Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nativity Pictures 1 of 3

I know that some of those who frequent this blog aren't religious, but after all the work and time that went into this display... I think everyone can appreciate the scope of what is displayed and they're very artistic. So, forgive me a few posts as I embrace my spiritual AND artistic side.

This one looked a bit on the violent side. That machete is awfully close to the poor baby Jesus... but maybe that's just me....

Here you can see the "mural" I sketched and helped cut in the background. I did nearly 100 feet of mural which we cut and put Christmas lights behind. The tall "white stone" nativity in the foreground was given to me by my Mother-in-law just so we could have nativities to loan for this event.

Some of these nativities were photographed for certain people... my Mother-in-law collects crystals... and crystal snowman nativity... score!!!

I liked these patchwork quilted nativities... there were quite a few of these.

Another crystal one of the Holy Family.

Lots of glass and crystal nativities. You can see other tables in the background. There were over 500 nativities on display.

My Father-in-law works with wood, so you'll see a lot of wooden nativities also.

I liked quite a few of these... the angel one up top looked different from most others displayed.

I like the aged copper one up front.

This was Danish and I liked the bright colors.

Nativities 2 of 3

I love the rough metal look of these. This is one of the nativities there that I wished had come with a provenance and a hint on where to buy it. Seriously... it's just cool for a nativity.

This was my absolute favorite because for some reason it reminded me of the Sleeping Beauty cartoons with how willowy and tall they were. It looks so fairytale.

The igloo one to the side has baby Jesus on a sled. Each year they have a scavenger hunt for the kids to do where they look for certain nativities. The sled one was on the hunt.

I like the deep red/green one in the center, but look at all the stilty-legged animals in the one behind. I liked how whimsical the animals were in that one with their skinny legs.

This one I grabbed because it was different. There are very few duplicates at the event, believe it or not. It's pretty amazing actually.

I liked the simplicity of some of the nativities. I had to weed through 100 pictures to get it down to what I'm posting and it was hard. There were some really interesting ones.

This would be one of the interesting ones. Aren't those animals just cool? I seem to remember this one was all made from gourds, but I could be wrong on that.

This one is from Hawaii and in a coconut shell... and it looks all balmy. (I like the word balmy, by the way... balmy... balmy... balmy.)

Here were a few more of the more ethnic-styled ones. I like the Peruvian one up front.

In the back, you can see my mural again. There is also a nativity with a teepee which I believe is a Cherokee one... but I could be wrong on that.

Nativity Pictures 3 of 3

Some of the Nativities were simple like this one made of popsicle sticks... and then some were as impossibly complicated as the one in the bottle.

What Nativity display would be complete without baby Jesus in a five gallon hat? I think this one may have taken artistic license. (Maybe... just sayin.)

I don't know what it was that I liked about these puffy-faced figures but I thought they were cool.

The one under the glass in the shape of a tree... was awesome though it didn't photograph well.

I love the windmill ones. There were a ton. In the back you can see a tree with quite a few ornament nativities on it.

More wooden ones for my father-in-law.

This one was made with starched fabric... and I thought that was rather inventive.

I thought how tall these figures were was... interesting. Once again... it felt somewhat fairytale... apparently I see tall people as belonging in fairytales.

More wood... this time they used the grain and color of the wood more effectively.

This is mine. It's made of cement. I like that it's made from cement.

I tried not to duplicate those that I photographed last year... so if you're curious about last year's... this tag is the same that I used last year and you can go check it out. There were a ton that I recognized from last year... the origami ones and the ones made from newspaper for example.

Anyway... I showed restraint, believe it or not... I have a ton more pictures. I hope you liked these and have a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday season.

Four Calling Birds

I'm a featured guest post on a friend's blog:

It's a short I wrote for the Twelve Days of Christmas theme.

It's a true story.

(The above is a lie.)

I need to get back here and post the pictures of the nativity but I've been swamped with Christmas stuff... maybe later... hopefully later.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My personal odyssey is over!

After that rambling post earlier, I buckled down and finished The Unseen Kingdom which is the Odyssey retold in modern day from the perspective of Odysseus's son... and it's a paranormal... and it's YA.

Di made me do it!!!!!

Honestly, I'll never take a dare from Di again. That was freaking hard. It was like someone had sewn pants on a pantser because I had to work in the Odyssey's frame. *screams* It was awful. *sob sob sob* Trust me on this.

On the other hand, it's done and I can work on other projects that will let me take these pants off and fly by the seat of them.

No... wait... maybe not.

Okay, fine, I'll leave the pants on.

*kicks rug*

And now, since I've had my celebratory pudding topped with whipped cream, I'm going to bed. Probably.

The Dream--the Real One

I've been gone all this week volunteering for a giant nativity display (over 500 nativities being displayed.) I did this last year around this time... and the year before. I can't remember being this exhausted after the fact but maybe I was.

I finished my nano 50K count a few days ahead of the November 30th deadline, but I haven't finished the novel. I'm stuck with about 5K left to write. I think it's sensory overload from the nativity set-up, but I'm not sure.

In other news, this whole process of querying and subbing and resubmitting... has been brutal. People keep trying to encourage me and I appreciate that. It's just... being a published author isn't my dream. I want to be a writer... and I'm there. I wanted to tell the stories in my head... and I've done that. What happens from here on out... isn't really part of my dream. I know I'm a bit of freak when it comes to writers. I think being published is usually the goal. I've done a thorough job at querying, though. I don't think anyone familiar with how many queries I've sent out and how many submission requests they've brought in... would disagree. I've done this right. It's just... a very depressing business and it's not worth it to someone who doesn't care. I'm thinking of trying a few small presses next and not going back to hunting for an agent after the new year rolls around. Honestly, I'd still just be doing that for my family and beta readers and because it's expected. Still... I'll do it.

I'm a weird duck, huh?

Anyway... my blog posts have been scattered and rushed lately and this is really no exception. I'm just exhausted today... and the words all feel fuzzy in my head.

My next post will probably be pictures of the nativity display. We'll go as a family on Saturday. They usually have a really cool scavenger hunt for kids to find interesting nativities among the rest. The kids love it.

In the meantime, it might be time for some Mt. Dew or a nap.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I am the gargoyle...

So, my friend who read the story "Secrets of Stone and Skin" told me something that stumped me. She said that what surprised her the most about the story is that the voice of one of the main characters sounded just like mine... and it wasn't the MC with OCD... it was the MC who is a gargoyle and male.

At first, it just baffled me. Then, I realized that it made sense. The gargoyle MC helps the chick with OCD cope. Looking back... I think that's what feels so psychologically intimate about the book is that it's how I feel as an adult when faced with my teenage psyche.

Weird, huh?

It turns out... I'm the gargoyle... and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Naked and Bleeding

I ordered hardcopies for my beta friends around me that were curious how Mutants and Curse Me A Story had changed... at the same time, I ordered a copy of "Secrets of Stone and Skin" which is the gargoyle/OCD book. On Wednesday, all of the copies arrived and I left them with my friend Stephanie and, I suspect, she'll assume she can just pass them on to the other people that normally ask to beta for me. On the surface, it's a normal pattern and she probably assumes that I've got a thick skin for anything other than unfounded or harsh criticism. Actually, most non-writers probably assume something like that if they're asked to beta read.

I know that most writers compare their manuscripts to babies... and, in some ways, I can't disagree. On the other hand, I was reading "The Picture of Dorian Gray" a few months back and Oscar Wilde tackled the feeling I get when I'm passing on a manuscript to betas.

The artist that paints Dorian's picture says: "Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul."

Later, Basil recants this and says, "I cannot help feeling that it is a mistake to think that the passion one feels in creation is ever really shown in the work one creates. Art is always more abstract than we fancy. Form and colour tell us of form and colour--that is all. It often seems to me that art conceals the artist far more completely than it ever reveals him."

In both instances, it describes exactly how I feel about this particular manuscript. On the one hand, I feel naked just that it exists... that I wrote it. On the other, it involves gargoyles, among other things, so I should be able to distance myself from it and say, "It's a story not an autobiography." Even if it didn't involve either gargoyles or OCD, though, the reality is that I'd feel obvious and naked. It's a weird paradox involved in being a writer. You pour your soul into things and want to share them, but it makes you feel so completely vulnerable.

On a less awkward vein, my Nano novel is coming along well. I've reached nearly 16K despite yesterday being rather a wash due to it being a school holiday and T being so completely manic and out of control.

I'm about one month off my OCD meds now, I think. Getting off the meds involves nearly as many side effects as being on them. One particularly nasty side effects is a pins and needles sensation in my limbs and them constantly "falling asleep" if I'm not moving every minute or so. Several dozen times a day I have to deal with that painful paralysis that comes with that. This side effect can last up to a year, but I don't expect to be off my meds that long. My memory has drastically improved and I feel more like "me" now that I've been writing again. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to write without being on meds.

Speaking of which... I should really get to that or cleaning.

Le sigh.

I hate cleaning.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NanoWrimo is Upon US! Run for it!

So, November is national novel writing month and loads of crazy writers attempt to slap 50K down on the screens by the end of it. I've gotten a slow start as I have some majorly sick kids home with me... and I'm just now getting over the cold that never ends. (5 weeks... 5 weeks of hell) Anyway... I've got a nasty headache today which could be from lack of sleep because B had a bad bout of hurling from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. or it might be this stomach flu which started out with a headache. Either way, my nano showing this year is pathetic. I'm at 700 words thus far. Yesterday, I did a heavy amount of revising on "Secrets of Skin and Stone" in order to fix my six day school week issue... so I did add 5K onto that ms, but that doesn't count. Le sigh.

Here is what I'm doing this year. I think it started out as a joke... or a dare between Di and me. We'll see if I can pull it off. I'm glad I have the study guide for the Odyssey so I can go back and forth between my Kindle and laptop while writing this. It's a YA paranormal:

Synopsis: The Unseen Kingdom

A modern day retelling of the Odyssey with a paranormal slant.

Ten years previous, Marcus's father was lost through a doorway into the unseen kingdom, the Spirit World, and his mother, a high level medium, is plagued day and night by the spirits of the dead. Marcus can't take his father's place to protect his mother as there are few unseen stalkers as highly advanced as Rex Odysseus. Marcus sets out to find out what happened to his father. He's aided by Thena, a fellow high school student and the Principal's daughter. His father's rival, Anthony, is plotting his failure so that he can marry Marcus's mother, the fair Penelope.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Unexpected

So, I'm officially off OCD meds now... I'm done tapering. It's been three years since I've had the full brunt of all my OCD symptoms. What surprises me the most is the complex loneliness.

With OCD comes a certain amount of detachment that I'd forgotten. Your brain justifies things... it has to... it's how you get from Point A (I'm a logical adult) to Point B (If I do this a certain number of times it'll make things better.) With OCD, a wall of detachment slides into place between your actions and your emotions. It's the only way you stay sane... or somewhat sane anyway. That detachment colors everything. At first, it's easy enough to say "I'm not that different from everyone else... it's just chemicals and I can hide it." Unfortunately, most people with OCD are above average in intelligence and they know that most people's minds to latch onto things like ours do. It's dark and it's creepy and we just can't let things go. In the past, that's made me feel like one of two things: either I'm dark and evil or I'm different. I've gone back and forth.

That's not entirely where the loneliness creeps in from... though it is hard to be constantly harassed by your own mind and know that few people around you will understand.

The other part is my kids. When I'm on my meds, it's easier to accept that having only autistic children isn't going to make for the happy motherhood experience I dreamed of when I was a girl. It's all I ever wanted.... I only ever wanted to be a mother. Having two children with complicated needs who will need me but never act like they love me... wasn't the anticipated dream. When I'm on meds, it seems less poignant.

Now that I'm off... I feel separate. My brain keeps trying to convince me to do things in order to ease the pressure of my OCD and I'm not letting it have control. The detachment is in place... in a family where detachment comes easier than emotions. Other than the husband, my life is all about being separate and detached.

He probably hasn't realized why I'm so emotionally needy right now... despite still having this nasty cough and the weird byproducts of my OCD.

It's... different.

B and I went to the Harry Potter Exhibition on Thursday. I'll try to post a few more comments tomorrow. It was awesome... but you can tell I'm in a bit of a mood right now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Last Battlefield

Somehow I'd managed to forget the nightmares that come with OCD reasserting its hold on your mind. Wow. Hitchcock and King have nothing on the depth of nightmares that a tortured mind can create. Part history and part demon. Then the familiarity of faces in the depths of hell. It's a special brand of horror individualized and meant to grip you long after you wake up. Plus, it seems twice as vile because with OCD comes insomnia so you feel like you begged to have your heart ripped out. It took me an hour at 4 a.m. to get to sleep.

I've had nightmares my whole life so you'd think you'd get used to it... but you don't.

My cold feels a bit lighter today. We'll see if the hours keep it that way.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Splashing the Lamb's Blood About

I've never had this vile of a cold... that lasts forever. I've now had this stupid thing for over two weeks and my cough sounds as fresh as if it's that second miserable day of a sickness. I keep coughing so hard that I throw up and that stupid cracked rib that had finally healed feels as if it's re-cracked or is bruised.

Finally, on Tuesday, I gave into my husband's demands that I go to a doctor. I sound like I'm on my death bed in the throes of the plague, but apparently it's just an average, everyday, boring cold that is knocking tons of the city down.

So, here am I... still sick... still coughing... still wondering how this can possibly be just a cold. On the other hand, the visit to the doctor and this illness firmed up my opinion on something. I've been struggling to keep my dosages on my OCD meds appropriate for how much I'm eating... which has basically been nothing. I've never had a cold kill my appetite like this. I've dropped 15 lbs in two weeks due to a cold. It's completely frustrating. I've had to skip doses rather than "over-dose" on the meds. I'm tired of this exactness when it comes to medication. I'm sick of medication. I lasted longer this time than I have in the past. I think I'm at three years of meds. I'm not doing this anymore.

It's not just this though. The tediousness of getting dosages right at the right time is a piss-poor reason to quit taking medication.

It's the memory loss. This stupid "blow to the head" levels of memory loss isn't worth it. As I was at the doctor's, he was asking me questions that I couldn't answer. I wish I could describe to you how it feels to have each day swallowed up behind you in this hazy blackness so that you can't remember anything that isn't in your long term memory storage. I'm tired of sending myself emails to remind me of things or repeating things... or connecting things to numbers or stupid phrases. You shouldn't have to use little mnemonic devices to remember things as stupid as a single thought.

So... I'm just done for a bit. Chances are that it's a reprieve, but I need one. I'll be crabby and moody while I'm coming off and then it'll be a struggle to adjust to the full-on OCD experience again.

Having OCD is very much like having your worst enemy live in your head... I've been giving some thought to writing a novel about it... but it just seems like it might be too dark. I don't know. Maybe in a few weeks I'll give it some more thought.

Thanks for understanding. If you ever have any questions, as you can see, I'm completely honest about my OCD. I hid it for twenty-eight years until B was diagnosed, and then I decided to throw it out into the light of day and quit behaving as if it was a dirty secret. It's genetics and hormones and chemicals and that's all it is. Well... perhaps it's also fate or divine intervention... but it's still not dark and dirty. I don't regret my past suppression of it, but I won't let my daughter grow up believing that she is evil or dark.

Chemicals and genetics.

Yeah. Good times.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reject you must I

The self rejection does make it easier, but it truly doesn't completely take away the sting... especially since I had hoped... never mind... it doesn't matter.

As you've seen in the past, I decided to take the edge off snailmail rejections by including my own rejection letter to myself. The Yoda one just came back. (It was for Curse Me A Story which I've just finished thoroughly revising.)

Here is the self-rejection I included with a full request's SASE:

Young Novel Writer,

The words are strong with you but another rejection must I write. Many rejections will you see before the force of your novel will be discovered. Discouragement you must face. Write you must. Realize the power of the dark side must not overcome your spirit, young novel writer. Fear is the path to the dark side… fear and overuse of adverbs. Great things I sense in you. Triumph you will. If not, there is another novel writer, but busy they are. Rely on you, we must.

Try again you must. No! There is no try. Do or do not. There is no try.

Apologize I must that this manuscript is not accepted. Reflects on you it does not. Writing does not matter. Judge me by my writing, do you? Hmm? And well you should not. Like to write sentences in strange order do I.

Sad I am that I must reject you. Always remember the novel will be with you and some day with another agent.

May the words be with you,

Yoda on behalf of:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This porridge is just right

So, I finished the revision of Curse Me A Story to make it a YA book. It's now with betas who hopefully think, as I do, that's it's now complete at 72, 500. It felt more like a simple outline when I was trying to make it into a MG. Now, it seems much better. I like it a lot. After they're done with it, I'll send it back to the agent with fingers crossed.

I still haven't sent Versus the Bounty... and I'm just not sure what to do with that one. The husband is beta-ing it... sort of. He's been really busy and I snarled at him one night over a valid point he had... so I think he isn't as motivated. Plus, he just broke his ereader, so he might even be done. I might print it out on Lulu and ask my friend to beta it for me.

I've been rereading the Honor books with a plan to do a serious revision. I opened Honor One only to discover that I'd done a serious revision in January... and it didn't take much this time around. I'd totally forgotten that I'd done such an intense revision. (Having a poor memory keeps things interesting.) So, I just finished the revision and I think I'll throw it at some betas for some ideas on whether certain scenes need to be cut and how the pacing is. I'll probably move on to a revision of Honor Two while I'm waiting on betas for these other projects. I should be working on a WIP but I like being in Honor's head.

The last few weeks have been really rough on me. The kids are... complicated right now. We have a lot of financial stress. Then, there is the insomnia. Thus far, in September, I've slept more than four hours during a night about... five times... maybe. The weeks are building and building and pulling me down. September, October, April, and May all nail me due to the season change and the stress of school starting or ending. So, my normal insomnia patterns of one week of insomnia followed by a recovery week... go to two or three weeks of insomnia with a two or three day break. Napping causes worse insomnia... and, unfortunately, I have to be up at 7 a.m. every morning... even if I don't get to bed until 5 a.m. Today, I'm sick too... I've picked up a vile cold. My throat hurts so bad. I'm going to overdose on Nyquil tonight. (By overdose... I mean... take the maximum dosage.)

Well, this is a rather lame blog post, but my head feels a bit foggy from being sick and lack of sleep.

Have a good... what day is this... oh... Tuesday. Have a good Tuesday!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fight Night--Honor Three Excerpt

I've been reading through the Honor series when insomnia hits me, and I've been doing revisions on Honor Three... and I thought I'd share one of my favorite scenes. Unlike most portions of the Honor books, this bit is from the perspective of Callie who just discovered that she's become a vampire. (The vampires in the Honor series are like guardians of humans.) Honor isn't quite a vampire... she's a Shadow Hunter. Anyway, Callie freaks out when she discovers she really has changed into a vampire, so the Master gets Honor there to help her "cope."

I was pretty sure if I sat huddled in the corner of the shower stall that eventually I’d have to wake up. He’d tried to come in to talk to me a few times. It seemed to work to just cover my ears and scrunch my eyes closed.

This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be happening.

I felt someone else come sit in front of me. Whoever it was… I was pretty sure they’d go away if I didn’t ever talk to them.

That’s when I got flicked in the forehead.

That was just mean.

I could ignore it.

I got flicked again.

“Honor, I don’t really think....,” I heard Cole say just before a door slammed.

“Hey! Princess!” she shouted just as she flicked me again.

I jumped out of my ball and attacked her. I don’t know where the rage came from. I mean, her flicking my head was pretty annoying, but this sort of outdid that. I threw her into shower door, and it shattered.

She got up stiffly and said, “Wow! I never would have guessed you had that in you.”

“HONOR?” Reeve shouted.

“I’m fine! Just tripped,” she said and then slammed me against the shower wall. I felt it crack from the force. “Callie just tripped too.”

“Look! I was ready to be dead! I was planning on being dead today!” I shouted at her. All of the frustration I’d kept bottled up inside me for so many years exploded out of me. I never confronted any of it. I just kept pushing it deeper. “Do you know what it’s like to know you won’t see your twenty-fifth birthday?” I said, pushing up off the wall.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m four years old! I woke up in a field NAKED four years ago where I grew out of the ground. I’ve been chased by every version of hell on the market since then. Every morning I was a little surprised to be alive. Most Shadow Hunters probably don’t even make it to their fourth birthday.”

“My heart stopped beating today, and I’m still here! I don’t even know if I have a heart anymore! I feel like a freak!”

“YEAH? Let me go cry a little in your corner!” she shouted back.

It happened so fast it was nearly reflex. I kicked her in the stomach. She slammed against the wall near the door. Honor shook her head, dove, and grabbed my leg out from under me. I hit the ground with a crack.

Oh… it was on.

She stood over me with her hands on her hips.

“Now! You’re going to need to buck up, Buttercup, because you have everything I’ve ever wanted and seeing you cry about it just really, really, really chaps my hide.”

I swept her leg out from under her. “You listen to me, Rambo! My mother is dead. My father ran out on us when I was a kid. I was finally doing well. I was about to finish my Doctorate in Medieval Studies. Then, I went in for some routine testing….”

“Buh blah blah blah…. What on earth were you going to do with a freaking doctorate in something that happened eight hundred years ago?” she said, using her hands to make ‘yakkity yak’ signs.

I dove at her, and we rolled across the floor a few times.

There was more pounding on the door.

“GO AWAY!” we both shouted at once.

She ended up on top, and she hit my head into the floor. “Do you know what happened to me? I was kidnapped….” Bang! My head hit the floor. “He was planning on killing me!” Bang! “He promised to rip me to shreds with his teeth and drink a toast to me with my blood!” Bang! “You’re whining about not finishing a thesis? You spoiled….”

I kicked her off me, and she slammed back inside the shower and hit the wall where I had a little bit ago.

I got to my feet and said offhand, “You’re still alive! So, clearly, you didn’t get toasted or have your entrails kicked about!”

She dropped into a crouch with snarl. “I spent the night in a freaking beaver lodge. I’ve never stayed more than four months in a place anywhere other than L.A. where Shifts ate my roommate because she borrowed my coat. So, once again… Sell your sob story to someone who has had a family… or a life… or a home!”

“This was your life, though! I stopped to help a guy who looked like a horror flick, and he kissed me and now I’m this freak who eats wolves.” I picked up a bar of soap and threw it at her. She caught it easily.

Honor looked at the soap and looked at me with a clear expression of “Are you kidding me? We’re throwing soap?”

I shrugged. Sometimes you worked with what was available.

She tossed the soap up in the air once and shouted, “So! Have you taken a look at the other freaks who eat wolves? Wolf does a body good, chick!” She beamed me in the head with the soap. Wow. She had good aim. “I was about to make it to step 3 with one of them, and I got called back here to deal with your little mental breakdown!” Honor yanked the towel bar on the shower stall door free and hit it against her hand. “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get a little privacy around here?” She slammed the towel bar against the wall. “Did you hear that, all of you out there? Of course you did! You always do! Because there is no freaking privacy! I live in a FISHBOWL surrounded by vampires!”

I grabbed the towel rod off the wall. I wasn’t sure how well I could use a towel rod as a staff, but I was just about to find out.

Suddenly, a scent assailed my senses, and my eyes watered from the strength. It wasn’t bad, but it smelled a little like cooking with honey.

“What’s that smell?” I asked. “It smells sweet, rusty, and hot.”

“Probably my back,” she said blandly, tossing the towel bar into the corner. “I cut it pretty bad when you slammed me through the shower door. I think your guy just had to call in reinforcements to restrain Reeve so he didn’t come see why I’m bleeding all over.”

All the fight went out of me in a whoosh. For some reason, it had never occurred to me that she might be hurt.

“My guy?” I asked, dropping the towel rod and getting the towel from it wet.

“Yeah. The Master is completely sweet on you. It’s gooey and disgusting.” She turned, pulling her off her shirt.

“HOLY COW! Why didn’t you tell me you were so hurt?” I asked. There were deep gouges all over her back.

“Are you kidding? That was a lot of fun! I feel a lot better. It was hilarious when the soap nearly knocked you off your feet.” She laughed loudly and actually snorted.

I giggled. “That was really hilarious. When you grabbed my leg that first time, it was awesome.” I blotted the blood on her back. “I’m sorry those monster things killed your room mate.”

“Pamela. Her name was Pamela. You remind me of her. She was a girly girl too. I think you’re more ambitious and intelligent, but she never slammed me through a shower door.”

“Maybe given time,” I suggested and then I realized I was crying.

She turned and started crying too. “I’m sorry that your life changed so much. I was shocked by all this, and I already had been seeing Shifts for years.”

I rubbed at my tears. “The guy that was going to drink your blood? Is he dead? We could go kill him together.”

She sniffed and said, “Really? I’ve never had anyone say that to me before….”

I sniffed and nodded. “That was really wrong.”

She shook her head and said, “It totally was. He is gone, though. I had the earth eat him. It was cool. I can teach you how to aim better,” she said, looking down at the soap.

“Really?” I looked down at the soap. “I've never thrown soap before. It was slippery.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So, my old friend, we meet again

I got a revision request from an agent on Curse Me A Story. I'm excited and nervous about it. I'm, by nature, extremely pessimistic and cynical. (The world is a hostile place to those with OCD--so we're always waiting for that other shoe to drop.) So, I'm still trying to convince myself this is a step forward and not just more treading water.

Anyway, she wants me to bump it up to a strict YA audience (it was flirting with MG) and flesh out some of the characters. I did a reread last night and marked a bunch of points in my Kindle that I think I need to deal with. The previous revision on it... really kicked it up a notch. I like when I have my expectations exceeded from my memory of a manuscript. (With how bad my memory is... this happens more often than you'd think.)

Unfortunately, I'm exhausted. This insomnia jag isn't relenting like they normally do. If I've slept more than four hours on a night--that is the exception rather than the rule for the last three weeks.

I still want to tackle this revision... because, let's face it, I'm perpetually sleep-deprived, but I think it might take a bit longer than normal.

When I'm done, I'm hoping to con some of those that have read it before into a reread. *shiny eyes*

Okay, I have cleaning to do and some stew in the crockpot. Later, gators.

Oh... I read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White last night... in like three hours. If you haven't picked this book up... for shame. It was so thoroughly addicting that I didn't put it down the first time until it was too dark to see. I'd only intended to glance through it when it came from Amazon yesterday. Instead, I forgot to eat dinner and the kids got my C game for the most part.

Seriously... go get this book. It rocked. Also, follow Kiersten on Twitter because she is super, super, super nice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Way Monday

This keeps coming up on Twitter, so I thought I'd explain the way I write and how it is that I write so much.

First of all, I don't intend for everything I write to get published... or even be considered for publishing. Due to my OCD, I have stories and ideas in my head constantly. They compete with the paranoia and worries and stress, but since I've started writing, it's the ideas and stories that keep me awake at night. OCD insomnia is pernicious. I can lie awake for hours, staring at the ceiling, despite being exhausted. In my mind, a dialogue or a quirky situation plays like a movie. I can't stop thinking about it. It won't leave my head. I write manically during the first 20K and last 20K of a manuscript. I don't sleep for fear that I'll forget... which is a sincere worry. I worry that if I forget, the story will never get out of my head but stay there in awful limbo consuming me little by little. Typically, the moment I finally feel finished with a manuscript... another manuscript is already there taking its place.

I've had writers envy me for how prolific I am. Truly, don't do that. My mind feels like a special level of hell because of this. I can't even tell you how tempting it is to increase my OCD meds to try and get the obsessive writing to stop. It doesn't appear in 500 word chunks... no... nor is it vague. I lie awake knowing that I'll have to get up and write 3000 words if I want any chance of sleeping that night. I get up knowing that it's hopeless.

On the other hand, I have this awful worry that if the OCD meds just blow my mind's outlet... what if the stories are still there... clawing at my brain and I can't write them? Typically, twice a month... as dictated by weird hormone surges, I can't write. My brain feels foggy like I've taken cold medicine and everything is mostly lost in a static in my mind. It's terrifying if I've got WIPs unfinished because despite the occurrence of these days--48 times now--every time I worry... what if I can't finish those stories? What if the stories never come back into my mind again and they're never finished? What if this static of noise without direction is the rest of my life? I try to sleep through those days just to get through them as fast as I can. Sure enough, just like clockwork, the time passes and I can write again.

So, I write... to get things out of my brain. Some of the stories I'll just send to my sisters to read with no real plans on what to do with them. Some of these manuscripts were just really good practice for me. Mostly, it doesn't bother me that the bulk of the manuscripts I've written will never see the light of day, it's not about that for me... it never was.

Secondly, I write fast and clean. While not everything I write will get published, I work really hard to get the story across. That's what is important to me. It's paramount to everything else. The story has to get out of my mind and onto paper just as I see it. This sometimes makes for "telling" rather than "showing" that'll get worked out of later revisions. Sometimes, it creates hilarious typos with words that "sound like" the word I was thinking of. Time/them, place/plus, there/tear, hears/hers, eat/each, beat/beach... and so on. I do rereads frequently and other than missing words or these substitutions, I write really clean. My rough drafts, according to betas, are the least 'rough' drafts they've ever seen.

Third, I write like a script in my rough drafts. I focus on dialogue and expressions and movement. I don't stop to describe the locations or the exact way something appears... I work on that in a second or third revision. Quite honestly... I skip over descriptions when I read most of the time, so I do the same on my rough drafts. While it's clean and gets the point across, my rough drafts really read more like scripts than manuscripts.

So... how fast do I write? Manic writing eats up time like you wouldn't believe. Sometimes I tell people that I can write a complete manuscript in two weeks and they're astounded... what they don't realize is that I'm sleeping three hours a night and writing for twelve hours a day some of those days. I think it's not uncommon for a writer to write about 750-1000 words in an hour. I've raced writers on Twitter who can punch out 2K in an hour. My mind is being barraged during my manic obsessive phases... so I write and write and write without stopping. So, while two weeks sounds like nothing... it's really 100 hours of work... and I think many writers could do 75K in 100 hours.

So, what brought this up? I just finished my second WIP off last week in a very short amount of time. I've been trying to finish Versus The Bounty for a year now (it was already at 55K and it's story has been finished and eating at my thoughts since May,) but I also decided that the first person needed to be in third person. Finishing it in third person would leave some of it in first and the rest in third... which... there was no way I could do that. (I can't even let my son wander around with just one shoe on... are you crazy?) So, I started the process of conversion and, honestly, next time just rip out my fingernails one by one. This is the tedious and technical bit of being a writer that makes me want to scream. Luckily, it went fast... really fast. Then, I finished it. Reread it. Revised it. Reread it. Revised it. Sent it to my two sisters. Reread it. Revised it. I've just sent it to my husband and told him to ignore all the girly parts. After he is done, I'll revise, reread, and revise again. Then... it'll be done.

My intention is to nudge with this book but, normally, though my books go through this many revisions and rereads and a lot more betas, I typically shelve all my books for six months. I shelve it... let my mind forget it... and then reread it with fresh eyes and a blank perspective. Then, regardless of whether I intend to query it ever... I revise it. Typically, I shelve it for six more months, and then go through the process again.

So, if you're looking at the books on the side... yes, all twenty-two of those books have been through at least three betas, four revisions (or more), and yet some of them will just sit in my computer. My betas find this sort of sad... as if all stories need to find a public voice. These stories have been inside my head and haunted me to the point that I'm just really happy to be able to share them with betas and, more importantly, have them out of my head so I can sleep.

So, that's how it goes... I know I'm an oddity due to how prolific I am but, let's face it, I was going to be an oddity no matter what. The entire series of books known as The Company of Him books... will probably just always be stories that I like to reread and were really good practice for me. Those betas that have read them... it's like a cool secret world between us.

The Honor books... are less likely to go that way... partly because no one who has read the Honor books will allow that. Honor has a weird cult following... and my hardcopy beta review copies have traveled all over as my betas mailed them to family even. (It was truly bizarre.) Honor Among Thieves has been read by at least thirty people. My mother has a full set of the Honor books that keeps circulating among my extended family apparently. I think it's because Honor has a life of her own really. Her character has been there in my mind fully-formed from conception--in all her irreverent, violent, and quirky glory. It's why she has her own Twitter profile... because she is seriously creepy in her split personality aspect of me. On the other hand, Honor Among Thieves needs to have the beginning rewritten in a different way. My plan is to reread and saturate my mind with that world again and then rewrite the first 50 pages from memory. It'll drop all of the unnecessary graft that has peeked in due to rewrite after rewrite after rewrite. That's the theory.

Unfortunately, that project got pushed back burner while I finished "Versus the Bounty" and now... I've got another WIP sneaking its way back in.

In mid-October, I will have been writing for two years. I'll have been querying... seriously... for a little over a year. I've got two WIPs that are nearly half-way finished. Something intrigues me about completing 24 manuscripts in 24 months. I'm tempted. Well, really, I'll have to go on to 25 in 25 months because really I hate even numbers.

On the other hand, I've been told that sleep keeps you from going insane.


BTW, this amount of writing means that I'm always looking for beta readers and I don't have a steady critique partner because of my manic paces. If you ever see anything I'm finished with and you'd like to volunteer to beta, please contact me at wendy at sparrow dot us .

This is what I'm working on right now... and I'm nearly giddy about it. I set it down for the summer so I could write a bunch of short stories out of my brain. When I went back to reread it, I think it's actually my best manuscript to date... but I haven't gotten a lot of opinions on it. So, I might be crazy. I've done tons of research for this one... (which isn't so out of the ordinary--I tend to do crazy amounts of research) and I've also got pictures to refer to. I'm really, really excited about this to the point that I might query it when it's done and drop this "no more querying ever" plan of mine. We'll see.

It's called "The Sentinel's Run" and it's a YA dystopian.

Here is a snippet:

It was only five years. Five years and a chance of one in five that I’d return alive. I poked a stick into the swirling water, catching a small whirlpool and breaking it. This would be the last free day I had… the last time I decided where to go and what to do. Decisions were a luxury item in the Dunn. Decisions like talking to the girl that fished on the shore opposite me. Her long blonde hair would flicker in the sunlight like wheat on the day before harvest, and her laugh would tumble across the water. She was beautiful and elegant and her curves were that of a woman—not a girl. She was from Tanger and while we’d never spoken, in my mind we had. Who would marry her if I never returned? Maybe no one. There were so few males. Sometimes marriage to one girl meant you were taking on the care of all her unmarried sisters.

If I survived, I’d have my choice of females. If I survived.

Before I’d left, I’d been no more than a gelding to the girls around. I was an untouchable. There was no point to looking at a male who was younger than twenty-two. No reason to sow hopes that could be killed when their letter came.

I stabbed at a rock and watched as the soil beneath it spun into the current. What would happen if my letter hadn’t come? Would people have let my time go by quietly and sent their own males off to die? Would I have let them?

Maybe it was as well my letter had come.

Goodbye river. Goodbye fertile ground. Goodbye peace and quiet and hearing the birds in the morning. There were no birds in the Dunn. There was no peace. Not now. Not ever. It was on the front line of defense between the Anbots and the Humans. As long as there were more humans born and the Anbots manufactured more weapons, there would be war. I should be grateful it didn’t spill over into Tereslay. I should be. I wasn’t.

Perhaps it was selfish of me, but I didn’t start this war. I didn’t create the machines that began to feed on us and grow stronger. I would never create a machine smarter than I was. Any fool should have known better than that. I would never insist that every machine have a brain that could be turned against us. I was simply born into this world with its hell.

Father had tried to convince me it would be a growing time for me and I’d come back a man. I knew beneath my father’s word was the word “if.” For the next five years my life would hang on the word “if.” If I survived the first year, I’d most likely survive the next four. If I survived, it might be worth it to me. Veteran sentinels made a lifelong commission and could marry whomever they wanted. If I survived, I might be accepted into town sentinel forces where the worst you’d expect was separating drunks in fights and settling domestic disputes.


It was early, but the girl from Tanger was sliding down the other side of the swift river with a pole. She was sweet as honey and feminine. I waved… sentinel duty was making me bold. It was too late, but that was the way of it. She laughed and waved.

“I leave for duty today,” I yelled above the rushing of the river.

“I’m sorry,” she yelled back.

“What’s your name?” I called. Perhaps I could think about her at night while I tried to shut out the horrors that I’d only heard described. Well, if I wasn’t on night duty…. Perhaps thoughts of her would block out the darkness—the darkness around all hours of the day and night.

“Lauren Fister! What’s your name so that I can watch for you?”

Watch for my name in the casualties, she meant. It was always possible my name would be linked with an award of bravery, but it was still likely to be in the casualties even then.

“Coby Leeman!”


“NO! Coby!” I yelled.

“Colby?” she yelled.

Eh. Close enough. It was unlikely she’d remember. It was unlikely I’d live.