Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for...Hindenburg.

I want to say Whoo! But for some reason I don't feel like its appropriate. In fact I feel like I'm limping slowly across the finish line. Like my right leg went to sleep a couple miles back and I've had to crawl along caring a bunch of dead weight.

A-Z brought me one very important, and much celebrated first (well will be celebrated), of breaking 100 followers!

I'll probably feel like celebrating once I'm not exhausted, and I really cant blame the blog hop for that. Cause lets be honest. I have a cold. But I'll save my reflections, and perhaps energy for the May 7th day of reflections, and rejoice in my return to twice a week posts (Sat and Wed).

I hope most of you caught on to my semi theme-less theme of word association. And while I was raking my brain for a word to associate Z with, a song came traipsing through my memory.

You see, back when I was in college, studying history, I had an anthem. It wasn't one of those great rock anthems, it certainly wasn't memorable, it probably wasn't anything you would ever even hear on regular radio. In fact, I'd go out on a limb and say it's pretty bad music. However it is ironic, and funny.

The song was called, History is made by stupid people, by the Arrogant Worms.

And one of my best friends from college will occasionally say to me, in passing, or on facebook, or in a text message, a simple line, that will have me laughing for a while, or quoting the song.

The line is simple "The Hindenburg was a giant zeplin." Cause one of the parts of the song is:

The Hindenburg was a giant zeplin/ It's makers made a minor over-site/before they filled it up with explosive gas/they should've fixed the no smoking light. 

Look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday!

X is for Broken

I vaguely remember the first time I saw a social worker. I might have been ten or twelve (I seem to always associate memories with even numbered years) so I'll go ahead and split the difference and say I was eleven.

She was a smiley woman, with to much hair spray and a sympathetic smile, and I didn't trust her. At all. Maybe it was the way she seemed to ask impertinent questions. Or perhaps it might simply have been the way everyone else was on edge. After all, it was unusual for me to be in a hospital, where I wasn't in a patient room, getting wheeled around, asked what my favorite caste color was.  If I was eleven, I'd already broken three bones, three separate times, I think I had a blue caste on my wrist that time)  

I remember the way my father told me to answer her questions, "honestly" like I was the type of child who often told lies to adults. I remember being taken over to the corner of the waiting room, and thinking it was because I did something wrong. I remember that she offered me candy and I told her I learned in school never to take candy from strangers. I remember that she asked me what happened to my sister, and I told her I didn't know cause I was in the house. I remember the way she seemed disappointed, with a purse of her lips and a crinkle of her eyes, and a scratch of a pen on a clip board.

I remember that she asked how I hurt my wrist, and how I, for the first time, thought that maybe breaking bones wasn't a fun trip (aside from the original pain) and that it meant more than an excuse not to do your homework well for a couple of months, because you couldn't hold a pen.

I remember that was the last time I ever saw a social worker, which was a good thing to eleven year old me.
I remember that perhaps we shouldn't have been such an open/shut case. Cause my mom didn't start drinking for another two years. And just because I stopped going to the Emergency room, it didn't mean I stopped breaking bones. But really skinny kids weren't as big of a concern as two year old's with compound fractures to their femur. So the social worker left, with a stern lecture about letting kids ride on the handle bars of bicycles, and that was a victory for eleven year old me. I had done good. Cause nothing would have been a bigger failure, for me,  than letting the social worker take my sisters away. 

W is for Elements

I feel a kinship to the wind. I'm not sure why, I've always considered myself to be more of a earth elemental. Steady, Stubborn, not easily changeable. But I'm drawn to the wind.

My favorite weather is right before a storm, not a drizzle but a proper run for shelter the earth might end storm. When the wind is whipping about you, caring an electric feeling. When the leaves on the trees turn upside down, welcoming the new weather, or the water the wind brings.

I used to love watching lighting from a roof top, or a car, driving about on the empty near apocalyptic roads that tornado warnings would bring in the south. When the wind rocks the car as you grab the steering wheel fighting to stay in control.

I think it might be the pure destructive force. Or the force, regardless of whether its destructive or not. Wind doesn't stop. Even when it hits something it can't push down, or pull up, or tare away. It keeps blowing ahead, and when it hits an unmovable object, it just changes course. It's a lot like water that way.

But wind can be still too. Like that deep breath after a long sudden push, when everything stops, and holds still. Just for a second. Right before everything changes again. The breath of a moment, when everything is so clear, you can almost see the future...

Am I a freak, or do you feel anything like that, regarding any element?

Do you use weather in your writing (for you writers)?

V is for Truth.

Vrai is the French word for truth. French is actually my second language. It’s my mother’s second language and she wanted me to learn it when I was little, so when I was small I would find myself often speaking it. I loved to watch Muzzy which was a animated cartoon in French about a green metal eating alien, a kid and a princess (that’s about all I remember). Yet like all things, if you don’t use them, they atrophy.

I don’t speak French anymore. Not passably. I can read it, kinda, but I certainly don’t speak it. Yet, even then, I find myself sneaking bits of French into my writing. 

One of my more interesting characters in my current WIP (at least to me) are the Vraeden. The Vraeden aren’t really one character, they are more a race that the people in the world know very little about. Because of that they become a bit like the boogy men of the night. That being said, the more you find out about them the more they go from boogy men to outright living breathing monsters.

The Vraeden are humanoid. Meaning, unless you get close to one you’d think they were human, and even if you got close, you’d probably keep thinking they were human until they wanted you to know the truth. They have two legs, two arms, two eyes, a nose, hair, two ears, faces that are like ours. They typically wear human clothing.

Yet if you were to get close you would notice their skin was made of scales, not like scales of a snake, think scales of a lizard, so its hard to notice. Their scales also have a blueish ting to them, and they turn darker blue when they are shedding, which can leave them with the look of blue tattoos all over their skin.
They have sharp teeth, but the sharp teeth are hidden behind a layer of white gum that makes their mouths look human, they have forked tongues but they can be fused together temporarily to resemble a sharp human tongue. And perhaps the creepiest thing of all, they pray on humans. They can eat our food, but it can make them sick. They eat people for nourishment. 
Yet even odder, is that they come in threes. Always three’s, and this is essential to their survival, because the way they get nourishment is that each of the three has to eat a specific part of a human, the heart and eyes, the liver and thigh, the brain and lung…and only if that is done, will the human nourish them. More importantly however, if that is done then they will know all that the human they ate knew.

They are known as contract workers, accumulating knowledge and skill, doing whatever job they can, requesting only people as payment.

So what do you think? Can I make the Vraden more creepy? Should I?

Y is for Opps

SO...I was on program all last week, teaching and doing awesome (and appropriate things) with middle school students. We went to Philadelphia, DC, Williamsburg, Jamestown and New York.

In all of that time I learned a very good lesson. Which is, I don't understand how auto post works. Which means, a few of my posts didn't make it up.

V is for Vraden--about some crazy evil monsters living in the world Sacrifice (current WIP) is taking place in.

W is for Elements--about wind and perhaps destruction

X is for Broken--about breaking bones and Xrays

Y is for Opps--which I actually never wrote.

I'll get these up today, hopefully...that way if your interested you can read through them before you get to Z which is for The end.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Corsets

I think there is a popular misconception about historical undergarments. In particular, corsets. I've read so many (okay this is a lie, cause I've never actually read a romance novel) where people rip corsets off, or you can get your hand under it etc.

I have a friend who is big into the SCE (I think I might be making this up too) who laced me into a corset once. It took SIX inches off my waist. (this isn't normal, apparently I have a supper squishy waist), but anything that can take six inches (or 3-4) is closer to your body than like your skin. Can you imagine getting your hand into something that tight.

Furthermore, it takes a good like 10 minutes to lace someone into a corset, there are knots and other fancy odd things that go on...those don't come out easy.

It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine when I'm reading something, and there is a strong female character, in a corset for the first time and it doesn't seem to affect her at all. Or one of the above mentioned things aren't breathing normally, you certainly cant slouch (although its a great relaxation for your back cause it doesnt really have to do anything to support you).

Any popular misconceptions you come across in your writing?

p.s. I know these have been short the last few days, I've been doing 12 hour days, which means I dont have much energy to write.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Music

In case you missed my post on P--which is P is for Dancing, I dance. One of the most important elements of dancing is time, and by time I mean rhythm and beat. But it's called keeping time for a reason. Beat would mean nothing without time. It's what keeps everything from happening at once.

To be totally truthful I am horrible at keeping time, although I'm pretty good at tricking people to thinking I'm good at it.

One good way to trick people is to count the music, not the movements. Some music is much easier to count than other. And its truly fascinating to see the way different cultures use time and rhythm in their music.

Most music is broken down into meters of eight, especially western music. Although you have your variations, like the Waltz which is a three, or the March which is a four.

Arabic music is typically 6's and 4's and it changes from one to another, which is something you rarely hear in western pop music (or Arabic pop music either for that matter)

Yet all music has something in common and that's rhythm and good writing should have rhythm too. I'm not saying it should keep the same tempo the entire time, the pace can speed up, time can seem to speed up, but it should have a beat. A pace, a pulse. If it doesn't have time (and not just a timeline) then everything happens at once, and that's no good at all.

I figured I'd leave you with some of my favorite music to listen too while I'm writing:

Right now I've been obsessed by Beat Antique--they are a fusion band, mixing in Arabic rhythms with western pop music (particularly dubstep)

Friday, April 20, 2012

S is for ME!

So, I’m hoping that you guys know my name...maybe, I think its somewhere on this blog. In case you didn’t know my name, it’s Sara, which I know is hebrew for princess (betcha didn’t know I was royalty).

So because I’m feeling wholly uncreative, I blame dehydration and middle school students, I decided S would be for Sara. And I’m going to tell you a few silly perhaps and uninteresting facts about myself. You know, for fun. 

  • I believe my family is evil, (I know earlier I said I don’t believe in evil, but whatever). Were not the bad kind of evil though, were the good kind of evil, were like cockroach evil. Nothing can destroy us, or at least, not the things that destroy other people. Here is the evidence:
    • My dad has been smoking cigarettes since he was 14, and I’m not talking casual smoking, I’m talking chain smoking (although he’s gotten better about that) and he has no sign’s of lung or other cancer. In fact, he runs about three miles a day.
    • My mom drinks, like blackout drinks, every single night. Her liver and kidneys are perfect.
    • Both me and my mom are on high sodium diets. We have ridiculously low blood pressure. Like go into shock for no reason blood pressure. Apparently a high sodium diet helps this.
  • I’ve been hit by five cars.
  • I’ve broken 13 bones (none from getting hit by cars) not counting hands, feet or ribs (don’t count hands feet or ribs in broken bone competitions its cheating)
  • I used to teach horseback riding/ train horses/etc.
  • I actually kind of like teaching Middle School, which is weird cause Middle School students are pure concentrated balls of hormonal evil. Middle schoolers don’t even like middle schoolers, if you dont believe me, think back to when you were one.
  • I knit.
  • I believe I’d go completely insane, like batshit crazy (although whey they don’t call it Guano crazy is
  • I am a horrible speller
  • I’m horrible with grammar--although I have a friend who teaches English to high school students in a low income neighborhood, and she was really happy to teach me English and Grammer cause she likes it and actually appreciated the lesson (I highly recommend taking grammar lessons as an adult they are totally wasted on the young)
  • I think everyone needs a bit of random in their life.
  • I don’t sleep with a computer in my bedroom. I used to, (this is back when I tried to give up writing, and also why I wont do that again) but I woke up one morning and found this on my computer and decided it was a bad idea and I’d never do it again:
    • I feel like I am trapped somewhere in between sane and ity. And since my lip was bitten off some three miles ago, Im gonna go ahead and guess that I am closer to the latter. My bed is made out of kitten claws and lipstick, bu I have to open my eyes to get a blanket, or else risk perpetual blinding by things I would never like to see. Darkness is an absence of light rather than an absence of knowledge of whats in it.
Anything random you want to share with me? 

R is for Youth

Right now, I’m blogging to you from the past. I’m not in fact sitting in front of my computer, instead I’m off teaching the youth of america. Specifically a group of impoverished young people from Maryland, about DC and Government and Civic Engagement. I’m hoping to inspire, empower and inform them about stuff. Yes, I said stuff.

The important thing is that, I’m not here. I’m somewhere else. How is that possible might you ask? Well, technology is smarter than I am.

But then, there are other right now’s I mean, as you read this, I might not be teaching, your right now could have me on the train to work, or it could have me sleeping, or it could have me in some other future place. Right now, could be any point in time that this exists in, cause even though I move through time, it moves through time with me, or maybe it stays where it is.

Okay now I’m officially confused, and you should be too, cause if you followed that, you're either way smarter than me and a mind reader (which I believe people smarter than me automatically are), or that made sense, and I really dont think it made sense. So where are we? I don’t know. I do know for my right now I’m writing this in a coffee shop, but you definitely won’t read it until I’m somewhere teaching someone something.

Lets move past that. I have a problem with timelines in my writing, and perhaps tense. It might be because I think too hard about both things. But I don’t think that’s right. I think it’s just cause I dont get how things can happen at the same time in different realities because the thing that happened, has already happened, but is happening for the first time for the reader because it in fact never happened. (see why I like Alice in Wonderland?)

Do any of you have trouble with timelines?

What are you doing right now?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for College

Back when I was a freshman in college I had this thing, I would try whatever new fruit or food I could find. I figured if they were selling it in grocery stores or farmers markets it must be safe, right?

Maybe I should take a step back, I mean, trying odd fruits probably aren't what most people think about when reflecting on their first year at Uni. But you have to understand, I grew up very poor. Like food stamps and school lunches poor. We always had a roof over our heads, and there was always food, but it wasn’t always healthy nutritious food, except in the summer when our crops were ready for harvesting, then it was alot ALOT of yellow squash and tomatoes and peppers.

Then when I was a teenager I was on my own, living in a variety of places, eating alot of fast food and things from cans and things from cafeterias. But then when I got to college, I had a place to live, and it wasn’t going to disappear as long as I kept my grades up. And loan money, as well as some extra scholarship money and money that I’d saved from working.

And the mess hall or food hall or cafeteria or whatever had good food, most of the time. But I did have to go to the grocery store on occasion for other things, the mess hall wasn’t opened all the time afterall. So for the first time in my life I went to the grocery store with money and space to buy more than bananas(they keep forever and can be frozen and eaten from frozen, and they can get dirty cause you peel the skin anyway, bananas were my wonder fruit).

So now I’m back to thinking if they were selling it in the grocery store it was safe. Typically I’d buy just one of something, eat it, and if I really liked it, I’d google it, or just go back and buy more. I learned I really like Kumquats, Kiwi, Starfruit, Dragon fruit (which I think is overpriced) Muscidines...I learned Coconuts are not worth the effort (I finally managed to open mine by throwing it out the window of my dorm). Yet perhaps the most important lesson I learned from any fruit is the Quince.

The Quince looks a bit like a pear/apple/lemon. It’s shaped like a pear, with the skin similar to an apple blended with a approcat, and its colored like a greenish lemon. It’s bitter. Very bitter, and hard. Imagine something like a lemon, except more bitter. I’m not sure even how to explain how bitter it was, I ate about half of the quince, cause even though it was bitter I’m stubborn, before I decided to go online and google Quince.

And I found out, first of all, you really aren’t supposed to eat quinces raw. Second of all, they are most commonly used as a constipant. Meaning, its like imodium for people that don’t believe in modern medicine. Luckily I hadn’t eaten enough, remember you don't eat quinces raw, to make myself very sick, You’d have to eat like two hole quince’s (?).

Some random, but interesting facts about the Quince:

Quinces can also be used, or quince seeds, can be used as cough suppressants.

Quince jelly is pretty popular all across the world

The Quince comes from the middle east and its resistant to frosts.

Quince gives of a strong perfume scent, and you can use them (while they are ripe) as air fresheners.

Here’s a recipie I found for quince jam:

Have you ever eaten/tried a quince?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is to Dance

My company at a show, last December
Most of you probably don’t know this, but I dance, albeit very badly. I actually take Belly Dancing classes, and this semester I’m taking Belly Dancing and Ballet.One of the most basic ballet steps is called the Plie. 

Now I consider myself to be the least graceful person alive. I’m not coordinated. I’ve been hit by five cars. I fall down for no reason. I have no center of gravity, or if I do, its’ changing all the time. I’ve been told its cause I have wonky ears, and while I think I have perfectly ordinary ears I like the term wonky. 
The thing is, the plie is actually a centering move. Apparently it helps you find your center of gravity or something like that, according to my very philosophical dance teacher (picture a yogi of ballet), and maybe, just maybe ballet might be helping me find a center of gravity.

You might think, that two different forms of dance that originated in very different parts of the world would be very different from one another. But even though they are very differnt, alot of the moves are the same. Belly Dance doesn’t have something thats quite the same as the Plie but they do have several other centering movements that are similar, and then  they have some moves that are almost exactly the same.  

Take for instance the grape vine. If you’ve ever taken a dance class, you’ve probably been forced to learn the grapevine (think electric slide). Its a basic step in Israeli folk dance, American folk dance, (probably all folk dance really) Belly Dance, and it’s used in Ballet too. 

I don’t think this should come as too much of a surprise since dancing is just walking in a funny order, and there is only so many different ways you can walk. 

What might be surprising is that dance is pretty central to every culture out there. It’s a universal non verbal communication. And I always love it when I’m reading something and they talk about dance, not as a central theme, but as something that happens when a large group of people get together. It makes a fictional world feel more real to me.  

For all you writers out there, do you include dance in your worlds? Would you?

Readers, do you notice when authors include dance? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Drugs

“Look. Watch. The walls are breathing.”

Did you know that during the late (12-1400’s) medieval period in europe physicians not only had access, but used opiates to alleviate pain, and other such things. It’s fascinating to me that they had this medical knowledge because that time period is typically perceived as backwards. I mean, when you think of medieval medicine typically imagines of leeches and bleeding comes to mind, and your not wrong, there was plenty of that too.

Opium, opiates and other drugs that come from the poppy plant have a great many uses, including alleviation from diarrhea, a cough suppressant and perhaps most notably a pain suppressant. I’m not going to attempt to explain how opium works, cause I haven’t the slightest. What I can tell you is that one of the many things it does is produce a feeling of euphoria.

That euphoric feeling is what makes opiates so addictive, that and it’s chemical properties.

I’ve only had one run in with someone using opium recreationally, back when I was in High School, or just graduated. I was at a party, and there were lots of fun party type things. A friend of mine had brought opium (according to him and my memory, which are both subject to interpretation) because he knew I suffered from migraines, and another one of our friends had always wanted to try it.

I had no interest in trying it, for a few reasons, one being I didn’t trust this person, the other being a few other friends were already very drunk and someone needed to remain “responsible” but my friend Foxy did. Foxy, was normally quite hyper, but that night after ingesting whatever substance was given to her, she smoked something, she got very quiet, and quite content to sit and stare at a wall, and tell us about how it breathed.

I’ve taken opiates, mostly for pain, although they just make me very very sleepy. I slept for a week after my shoulder surgery, waking up only to take painkillers, I think that was Hydrocodone or something, but I could see how in a lower dose it would be addictive.

I’ve been playing with the idea of adding a drug to the world my current WIP takes place in. I think it would add an additional layer of world building to the world, and its something deal with today. In fact, when I ask kids what issues they think will go through some of the biggest changes in their lifetimes it’s pretty much always drug use, and gay rights.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Alice.

"I quite agree with you," said the  Duchess; "and the moral of that is--'Be what you would seem to be'--or if you'd like it put more simply--'Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'" --Chap 9 Alices Adventures in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland is probably one of my favorite stories. I think I enjoy it so much because its to a degree quite nonsensical. Although, through all the nonsense, it is very logical. So, it’s logical nonsense.

I mean, it does make a great deal of sense to tell someone a dry story if they want to dry off, however it’s not very practical. Or for instance to insist that if serpents eat eggs, anything that eats eggs must be some sort of serpent. It’s quite logical to assume such things, although such logic doesn’t make something in fact correct. 

However, when I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I can’t help but wonder if such a book would make it in today’s market. I mean, in a lot of ways its plotless, and wandering. Yet in it’s plotlessness it creates so many different ways you can go, which is why I think the story has captured the imaginations of so many.  

What is your favorite Alice in Wonderland?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Home is where the Heart is.

neighbors house...(they have a six story porch)

In case you’re visiting for A-Z and don’t know me all that well, I have a mildly morbid sense of humor. That being said, I live in a very conservative neighborhood. I mean, I say what street I live on and people give me odd looks super conservative neighborhood.

The street is lined with McMansions, and houses that look like they were just plucked out of the French Riviera. Then you’ve got the house that I rent, which has had minimum work done since it was built in like the mid 50’s. Brick and stone, with a two stories and a sub basement, an over run garden and a poorly maintained driveway. It looks out of place. It’s a super nice house. It just doesn’t fit in with the others in the neighborhood.
For a while my roommate and I’ve been joking about what we, (and by we, I mean he, cause I don’t have any money) would do if we bought the house, and tore it down. His plan is to build a giant glass tower. I however, really want to build Minas Morgul. Now I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you’re not a super geek like I am and need a reminder of what Minas Morgul is:

Yes, if I had my way, it would light up, and play that music. And I’d maybe invest in some robot Nasgulls to fly about the tower.

Now I just need to find a millionaire to marry who would think this is the best idea ever. I have a couple of pretty solid reasons for wanting to build Minas Morgul, one being it would really really upset my neighbors, not that they’ve ever done anything to me. Two, cause it would be awesome. Three because people would never have a hard time finding my house again. As of right now people often get lost when they are coming over to my house. Part of that might have something to do with my directions:

Don't follow google maps it will take you the long way around.

Step 1: Exit the metro station through the mall entrance

Step 2: Walk straight through the food court (to the parking garage), avoid middle school kids

Step 3: Walk through the parking garage tunnel, up the stairs and cross the street, through the tunnel

Step 4: stop and marvel at the silly people ice skating. (only in the winter…if its summer time don’t get mugged by the toddlers)

Step 5: Continue past Sine, and all the other random restaurants (don’t be tempted by their food. Its full of lies)

Step 4: Turn LEFT at DSW

Step 5: Once you are across from the entrance to World Market turn Right, so your back is to world market, and cross the street. Into the parking lot

Step 6: Walk straight through the parking lot.

Step 7: Turn in a counter clockwise manner 3 times. You should see the stairs appear. If you do not see the stairs turn in a clockwise manner 6 times.

Step 8: Call Sara if the stairs have not appeared.

Step 9: Walk up the magical stairs and cross the street.

Step 10: Follow the sidewalk up the hill (don't go down the hill the trolls & pixies live there)

Step 11: Cross the street again, in the crosswalk

Step 12: Follow the crosswalk; we are like the 5th or 8th house on the left.

Have fun and avoid the dangers of the road.

But if I could just tell people, I live in Minus Morgal, follow the green light till you get to the house. You’ll be set. Best directions ever.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Whiny

Leni is my MC in my current WIP I know she's an important character to get right, so I've done a lot of background on her, and quite a few character sketches. In my first draft she came off as two whiny. In my second draft she is coming off as too selfless. But she isn't selfless. Bellow is one of the most recent Leni sketches:
Leni know’s she is going to die. Not in an everyone dies type of way, she knows she is going to die in a soon and painful type of way. She is okay with it. In fact, in many ways she agrees with it. She thinks it’s justified, since she has taken life. What she cannot stand, what she cannot tolerate is if her death means nothing. If those she feels like should be spared are not by her sacrifice. Specifically her best friend, Ameil, and the other sacrifices.

Leni is not selfless. But she has, in order to accept her imminent death stopped wanting things for herself. Arguing that if she wants things, it will be too painful to admit she’ll never have them. So she suppresses any want or desire she has into things for other people.

Here is an excerpt I wrote about her...although I haven't figured out what to do with it. It takes place about a year prior to anything in the actual novel: 

Leni sighed, this was the worst part. Watching all of the other sacrifices enter the field. Most of them dressed in the best clothes they could afford, thinking a show of wealth would help them. Ages ranged from six to sixteen, although younger children could enter, could be forced to enter, as Leni knew all too well. Leni could see the tear streaked faces, she could smell the fear radiating off those around her. 

She closed her eyes. She didn't need to watch to know the elderly priest took the stage. To know the motions of the blessing, to hear the familiar chant. She had done this before. It was to be her twelfth time to go through the trial, one year more than anyone thought she would have to endure, but they had changed the law, and now you aged out at 17. 

The chant ended, and she heard the priest say "Now we pray".  Leni smiled, slightly, she knew the prayer, but said her own, in her head. 

"Oh Goddess of Death and Judgment, I am already dead" I'sald, I have forsaken you. 

"The crimes I have committed against you have stripped my soul" I will not ask you for mercy, or apologize. I do not deserve mercy. 

"My flesh remains. Reclaim what is yours. I await your judgment of my guilt" I am guilty of the crimes against me. I have killed, I will kill again.

"Oh Goddess of Souls, rejoin my body, rejoin my flesh and soul, decide my fate" All I ask of you, is to spare the others, they have not lived. They are children. 

"Let me take another turn on the wheel"  Give me another turn on the wheel and give them back their lives. 

"Bring me home, to honor you" If you have honor you will do as I ask, and give Ame the strength to understand. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Death, or perhaps Empty Orchestra.

So, this morning I did not wake up early to write my blog post. I in fact, woke up very late.

You see, on Wednesdays I go from work, to a bar to meet up with friends (sometimes I write but most of the time I go to the bar) then I duck out for an hour for dance class, and after class I rejoin my peoples at the bar, just in time for karaoke. Where I heckle and sing along, but don't sing. I don't sing, mostly because I cannot consume enough alcohol in such a short period of time to be sufficiently drunk enough to sing.

But last night, karaoke killed my phone. Which means, my alarm didn't go off. Which means I didn't wake up.

So instead of my planned post which either had something to do with romance, or excess violence, or both cause really they are the same thing. I'm going to leave you with a song:

Decemberunderground By AFI is one of my favorite alblums to listen to when writing, they are Leni's band, cause they are the appropriate amount of dark and angsty: Kiss and Control--not my favorite song but it does have a K in the title

But because I know AFI is actually not awesome music, nor a good Karaoke song :

p.s. I should be getting a new phone tomorrow. YAY manufactures warranty.

p.p.s Sorry for the exceptionally lazy post! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Plotting

There was a time in my life, where me and my friends ended the night with Journey...specifically “Dont Stop Believing” This of course, is always better when you're completely drunk, and believe its socially acceptable to stand on tables and sing...not at karaoke. What can I say, we knew how to end a night. And I think in that year I did more damage to my liver than I have in my entire life.
Freytag's Pyramid on Plot
If I was to write a memoir, that could be a good place to end it, or a good place to start it. I think it would depend on what story I was trying to tell. I probably won’t ever write a memoir though, for a few reasons. One being I can’t sort out what story to tell. I can’t figure out which plot line to follow.

I’m a big fan of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland quote “‘Begin at the beginning’, the king said gravely and go on till you come to the end: then stop’” It’s a good rule for writing, well a good rule for life really. I tell it to my boss at least once a week.

Yet, when you’re telling a story, you have to decide, where the beginning is, and where the end is. Often times these things are not all that clear cut. And more important, for any Journey, at least in a story, you need a plot.

Plots are things I struggle with, they tend to meander, and develop lives of their own, growing in organic and unexpected ways, and then I realize I’ve written 50,000 words and haven’t told a story. I think part of the problem is that my MC in my current WIP doesn’t actually know what she wants.

Recently I’ve decided to stop on the rewriting and go back to the conception stage of things, and try to figure out what my plot is. What my story is. Where it begins and ends. And perhaps more importantly, something left out of my Lewis Carroll quote, what the conflict is, cause no journey is complete without a conflict.

p.s. I never really announced my theme, but I’ve loosely been following one, any guesses as to what it is?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Team.

There is no I in team. But no one writes, or lives in a bubble. Which means novels are hardly ever written without some form of help or inspiration. I am a believer in Critique groups, not just for help, but for inspiration.

I’ve been in a group off and on since I was in college…some odd 6 years. Although in college they called them creative writing workshops and were moderated by a professor. Now they can be anything from writers groups to critique partners.

For me, the biggest advantages to critique or writing groups is having other creative type people to talk to. People I can bounce ideas off of. Not to mention a group of people I can get to judge my writing, who understand the hours it takes to put something down on paper.

Finding a good writers group can be challenging too. It’s a combination of finding something that meets your needs, and where you feel like you can fit in, because there are very few things more personal then sharing something you’ve created for the first time and asking for feedback.

When I first moved to DC I was lucky to find a really great writers group. Which worked for about two or three years, but then my needs changed…or the group changed, and it was no longer working. I had a falling out with a few of the leaders, and decided it was time for a change. I will still on rare occasion go to that group, like when a friend who is still a member has a piece up for critique and wants a show of support, or if I just feel like I need to hang out with other writers.

But now, I feel a bit adrift. It’s like I’m single for the first time in a really long time, and trying to decide if I should put myself out there or not.

However, I do have a really awesome group of friends who are writers, most of which I met at the old group, and still keep in touch with. So for right now, I’m happy to just have writer friends, and no formal critique group. But a few trusted people that I can bounce ideas off of, or show a scene I feel really uncertain about too. Plus blogging friends.

What about you? Do you have a writers group? Writer friends? Etc?

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Nerd

I got my bachelors in History. I specifically studied, Medieval Religions History, and if you want to get even more specific, I studied the ways different cultures/religions interacted with one another in the medieval period. Although the term, Medieval or Dark Age’s as a way to describe Europe from the fall of Rome to the 14th century (or whenever you decide it ends) is kind of contested. I mean the term was coined by a 14th century poet named Petrarch.
Section of the Bayeux Tapestry
But I think I’m off my point. My point is I like history. I read history books for fun. And not just Medieval history. Although it is probably my favorite period of history. I also enjoy reading/learning about WWI…and possibly have perfected how to teach it, at least to middle schoolers. It goes something like “Some black hungry guy named Archie shot the Duke’s Ostrich”

And I think, I’m drawn to both time periods because they are periods of exceptional change. I mean in the Medieval period, you have the Goths, the Barbers, the Franks…etc pushing through Europe, organizing, fighting, and reorganizing into new kingdoms, and new laws, some of which were exceptionally violent. You have Christianity reaching out and attempting to impose order amongst the chaos, you have the founding of Monasteries. You have the reorganization of people’s into villages and the emergence of a feudal society.

In Spain you have what looks like an early Renaissance under Moorish and Gothic rule (The Ornament World). In Parts of the Italian Peninsula, and the Middle East you have different sects of religion emerging, and claiming Christianity, some of which are so unlike anything we have today, they might as well be worshiping aliens (Google Manichaeism Cosmology if you don’t believe me).

This isn’t even mentioning the Black Plague, or the Crusades.

In the years leading up to WWI you have probably, the most rapid change in technology, paired with some of the most rapid changes in social structure that you’ll ever find (if you want to know more read The Strange Death of Liberal England by George Dangerfield ). Case in point: In 1914, in Russia there was a conference, of which name I cannot remember, where the leaders in Europe, mostly still Monarchs, who were all related through Victoria Queen of England (she had 26 grandchildren who survived into adulthood), came together with their advisors to discuss technological advances and War. At which point, a German suggested they ban people going up into hot air balloons, and dropping projectiles on enemy lines. He was laughed out of the conference. Less than a year and a half later, you see this exact thing happening on the battle fields in Europe, something people thought impossible only a year prior.

You have Horses charging alongside tanks. You have books published about the war, written by veterans of the war, translated into all of the languages of the people fighting in the war, and available in those countries before the war was over (Under Fire by Henri Barbusse)

Now, what is my point, other than perhaps the fact that I am a super nerd, and I just completely nerded out on you?

History can be a great and awesome and scary source of inspiration. Plus, a lot of fantasy is written in a type of Medieval Europe setting, and a lot of writers have only a basic fundamental understanding of how Medieval Europe worked.

And I love history. And there are some great resources out there for those of you who also love history. For example, recently I found this: Yale Open Classroom Early Middle Ages .

If you’re curious about books, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to recommend some, I have way more than I mentioned, and forgive me if I mentioned anything out of print.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Evil.

I don’t believe in Good, or Evil. This comes as a shock to a lot of people, or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. I do believe in right and wrong. And I believe in Grey.

Good and Evil have always seemed a bit too black and white to me, and I think things come in shades of colors. I’ve seen people do things they thought were Good, for all the wrong reasons, and I’ve seen people do things that are Evil to others, for all the right reasons.

Maybe this is why I always feel so drawn to the bad guy in books. The supposedly evil character, especially when they are well written. When I can see their motives, and sympathize with them, because they are the people who are doing things they think are right, or perhaps are for the greater good, or perhaps are just because they are selfish, and you know things won’t work out for them.

Some of my favorite bad guys (and why).

Merick: from Riyara Revelations (I could also list most of the bad guys from this series)

I doubt Merick would think of himself as a bad guy. I think he would think of himself as morally neutral. And that is what makes him awesome. He works for the bad guys, he manipulates the hero’s. He does it all for money. His interests are purely self sustaining. Yet he has moments when he actually cares about the people around him.

Guy Du Bas Terra: from the Rift War Saga:

Again, Guy isn’t exactly a bad guy. Although he fully admits that it’s the way others see him. He is aware that he killed people. He is aware that he has done bad things. But he always believed that he was doing things for the greater good. AND Feist convinced us that he was right, and although the greater good was accomplished regardless. You could see how if Guy had gotten his way, things would still be okay.

Marsh: from the Mistborn Trilogy (which I really didn’t like)

Marsh really got the worst possible deal in this series. Marsh agreed to play double agent for the good guys in the first book. Half way through, we think he died, but really, what happened was that he was changed, turned into a kind of monster. This change cost him his free will, as the books went on, and he went from being a double agent, to really working for evil. He fought his instincts from time to time, and managed to shift things in favor of the good guys, but he was still considered a bad guy for his changing sides.

Do you believe in good and evil? Who are some of your favorite bad guys?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Flawed Fun Fighting.

I might be a freak, but I really enjoy writing fighting scenes. Maybe it was because I was a fencer in college (saber and foil). Maybe its cause I did some work with the theater in fight scene chorography…here is a HORRIBLE skit thing I played a part in…freshman year. Where I choreographed the fight scene for…if you choose to watch it (at your own risk) please skip to 5:10 in…which is where the fighting begins, and ignore my horrible acting, the actor I taught fighting too didn’t show.

As for writing fight scenes, there is something about how quickly the scenes move that make them fun. At least to me. Here is a short excerpt, once again that was cut, from my current WIP, Sacrifice.

A bit of background: Leni is a trained assassin. Although as a sacrifice, she has no rights, so her best friend was hired to kill a man, she botched the job, and Leni is attempting to clean up the mess.

“To bad” He replied throwing a knife, but Leni ducked letting it slip harmlessly above her head. His two friends took the opportunity to move sideways so they were surrounding her. The others didn’t know how to fight together, Leni knew she wasn’t as lucky with these last three.

There was a table between her and the one to her left, but nothing between her and Clive and the one on her right. Clive lunged. Leni blocked. But it was clumsy block, the pommel twisted in her sweat soaked hand. The weapon dropped to the floor.

She took a quick step back, bumping into a table. Her hands felt something smooth and cold. Instinct took hold, as she grabbed the object. She jumped up as the one to her right attacked. Leni somersaulted backwards on the table. She stood up next to the one on the left, and smashed the bottle over his head. She broke his neck as he dropped to the ground. The next one attacked, weapon at the ready. Leni easily avoided his swing and stabbed him in the chest with the broken bottle, wrenching her wrist so that shards stuck in the wound, delivering a kick, pushing them deeper.

All that she had left was the neck of the broken bottle and. The table separated them, and Leni used the brief moment to pick up another sword from the floor, the pommel was slick with blood, and Clive was around the table charging. She blocked his blow, forcing him off balance, he fell forward, and Leni turned the neck of the bottle in her hand so it impaled his eye as he fell. A mist of blood coated her arm, before she pulled away, leaving the bottle neck where it was, and walking towards the door. 

So, do you like writing fight scenes? Reading fight scenes? In case your curious, the only bit of that which I kept was: 

Focus, Leni thought to herself, flowers, Lilly, daffodil, lavender, lime. She can only see what
you’re not trying to hide, lily daffodil, lavender, lime. Leni felt the bracelet cutting into her wrist.

“Get them outside,” Leni heard herself yell again, to Amiel, who was running down the stairs.

She turned to see the mercenaries discarding their drinks and picking up weapons. “I really don’t want to hurt any of you.” Leni said slowly, she knew her voice was affected by the poision the temple gave her that kept her numb and impaired,  but she was hoping that her anger hid it.

The closest one laughed, Leni thought his name was Clive. She could still feel his hand on her
leg, telling her things would be okay, slipping a bottle towards her. “Hurt us Leni?” He asked, stepping forward “Can you count? You’re outnumbered, and what exactly do you plan to do? You’re unarmed.”

No! Leni shouted in her own mind, lily, daffodil, lavender, lime. Broke a bottle and shoved it
through his eye. Lily, daffodil, lavender, lime. Sometimes people just have to die.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Hearing.

Every now and then I write something and I think, Damn that was a stroke of brilliance. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time when I write something I think, well that’s complete and utter crap. But every now and again I write something and it feels prefect.

And when that happens (mostly and especially for this blog) I quickly hit post. If you were ever reading my blog and wondering why the hell I have so many typos, I’ve probably answered that qunundrum. Anyway, when I post something fresh, something that feels perfect, I make a real and deliberate effort not to go back and look at it again. Cause I know as soon as I do, I’ll hear all the mistakes.

And when I say I’ll hear the mistakes, I really mean I’ll see them. This is actually one of my writing pet peeves (although I do it a lot too). When people hear things with their eyes. I get why we say it. When I read something I do hear it in my voice in my head, but really I’m not hearing it, I’m thinking it.

The English language could make things a bit easier. Really, do we need to hear things with our ears. Couldn’t we just earing instead of listening or hearing. And what about seeing, wouldn’t eyeing something be much more logical. I’m using my eyes to see it, aren’t I? And I really should feel things with my feelers, instead of touching things with my fingers. However, if I’m out feeling things with my feelers it means I’m probably no longer human, which could be a problem.

I think my point however, if I have one, is that ears are underutilized (which is a really fun word). Ears are awesome. They hear things and they listen to things. And no ear is exactly the same. Law and Order SVU taught me that. Although I know I shouldn’t get facts from Law and Order SVU, that’s what CSI is for.

How is A-Z going for you? Are you hearing lots of cool blogs? Do you have any writing/reading pet peeves. Did you know in the Unicorn Series by Tanith Lee—the MC has a pet that’s a peeve. What is your favorite body part?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Insecurities.

Or D could be for Damien, who is one of my main characters in my current WIP. Damien is described as:

He was tall, taller even than Mother Trina, with dark hair, that looked like he cut it himself, so it stuck out in a haphazard way. Leni couldn’t make out the color of his eyes, they were somewhere between brown and green, with skin tanned from lots of time outside. He had an open face, which Leni guessed would make him attractive enough if he smiled, but he was keeping his face intentionally blank. To be fair, though, so was she.

The most impressive thing about him, Leni thought, was not his size, it was instead the great sword, which he carefully drew and wrapped in padding.

He is probably the character I’ve poured the most of myself into. He is self deprecating, he is light hearted and uses both of those things to disguise a troubled past. But Damien is also full of self doubt and duty. That combination makes him a very insecure character. Especially when he has doubt about the duties he is supposed to perform.

Because of all that he is a lot of fun to write. As time goes on, he wants more and more to try to help the MC, yet he is duty bound not to. One of my favorite Damien scenes that has actually been cut is a bit of dialogue between Leni and Damien:

“Dai,” she whispered, “What am I doing here?”
“You called me Dai” he replied,
“Not the point.”
“What if I don’t want you to call me Dai?” he whispered, lips brushing against her neck.
“Do you care if I call you Dai?” she asked, shuddering under his touch.
“You don’t let me call you Lens” he replied, smelling her hair
“Fine call me Lens, but answer the question.”
“I don’t care if you call me Dai or not.”
“Not the question I wanted answered” Leni snapped.
“I know. I forgot your original question” he answered, lifting his head.
Leni paused and stared at him. “Would you stop me if I tried to leave?”
“Depends,” he answered smiling, “where would you go?”
“Away from you.”
“Could I follow you?” he asked, frowning slightly.
“Why would you want to?” She asked
“Why don’t you want me to?” He whispered, tracing a scar along her back.
“Stop answering my questions with questions.”
“Sorry. What was your question again?”
“Would you stop me if I tried to leave?” She asked again.
“Do you want to leave?”
“Damn it Damien.” She shouted, pushing him away. “Just answer the question.”
“I think I already have.” He replied letting his arms fall to his sides.

Who is your most insecure character? Why? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Constipation.

I don’t think I like the letter C very much. I keep coming up with C words. But none of them seem all that interesting.

Originally I was planning on writing about characters. But in all honesty I don’t know what I’m talking about, and writing a post about the characteristics of a character, when I don’t know what I’m talking about seems careless.

I briefly entertained the idea of writing about one of my characters, but then I decided it would be better to write about them on their “day”.

The problem with C is that I’ve come up with several cunning C words. However, none of them have truly caught my fancy. I’m constipated with ideas for C.

Then I thought about writing about culture or community. In one aspect of my crazy confusing job, I teach civics. And in one of the lesson plans I bring kids into a neighborhood and ask them, what makes that neighborhood a community. What makes it a culture? Then we could talk about how to get that into writing, cause I suck at world building. And maybe if I did that I would force myself to world build.

I’m not all that good at world building, but I think developing a culture is an important part of it.

The culture in Sacrifice, my current WIP, is ruthless. There are no kingdoms; there is no true central authority. There are warlords, and cities they control. There are mercenary groups who roam from one warlord to another, taking what they want. It’s a culture where children accused of crimes are put to death through a challenge of ordeal. And there is the Church (another interesting C word).

The Church, or temple, is a loose connection of several different polytheistic gods, held together by the Triad, an elected council of the leaders of different temples. The Triad sets temple policy for all of the temples. And the Temple oversees the challenge, or as they call it, the Sacrifice.

A challenge very few children ever survive, but if you do survive, if you turn eighteen, you are pardoned. It used to be that if you survived to sixteen, you would be pardoned. When Leni, the MC turned sixteen, and survived, she did not receive a pardon. She instead received a change in the law, making it seventeen. She survived at seventeen, and the triad changed the law again.

What do you think makes up a culture?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Racism

I’m bending, bludgeoning or breaking a rule, (damn). I told myself I wasn't going to do a blog post about the Hunger Games. Mostly because I feel relatively ambivalent about the series, but also because I just didn't want to. Well, not until I read the article

Basically it’s a collection of tweets from some so called Hunger Games fans.

“kk call me racist but when I found out Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad” --jashperpars

I’ll let that sink in for a second. People were cheapening the death of a 12 year old fictional character, saying it meant less to them because of her ethnicity!

To me, when I read the book, I pictured Katniss as Native American, or perhaps of Middle Eastern Decent—just because that’s what Olive skin means to me. I pictured Rue and Thresh as African American. They were described as; “She has dark brown skin and eyes,” To me, that means Black. I never doubted that Rue or Thresh were supposed to be Black characters.

Yet apparently, other people don’t read descriptions.

The fact that Collins decided to include characters of other races is one of my favorite elements of the series. I have olive skin, I am a bit of a mutt ethnically, but I have both Native American, and Middle Eastern ancestors. I hardly ever read about characters that look like me.

And I understand why, most fantasy (at least what I read) is set in a Europe type world. And in the Middle Ages, very few non Europeans lived in Europe. Although I always feel like it adds something to a novel when you can include characters from different backgrounds, different places, different ethnicities.

I feel like if I was Black it would be worse though. Aside from Hunger Games, Kate Elliot’s Spirit Walker Trilogy (which I can’t honestly recommend) is one of the only books that I’ve read in recent memory that includes Black characters.

What do you think? Is it worth it to include Black, Brown, Blue, Green, Olive, Yellow, people?

Here’s the article—how are you guys doing with A-Z?

p.s. I really need to work on making my posts shorter. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for OMFG…

So, its April, and officially the first post of the A-Z challenge. I thought for a while about what I would post for the first post, letter A. The beginning. The Alpha. 

I came up with a few good ones. And I decided that there is a problem with the letter A. A has a few too many awesome words. At first I thought I could do A for April-cause you know it would be a great opening to this blog hop/fest/roll thingy. But then I thought, if I make an entire post about the A-Z challenge, I really should post my plan, but I don’t really have a plan, and I got overwhelmed trying to make a plan so I decided not to. Like anything hard, I’m good at quitting it. Plus I thought I could do some sort of April fools thing there.

Then I thought I should do A for Alpha Male. Which fit into the plan I had when I had a plan. The plan, of talking about elements of writing, and I could talk about Alpha male characters, and the existence of Beta characters could be B and so on and so forth, but that got a bit boring, so I gave up on that plan.

Arrogance was a great A word for the beginning of something that I really don’t think I’m remotely cut out to do, but that I’m arrogant enough to be pretty sure that if I pull it off it will be epic. Also because I’m arrogant enough to believe this drivel is worth reading.

I dwelt for a while on the word Apathy. I’ve been meaning to write a post on Apathy for a while. I’ve just been too apathetic to write it. I deal with apathy a lot in my life, not only at work, although I accept a lot of it there. But in my personal life too. See I’m a very apathetic person. I blame my father. He is apathetic too.

Awesome appeared appropriate for a while, and so did award. Awesome because this challenge is going to be awesome. Also awesome cause I could tell you about some of my recent experiences, like going to see Phantom of the Opera live on Broadway, which I did right before writing this post. Or I could do an Award and announce the winner of my first ever book giveaway (see end of post!). Although that doesn’t really work because it’s not really an award, it’s just a giveaway…and claiming that reading about my recent experiences is awesome is arrogant.

So in the end I decided on OMFG because indecisive is not an A word. And I’m a bit overwhelmed. But I’m also excited. And, maybe. Just maybe, ready. Don’t let the fact that I’m writing this at 12:47am on 3/31/12 in a Marriott hotel room, in NYC and I don’t have any of the other posts written (I have a full train ride home for that). If you’re here for the Chalange, then Welcome!

I hope you enjoy the ride, and that I haven’t scared you away, yet.