Friday, October 26, 2007

Chicken Soup

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

You press the dial and listen for the automated click. As the blue flame flickers, you move the saucepan onto the burner. Slicing through the yellow butter, you push and prod at the piece stuck to your knife. The smell of sizzling diary fat is your reward.

Next comes the onions you chopped from larger rings into small white squares line with green. You watch as they pale and become translucent, as your wooden spoon ushers them across the black Teflon.

The door opens. You can hear his voice calling your name.

You reach for the celery—green crescents. Galaxies and galaxies of worth of symmetrical moons.

His lumbering steps echo in the hall. Ragged breaths between the syllables of your name.

Carrots join the rue. Orange planets, but each world is flat.

You stir. Adjust the heat. Then you wait.

When he enters the kitchen, your hand is on the knife. Black handle cool in your grip. You hold the butcher’s blade so the light turns it silver.

“Why?” he asks.

You plunge the blade in, and hold out the empty chicken stock container to catch the red liquid.

Gothic Romance

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

The lilies smelled like lust, their purity stained by her accomplishment. Claria had always smelled like lilies, and in some perverse way, it meant she had always been perfumed by death and mourning.

John knew that his heart should have been as heavy as his poetry always professed it to be. His girlfriend was dead. The pallor of her skin was not sun-deprived or powder-induced—it was authentic grave-pale.

She had loved death, and wrong as their families had always found it, he’d never wanted her so badly. Lucky bitch was embraced by Thantos, and he was still stuck in the mortal coil, one kindred less than he had been two weeks ago, when he’d gotten her suicide text message.

Five months of shared Poe and Lovecraft, and she equated John with K-Fed.

Selfish.

The lilies on her half-open coffin taunted John—just as she had when she said she’d let him put his hands around her neck, then pretended she hadn’t, and swore it was more meaningful if they suffered the burning passion for a few weeks longer before they sated their sinful hunger.

It wasn’t fair. The rope had gotten more action than he had.

But there—in the second row, and smearing her black eyeliner, was Claria’s friend, Tammy.

Drawing in a deep breath, John wondered if she would smell like lilies, too.

FM radio

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

I am FM, but sometimes my station gets garbled as another louder one swallows your attention. You’ll have to fine-tune, and sometimes that can only be done with an increment by increment knob. SEEK will miss the signal.

The detriment of this being in our hurry-rush-right-now-world, is the art of fine-tuning has been lost to the need to keep a hand free for the cellphone.

I have long sets of music, where they go uninterrupted. No talking, no commercials. Just the music that you forgot you enjoyed drumming the steering wheel to, and dancing in your car like you’d just gotten your license.

When there are commercials, I promise the sponsors are worth paying attention to, because they’ve been shifted from the chaff.

There are no shock-jocks, no personalities who thrive on cruelty. Just people who love the music like you do, their headsets around their necks as they flip dials, fade in one song as the other ends.

Yes, I take requests, but only during certain shows.

The truth is, I was a DJ—but it wasn’t AM or FM. It was high school—we were plugged into the PA system.

Snow White

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

The baseball bat smashed the kitchen window, scattering glass and yellow daisies across the back porch. That was what it had come to—their entire life together expressed in the tinkling shards of a shattered window

He had been her Prince Charming, her Aladdin, her knight on a white horse, and all that remained was a hunchback, a beast who growled commands and slammed doors.

She wasn’t certain why she blamed the daisies. They were seven innocent bystanders, whose only fault was being flowers. Flowers were ineffectual quellers of her husbands rages. She’d been pushed aside and quieted, shoved into a corner like an unwanted hardy houseplant. So really, she should have left the daisies alone.

Still, if Snow White had been resurrected by rage instead of love, she would have been less than happy when she saw her seven dwarves. No, Snow White she was not, and her life had ceased to be a fairy tale when the deep claw-marks on her husband’s shoulder refused to heal.

Daisies were just flowers, and he claimed no memory of what happened when the moon was full. Daisies couldn’t help her, but they could always be replanted, and windows could be re-paned. Princes were harder to come by.

Manuscripts are children

I do not have children, but having been employed working with them, I can only guess that writing manuscripts is a great deal like being a single parent. Oh there can be additional caretakers brought in to assist, but the development of the child is really in the hands of Mommy or Daddy.

Single-child families are in fashion right now—one property that gets all of Mommy's love and attention, and the rest of caregivers lavish it with gifts and encouragement.

Come November the dynamic of my manuscript family is going to change. The eldest, entering that senior year, will hopefully be on his path towards college and moving out on his own, and all the little hiccups that come with leaving home for the first time. Only, he has to contend with the newest addition to the family, which as all youngest children, thinks she should have all of mommy's attention because she needs it most. She will be the child who demands ice cream NOW, and throws a little fit when I tell her to wait until after her elder brother is finished studying for his English exams.

Then there's the work-for-hire foster child. Not really all mine, but looking for a home and trusting that I won't let the selfish little NaNo snot kick it to the curb while I was coaxing the eldest through those first job interviews.

Oh, and NaNo's a darling, not even started in the world and already showing promising by kicking a lot. People want to buy her baby clothes and rattles and ask when they can hold her.

What about you? Is yours a single-child family, or are you finding a balance between siblings?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Colds are tricky bastards. You'll think that you've recovered, only to find its mutated into something that causes you to have a coughing fit in the morning instead of at seven o'clock at night.

Finally feeling ready to rejoin the world, and possibly kick some ass.

As I am up to my tailbone in revisions, I thought maybe I'd share my process to see if its radically different from any of yours. My manuscript is separated into two parts, and I have completed redrafting part one, which was relatively solid to begin with as it was based on pre-existing material. I moved on to part two this week, and that's all new material that's going to require more attention and work. When I do a first draft, it tends to wander along and stumbled over tree roots, and get sidetracked by interesting cloud formations. That...uh...autistic draft rarely is shown to anyone, because I go through and give it a redraft so it's a little more social and able to communicate. After the tightening I get draft 2, which is the first draft that I show to readers for feedback.

As I had mentioned to Karen a couple weeks ago, I am playing with ideas for a sequel, but I'm intending to use NaNoWriMo to jump start a fresh project so that I can return to the manuscript's world hungry for new adventures. It won't be the traditional NaNo—I'll be aiming for more than 30,000 words with an effort made to reach the 50,000 word mark.

Anyone else throwing their hat in this November, or are you waiting for JanNoWriMo?

Oh, and in case I haven't mentioned it lately... Agent M is awesome. I'm so grateful and happy to be working with her.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Break out the Champagne Pt 1

While I am unable to reveal the client for The Secret Project or the specifics of what we are doing, there are certain facts I can tell you...

1) The Secret Project is a writing-for-hire project, which means that I have not written it yet, nor is it anything related to my original fiction or creative non-fiction writing.

2) It will be only after the official announcement by the client that I may disclose their identity and general information on my blog. While this means that we'll all have to be patient, it make sense they would want to keep things quiet.

So enough about what I can't tell you, because what I can tell you more than makes up for it.

Ready?
I've signed for representation with Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
Now, if that's all you need to know, feel free to raise a glass of cyber-champagne in the comments. If you'd like to know a little bit more, read on....

After deciding that it was wisest to have help with the contract negotiations, because I don't have a law degree and Japan was supposed to have taught me to admit when I'm in over my head, I asked a friend if she felt comfortable approaching her agent on my behalf to ask if the agent could look over the contract or refer me to someone else.

The funny thing is, I was more uncomfortable asking my friend than she was about asking her agent.

The agent agreed that I could contact her, and we exchanged emails. Then there was a phone call, where she answered some of my questions and we talked a little bit about common interests. All of this happened last week, while I was in Kamloops.

The contract arrived on Saturday, I didn't see it until Monday, and didn't have a chance to review it until yesterday.

That is the (long) explanation of why you're only hearing about it today.

So please join me in a toast to thank my friend—and agency sister—Vicki Pettersson and our agent Miriam Kriss.

Kampai!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The strange sickness I've contracted appears to be moving into a different stage--while my hacking has subsided, I'm still reduced to mouth-breathing. For some reason I've always found mouth-breathers to be rude, but that could be because when you exhale through your noise, it doesn't carry the smell of what you've eaten since you last waged war against the bacteria in your mouth with it.

On a unrelated note of oddness, my aunt informed me last night that I was on TV. Apparently the camera man who I was diligently ignoring didn't get the hint and still filmed part of my conversation with Brian Hades on Saturday afternoon. The editing crew did, however, thankfully decide that what we were speaking about wasn't the business of the whole of Alberta, and the shot was voiced-over by a reporter or the anchor. (THANK YOU.)

The only reason I can think of why anyone would want to film me would have been a "and look, people who aren't dressed like Klingons attend these things, too!"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Well, Pure Speculation III was interesting. I would have to say Peter Watts was the most interesting part, but meeting Diane Walton and Danielle from ON SPEC was also a lot of fun.

Diane encouraged me to send more things to ON SPEC, and I'm encouraged to know that the next "right" story has a door to knock on first.

I went out for dinner on Saturday night, and was given some great advice on how to do a simple outline to prepare for NaNo. That's right, after meeting all these Canadians who did the 3 day novel challenge and emerged successful, I feel it's time I tackled the 50K challenge.

I'm grateful to all the wonderful and fun Albertans I met over the weekend, and look forward to seeing most of them at World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Last night, Brian Hades was kind enough to ask me to accompany him to a little writer's party that was held in South Edmonton in honor of Pure Speculation III, which starts today.

It was a very casual affair, where several writers who are all at different places on that learning curve--and one small press publisher--conversed about everything from critique groups to book pricing to the process of getting arts grants in Alberta.

I am very grateful to have been included, even on a temporary basis, into this very warm and welcoming group.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pure Speculation III

The ticking of the clock is one of the most bothersome noises. Who thought it a wise idea to create a beast that so callously reminds us second by second that we're waiting?

There is an abundance of clocks that tick within my parents home, and I wonder if this could be a contribution to my impatience.

Kamloops is grounding and peaceful and home. It soothes my nerves, the mountains and rivers a tonic for anxieties and doubts. I'm leaving now, going to Edmonton, without having fully resolved what generated my need for grounding.

Things are wonderful. Life is great. I feel like the Fool, one foot poised to start forward on the new journey. Only there's bubbling and brewing and simmering on the stove at home, and I'm learning to trust the new chef that there will be a five course dinner when I return.

Fun is to be had this weekend, as I'll be attending Pure Speculation III. The wonderful people of Edge and ON SPEC will be there, and I look forward to meeting new Albertan writing friends who will cram into a police box with me. (Yes, I realize I just outed myself by correcting the commercial.)


Monday, October 08, 2007

Thanksgiving

All right, the novelty of wearing a scarf is starting to wear off. Luckily, I have the happiness of being able to fit into my old butter-soft leather jacket again to balance it out.

Wow. What a weekend. I went bowling for the first time in four or five years. Saw my entire family on my mom's side for the first time since Christmas 2000. Celebrating my grandparents having been married for 50 years.

Today, on this day of giving thanks, I am so filled with gratitude. The words are shivering just beyond my reach, like they found another fire to warm their chilled bones around.

Thank you will have to suffice for all the things you've done. More importantly, for the things you never realized you did.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Scattered thoughts

Today I erased the pencil-filled circles that created eyes for my daruma. The marks that had signified my earnest effort to rewrite the manuscript to represent my increase in skill level had fulfilled my goal are gone. Now there is a single, darker pencil-filled circle. It is the beginning of my new goal, to complete the redraft.

These two lines are floating in my brain:

Did you eat smarties when you were younger and feel
disappointed that all the colors tasted the same?

I met my deadline to deliver desktops and icons to WickedLovely.com, and I apologize if I've completely forgotten to mention that I volunteered for the graphic designer job. It seemed like the right thing to do—I enjoyed Melissa Marr's novel, and I think my fellow fans deserve pretty things.