Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mantra for 2012--By Chuck Wendig

The Second Writer's Prayer, from Revenge Of The Pen Monkey, by awesome Chuck Wending.  Found it on TerribleMinds, Chuck's blog, and couldn't resist sharing it...  One, because Chuck's is a blog I think everyone should be following, and two, because the prayer is the most fuckin' uplifting thing I've ever read.  Made me want to climb to a rooftop and shout it out in a powerful Mercutio voice...  And, now I think of it, maybe I'll do just that.  Every day of 2012.

I am a writer, and I am done fucking around.

That which has prevented me lingers no longer. I am wind and storm and lightning and I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall blow all the barriers down. Then I will drink whisky made from the fear-urine of my loudest detractors and find power in their disbelief.

I don’t have time. I make time. I reach into the universe’s clockwork brain and I take whatever time I jolly well need. I cobble time out of sticks and mud and the finger-bones of naysayers. I am a motherfucking time wizard and with a wave of my pen shall create universes to conquer. Pockets of possibility. Born of my desire to have them made.

Fuck doubt. Doubt is a goblin on my back. I will reach for him with my ink-stained hands and grab his greasy head and fling him into the infinite nothing. His screams will thrill me. The resultant word-boner shall be mighty, and with this tremendous oaken stalk I shall swipe it left and swing it right and sweep all the road-blocks and brick-walls out of my way.

My distractions whimper and plead, their backs pressed against the wall, but I am no creature of mercy. Triple-Tap. Mozambique Drill. Two in the chest and one in the head. I laugh as they fall because their death clears the way and gives me purpose.

I will put myself on the page. I’m all in, with every card face up on the table. I am my stories and my stories are me. I do not merely write what I know: I write who I am. I’ll reach into my own chest and pluck out my still-beating heart and milk its juices like an overripe grapefruit. Squish.

That’s my blood on the page. The helix-spirals of my DNA wound around every word, every character, every plot point and page number. If CSI came here right now with one of those UV lights, you’d see the spatters and stains of my many penmonkey fluids because I can and will no longer contain my seed. You’ll take my inky seed and you’ll like my inky seed. It is a delightful moisturizer.

I do what needs doing. I ride the Loch Ness Monster through the gates of Carthage. I learn forbidden power words from the Undead Shamans of the Tulsa Underground. I kung-fu-kick a hole in the fabric of space and time and stick my head through to see what exists on the other side. I eat planets. I drink oceans. I piss rivers and I shit mountain lions. No task exists that I cannot accomplish on the page.

I write from a place of honesty. My stories are lies that speak truth.

Nobody tells me who I am or what I can’t do. I tell stories. I write characters. I make true shit up out of thin air. And nothing is more perfect than that.

My doubt is dead.

The dream is no longer a dream.

My desires are made manifest.

This is my reality now.

It’s time to load the guns, brew the ink, and go to work.

Because I am a writer, and I am done fucking around.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lost Pleasure of Reading (For a Writer)

In an interview with Joselyn Vaughn on Amy Corwin's blog (do check out the interview--great stuff, great author), something came up that made me stop and go "huh."  It was Joselyn's answer to the question: "What makes a great book?"

This is her answer:
"When you start writing, you notice the writing in other books. You don’t get to read for pleasure very much anymore. You notice that they repeated a word or phrase within two sentences or you pick up the sly hints/foreshadowing much too easily. For me a great book has become one where the story is so engaging that I don’t notice any of this stuff—that is allows me to read purely for pleasure.[...]"
 Huh, I went.  Because this is so totally f*cking true.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vaclav Havel: The Notion of Identity

Bon voyage, Vaclav Havel--and thank you.

That Shakespearean Rag has a great post on Vaclav Havel's passing here--go ahead and read it, it's a powerful obituary.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Defining Right And Wrong

While discussing my WIP, Restoring Experience, with some really excellent beta readers, a question came up that I thought would be interesting to share with you.  See, Alexia is going to have to make a decision, sooner or later, about the way she's going to live her life--whether she's going to do what she's supposed to, or what she wants to.

This led me to thinking about how our concept of "right" and "wrong" is so often defined by what others expect of us and not by what we really believe ourselves.  And actually, even that belief, the inner thoughts and commentary we provide ourselves with, is also based on others' expectations, in some degree, isn't it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (December 18)

Welcome to Six Sentence Sunday!  Hard to believe that next week it'll be Christmas already, but there you have it--2012 is done, ladies and gents.

This excerpt is from Chapter 8 of Restoring Experience, one of my current WIPs.  I promised you'd meet Dan, Alexia's boyfriend of seven years (yikes!) and... here he is.

“Come walk with me,” he said, shut the door behind him.
I tried not to fidget as I watched him come around to my side.  It was so stupid, having to wait inside the car for him to get the door for me, but all the men I knew insisted, and the hurt on their faces whenever I did it myself generated enough guilt to make me desist.   
I didn’t mind when he held a door open for me, or when he pulled out a chair for me at a restaurant--I liked it--but when it came to the car it made me fidget.  I felt helpless, locked in.  None of the other girls seemed to mind, and it never looked awkward with them--just with me.

Thank you so much for your visit, and triple thanks for your comments and feedback--they make my day, every time.  Plus, I really want to know what impression you got of Dan so far.

Have a fantastic Sunday, y'all, and remember to visit the other Six Sundayers--one day you'll see a new bestseller at your local bookstore and say, "Hey! I read a piece of that online, when it was just a work-in-progress, at Six Sentence Sunday!"

P.S.--I'm celebrating this weekend because a short story of mine was published Friday at Fiction365.  If you're in the mood for a creepy story about legends that won't stay *just* legends, take a hop over and read it here.  I'd love to hear what you think about that one too!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mischievous Moonlight Published Today!

The wonderful folks at Fiction365 graciously published my story, Mischievous Moonlight, as their feature today.  Hop on over and take a look--it's "more than a little spooky", according to a reader.  I hope you like it, and if you're so inclined, you can leave some feedback at Fiction365's Facebook page (or follow the link on their site).  As all writers, I think, I love to hear what you think--good or bad, feedback's always always welcome.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bad day? Blow something up.

No, not really.  But Janet Reid posted this on her blog and I just HAD to share it.

Please don't blow anything up.  And yes, it's office-safe.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (December 11)

And... another Six Sentence Sunday!  This is the last excerpt I share from Chapter 7 of the WIP (Restoring Experience)--next week you'll meet Alexia's boyfriend.  I know you're all rooting for Michael here, but poor Dan also deserves a chance :)

Michael just tried to kiss Alexia before leaving for Acapulco, and she's outraged.  Now, she's a good Mexican girl who's been in a steady relationship for seven years, but...  I can't help thinking she's overreacting a bit.  What do you think?

“A kiss is not just a kiss.”  
What did he mean, ‘just a kiss’?  A kiss is—surrender.  Silver-screen romance ends in a kiss, princesses are woken from cursed slumber by a kiss, marriages and other worthy commitments are sealed with a kiss.  A kiss is acceptance of everything else to come.  It’s the beginning of…  well, everything.

Michael is a broad-minded guy and I'm sure he'd have been open to all sorts of reactions...  But I don't think he was expecting this one.

If you're getting tired of this story please do let me know--we'll switch to the new WIP, the NaNo novel, see how you like that one.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone, and remember to visit the other SSS participants this week.  Great talent there, and some awesome blogs to discover.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (December 4)

It's December already, people.  Where'd the year go?  Can't say it hasn't been productive--I quit my office job, writing full-time now, mortgage be damned--but it just went by so fast.

One of the nicest things, though, in this new writer life of mine, is the Six Sunday community.  There's a bit of everything, something for every taste.  And the people are fantastic.  Remember to stop by and visit some other SSS bloggers--make your Sunday special :)

And--back to Alexia and Michael, about to kiss in the language school lobby.  Enjoy!
A muscle in my neck, more sensible than I, contracted--my head twitched and his lips met only the tiniest portion of the corner of my mouth.  Disgusted at the unreasonable twinge of disappointment, I pushed hard at his chest and went for outrage. 
“What the hell was that?” 
Instead of exhibiting remorse, like any good Mexican boy would, his mouth opened into a big O.   
“Why’d you move away?”  
“Michael, you were going to kiss me!  What were you thinking?”

*Sigh*.  I was kind of hoping she'd let him kiss her.  But--there's a boyfriend involved.  A serious boyfriend, with whom she's about to move to Italy with on a graduate program.  And Michael...  Well, he's only here in Mexico for a few weeks.  The attraction's strong, but--is it worth it?  There's just too much to lose, isn't there?  

What would you do?  Take the fling?  Stay faithful to the boyfriend?  What does your decision hinge on?  What's more important, in the end?  The moment?  Or loyalty?

Friday, December 2, 2011

White Christmas in Curaçao

Yes!  This year Curacao hosts a white Christmas, thanks to Simon Kewing of Spellmaking.  Ok, maybe not all Curacao, but in THIS blog it's a freakin' snow storm :)

Scott Schiller originally wrote the code--a BIG thank-you, Scott.  For all of you winter-spirited bloggers, if you want a snowstorm on your blog, just cut and paste the code below into an HTML gadget and--presto!  All that's missing is the sleigh-bells :)

<script src="" type="text/javascript">
snowStorm.snowColor = '#99ccff';
snowStorm.flakesMaxActive = 128;
snowStorm.useTwinkleEffect = true;

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner--Yes, That's Me!

I cannot believe I did it.  I logged in 50,582 words at the NaNoWriMo word count verifier a few minutes ago.  Over 50K words in less than 30 days--yes!  Got my certificate, got the little badge you see here...  And no, didn't get my t-shirt because the site doesn't list Netherlands Antilles as a possibility for billing addresses.  Dang it.

It was a challenge, I admit, but it wasn't nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be.  Writing 50K words in one month *is* possible.  Sure, I'm lucky because I get to write full-time--no kids, no job, a partner that loves the fact that I write.  I had everything going for me this month.  It really would have been an embarrassment not to finish.  As it is, it's probably an embarrassment that I didn't win earlier, that the word count is *only* 50,582 today.  But I'll take my pride where I can :)

The NaNo novel, as yet untitled, is only half-way.  So--yes, I wrote 50K in one month, but I didn't finish a novel.  Does that take away from the sense of achievement?  Yeah, sure it does.  The goal was 50K--that's what you need to win NaNo.  But that's the letter of the law.  The *spirit* is to finish the damn thing.  Of course, a first draft of a novel, in Guiliespeak, is +100K, so perhaps it is unreasonable to demand of myself that I finish one in 30 days.  I do plan to raise my target next year to at least 75K--that should bring me closer to the end.

What do I have now?  I have about half of a novel's first draft.  Sure--there's going to be a lot of editing in my future, eventually, but first...  First, I need to finish the first draft.  That wonderful feeling of writing "the end" at the last page--how I love that.

So...  Even though I have my NaNo winner certificate and my little badge, and even though I earned a t-shirt that I cannot buy, I'm going to keep writing, keep logging in word count at the NaNo site, until tomorrow night.  See how far I get.  I doubt I can finish the first draft by then, but it'll get me farther.  And even after tomorrow I won't stop.  I'll keep on writing.  And I won't go back to the way I wrote before NaNo--writing, revising, editing, writing some more.  No, no.

The most valuable lessons I garnered from this month, these "thirty days and nights of literary abandon", were these:

  • Write.  Just--write.  Don't worry about revising, not before you put the story down first.  Later there's always time to revise and edit and rewrite.  But the main thing: get the story down first.

  • You are your limitations.  And those limitations are all in your head.  Think you can't, and--voila--you can't.  But raise the bar, aim for the impossible, and--taah-daah!  There it is.  Raise the bar for yourself constantly.  Celebrate the achievement, sure, but--don't let it go to your head.  If you did *this*, whatever it was, it means you can do more.  Quality-wise, quantity-wise.  Whatever.  You can do more.  Always.  Never let yourself forget it.

So...  There you go.  That's the end of my NaNo experience, technically.  In reality, it's the beginning--truly--of my life as a writer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 27)

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I thought of you all last Thursday, you lucky people with big turkey dinners on your tables, surrounded by family and friends, eating pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce...  Oh, yum.  See, down here we don't celebrate Thanksgiving. And, man, I miss it.  So I hope you enjoyed it double--for me.

We're back to Alexia's and Michael's goodbye scene from Chapter 7 of Restoring Experience for another six of Six Sentence Sunday.  I skipped a couple paragraphs between last week's six and this, but I doubt you'll notice.

“Okay, Friend,”  Michael said, “can I get a kiss goodbye?” 
“Of course.” I took a step forward, stood on tiptoe to reach his cheek. 
He pressed his hand to the side of my face, tilting it up towards him, and suddenly his mouth was very close.   
Alexia, slap him, scream!  
But this was happening to someone else, this body wasn’t mine, because I couldn’t move it.

Alexia's in trouble, I think.  Her boyfriend is NOT going to be happy about this.  Hope to see you back next week to find out if Alex will give in or slap him in the best Mexican tradition :)

Remember to visit the other Six Sundayers--there are some fantastic writers in there, and it's well worth the blog hop.  Have a fantastic Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam -- Week 15

And because there is no time--that's why I'm here, he said.

I don't understand, I said.

You don't have to.  It's just about the here and now.

What here?  What now?

He laughed, and my eyes pricked at the sound.  Twenty years since I'd last heard it.  More than half my life.  And it had taken me at least half of that to stop yearning for it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Gratitude

Ah...  All you turkey-lovers, I salute you.  I imagine you sitting around a huge, totally loaded table, surrounded by family and friends, mouth-watering aromas wafting around you and awakening your appetite.  Yeah, diets be damned tonight: tonight is about bounty, about excess, about reveling in life and enjoying it, free of guilt.  At least I hope you're free of guilt.

As a Mexican, I grew up without a Thanksgiving tradition.  My first Thanksgiving was when I lived in New York, must've been around eleven or twelve years old.  I was never much for food, so I can't honestly say I gorged myself (I actually remember being grossed out by sweet potatoes, haha), but I did enjoy it.  And even though I was too young to fully grasp its power, it touched me nonetheless.

Because gratitude is immensely powerful.  Beyond powerful, really.  Gratitude, in my limited experience, equals happiness.  To be grateful, truly--honestly--sincerely grateful, is to know joy of the most spiritual kind.  And this is from someone who doesn't really believe in religion of any kind here.  All right, then--maybe gratitude is my religion.

So this day of giving thanks, this day that celebrates gratitude, is an epiphany.  To give thanks for every little blessing, every little thing--because everything is something, and something always deserves gratitude--that's what lifts us to a higher purpose, a higher state of being.

Remember today.  Remember the feeling of oneness that saying thank you brings to the you inside.  And repeat it every day.  Every single day.  Because every day there is something unutterably beautiful and unique to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Today, and every day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 20)

One more six-sentence snippet from Chapter 7 of the WIP (Restoring Experience), a novel about loss and the search for meaning to give that loss a sense of purpose.

Last week I posted but I forgot to link to Six Sentence Sunday--yeah, where's my head these days?  If you're interested, here's that snippet, and here's the one from the week before.

Just a quick refresher: Alexia and Michael, the two MCs, are in the language school lobby waiting for the bus that will take Michael and the rest of the American students to Acapulco.  Alexia, an English teacher and not involved with this group (they're studying Spanish), isn't going, but Michael has been trying to convince her otherwise.  He's even offered--oh-so-generously--to share his hotel room with her.


He took a step back, but didn’t let go of my hand.  “It’s so strong,” he murmured. 
“What is?” 
“This.  I’m seriously considering not going to Acapulco.”  
His tone was light, but it sounded like it was only half a joke.

Look forward to your feedback (I looooove comments), and to reading the rest of the Six Sundayers.  Thanks for the visit, and happy Sunday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Vagaries of (Verb) Tense Consistency

Another fantastic list from The Writer's Resource, this time on verb tense consistency.  Their post today on Maintaining Verb Consistency In Your Story in your story is a list of six links (including 3 by university publications) on that most complex of the writer's nemesis--the verb tense.  The links take you to both recent and not-so-recent posts, and they range from the basic (what's present tense?) to the more nuanced (when to change tenses, for example).

In the online writers' group I joined earlier this year there's been ongoing discussion on the proper usage of verb tenses, especially the subjunctive (which apparently some people tend to ignore or maul unforgivably) and the past perfect (I'd been in the house for five hours before he arrived).  Sometimes a refresher or a quick reference guide on these comes in handy.

Just for fun, which of these sentences sound "righter" to your ear?

- She asked that she not be disturbed until after the performance.
- She asked not to be disturbed until the performance was finished.

- He'd been in my life for such a long time that I no longer remembered how we'd met.
- He was in my life for such a long time that I no longer remembered how we met.

Hope this resource comes in handy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The NaNo Blog Hop

Somewhere in the backlog of Google Reader posts I'm trying so hard to keep up with, I found a reference to a NaNo blog hop...   And I thought, hey--that's cool.  I'm late arriving, so I couldn't find the source of the blog hop (that's to say, the blogger whose idea it was to start this up), so I'm linking here to the blog where I saw it and where I copied the linky list below from: Natz at Deeply Shallow.  All you unlinked Wrimos out there, here's the chance to sign up and meet new bloggers you hadn't discovered yet, and stay up to date on everyone's NaNo progress during the month.

Happy NaNoing!

NaNoWriMo Update

Whoa...  Broke 30K last night.  Thirty thousand eighty words, according to the NaNo word count verifier. Of course, according to ol' Scrivener, it's more like 30.5K.  But who's counting anyway? ;)

Over the weekend I had a rough day, writing-wise.  I think it was Saturday.  My writing brain went on strike.  "NO," he said.  "I refuse.  I need a break.  I need to gather my thoughts and regroup.  Whaddya think I am, some kind of faucet?"  So I took a break.  I caught up with the 500+ unread items I have on Google Reader (is anyone else getting annoying notifications on Chrome that 'the page contains insecure items'?  Why are they insecure?  Are they just socially challenged, or is it something deeper, nastier?).  And--to my utter amazed befuddlement--the words just got flowing (yes, very much like a faucet) on Sunday.  In two days I got in over 6K words.  Yeah, I'm damn proud.

Sure it's crap, mostly.  Lots and lots of "ly"words (and I hate them, but the faucet produces them).  Lots and lots of repetitions (there's this one sentence that uses "hand" every third or fourth word, and throws me into hysterical convulsions every time I think of it).  And those are just the things I see as I rush to channel the faucet.  I'm sure that when I go back to edit, sometime in December, I'll find all sorts of funky dangling clauses and, yes, probably waaaaay too many passive stuff that will get its snarky little butt kicked right off my MS much like you'd get rid of a cockroach in your bathtub (horrified squealing applies here, too).

But you know what?  I managed to quiet the EIE (evil internal editor--do take a jump over to Rick Bylina's blog and learn about his anti-nano guerilla), and for me, that's a huge triumph.  I'm learning to just go with it, let the story out and not worry about the form too much.  In legalese-speak there's a term, "substance over form"--well, that's exactly what NaNo has been about for me so far.  The substance is what these thirty days of oblivious spewing forth of the faucet will be about.  The form will come later, to shape it into acceptability...  But the substance?  Yeah.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I discovered authonomy

No, it's not a typo.  Authonomy, although HarperCollins spells it without the initial cap.  What is it?  It's a website where authors--published or un-pubbed--can showcase their work, and based on ratings by readers and other site members, can be selected for review by HarperCollins editors.

Sounds good.  Right?  Yippee.  And please forgive my intrinsic suspicious nature, my half-empty attitude, my snickering skepticism...  But doesn't it sound a bit too good?  As in too good to be true?

Well.  Maybe.  But it's been up since Sept 2009 and it seems to be going strong.  Besides, I'm a sucker for design, and the webpage is pretty cool.  Kinda cluttered for some, maybe, but as you can see (look around *this* page), I like clutter.  I took a quick traipse through the literary fiction titles, and some sound really enticing.  The Poet, by Andrew Stevens.  Dämon Ronion, by Brian Hatfield (I knew a Brian Hatfield, back in Cancun...  But he sold timeshare.  I don't think this is him).  There are lots of titles that really caught my attention and which I'd like to read.

So content is not the problem with authonomy.  What is, then?  Well... I don't know.  I find it strange that in this day and age of immediate gratification, of information readily available  e v e r y w h e r e, this is the first time I hear of this site.  But that may be my own shortcoming, my own fault for not following the blogs I should be, for not researching as thoroughly as I thought I had.

And my question to you today is: have YOU heard of authonomy?  What's your gut feeling about a site like this?  How come we're not ALL on there?  Or are we (*ahem* as soon as I register)?  Seriously thinking about posting the almost-ready version of Restoring Experience over there.  Or should I do the normal query runabout dance first, take authonomy as a next-best option?

If you, my dear reader, are not a writer, do take a click-stroll over to the authonomy site and grace these authors with your fine reading skills.  Lots of great books right there--no downloads, so you have to read online, but hey.  It's free.  Authors everywhere will kiss your foot for it.  And you have the incredible opportunity to become a Top Talent Spotter if you spot talent before it's discovered by other people.  Pretty cool, in my opinion.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 13)

Welcome, Six-Sundayers!  Thanks for visiting Quiet Laughter today.  Today's six are the continuation of the conversation between Michael and Alexia from last week.  If you'd like a bit more backstory on this, you can find it here

“Of course,” I said without thinking.  “I mean,” I backtracked, “it would change the circumstances, but….” I trailed off with a shrug that was nothing if not lame.

“It would, huh?”  Michael pushed a flighty strand of hair behind my ear.

“Stop.”  I couldn’t step away, with my back already against the heavy wooden doorway.

Would love to hear what you think of this story so far.  I know most Six-Sundayers are romantic buffs, and this is not strictly a romance.  Still, your feedback is much appreciated :)

Remember to visit the other Six-Sundayers here--last I checked there were no less than 156 entries for this week!  Lots of new talent, probably, as well as the usual favorites.  

Have a wonderful Sunday!

P.S.--Just realized I forgot to link this post to the Six Sunday site... LOL!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More on Revision

I really shouldn't be posting about this now.  I should be focused on NaNo, writing like crazy...  But this post I just found, from Janice Hardy over at The Other Side of the Story, is so great and struck so many chords for me, that I had to share.  And also, this way I'll have it linked here and easily findable when I finally get around to finishing that hardest of the hard revisions for Restoring Experience--the last one.

If you're revising and you haven't seen Janice's post yet (it's from yesterday), please take a jump over now and bookmark it, or print it, or do whatever you do with valuable information on the internet.  I thought it was brilliant--hopefully you will too.

In the immortal words of Rick Bylina (another fantastic blog on writing by a self-published author of uncommon wit and brilliant insight), Write on!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Awards!

Brilliant blogger and darkish author E.R. King of Get Busy Writing passed me the Liebster Blog award, the Versatile Blogger Award and the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award (a month ago... I'm nothing if not a procrastinator, dammit).

This entails, of course, profusely thanking Emily:

Then I need to share seven things about myself--I'll share seven more, since I'd already shared some when Stuart Nager of Tale Spinning passed the Versatile Blogger Award to me in September:

Revision, revision, revision

I found this excellent post on The Writer's Resource (if you write and you're not following that blog boo for you) with links to some outstanding resources for revising.  It's got Nathan Bransford's checklist, a great post on editing by Janice Hardy...  And eight other jewels you MUST have if you're revising.  Which is, if you're like me with several WIPs in several stages of completion, all the time.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (November 6)

First Six Sentence Sunday of November!  In spite of NaNo (I'm at around 10K there--yay!) I managed to remember to enter the link on time, unlike last week.  

Thank you for visiting Quiet Laughter, and I hope you enjoy this very brief excerpt from Chapter 7 of my WIP, Restoring Experience.  

This excerpt is a continuation of the scene I posted last week (click here if you missed it).

“I know, it’s dumb,” he laughed, “but I know I will.  Alexia, can I ask you something?”
“I don’t know, Michael.  Is it going to make me uncomfortable?”
“Probably.  If you didn’t have a boyfriend, would that change anything?”

Thanks again for your visit!  If you enjoyed this or if you have any ideas on how this could be improved, please leave a comment.  All feedback is most welcome, and I love hearing from you.

Remember to visit the other Six Sunday-ers--some awesome talent there, and a great way to discover follow-worthy bloggers.

Happy Sunday reading!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (Oct. 23)

And...  One more week of Six Sentence Sunday.  I'm getting into the habit, although it's still a challenge to PICK the six sentences I share.  I'm trying to keep linearity (is that even a word?) and continuity so that you "get" into the story, but at the same time I want to share the most interesting bits or the ones that I'm tweaking in order to get your feedback.  *Sigh*.  Choices, choices.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Handwritten Challenge #2

The second prompt of the Handwritten-Letter Adventure challenge I received from Michelle at Writer In Transit was thus:
"Write a piece of prose based on the prompt: 'Life is like an hourglass.  Eventually, everything hits the bottom.  And all you have to do is wait it out until someone comes along and turns it around."
This story was not what I originally had in mind.  It simply refused to bend to my will, and here's the result:


How had it happened, this falling apart?  Life had been good.  Why was she curled on the sofa staring out at the patio, gnawing her lip?

The Handwritten Challenge #1

The letter I received from my friend Writer In Transit contained two challenges.  I'm pretty sure she meant to offer me a choice, but since I'm an overachiever (and I'm procrastinating on the editing I have to do for the WIP) I decided to do both.  

The first one:
"Write a short dialogue based on these words: 'When you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done.'  It should be dramatic, filled with mystery and suspense."
I'm pretty sure this was not the result Writer In Transit was looking for, and I apologize--my romantic and darkish side got away with me.

~ * ~ * ~


Dave looks so confused.  My heart twitches, but I raise my chin.

"I don’t want to hurt you," I say.  It sounds ridiculous, here among my packed suitcases.  "I need to be on my own.  For a while."

"Where will you go?  What will you do?"  

It’s not concern that makes him ask.  He’s questioning my ability to grasp life without him, and he’s right.  I can’t.  But I have to try.

The Beauty of Handwritten Letters

How long has it been since you wrote or received a handwritten letter?

When I was in my early twenties I had one of those annihilating love affairs one summer--the kind that change your life forever because they change YOU, much like (to borrow and paraphrase from "Like Water For Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel) dough is irreversibly and intrinsically changed through contact with heat.  And much of that affair happened via handwritten letters--he happened to live across the continent from me.  This was the early nineties, so no email yet.  The phone bills were humongous, too.

For around four months we wrote letters to each other every day, this super-sexy and romantic lover (he quoted poetry to me--POETRY) and I.  Sometimes more than one a day.  The letters were delivered in stacks of three, four, sometimes more.  And each was read and re-read again and again throughout the years until I finally lost them.

Yes, I think of handwritten letters most fondly.  So when an amazing blogger friend at Writer In Transit started a handwritten-letter adventure, you can imagine I jumped at the chance.  How does it work?  We exchange letters and include a writing challenge or two (or three) that the recipient must complete.  A few days ago I received her first letter with two awesome writing challenges: challenge #1 and challenge #2.

There's nothing quite so exciting, for people of my generation at least, as to receive a handwritten letter.  I look forward to many many more!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Killer Character Blogfest -- Challenge #3: Antagonist

El Amor En Los Tiempos Del Colera (Love In Times of Cholera, or Love In The Time of Cholera)

Florentino Ariza met Fermina Daza one slow afternoon when she raised her head from a book and met his eyes, "and that look was the origin of a cataclysm of love that half a century later hadn’t yet finished." [My translation]

For fifty-one years, nine months and four days, Florentino and Fermina would not speak privately.  Love arose through letters and chaperoned walks in a park, a love of expected vibrancy given their youth.  But Fermina would soon realize that she’d fallen in love with Love itself, that Florentino was not anything she’d thought he was, and she’d dismiss him from her life to marry a man more in line with her station.

But Florentino did not give up.  He waited patiently, with a debauchery that never threatened the purity of his love for Fermina, for half a century.  The opportunity finally comes, but…  They’re too old, Fermina says.  Florentino’s patience isn’t exhausted and soon, in spite of her disparaging protests, she begins to admit there might still be time for love.  Love, after all, is love regardless of the time or the age.  But it becomes denser the closer one is to death.

Time is the antagonist.  Time is what threatens: Florentino must outlive Fermina’s husband.  Age—evidence of Time’s passage—threatens to make everything pointless.  In the end Florentino thinks he wins: Time, so long against him, is now his ally--not just because proximity to death has intensified everything, but also because the half-century interlude flew them over the trials of love turned routine.  And now…  Now they need only each other.  But Time won't stop, not even on that drifting riverboat with a cholera flag raised.  We're left with the sensation that, however well-lived, their days together will not be many.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Killer Character Blogfest -- Challenge #2: The All-Important Protag

Being a protagonist is hard.  Everything hinges on you: story, action, conflict—to top it off, there’s no privacy.  All your foibles, your deepest fears, desires, stuff you’ve barely found out for yourself—right there on the page for any reader to see.

The Odd Thomas Series, by Dean Koontz
As enthralled as I am by stories, I always feel a pang of voyeurism-sparked shame at invading foreign lives like that.  Nowhere was that most evident than when I met Odd Thomas.

He’s such a delightful and sensitive kid, that Odd.  So polite, so—normal, in every way but one.  He sees the "lingering dead", and although they don’t speak (not as far as he knows), they do communicate in some way to ask for justice.  Now, another kind of person would ignore them, turn their back, scream and run (sometimes these dead show up with the gore and mess that killed them), or perhaps simply go mad.  But not Odd.  He doesn’t like it, but he accepts that this is his lot with an equanimity that leaves no place for the melodrama of "why me?".  And I love him for that.

Odd touches my heart.  He’s a good, good man—but he doesn’t know it, doesn’t believe it.  Odd Thomas’s humanity jumps out of the page, weaknesses on his sleeve.  He seems almost apologetic for telling his story, for making any claim of importance.

But he is important.  His qualities are in extreme danger of extinction.

Read the other Killer Character 'Fest-ers choices for Killer Protagonists here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Killer Character Blogfest -- Challenge #1: Supporting Character

Welcome to the Killer Character Blogfest!  Everyone is postulating for their favorite supporting character today--visit this link to take a look at the other entries.

The supporting character I present to you today is, quite literally, a killer.  At least in intention, though not in fact.  He’s been my favorite supporting character since the first time I came across him--over twenty five years ago!

He’s not an obscure character, so I'll give you a chance to guess.  His untimely death gave him eternal youth in our minds, but he’s only slightly younger than Dracula.  He’s unique and timeless, but not undead.  He’s irreverent—a fun-loving joker.  He talks of dreams, he has unpredictable swings.

I believe he knew, at some level, that he would die young.  He’s the embodiment of "carpe diem", in high contrast to the protagonist he supports so ably (a romantic given to writing poetry inspired in platonic love), and I believe the thirst of life of our character is driven by foreknowledge, at a subconscious level perhaps, that he would not live long.

His monologue is famous—pure magic of youth tinged with a fatality that grips the reader (or listener, for it was written to be spoken)—, as is his loyalty: unable to understand why his best friend will not fight the man who has insulted him, he draws his own sword against the threatener and dies.  That thrust of sword under the arm of his best friend sets off the events that culminate in one of the literary world’s most poignant tragedies—so easily avoidable, had pride been less entrenched.

Did you guess Mercutio?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Talk of Dreams...

For twenty five years (or more) this monologue has haunted me...  I know a few passages from Shakespeare, but this one I can recite without hesitation any day (notwithstanding the amount of wine or other spirits imbibed):

True, I talk of dreams;
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy;
Which is as thin of substance as the air,
And more inconstant than the wind, who woos
Even now the frozen bosom of the North
And, being angered, puffs away from thence,
Turning his side to the dew-dropping South.

Such hopelessness in the words, such aching desire for life and its mystery...  As if Mercutio knew that life, for him, would only remain a dream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam -- Week 12

I'm back to the Bluebell Books Short Story Slam for this week--finally!  This is a blogger share-fair that I really missed, because the other participants are wonderful people that I love connecting with, and because the talent on this "slam" is breathtaking.  Please take a stroll over to the Bluebell Books site and check out the other participating blogs.  I promise you'll love them!

The prompt for this week is the photo on the right.

As heartwarming as it is, my dark side refused to take it at face value.  Here's the result; your comments and feedback are most genuinely appreciated.

You scare the hell out of me.  The innocence of your skin, the curl of your tiny fingers.  The abandon with which your back heaves in breath.  The texture of your hair—no, I haven’t touched it, and I won’t.  But it looks so soft, so—fragile.  Everything about you is fragile, and that’s what scares me.  Because it demands that I be everything, things I’m not sure I want.  Things I’m not sure I can.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rescheduling Life and The Carpe Diem Lesson

"Carpe Diem" by Claudia Alves | RedBubble

It's funny how synchronicity works.  Angela Guillaume is also blogging on this topic today.  If you haven't visited her blog recently, you're missing out.  She's a fantastic writer with great insights.

I rearranged my schedule.  Drastically.

I've mentioned it in passing, but perhaps this is something that deserves a post of its own.  I quit my day job on September 30th and I'm now officially unemployed. Why (oh why oh why) did I do this, you ask?  The great majority of people I know think I went crazy, had a burn-out or something, lost it.  Even those who congratulate me and give a little sigh of something that could--just might--be envy, think what I'm doing is nothing short of bizarre.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (Oct. 16)

So...  I'm back for Six Sunday.  Sorry for the hiatus.  I had a busy September...  Quit my day job (yes, to write...  How incredibly immature, right?), got a bout of bad bronchitis that I'm still recovering from, and basically rearranged my life.  But I feel good.  The novel is in its final stages of editing, so I hope to start querying before the end of the year.  Any feedback--comments, likes, dislikes, suggestions--is heartily welcomed and eagerly sought.

This week I'm sharing six sentences from the chapter following the last six sentences I posted.  The novel explores stretching cultural boundaries through a story of love and loss.  I hope you enjoy!

“I promise I’ll behave.  Didn’t I behave last night?”

He had.  Hand-holding wasn’t a crime, regardless of how guilty I felt about it.  It wasn’t about him behaving, though.  I might not be able to put it into words, but I knew I had to limit my exposure to Michael—things would happen otherwise, things I didn’t want to think about.

Please remember to visit the other Six Sunday-ers -- some awesome writers and stories in there!  I look forward to reading your work, and thanks for the visit.  Have an outstanding Sunday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 (For Dummies)

I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2011.  Crazy and disjointed?  Sure, but hey--why not?  This is the year when I decided to take writing seriously, hone my skills, really get into the whole experience of being a writer.  Well then, NaNoWriMo it is.

Yeah, it took me a while to figure out exactly what NaNoWriMo is.  I heard people mention it, read it here and there, and was mystified.  Then somewhere I found the definition: NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth.  Ah!  Eureka, huh?  So a bunch of people get together and have a month-long celebration of... writing novels?  Wow.  Exciting.  Oh, but I was so wrong.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A day of diving deep...

It's like a moonscape, isn't it?  It's so alien down there.  Formations that challenge belief, and yet are familiar to a part of us we'd rather not acknowledge.

The explorer group is small; only five of us this time.  But there's no fear -- only excitement, the thrill of discovering something new.  We communicate with hand signals, unable to speak due to the equipment we must carry in order to breathe in this foreign environment, and our eyes glint and shimmer in delight behind the masks we wear.  

"Ok?"  The hand signal asks.

"Ok," we all lift our hands, thumbs meeting forefingers in the universal sign.  I wonder if the creatures we're about to encounter also understand it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

First Six Sentence Sunday of September

Yep, I've been away for far too long.  Good news is I've had a chance to work on my novel (Restoring Experience), and I have more six-sentence tidbits to share with you.  I hope you enjoy this one, from the end of Chapter 6.

When our whispering voices faded into the dripping remnants of the storm in the potted azalea bushes bordering the terrace, Michael reached again for my hand.  Relaxed, I hesitated an instant too long, and the unfamiliar contours of his fingers closed around mine.  My breath caught, a mixture of guilt and something that felt surprisingly like pleasure.  The chemistry between our skin was electric.  I may forget our conversations, or the exact color of his eyes, the texture of his hair.  But I will never forget that first touch.

Please remember to visit the other Six-Sunday Bloggers -- there are some awesome writers in there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award -- Part II

Yes, Part II is here.  So yesterday I made good on the first two of three commitments I accepted by accepting this award from Stuart Nager at Tale Spinning.  Today is the day I pass this on to 15 blogs I've recently discovered -- if they'll accept.  Regardless of whether they accept or not, please do take a stroll around these marvelous places:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award -- Part I

Stuart Nager, whose outstanding blog is at Tale Spinning, has kindly shared the Versatile Blogger Award with Quiet Laughter.  By accepting, I've committed to:

- Thank the awarder and link back to them (done; see link above),
- Share 7 things about myself, and
- Pass this award to 15 blogs I've recently discovered.

We all suffer from lack of time, yes.  I've procrastinated enough with this, so I'm going to cut it in two: today I'll THANK STUART FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART for sharing this with me, provide the link to his page, and share 7 things about myself.  Tomorrow, I promise, I'll pass this along to another 15 bloggers that may, or may not, accept.

Seven Things About Quiet Laughter

9/11: What was it like, outside of the U.S.?

"Something just happened.  In New York."

My friend, the one I was meeting later for a leisurely brunch on this day off, sounded subdued on the phone.  In shock, almost.


"Dunno.  Something crashed into the Towers."

"The Twin Towers?  What, like a truck?"

"No.  In the air."

"In the air?"  That made no sense.  If her voice hadn’t been so solemn, I would have laughed.  But, as absurd as this something-from-the-air sounded, I understood it was no laughing matter. ""What, like a… a plane?"

"Yeah.  A small one, they think."

"Damn.  I hope no one is seriously hurt."

I thought it was an accident.  I found out later we all did.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rule of Three Blogfest!

AND...  The Rule of Three Blogfest is officially open!  Visit Amloki's Blog to get the official rules; it's a GREAT challenge to set your creative mind to throughout October -- and they've already posted the first prompt so you have 34 (yes, THIRTY - FOUR!!) days to play around with ideas and make something really radiant and shiny for this.  No excuses, people.  This is a fiction writer's dream.  Now let's make it happen.

Stuart Nager even prepared a trailer for this blogfest -- check it out here, it's super cool and bound to get your creative juices flowing.

This is a unique challenge.  Make it yours!

Monday, August 29, 2011

About Lovability in Mexico (Ex-Pat Part II)

Today's our last night in Mexico.  We've spent ten days here, traveling around the center of the country to visit my family and go to a friend's wedding.  We've eaten like crazy, basked in the sunshine of the amabilidad of the Mexican people.

Amabilidad is probably a concept I should explain, for those of you who don't speak Spanish.  Literally, it means "lovability", that is, the characteristic that makes someone lovable.  However, in Spanish (and especially in Mexico) it's not used that way.  To be amable is not to be lovable; it's to be kind + friendly + polite + attentiveness.  Yep, all three four rolled into one.  (Apologies.  I'm mathematically challenged.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I vacation, you vacation...

So we're off to Mexico on vacation tomorrow.  This is our first vacation since we bought the house last year...  My poor b/f hasn't been off the island in almost two years.  If you've ever lived on an island you know how crazy that will make you.  I traveled a bit last year; true, it was for work and not really a vacation, but still.  I got off the Rock.  I kept my sanity.  But my b/f?  He's a hero for not having lapsed into nervous tics or worse.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam -- Week 8

The Bluebell Books Short Story Slam!  Visit the home post here, and join in the fun!

This week the prompt was a photograph...  Darkish, perhaps, or perhaps that's just me projecting my darkish mind.  I was surprised how easy this story came, especially because I almost passed on participating this week -- I had no clue what to write.  Stream of consciousness may not be a bad thing after all ;)  I hope you enjoy!

Turning Back

The road back is the longest of them all.  It’s not a line; not even a circle.  It’s a meandering footpath, rocky and uphill most of the way, only downhill, mostly, when the slippery slope leads further away.  You don’t realize it, at first, when you begin slipping.  Perhaps you’re glad it’s not uphill, perhaps you feel you’re close.  But then you slide faster, you scrape your hands on muddy rocks, and you realize the darkness enveloping is — yes, it’s familiar, but it’s what you’re trying to get away from.  Your fingernails dig for purchase, dirt painfully gathering under them, but there’s no purchase, no stopping.  You just slide.

Why did you walk away?  Why did you need more, more than the sun, the clear sky?  More than the planes of fields that enclosed our world in their openness?  Why did you not feel the freedom of the wind, of the rippling prairie grass?  Did you look back, as you walked away?  I didn’t see you turn, but perhaps you did.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Milestone

I finished the novel.  I FINISHED the novel.  I finished the NOVEL.  I... I did.  Cannot believe it.  Of course, it's not finished-finished...  It's not polished.  It's not edited.  It's not "tightened"...  But I reached the end, I managed to work through and reach a point where -- yes, this is the end.  Maybe the final version, if there is such a thing, will have a different ending.  That's possible, certainly.  But...  Still.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - The First Sunday of August

I'm back this week again...  This Six Sunday thing can so easily become an addiction :)  This week I'm sharing the very first six sentences of my WIP, a novel that doesn't have a title yet (or a genre, to tell the truth), but is going by "Open Circles, Burning Bridges".  If you like it, I'll share more every week.

He wasn’t supposed to come to Mexico that summer.  Cuernavaca, the three-million-inhabitant city just southwest of Mexico City that was home to me, was not as touristy as San Miguel de Allende or Taxco, but recently it was becoming a popular destination for language students.  He told me later that a friend of his, who’d been planning and saving for this three-week experiment to learn Spanish for months, had broken a leg hiking and had begged him to go in his place to salvage the deposit.  A freak accident, like the untimely flutter of butterfly wings that wreaks havoc in a distant hemisphere, and the life I cherished would crumple like wet clay in unskilled hands.   
“Alex, we’re ready to start.”  Jorge, the principal of the school where I taught, popped his head into the faculty room where I was working on my lesson plans.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to visit the other entries at the Six Sentence Sunday site!  Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!
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