Monday, July 21, 2014

Knocking Blocks Down to Build Them Back Up

I’ve discovered something about my young nephew – nothing enrages him more than when I construct a tower of toys. No matter where he is in the room, he immediately bee-lines for my neat little stack of blocks and knocks them right the hell down.

If I manage to get them back up as he wobbles away, I am graced with a “are you f*&^ing kidding me?” look as he backtracks to destroy my creation once again with gleeful abandon.

When it comes to writing, I’m somewhat similar to my nephew in that sense. It’s all well and good for me to actually write a story, but the fun lies in tearing it all apart again when I’m done. Editing and revising? My favorite parts of writing. I love knocking all the blocks down and seeing where they fall. Only, unlike my nephew, I also love building it back up again. I keep at this process of destruction and rebuilding over and over again, until I charge at the story and find myself running into a wall I just can’t quite topple.

So, I’m off to do some glorious, bloody editing. While I’m hacking away, though, I thought I might leave you with the next round of awesome mythological creatures that the U.S. boasts.




Fastachee

This fellow is a corn spirit connected to Miccosukee and Seminole tribes. He generally appears as a dwarf and gifts people with corn. Of course, they honor him for this. How could they not? Who, in their right minds, doesn’t love corn?


Glawackus

Is it a bear? A panther? A lion? Nope. This guy appears to be a mix of all three. The glawackus is one of the “fearsome critters” of lumberjack lore and is thought to be native of Connecticut and Massachusetts. If the pantliobear description isn’t enough to keep you from going camping, then let me also warn you, the glawackus is known for his blood-curdling screams – so, bring headphones or something.


Hudson River Monster

I’m so disappointed in myself. I’m a native New Yorker and somehow I was unaware that the Hudson River was home to a cryptid described as looking like an unusually large manatee. When you consider the fact that a manatee can weigh over 1,000 pounds, an “unusually large” one would be sizable. And I missed him! The only consolation I have is that he was spotted various times in 2006 and I was down in DC at that point. Not that my location is really any excuse. I mean, his name is Kippy! I should have known about this. I have no one to blame but myself.


Ishigaq

This race of little people (akin to fairies) come from Eskimo legends. They’re about a foot tall. As they leave no footprints in the snow, they are believed to float just above the ground when they travel.


Jackalope

Another “fearsome critter” for the list! These fellows appear to call Michigan their home. They’re hard to miss, seeing as rabbits with deer antlers tend to draw attention. This becomes especially true when they start boozing it up. Jackalopes are big whiskey fans, so if you too call this your drink of choice, you’re going to want to watch that they don’t steal it. Of course, they are also able to mimic any sound. Undoubtedly, if you hear your friend calling your name, you will turn back to find your drink disappeared.




That draws today’s discussion of weird and wacky American tales to a close. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some blocks to knock down.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reading Time!

I, very bizarrely, have not done as much reading as usual this summer. I am this close (and I know you can't see me, but there is very little space between my thumb and pointer finger right now) to finishing the first draft of my WIP. Ergo, I've been in a bit of a writing frenzy and reading less than the norm.

But, less is not none and what I have been reading has been pretty epic. 

First, I have two new beta buddies (hi buddies!) and have been given the opportunity to read both of their manuscripts. There's something particularly awesome about reading a book before most people even know it exists. It's like being invited into the VIP room of the most secret of clubs. 

You know, like when you walk in the main door, past all the peons sitting at tables surrounded by bookshelves and some super cool person pushing a cart tells you to head back to the stairwells and take them up to the top floor and you get up there and it's all empty and peaceful and filled with books....Wait, am I thinking of a library? What's a club?

Forget it, not important right now. What is important is that I have the inside track on some pretty awesome authors, namely Scarlett Cole and Laura Salters. You heard it here first, folks. Get in on the ground floor and start following these ladies if you don't already. Because I can confidently say that they are all manner of awesome in the writing department. Plus (excitement!) you'll get to know them a little better soon, as they are both going to be stopping by the blog this summer.

But, since you have to wait to experience the full wonder of their work, here are some other fantastic books I've been enjoying this summer that you can get a hold of now:


THE MASKED SONGBIRD (Emmie Mears)

Pure superhero-y goodness. Absolutely loved getting to know Gwen Maule and really can't wait to find out what she does next.

THE SECRET DIARY OF LIZZIE BENNET (Bernie Su & Kate Rorick)

Lots of fangirling here - for both Jane Austen and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Loved getting a chance to find out more info of what was going on off camera. Also, it was really fun to have the videos linked to in the book, if the reader wants to check out what Lizzie was recording at that point in the timeline.

THEN CAME YOU (Jill Shalvis)

I have a definite soft spot for romances where the people love animals, but this one takes it a step further. There's a turtle! And while, yes, I might have preferred Wyatt, Willow and Xander, my red ear slider cohabitants, only cared about the scenes that Sammy was in. 


Now, I have high hopes for my reading schedule in August and am focusing on creating the perfect month long TBR list. It's filling up fast, but if you have any suggestions, my arm could probably be twisted into making it longer.

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Be In The Know with Emmie Mears!

Happy new week, folks!

I've been lucky enough to host Emmie Mears twice before on this blog (see: amazing auction donor and Not-So-Guilty Pleasures secret spiller). Today, however, is a truly special occasion because we are celebrating the release of Emmie's book, THE MASKED SONGBIRD.

This is big time exciting news and reason enough for all of us to clear our schedules for some well-deserved reading time. Before you do that, though, enjoy today's interview with Emmie!



If you could throw any kind of parade what would it be for and what would the marchers be asked to wear?

I think I would have to throw a marmot parade and ask everyone to wear moss, because why not? 


If you had to live in one Buffy episode for the next five years which one would it be and what would you hope to accomplish there?

Once More, With Feeling. I would attempt to decipher whether or not Anya’s and Xander’s song were truly retro pastiche. Then I'd write a dissertation on it.


Are you (a) a superhero, (b) a mad scientist, (c) an alien hybrid or (d) a cryptid. Elaborate.

I am a cryptid. Much as I don’t like to advertise the fact (the last thing I need is people camped out in the back yard with binoculars and field notebooks -- or worse, a visit from the NSA), you asked, and I had to respond. I am a bit skittish about describing my exact classifications, but suffice it to say that I can see in the dark, my toenails are extra sharp, and I am skilled at astral projection. (Will that scare the NSA away? I hope so.)


What song best describes your writing process?

Sympathy for the Devil. ;)


Not long ago, Estately Blog posted a list of the most Googled terms in each state. Based on this list, in which state would you most fit in?

Washington or Maine...but you didn’t hear it from me.





THE MASKED SONGBIRD

Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She's got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen's biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally -- and most mysteriously -- she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen's hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends -- even her country.







Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state prompty spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country.

Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie's childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor.

Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they're lions and tigers.





You can buy THE MASKED SONGBIRD here (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JD7TWZK)! Released in a box set, you get four great paranormal and urban fantasy books for less than $4!

Follow Emmie on Twitter @EmmieMears and join her on Facebook!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Places to Visit: Nervous Nellie's

As mentioned last week, yesterday was National Camera Day, so I'm sharing some photos this morning. However, much more important that some amateur photography done by yours truly, I'm sharing a truly awesome place that you should check out if ever you have the chance.

It's called Nervous Nellie's Jams & Jellies.

Recently, I had the chance to visit Deer Isle, Maine, located just off the Blue Hill Peninsula in Penobscot Bay. The weather was absolutely beautiful, making every view look like a postcard. But I'm pretty sure that even in a total downpour it would have been gorgeous.

I was lucky enough to stop by during the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the bridge that connects the island to the mainland. Walking across the bridge was a lot of fun, not to mention getting to dress up like a lobsterman.

But the real awesome began afterward, when my truly spectacular hosts took me away from the bustling crowds for some scones and jam. Really delicious scones and jam (my favorite was the cherry peach). Honestly, if that was all Nervous Nellie's had to offer, the stop still would have been an epic win, but thanks to the artwork of Peter Beerits, this place is definitely being added to my top ten list of favorite travel discoveries.

Beerits has created a sculpture village, Nellieville, through which I found it impossible to walk without being inspired to create stories for the all the different "people" I saw.


Was tempted to ask if they'd deal me in a hand. 
Despite that rather unsavory fellow in the bottom right corner.


Inspired by the Delta and really made me want to dance.


Not only do I think this establishment would always carry the necessities,
I feel confident that it should be the first stop of anyone looking
to get the latest gossip in Nellieville.


Found witches in the neighboring forest 
(not to mention a full medieval court).


The above confirmation that this town accepts the practice
of magic had me asking this lovely couple if I could move in.
Sadly for me, there appears to be quite a waiting list.


So, if you find yourself meandering up and down Maine's coast, make your way here and enjoy the feeling of inspiration. And don't forget to eat some jam. I won't got so far as to try to sway you on which jams. I trust you to make your own jam-based decisions.

But cherry peach was the best.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Creativity Booster: National Camera Day & Festive Frames

This Sunday is National Camera Day. I'm a big fan of photos. Even more than that, I love crafts that can be done with photos. Which is why I still print off hard copy photos and will most likely be found one day living in a house made solely of pictures. It's a lot like a house of cards, only with a larger percentage of my family's smiling faces.

Also, taking craft breaks is fantastic while I'm writing. Let's me stay in a creative mind space when I hit a point in the story that needs a little extra thought. In case you find yourself both in need of a creative boost and wanting to celebrate Camera Day, here's a photo guide to a craft I've been working on:

STEP 1: Get wooden boards/frames/decorations.

 I'm fairly sure I alone could keep craft stores in business. 

STEP 2: Paint base coat. 

 For paints, I like to pick two colors - in this case, teal and orange - 
and use them, plus whatever color they make when mixed. 
Sometimes I throw in a little white paint to create a variety of shades.

STEP 3: Ritz it up.

For the top left, I used a sponge.
Bottom right, 1" painters tape is very helpful. 

STEP 4: Add photos and/or scrapbook paper.

 It's helpful to put a book on top of these as the glue dries. 
It keeps the pictures/paper from getting bubbles. Once it's dry, add a gloss varnish. 
This prevents the photos from being easily scratched or covered in finger smudges. 
I like the gloss aspect as it adds texture and shine to the project.

STEP 5: Glue frames on base boards.

 Again, I'd recommend leaving heavy books on top of these until they're dry. 

STEP 6: Paint decorations.


STEP 7: Glue decorations to frames. Step back. Enjoy.

Once the glue dries, take the books off, kick up your heels 
and read those lovely tomes. Just don't forget to glance over every 
once in awhile and enjoy your festive creations!

BONUS TIP: If you choose to drink a beverage whilst crafting, pay attention when you grab for it. This is especially important if you're daring enough to leave libation next to your paintbrush water.

Pictured: Not delicious

Monday will be a continued celebration of this fun photo day. I'll be back with a showcase of my favorite pictures from this month and I'd love to see yours. Let me know if you're posting any on Twitter!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beneficial Distractions

There are some writing days that are all about complete, focused concentration. Internet bans, snack moratoriums, noise cancelling headphones, padded walls....the whole shebang. Gotta give all the characters their best chance at being heard over the usual noise.

Other days, some distractions are helpful. I'm not talking about the "Oh, look there are two new tweets in my news feed. And now another three. Wow, people are really tweeting right now. I should read them. LOOK AT ALL THE TWEETS," kind of distraction. I've never found that to be a big booster of my writing productivity. Music, on the other, is very helpful.

I frequently think about what my MC is listening to at this point in her life. Why does it mean something to her? How was she introduced to it? This rarely makes it in to the story, but it does inform the tone of my writing. I've always found music to be very influential on my mood. On the days when my brain is feeling a touch sluggish, nothing gets me into my MC's headspace faster than listening to a couple of the songs that I've dubbed "hers."

And on days when I just need to exercise the old mind pan, I take a scene that's been proving stubborn and I set iTunes to shuffle. I rewrite the scene a few times, shifting the tone of it to match each new song, only stopping to skip if a Christmas one pops up (unless it's between Thanksgiving and New Years Day - there are rules, people). After fifteen minutes, I hit pause and check out what I've got. Nine times out of ten, there's something that clicks enough to get me back on track.

So, that's one of my creativity boosters? I'd love to hear some of yours.

While, you're thinking about that, I'm going to leave you with a song that embodies the general mood of a character I'm working on right now:


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rectifying Ignorance, One Argopelter at a Time

Benjamin Franklin said, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”

Which, I hope is true, considering I recently realized that there are literally dozens of creatures in American folklore of which I knew nothing until last week. A little embarrassing, really, when I consider that I am both a student of American history and a chronic consumer of folklore.

But I’m definitely willing to learn, so I’m calling it water under the bridge. More than that, it’s water filled with haietlik under the bridge.

The important thing is that thanks to the beauty of WIP research, I now have some new favorite creatures. On the off chance that any of you have the same sad gap in your knowledge that I did, it seems only right to share my findings.

So, let me explain. *pauses* No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Or, at least, just stick to the first five creatures of awesome.


Argopelter

Starting off strong, because this guy may just be my favorite. Part of lumberjack lore, the argopelter is a lightning quick tree dweller with an ape face and super long arms that can snap trees branches right off. Once he does that, though, watch out – because if you’ve annoyed him, he can hurl those branches at you with the force of a bullet leaving a gun. Death by splinters makes an interesting epitaph.


Bakwas

A ghostly sort of fellow who seems to be looking for friends among the Kwakwaka’wakw people of coastal British Columbia. If you’re even stranded in the woods up there, think twice before taking him up on his offer of ghost food. Definitely be ready to be a forever friend, because sharing a snack is going to turn you into a bakwas as well. Here’s hoping he has an extra room in his invisible house.


Cactus Cat

Hailing from the American Southwest, this thorn covered bobcat has a armored tail and spikes coming out of its legs. Which is great, because feral cats weren’t dangerous enough already. Plus side, this cat’s a sloppy drunk – known to drink fermented juice until its all liquored up and then spend the night shrieking. Not the best of neighbors.


Dwayyo

Okay, I went to school in Washington, DC. How did I not know about cryptid feud in the Blue Ridge Mountains? On one side, the dwayyo, humanoid wolfmen. On the other, their mortal enemies, the Snallygasters – flying, blood-sucking dragons. Why? I have to assume for reasons of awesomeness.


Emogoalekc

Once a human, the gentleman fell into the sea after he accepted that due to his status as a slave he would never marry the chief’s daughter. Instead of being the end of his story, it’s instead a very strange beginning. Upon hitting the cold Pacific waters, he turned into a sea creature. Following this, the only people who saw him were those who would one day be chief.



I’ll stop there for today, but definitely expect some more creature convos as I get further into this draft. And if you have a favorite creature of American folklore, let me know! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Character Closets

Well, I am officially knee deep in the drafting process. This means I’ve finally gotten to the point where it’s not pulling teeth to fill up those ominous blank pages. 

*turns cartwheels…remembers I can’t turn cartwheels…falls down…sticks to writing*

Now, I always try to go into writing with as much research done as possible, but I’ve found that there’s really no way to avoid a certain amount of mid-chapter inquiries. The fantasy creatures are the easiest part – mostly because they’re the most interesting. Who doesn’t want to look into the argopelters and their penchant for throwing splinters? Or how about cactus cat’s drunken shrieking? That’s fun for the whole family. And the medicinal purposes of jackalope milk? Life changing.

It’s the non-fantasy aspects that I find myself needing to delve into as I write. Necessary steps for obtaining a food vendor license in Manhattan. State regulations regarding homeschooling. The meaning behind various Hopi names. These are the bits of information that I don’t necessarily realize I’m going to need until I’m in the thick of it.

What I do know that I’m going to need is for all my characters to be wearing clothes. You know, at least until I start writing my series on the haunted nudist colony.

File:Festa Major de Sants 2008 P1200878.JPG
The drum alerts everyone to the sale.
Photo by Pere López (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
But somehow, I have recently found my characters are suddenly all showing up in extremely similar outfits. Sure, a little crossover is fine – after all, I borrow (read: steal) from my friends closets – but I’m talking a Smurf level of similarity. Apparently there was a sale at the white pants and hat store, and all my characters went on a shopping spree.

So, in an effort to keep my world from looking like a larger scale version of Doug Funnie’s closet, I’m making sure that each of the characters has a fully stocked wardrobe of their very own.

And, now, if you have any interest in rifling through the drawers of the characters in my current WIP, you can! Just check out my new Pinterest page and let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

National Take a Memo Day

In case this post title wasn't self-explanatory enough, today is National Take a Memo day! 

I don't know about you, but this is a holiday I believe in celebrating every day. Kind of have to, as long as my joker of a brain insists on being inspired at inopportune moments. Dozing off. Dodging water balloon onslaughts. Driving. Balancing on the counter as I wage spring cleaning war against the evil horde of fan-top dust bunnies. 

Pretty much any time except that which I have specifically set aside for drafting. To ensure that I have something to fill those dreaded blank pages with I have embraced the beauty of memos whole-heartedly. Sure, there are some that are a little hard to decipher later on, but they at least give me a jumping off point when writing time rolls around. Here are a few of my most recent memos to myself:

> Tupilak - souls of the dead

> TSA regulations for centaurs - any travel possible? Boats??

> Kaigani Harbor - attack site. Alaska: cruise or road trip? Haida

> Control vs. privacy. Secrets ={

> Berserker/Ursa Major, Minor/Bear Mother === Which direction?

> shenanigans

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what that last one applies to. Or, more accurately, what it doesn't apply to. Nor can I remember why it was so important that I stop whatever activity I was doing so I could write that one word down sans any context. Still, five out of six making sense is a better success rate than I generally have. 

So, huzzah! The power of the memo - perhaps my greatest tool when it comes to writing. If you're not already memo-ing, get on it, clown. If nothing else, it's always an interesting look into the old brain pan. 

Oh, one last thing, take a memo: Today is also National Strawberries and Cream Day. So, pretty much the greatest day ever. 

That is all. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Time to Start Moving Again

If you're anything like me, you're using the recent influx of nicer days to thaw out the sweet dance moves that have been hibernating the last few months. Also, if you're anything like me, you feel a little bit like the Tin Man after a storm.

But under-used joints shall not stand in our way! It's time to start moving again. How else will we be in prime condition for all those summer water balloon battles? We really need to be able to bob and weave.

These tunes should put you on the right track.


"Hey, Hey, Hey" (Delta Rae)



"I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (Whitney Houston)



"Higher and Higher" (Jackie Wilson)



"The World Is New" (Save Ferris)



"Hang Loose" (Alabama Shakes)




So, do you have any suggestions for me? Tomorrow's dance card still has room on it.