car.

5. When I was five, I decided to be a teacher. I never once wavered from that decision and never understood people who can't find their place in this world.

6. Ave Maria makes me cry. Every time. Unless sung by chipmunks.

7. I carry a blown-glass smiley face in the bottom of my purse. It was given to me by a very special person and I always seem to re-discover it when I most need it.

I usually break meme rules and refuse to pick someone to continue it, but since the challenge is given along with accolades and adoration, I choose:

Jen, Melanie, Sherry, Pam, Robin, Laughingwolf and Sandra this time around.

Thank you, Vesper, and thank you all for being such a special part of my blogging world. On the topic of trivial randomness, we'll usher in the weekend with this question: Other than the standard items (credit cards, money, driver's license, etc.) what is one interesting item you keep in your wallet?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jeeves, Revealed

It occurred to me this past weekend (and thanks to big sis) that the items stored in my DVR represent a perfect cross-section of my personality. I suspect it is that way for everyone who uses this technology. It's true, I have an aversion to commercials. Sometimes I'll start a movie I can't finish; and like a debutante commanding a servant, I'll declare, "Finish recording this, Jeeves!" and he does. But most likely of all, I hoard things I adore and want to revisit like a Christmas memory. With as much flourish as I can muster, here's my list:

Project Runway - 1 episode
I'm not much into reality shows or fashion, which makes this all the more surprising, but I do liken it to writing-having to create something from inspiration.

Flash Forward - 1 episode
Need I say more? Really.

Ghost Hunters - 20 episodes
I'm pretty sure I've seen them all, so these just sit and fester until I can sort through them.

Metal Mania - 3 hours
Because VH-1 thinks the only people who enjoy going down this black leather-studded memory lane are awake at 3 am on a Sunday morning.

Psychic Kids - 2 episodes
Yes, Chip is annoying, but he's armed with a shrink to keep it from derailing into wacky Paranormal State territory.

The Perfect Storm (movie)
Because I've never seen it

It Happened at the World's Fair (Elvis movie)
Because my uber-Elvis-fan mom never saw this one, and I'm saving it for a girls movie night when she visits.

Roustabout (Elvis movie)
Because the universe sent me inspiration for my WIP right around the same time I watched this in an Elvis marathon. Elvis is a bad-boy carny worker. Fancy that. So is my hero.

Keith Urban: Road
Because for the first time in five touring years, I didn't get to see his concert.

Keith Urban: Love
Because, well, who needs an excuse? It's Keith Urban. Yum.

The Thorn Birds - 4 episodes
Because I adore this miniseries and knew a father-what-a-waste in my past. Don't all good little Catholic girls?


MacGyver - 34 episodes
And that makes Marilyn our lucky winner today with a guess of 17. She'll get her choice of an autographed copy of Love, Texas Style or a $5 Starbucks gift card.

Thanks for playing, everyone. Now it's your turn. Tell us what treasures lurk in your DVR.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Vortex 10 Weekend

Top Ten Things Learned on A Writing Adventure Weekend:

1. Patty Love is not a hamburger joint. The mannequins in whips and proximity to Condoms-to-Go should have been my first clue. But Laura Ingalls does not venture often, nay-ever, to that part of Dallas. So I did what any tourist would do. Take a picture!
Sadly, I was laughing too hard for it to show clearly. Thankfully, it was too blurry to capture any tom-foolery in the silver car and said driver did not pursue us for inadvertently snapping his license plate.

2. Physicists come in all kinds of beautiful, kind packages. Angela, so great to meet you!

3. Margie Lawson was, and is forevermore, my rock star of fiction writing.
4. Bestselling fiction author Harlan Coban has characters with eyeballs that could compete in the Olympic Games.

5. Backloaded power words on the first two pages of my WIP: change, Pier, thrills, beach, gravity, shit-canned, truth, spiked. Can I mine more by changing sentence order? Oh, yeah.

6. A sensible black tote is a black hole that swallows red pens needed for Margie's EDITS system. Dialogue cues be damned!

7. Wine tastes infinitely better when shared with the best critique partners. Evah.
8. Everything in the South is filled with nuts. Including the South, itself.

9. One Big-Gulp, Super-Empowered passage per book. Too much of a Big Gulp is a very bad thing.

10. Sometimes the most dazzling moments are unexpected ones on a two-floor elevator ride.
I hope everyone had an amazing weekend. Wednesday, we're tackling what the shows stored in your DVR or Tivo say about you. I have a special sumpthin-sumpthin for anyone here who, before Wednesday, comes closest to accurately guessing how many MacGyver reruns are stored in mine. Guess away...

Friday, November 6, 2009

North Texas Two-Step Conference

I couldn't be more excited today to meet one of the people most reponsible for where I am today as a writer. Margie Lawson is not only the queen of deep edits and most likely the root of my highlighter dependency, but her online class hooked me up with arguably the best edits partner in the universe (Hi Jen!). This weekend's writing conference is not only about reconnecting with chaptermates I haven't seen for awhile, but remembering I still have so much to learn about fiction writing-the most valuable and humbling lesson of all. Pictures Monday. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Not a Gourd in Sight

Cornucopias abound. Okay, maybe not, but I was in Hobby Lobby today selecting a basket to put together for this weekend's North Texas Two Step Writing Conference and have Cornucopias on the brain. Why not here, you ask? Splendid idea.

Yay for me today that I won a free copy of fellow Wild Rose Press author P.L. Parker's short romance, Heart of the Sorcerer. P.L. has been on my authors-to-watch radar since I learned she adores time travel romances almost as much as Carl Sagan trapped in a parallel universe of Harlequin-only reads. This one sounds like a treat. Thanks, P.L.!

Have I talked about my adoration for all things Archie McPhee before? Like how I would give Rick a Bigfoot Action Figure for good luck on his hunts or empower Walkingman with an Angry Mob Playset when he witnesses injustices on his home turf? And who doesn't need a Holy Toast Virgin Mary Toast Stamper? Before I face that blinking cursor each morning, I know I could use a miracle. I actually walked into a room about three weeks ago that had this backwards clock, and after five full minutes, decided we could never cohabitate.

And, just to clear out my blog folder, here is a random picture from Milan fashion week, whenever that was. If you ever witnessed my pajama-bottoms-as-writing-attire, you'd know my commitment to fashion lies firmly in the 100%-cotton-with-cute-flying-pigs-on-it realm. If you can possibly tear your eyes from his pec-tacular display to his right hand, maybe you can explain why Italian boxers carry purses--?


Why Theo makes me want to go to confession? Oh wait, the truck and tags around the neck threw me off for a moment.

See? Cornucopia.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Time Travel is Like Laser Chest-Hair Removal and a Chisel in One

If I were a gomer, which I am, I would get totally geeked out about this juicy bit of science news. If you're a gomer, read on and we'll pretend the future of our planet depends on our collective knowledge.

Remember these scientists of Large Hadron Collider fame? Well, it seems we're a year down the road of their supposed breakthrough discovery and the CERN dancers in white labcoats aren't bringing on the funk so much anymore. Yes, they did warn of the possibility of some unfortunate repercussions-aside from their noxious dancing-when the LHC powered up for only nine days last September, not the least of which is time travel.

Now, some physicists are theorizing that the problematic collider is being prevented by its own future. The theory is that the reaction scientists are hoping to create with the LHC is so damaging to nature that it will ripple back through time to prevent the Collider's inception. Like a Collider skate punk going back to snuff out Gramps Collider.

If this idea has you amped up, you can read more about these "otherwise distinguished" scientists staking their sanity and reputation on something so whacked out that I might write them into a novel. Only one would be dark, moody and bare-chested with a tattoo of the future and the other would be a slightly more agile, kick-ass version of me.
So the me that is me couldn't leave well enough alone. . .
Mr. Nielson and Mr. Ninomiya, you are my rock stars.

Got the dark hair right, anyway.