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Your WordCrazy hostesses, Michelle O'Leary and AJ Caywood, welcome you to their blog about writing and hope you enjoy the mind-bending mania. Feel free to join in with your own brand of insanity...crazy loves company.
But I'm afraid it's not the goose that's getting fat! One of the glorious and horrible things about the Holiday Season is the quality and quantity of food. Everyone has that special dish that they only make during this time of year, whether it's an entrée, side dish, or (God help us) dessert. My mother is famous for her kahlua truffles, my sister has a Jell-O mold that's addictive, and my other sister makes a special bread without which the holidays just wouldn't be the same. And none of them are making me any skinnier.
As complaints go, though, it's a pretty stinkin' minor one. Weight comes and goes, but family memories are forever. And the pleasure I get from consuming all these delicious, once-a-year dishes more than makes up for any weight gain. (Seriously, as a chocoholic, one kahlua truffle is worth at least a pound all by itself. ;) The comfort of great food only underlines my gratitude and joy in being with my family and friends during the holidays, and in providing my son with the chance to be with them as well. I spent too many years away from home to take it and my family for granted.
I've learned that creating wonderful memories with those you love is the best part about life, whether it's during a holiday or an average day of the week. There is nothing more important than being with loved ones, and during stressful occasions (like mad shopping rushes or staring aghast at the weight scale) I remind myself that it could be a heck of a lot worse.
So remember to feel the love, have a Happy Holidays, and pass the fudge. ;) Peace & love, -M ***
Twitter is a fun social network, great for meeting new people, exchanging ideas and info...and finding new addictions. My latest addiction was founded by a Twitter user named @baffled, who began a daily challenge to create haiku poetry (senryu is also accepted) incorporating a word-of-the-day. You can find @baffled on Twitter, or do a search on Twitter under the topic #haikuchallenge to see the latest entries. Even people who don't Twitter can join in the fun by going to Baffled's site: http://haikuchallenge.tumblr.com/
What follows are my challenge entries so far for December. I hope you enjoy reading my haiku/senryu poetry, and please feel free to comment on likes or dislikes! I'm greedy for feedback. ;)
Challenge word haze Moon glows undaunted Through haze of jealous thin cloud Celestial pride.
Challenge word field Fawn takes light steps in Wide field of unbroken white Innocent courage.
Challenge word course Glacial cold seeks and Follows its instinctive course Ancient memory.
Challenge word myth Ancient icy wind Smothers world in white, turning Footprints into myth.
Challenge word wager Sun meets horizon Wager lost against twilight Night reaps its rewards.
Recently I discovered the difference between haiku and senryu—wait, let me step back a bit. First, I saw the word senryu and thought, “What the heck is that?” Then I discovered the difference between haiku and senryu. I had no idea that senryu even existed. I was fascinated by this little piece of the world of Japanese poetry, and intrigued to find that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As an amateur haiku poet, I admit to having a great deal to learn about the mechanics and nuances of haiku creation. If you’re here looking for a lesson from a haiku master, you’ve stumbled into the wrong blog. You’re perfectly welcome, of course, but if it’s detailed, official information that you seek, there are infinitely more knowledgeable sources than me. About the difference between haiku and senryu, I found this link enlightening: http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/haiku/haiku.html
Haiku originated with the Japanese, a people that have an unbelievable talent for quiet elegance and simple majesty. Haiku revolves around the magic number 17—a traditional Japanese haiku is made of 17 characters or less. This does not translate well into Western languages, however, so when we adopted this form of poetry, we changed it from 17 characters to 17 syllables or less. I hope the Japanese people see this as a compliment—imitation being the greatest form of flattery—and are not offended that we’ve bastardized their poetry.
Both haiku and senryu are in this form, 17 characters or syllables in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 respectively. But where haiku traditionally focuses on aspects of the natural world, senryu focuses on human nature. There are nuances to both forms of poetry which govern their creation, but this is the simplest description and basic difference between them.
(Admittedly Amateur) Examples:
Haiku Singing and silence Fill distance between lovers Sweet feathered courtship.
Senryu My child’s smile could light Vast rooms full of grim shadows Joy chasing sorrow.
I’ve not ventured far into the realm of senryu, but I’m excited to learn about it and itching to practice. As a nature lover, it’s easier for me to create more traditional haikus, but challenge is good for the soul and mind. And hopefully, while I’m practicing, experienced senryu poets will be kind. If you see my senryu efforts elsewhere on the net, please don’t point and snicker. ;) ***
(For those who celebrate Thanksgiving and Shopping)
Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays. During my childhood, it was basically torture, lots of boredom and uncomfortable family interactions. But now that I'm an adult, and we do Thanksgiving with less pomp and more fun (the difficult family members do not attend), I really love this holiday. We laugh, we play, and we pig OUT.
Juicy and delicious organic turkey, yummy stuffing, sweet potato casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, and a killer spinach salad (so we can pretend we're being healthy.) And of course, pumpkin pie. I threatened to throw up several times, yet didn't stop eating. What a hog-a-thon! Add in goofy family, Wii and board games, hockey, football, and you've got a recipe for a fabulous family get-together.
Which brings us to the day after, Black Friday. The stores open early and close late, sales abound, and people go a little insane. Will I be shopping today? Over your dead and rotting corpse!! Shopping and I don't get along under the best of circumstances, let alone the craziness of the biggest shopping day of the year. No, thank you. I'll just stay home and eat turkey sandwiches. (Yeah, baby!) :D Happy Holidays to all! Peace and love, -M ***
Completing a novel can be daunting enough, and then comes the task of submissions, markets, rights, editors, agents, and a plethora of other issues that follow. Learning the business side of writing is the next step that must be taken. It can be a jungle out there when first starting out, and a lot of time can be used in the research that needs to be done. Below is a list of places that can answer some of those writing questions and hopefully cut down on time consuming searches. Some of the listings are free to use while others charge a fee. Each of these listings are legitimate and helpful.
AAR - The AAR was formed in 1991 through the merger of the Society of Authors' Representatives (founded in 1928) and the Independent Literary Agents Association (founded in 1977). To qualify for membership in the AAR, an agent must meet professional standards specified in the organization's bylaws and agree to subscribe to its Canon of Ethics. AAR
Copyright - An author's work is under copyright the moment it is created and fixed in tangible form. Some confusion arises over copyright registration. You do not have to pay for a copyright, only if you register your copyright with the US Copyright office. Registering a copyright allows the author to sue for infringement of their work. For much more information on copyrights, visit the U.S. Copyright Office
Duotrope Digest - A free database of over 2700 current markets for short fiction and poetry. Use this page to search for markets that may make a fine home for the piece you just polished. Duotrope Digest
Miss Snark's Blog - Miss Snark is a legit Literary Agent that blogged for a while. Although she no longer adds to her blog, the information she has listed there is priceless. Got an agent question? She's probably answered it, with spice. Miss Snark
Preditors & Editors - A free guide to publishers and writing services for serious writers. P&E is chock-full of information on all aspects of writing and they list scams and places to avoid. Preditors & Editors
Publishers Weekly - The International Voice for Book Publishing and Bookselling. THE place to find publishing news. Publishers Weekly
SFWA - Widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers' organizations in existence. SFWA
Writers Market Online - Where and how to sell what you write. More than 8,000 listings including: fiction, nonfiction, children, scriptwriting, poetry, publishers, literary agents, magazines, and contests. Writers Market Online
Early in my writing life, and after my first novel was published, I felt certain I would never be able to write a decent short story. For a few years, I didn’t even attempt one because I couldn’t see how I could cut back on my word count to create a good story. Today I have seven short stories published along with two magazine articles. I look back on how I used to think about shorts and wonder what in the world was going on in my head. I think mostly it was fear. How did I get over that fear to move on to short story writing? I didn’t force myself into writing one just to do it because I knew there would be no creativity there, and no passion. I began to read a lot of short stories, paying close attention to their structure and pacing. It was the key to allow myself to let go of that fear, let my creative mind wander in that direction, dreaming up a multitude of ideas.
Typically, short stories focus on a single incident, have fewer characters, and cover a brief period in time. It’s a story that can be read in one sitting while snuggled in an easy chair with a favorite beverage. Edgar Allen Poe was a master of the short story, and Kurt Vonnegut, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ernest Hemingway were highly accomplished in the form of short story writing. When those half-hour radio shows were popular, it was the short story that brought them to life for that audio world. The legendary Fables (or Parables) can’t be left out; these shorts have been used through the span of time to enlighten and entertain readers, their messages staying with us forever. There was Aesop, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Brothers Grimm—familiar names that stir emotions within as we remember their stories.
On the publishing side of the short story market, it does seem to have dwindled over the years. Stephen King wrote about this in an article a couple of years back (SK Article). But as he also said, there are those that are still passionate about the short story whether writing them or reading them. We need to keep that passion alive. The magazine market and anthologies are the best places to submit, and many established authors put together their own book of shorts. Word counts for short stories can vary a lot! I’ve seen 20,000 words or less, and almost always at least 2,000 words. Always check the writing guidelines before submitting. A great place online to check for short story markets is Duotrope Digest.
Short story writing is an art that is well documented throughout our literary history. Let’s continue to buy, read and write them. In a world where so many of us have limited time for anything past work or parenting, let’s take a few minutes to grab a pad and pencil, a magazine or an anthology and get lost in another time and place. It’s amazing how that little trip can refresh the soul.
Many successful authors of creative fiction recommend outlines of plot and characters before beginning the story. It’s a wonderful idea for keeping a writer on track with the storyline and for fleshing out the details of a story’s cast of characters. For many writers, already knowing the details of their characters, like description, history, associations, and motivations within the story can enrich their writing, giving depth and atmosphere to the story.
Yes, outlining is a great idea. I highly recommend it as a writing tool. Unfortunately, I am just not built that way. For me, the fastest way to kill a story idea is to work out the details of a plot and characters in outline form first. They die a swift and horrible death in the dry, analytical environment of the outline. By the time I get to that first page of writing, there is no magic left, and I have to let it go.
Don’t misunderstand me—I don’t begin totally from scratch, sitting down to a blank page with not a thought in my head on plot or character. I make general sketches, and I find it necessary to keep notes as the story progresses to remind myself of crucial details and keep a logical progression of the story. But for me, the magic in writing is the unexpected evolution of both plot and character. In my writing world, this evolution is driven by the characters.
This might make me sound a little psycho, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve begun to write with a story direction in mind and had it go in a completely different, unexpected direction due to the unfolding dialogue and actions of the characters. I’m the creator—I’m supposed to know where this stuff comes from, but that’s why I call it ‘magic,’ because these twists and turns take me as much by surprise as they do my readers.
This is why I love to write so much. It fascinates me to watch the story unfold beneath my fingers, to see the characters grow and change before my eyes. They begin as two dimensional figures and blossom into beings that are so real to me that I can almost believe they are alive. (See Character Talk on my website for proof ;)
Some might argue that this makes my story very two dimensional at the beginning, but here’s the beauty of editing—I can always go back and flesh out the characters and storyline, or hack and slash as necessary. This writing method affords me all the creative joy without the life-sucking, mind-numbing effects of the formal outline.
However, I can’t recommend this method to every writer. My brain works in strange, mysterious ways, and what works for me might drive another author to drink or ruin their writing experience. To each his or her own! Me, I’m into evolution. ***
This is another sci-fi romance, which in case you couldn’t tell is my favorite genre to write. I’ve added a murder mystery to this title, though the focus is on the characters and their interactions. As with all of my work, this story is highly character driven.
Sukeza has spent the last five years away from her Kaskan home and family, a self-imposed exile as she tries to discover her true strength. She thought she’d found her place on an agricultural world as an animal handler, until the death of two children and the capture of Chase Stryker. He’s accused of murdering the children, but Sukeza is certain that he didn’t do it, even though he’s an escaped convict with a long list of violent crimes. Her insistence of his innocence earns her a strange hostility from the townsfolk, and she realizes that she was never an accepted part of her adopted community.
Chase Stryker has been in worse situations than being captured by a bunch of blood-thirsty farmers, but the situation would go straight to hell if the Collectors caught up with him. He would die before he returned to his sentence of mental containment. Unfortunately, his little defender, Sukeza, would be the focus of the townsfolk’s retribution if he busted out. No help for it—he’d have to take her with him. But how the hell did he get her home to Kaska without getting snagged by the Collectors?
Snippet of The Light of Kaska:
He shifted on the hard bench, irritated by her continued silence. What the hell did she want? His movement rattled his restraints—the shackles around his ankles, the chains wrapped around his waist, and his arms spread uncomfortably wide and bolted to the wall. The little room was heating rapidly, the sun burning through the small widow high up on the wall to his left. The night had been cold, but the day was looking to make up for it. Didn’t these people believe in insulation? Heating and cooling units? Friggin’ beds in normal jails instead of this makeshift little room in the town hall? Hadn’t there ever been a crime in this place before the murder of those two kids?
“You’ve hurt yourself,” the woman said suddenly in a low, melodious voice that surprised him. He’d been expecting a higher voice, maybe a girlish squeak. Her dark brows were now pulled together in a light frown, and he had to revise his original opinion of her age. Her slender build, doe-like eyes, and fright had made him think she was barely out of childhood. Late in her third decade, possibly early fourth was his current assessment.
When he didn’t answer, her eyes dropped from his, roaming his chains with a tightening of her features. “I’m Sukeza bet Marish. You’re Chase Stryker. You didn’t kill those boys.”
He went still, absorbing the impact of her words. Matrilineal heritage, a distracted part of his mind reflected as he registered the bet in her name. The rest of his mind was occupied by the fact that she knew who he was, knew he hadn’t killed the kids, and she’d made no move to set him free. The Collectors offered rewards for escaped convicts. Was that the plan, then? Keep him chained until those bastards came to collect him? His muscles tensed with desperate rage, but he controlled his reactions. She hadn’t come sneaking in here just to introduce herself. He wanted to question her, but something in him urged silence, stillness. He would wait. ___________________
The Light of Kaska is still a work in progress, though it’s very close to being finished. This story has been a joy to write—these characters have revealed a surprising amount of depth and dimension. Sukeza is not my usual kick-ass heroine, but she has strengths and facets that strike a very personal cord with me. Her journey home and Stryker’s discovery of her world reminds me of the importance and strength of family. ***
Actually, there are plenty of keys to good writing, but I'm going to focus on one of the most basic--Reading. Yup, that's what I said. Reading. If you don't read often and in a variety of subjects, your writing will suffer. The following are some great reasons why reading is critical for writers.
Reading is a necessity to teach good writing mechanics (as a supplement to what you learned in school, of course ;). The more you read, the more you'll absorb proper grammar, structure, and punctuation. These are the critical tools to building a solid foundation for your writing project, and a good working knowledge of them is important to produce smooth, flowing literature in any genre. Not every book you read will be a sterling example of good mechanics, but this is also a great learning experience.
Another reason highlighting the importance of reading is the creation of style. Every writer has their own literary voice, their own word flow and method of storytelling. Most writers aren't born with a style, though. It must be cultivated and tends to evolve over time. Reading copious amounts exposes writers to a variety of styles, to see what works and what doesn't. For aspiring writers, this provides a great base to create their own style. For veteran writers, it's a way to confirm their style, to keep it fresh, three dimensional, and engaging.
Reading also provides inspiration and a great working knowledge of a writer's chosen genre. If you choose to write fantasy, but don't know much about the lore of typical fantasy creatures, your writing will show it. The creativity and inventiveness of fiction writers is endlessly amazing and useful, giving loads of story and character ideas. Of course, I'm not advocating plagiarism, but concepts are everyone's domain, and even the smallest detail can blossom into a full blown story idea.
For writers who are also concerned with the business side of things, reading literature that is currently popular can give them an idea of what their target audience is looking for in a book. This can influence a writer's choice of genre, subject matter, and even character type and personality. I'm not saying writers should shape their entire writing project based on the books that make the best selling lists, but it can give writers an understanding of their audience.
If you're a writer, make sure you take the time to absorb some literature. The world is a big place, but reading opens up a universe of creativity and provides the backbone to good writing. ***
Whenever there’s a popular show or book, Internet travelers are bound to find fanfiction about it. Fanfiction is creative writing about characters and storylines that were created by someone else. Some original authors and their publishers frown upon fanfiction, implying that it’s a copyright infringement. Perhaps it is…but how ‘bout that publicity?
Fanfiction is a way for the fans of a movie, show, or book to express their admiration, prolong the feelings they derived from the original, and extend contact with their favorite characters and storylines. It is NOT a sign of a pervasive lack of originality in the writers of fanfiction—some of the most creative and expressive writing I’ve ever read has been fanfiction. And I don’t say this just because I’ve written some myself… ;)
I understand an author’s concern about copyright infringement—the characters and storylines are theirs by creation and license. However, the benefit of promotion can’t be ignored. Fanfiction brings attention to the original, gains new followers, and shows the dedication of the original work’s fanbase. Fanfiction writers are loyal to a fault, and most have friends who they will persuade to read their fine work. This often triggers curiosity about the original creation, which is always a good thing for any author hoping for interest in their work.
Fanfiction is often extremely enjoyable, from straight orthodox fiction to humorous spoofs. So if you have a favorite show or book, do a search online for associated fanfiction. You might be surprised and entertained by what you find. ***
Along with my novel-length works I also have a plethora of short stories I'm working on. I thought it would be fun to touch on some of those in this series as well. For a while there I wasn't sure if I'd be able to write a short story. To tell a complete story in this format was daunting to me, as I truly love to explore deep into my character's hearts, digging up and uncovering what they are all about in different situations. But once I had my first short under my belt, the ideas came pouring out for more, and in many different genres. Here is a sneak peak into one of those that is out on submission.
Burial in Creelsboro by AJ Caywood
Dusty and Lauren Gibson were living an idyllic life until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease claimed his wife, along with Dusty's dreams. In his grief, Dusty decides to bury his wife at the back of the family farm in the small Creelsboro cemetery instead of in town. He wanted her close and he wanted her safe, and no one could persuade him otherwise--not even an old terrifying legend connected with that cemetery. Dusty soon comes to understand the terrible consequences of his choice, and why some traditions are abandoned and left in the past.
I have some short stories that are already published and available. Just hop on over to my website to find Baykal's Bane, The Promise, and an array of shorts available in anthologies. www.AJCaywood-Author.com
This is the second installment in The Sunscapes Trilogy, a science fiction romantic adventure about the epic struggle between two mega companies that will decide the fate of the entire galaxy. On one side we have Shay Enterprises and the Shay twins, mysterious and dangerous, as unpredictable as they are beautiful. On the other side we have Quasicore and Webster Griffin, ruthless and lethal, whose hunger for power and control might just destroy all civilization.
Here There Be Dragons picks up where Last Chance left off, following Nick Givliani as he investigates Shay Enterprises, and Cassie Draegen as she desperately struggles to fulfill the next step in the Shay’s battle plan against Quasicore. As their resident genius and driven by a dark past of her own, Cassie is the Shay’s technological advantage over Quasicore. But that doesn’t make her safe, from Griffin or from Nick’s investigations. The following is a snippet of Here There Be Dragons for your reading pleasure. _________
Thoughts multi-tasking at light speed, Cassie automatically cleaned up the remains of her breakfast and headed for the door, her mind’s eye seeing code and algorithms, schematics and components, rather than her quarters. But all brain function came to a screeching halt, as she stepped out into the corridor and saw that she wasn’t alone.
A Federated Planetary Alliance inspector, here on the pretense of visiting his brother. But his real reason for remaining on the station was to investigate the Shays. He’d grown suspicious of the twins’ activities and was concerned about his brother’s involvement with them, so it didn’t surprise Cassie to hear that he’d been rather enthusiastic in his investigation so far. Considering her position with the Shays, it was only a matter of time before he started investigating her.
That meant she needed to be cautious around him. Avoiding him like a plague would be a good idea. At the moment, though, she was having trouble just remembering to breathe.
Suns, she groaned to herself, why does he have to be so friggin’ beautiful? ________
For those who read the first book, Last Chance, and are waiting impatiently for this installment, I beg your patience and understanding. I know where this story is supposed to go, and it’s driving me nuts not to finish it immediately, but there have been life events and priorities that have kept me away from it. Argh! What I need is a long writer’s vacation. Anybody got a winning lotto ticket??? *grin*
Oh, the horror of the blank page! All writers can relate—that empty paper or screen can be both tantalizing and terrifying. Not only are writers supposed to put loads and loads of words on that empty expanse, but they're supposed to make them string together in a coherent and hopefully entertaining way. No wonder most writers have experienced writer's block, the inability to begin or continue a piece of wordsmithing.
There comes a time when the writing muse takes a hike, the brakes engage, and the words come to a screeching halt on the page. Why, oh, why? There are as many reasons as there are writers—each writer has a unique set of environmental, mental, and emotional stressors that can cause hiccups in their creativity. But the following are some generalized causes.
1. Life stress—when life's inevitable ups and downs interfere with the work
2. Wrong turn—when the piece goes in a direction that wasn't intended
3. Loss of interest—when the writer falls out of love with the subject
4. Technical difficulties—when the words aren't lining up right
5. Lack of material—when there isn't enough material to continue with the article/story
Alas, there is no such thing as a cure for writer's block! There is no magic pill that will make it all better. But there are work-arounds that can get a wordsmith past the bumps in the writing road.
Life stress is probably the worst offender for creating writer's block, with time constraints and crises with family, friends, work, home, etc. There is no cure for life's interference, only ways to balance writing with the rest of your life. Find your writing nirvana—the conditions that are most conducive for you to write—and then recreate them as often as you can within your life's schedule. For example, if a certain kind of music turns on your muse, carry that music with you and crank it when you have a few free minutes to dive into the writing zone.
For wrong turns, loss of interest, and technical difficulties, the following are a few work-arounds that might make a difference:
1. Rereading from the beginning—sometimes this can clarify the root of the problem
2. Read out loud—hearing how the words come together can give a whole new perspective
3. Second opinion—having someone else read it often offers priceless objectivity
4. Stepping back—work on something else for a while, and then hopefully go back to the original piece with a refreshed attitude
5. Hack and slash—if a word/sentence/paragraph/scene is giving you loads of trouble, often it's because it needs to go
When there's a lack of material, if it is an article, perhaps the subject is too specific and needs to be more generalized. For a story, it's possible that the sequence of events needs tightening, or that the whole thing needs to be in a much shorter form.
Don't Give Up
There is nothing worse for a writer than that stuck feeling, splatting against a creative wall in the brain. But there's hope! For every brick wall, there's a way around, over, or under. The key is to believe in yourself as a writer—if you were excited enough about a project to begin it, than there's good reason to finish it. You might have to do some creative finagling to get it flowing again, but it is possible. Writer's block isn't a dead end, but only a detour, and sometimes detours can lead to fantastic places.
This is my second attempt at a novel-length work. I know it's been a while since I've completed a second novel since STAY IN THE LIGHT. I have been writing, though! I've had eight short stories published, but boy it's been tough for me to get another novel completed. I've realized that the pressure I've been putting on myself to make my second novel so much better than the first has chained my muse. But I'm going to bust out of those chains because the love of writing is straining to be set free!
Retrieved Heart is a Science-Fiction Romance full of action, suspense, and spice! This story centers on Britt Masters and her small crew of Retrievers, a close-knit group who risk their lives to retrieve valuables lost in cosmic crashes. For Britt, it's much more than saving man-made valuables, but the human survivors that are so often left behind due to greed. Britt pushes her ship through the ferocious Devil's Tongues--deadly solar flares that dance and twine directly through the shipping lanes. Saving those that might meet the same fate as her parents is what drives Britt, and she has no life past that. That is, until the brooding and seductive Garrick Donovan shows up, complete with a bad reputation and secrets of his own. Britt finds him hard to resist, but she has to because he works for one of the most hated retrieval companies in the galaxy. Forced to save Garrick from the sentence he gave so many other crash survivors, Britt brings him on her ship. She soon unravels some of Garrick's secrets, showing her who he really is, and it opens up her heart.
I've completed over half of this story, writing on it like a madwoman at times, worrying if it's coming out the way I want it to at other times. The important thing for me is to let go of those worries, let the story and characters take control, and immerse myself in this wild and wonderful world I'm creating. When it's finished, I hope my readers will enjoy it too.
This is the first in a series of posts describing the writing projects that Anna and I are currently working on and hoping to finish/publish/sell-like-crazy-and-win-critical-acclaim. ;) We will be alternating posts, with one project for each post.
That said, let's get on with the show!
What Are We Working On? Part 1
The Third Sign by Michelle O'Leary
This is actually a finished novel, though my efforts to get it print-published have not been fruitful thus far. But I haven't given up on it yet! Every once in a while, I get frustrated and discouraged, wondering if the thing is any good at all. Then I re-read it and fall in love all over again with the characters and the story. I get sucked in, can't put it down, and think to myself, "If I like it this much, there have got to be others who will, too!"
The Third Sign is a science fiction romance with a dark twist and non-stop action. Abandoned by her brother and out of her depth in one of the foulest prisons in the galaxy, Priya finds an ally in a half-mad newcomer with a deadly beauty and a mysterious past. Together they hatch a plan to break out of the prison, but before they can put their plan into action, Priya’s brother Tier arrives as a new inmate. Determined to rescue his wayward sister, he is dismayed to find that the child he knew has become a bitter, wild young woman, with a companion as magnetic as she is murderous. Between one woman’s fury at his desertion and the other woman’s seductive menace, Tier discovers that escaping with his skin intact might just take a miracle.
This story was exciting to work on, flowing out like someone had stuck a spigot in my brain. Those who have read my Huntress novel and shorts will recognize common elements between The Huntress and the Black Widow, the volatile, dangerous heroine in this latest novel. What can I say--I love strong, kick-ass females! Priya, the other heroine, is almost as feisty, but also brings a great deal of heart to the story. And the hero, Tier, offers so much more than just the yum factor. The story takes these characters on a wild ride, with plenty of twists and action to keep even adrenaline addicts busy.
I'm a feedback junkie, so I'd love to hear any and all comments or questions about this project. You can either comment on this blog or email me at: email@example.com
To keep my readers going until I have another finished novel published, I've begun a project called DeeDeck Design, which is a science fiction romantic mystery. As I get chapters of this novella done (at least, I expect it to be novella length, but we'll see ;), they will be posted to my site for all to read and enjoy.
DeeDeck Design - In this story, Dr. Moira Bannen is making an intergalactic trip by psychic transfer from her body to her clone in another galaxy when something goes horribly wrong. The quick, creative actions of a transfer tech saves her life, but she discovers that it wasn't an accident - someone is trying to kill her. Enlisting the help of Jackson Coltier, a security specialist, she strives to find out who wants her dead and why she is a target before the killer tries again.
The first 4 chapters are already up, so if you haven't started reading it yet, runrunrun over to my site and join the novella fun! :D
Last Saturday I had a public reading to do at Joseph-Beth for my short story in Appalachian Angels. This wasn't my first public reading, but because this was a huge bookstore, it sure felt like my first one. My heart pounded away, my nerves were as taught as violin strings, my palms were sweaty, and I had to concentrate on breathing correctly! I was a mess and the closer it came for my turn to walk to the podium and read into the microphone, the worse I got. There was another part of me that kept thinking how ridiculous I was being! Years ago, my husband worked in another store just a short walk from Joseph-Beth. While he was there, I'd go to Joseph-Beth and spend hours walking around, soak in the atmosphere, and feel that little ping of jealousy when authors were there to do their signings and readings. I secretly dreamed that one day I'd be able to do this, and then when I get the amazing opportunity, what do I do? Freak out.
So how did I end up handling it? I arrived at Joseph-Beth two hours early. I got out of my truck and stood in the parking lot and looked up at the huge bookstore letters sitting atop Lexington Green. I took in a deep breath and smiled. It was actually happening. I was here, getting ready to walk into this place as an author. My heart beat a little faster and I started having a daydream of walking up to the front to read and tripping and falling, or dry-heaving into the microphone as I tried to speak. I squinted my eyes shut for a second and shook the thought away. I was nervous as could be, but I told myself that I would refuse to let those kinds of thoughts ruin a long-awaited dream.
Since it was a Saturday afternoon the store was busy. There are two levels at this Joseph-Beth, and as I approached the escalator I looked ahead to see the Appalachian Angels banner hanging in all its glory from the top floor balcony. I'd brought my camera and took a picture. To the right of the escalator sat a long table showcasing the days list of visiting authors and their books. I got a little choked up. I spent time walking around the store, thinking back to those days when I was here to just walk around and dream. It helped settle my nerves. Then the editor came in with her black briefcase in hand, saw me, smiled, and grabbed me and hugged me. I pointed over the banister to the lower floor where Joseph-Beth had us set up for our reading. The butterflies in my stomach flared up, but I once again reminded myself that I was going to enjoy this day and take it all in.
We headed downstairs to meet with the bookstore employee handling our reading. Sylvia, the editor, helped her set up the podium and microphone. More authors from the book arrived and we all sat together waiting for the reading to start. I think this was the worst part for me. It took a lot to handle the height of my nerves at this point. A dear friend traveled an hour to come hear me read and as I handed her my camera to take pictures, my hand shook so hard that she grabbed it and looked straight at me and said, "It is going to be just fine. You're going to do great." I was so glad she was there. I was even happier I didn't have to go first. I took a sip of my coke and then hated myself for it--I just knew I would be burping into the microphone now. There go my nerves again.
It came my turn to go up. I could hear my heart pounding in my head. I didn't trip when I walked up to the podium. I smiled at the audience (all seats were filled) as I adjusted the microphone. I introduced myself, my story, and began to read. I didn't dry-heave or burp, but read my story with the emotion and heart it deserved. It's only a short story, and as I got to the last paragraph which is extremely emotionally charged, I heard the gasps and ohhs. They were listening, they heard my words not my nerves, and my story touched them. I finished reading, closed the book, looked up at the audience and smiled. My heart was still beating hard as they clapped. It was a wonderful dream realized. I hope I have more public readings in my future and I know I'll still be nervous, but I will not let it overtake the excitement, happiness, satisfaction, and sharing that comes from this writer's dream.
I’ve had loads of caffeine and I just finished watching the movie The Cat in the Hat (Mike Myers) with my son. I can’t tell you how optimistic I feel right now. Anything is possible—keeping up with my son, finding a job, finding a print publisher for The Third Sign, and even finishing at least one of my writing projects.
Speaking of this last mission impossible, while waiting for inspiration to strike on the dozen or so unfinished WIPs on my writing plate, including the sequel to The Huntress and the second book in The Sunscapes Trilogy, I had a moment of crazy and let my characters out of the box. I can see my writing partner Anna giving me that look, so I’ll come clean—I have lots of moments of crazy. But this one’s a little loonier than most. The natives are getting restless waiting for me to finish their stories, so I created a little conversational platform called Character Talk where my well-loved (but often vindictive) characters gather together and have a brainstorming session on what to do about my writer’s block.
Well, I did warn you. And no, while I appreciate the offer of antipsychotic drugs, I’m doing just fine with the caffeine right now. I can offer some reassurance with the fact that my characters don’t actually yammer on in my head and this is only a piece of fiction. Mostly. You can find Character Talk on my site, Fertile Ground, at: http://www.michelle-oleary.com
I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to tell me what you think, and keep that thorazine handy. I may need it later after the caffeine wears off. *wink*
Peace and love, Michelle
P.S. We love blog comments here at WordCrazyAuthors, or you can always reach me at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I never believed that I could write articles. Since I got involved with Constant Content, a site that brings writers (and artists) together with buyers, I've discovered that I'm not too dang shabby at the whole article writing thing. But article writing is a very different animal from creative writing.
I can't speak for all creative writers, but I know I'm not alone when I say that creative writing requires fire and passion. If I don't feel impassioned about the subject, than my muse gets bored and goes on vacation. ~insert evil name for muse~ That dang fickle creature is so sensitive--she's turned off by any number of things, from life stress to storyline glitches. And sometimes for no apparent reason. Urgh. Getting the muse interested and recovering the fire and passion takes some serious effort, and usually requires waiting until the planets are aligned just right and the wind is blowing the right way. (Bribery does no good--I've tried.)
On the other hand, article writing is more about a formula and facts than about fire and passion. It helps to have some lively phrases and unique voice, but it's not a requirement. I've written articles under all kinds of conditions, from my son screeching in my ear to during phone calls to riding in a car to sitting in front of the tv. Writing articles doesn't seem to need the "perfect conditions" that creative writing does for me. The only time I can't seem to write an article is when I'm dog tired and brain-wiped. Then I'm no good for anything, let alone writing. As long as I've done my research on a subject and know the rough outline of the piece, I'm set. I'm not as fast at cranking them out as I'd like to be, but I'm working on it.
So if you're a creative writer and are thinking of branching out into other writing areas, consider article writing. It's not as bad as you think, honest. Remember that formula you learned in high school, about an intro paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion? There ya go. ;)
By 8:30am today I was actually able to sit down at the computer and get online. It's been approximately nine weeks since I last had the chance to do this. Why, you might ask? Well, nine weeks ago was the start of summer vacation for my youngest and it was her duty to monopolize the internet during that time. It wasn't just her though, my husband calls it when he steps in the door in the afternoon and there he stays until late evening. Between those two, my own work, household chores and errands, I never had a chance. There were a couple of times I noticed the empty desk chair, hurried to finish up what I was doing, turn to head over to the desk and it's just too late--the chair is occupied once again. There's no use arguing or fussing about it really, but sometimes it does get frustrating for me. I do need some time online to get to my email and stay in touch with my publishers and editors, as well as sending off manuscripts. I always had to ask for one of them to get up and let me have at least five or ten minutes to get those things done. A constant summer internet struggle.
But there's always a flip side. I'm online this morning because it is the first day of school for my internet hogging daughter. The desk was dark and the chair empty. Free and clear it was, and I felt the force return within me! I did my morning chores and errands and fixed my breakfast. With my coffee cup half full, I made my move, leisurely, over to the computer desk. I logged into my email and read what I needed to read without an impatient internet junkie standing at my side. I answered emails, prepared a newsletter to send out, and even surfed around a little! I let out a deep, satisfying sigh. And then it hit me, how quiet the house was. There would be no sleepy-eyed kid wandering into the living room giving me a backwards glance to see if I'd notice that she'd be getting online not long after shoving the covers back. There would be no more rolling of the eyes when I demanded that her chores be completed and lunch eaten before she got anymore online time. There would be no more huffing when I announced that it was time to turn the computer off because she'd spent enough time on it for the day (plus her dad would be coming home soon). The word "no more" gets seared into my brain as it must for all parents with almost grown children.
As I sit here, enjoying my morning internet time, I know I'll savor these last few summers with my internet hogging daughter, because I know more than just summer days will be drifting away. Someday soon, she'll have her own computer in her own place. I wonder, as she heads over to sit at her desk, if she'll glance back over her shoulder and miss me as much as I'll miss her.
There was a blank blog with horrible, empty echoes.
And then my writing partner joins me! YAY! :D
Welcome to WordCrazyAuthors, where creativity is our favorite flavor of insanity. We're your hostesses with the mostest-es, AJ Caywood and Michelle O'Leary, published authors through DLSIJ Press. We both have many other online writing endeavors, plus Anna is the proud author of a short called "It was a He Angel" in a printed Anthology titled Appalachian Angels. Go Anna!! To find out more about our writings, please visit our respective websites at: