Friday, September 17, 2010

If Facebook Existed Years Ago...

My wife sent this to me and I thought it was kinda humorous. Maybe not the most important post on the blog, but since we've been talking about Facebook, I thought this would be a good one for a Friday.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Situation but conflict? Not so much.

Have you ever read one of those high-brow literary pieces that meander around, building character and dolloping on the setting detail until the richness chokes any interest you may have had? They are called vignette or situations, or sometimes if the author has the chutzpa, they are called stories. These "things," situations for lack of a better word, shamelessly lead the reader on into a deep relationship only to refuse to commit to any conflict, thus resolution. It's like blue balls of the brain when you read one of these bits of psychic masturbation. Where's my "happy" ending. Doesn't have to be happy ending in the sense of fairy tale, off into the sunset. I mean red light district happy ending. I want a climax, damn it!

That being said, why is it that my mind will only provide the character and the situation-- my own writing is a tease. Promising that grand slam that has me rounding third, but really leaves me in the dirt on second base. The rising tension, the climactic waltz that is story arc, the road to a sweaty, satisfying resolution eludes me.

Metaphorically, I need a kick in the intellectual baby maker.

Or maybe I need to stop reading porn.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Must reads

I am always looking for the next best read. Usually I don't find better than something to pass the time. However in the last year I've been reading up on the YA front in an attempt to get a grip on this exciting genre. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the real talent is writing for the 15-18 yo set!

Some real contenders for greatness? Hunger Games and Unwind.

Hunger Games is a dystopian future with an olympic games with a body count televised and packaged with sponsorships for the regional competitors. Like the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome, winning players are trotted out as examples of sudden wealth, fame and luck for the rest of the starving populace to emulate. Too bad the winners don't want to play along. I can't wait for the last installment of the series. It is like Running Man with muscles.

Unwind is also a dystopia where pro-lifers and pro-choicers have come to a compromise. All children will be born, only if their parents choose a child can be "unwound," that is parted out or recycled for parts. The social order, angst and ripples of a society willing to do sacrifice teens this way is spun out with deft and care. Finally, this book contains one of the most disturbing scenes I've ever read. I don't want to ruin it, but I will say this... I had to put the book down so my stomach would settle. Not because of gore! The scene disturbed something so deep in me that I had to come back after a break and begin again. AMAZING!

So I'll be experimenting with the YA genre. What do you all think the tropes of YA are? At this point, I've seen sex, drugs, and brutal violence in YA. Is it just protag age that sets it apart now?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The return....

After several months of inactivity, I, and I suspect the others listed as authors, are ripe for a return to Project 4word. Several us recently attended the In Your Write Mind writing retreat held at Seton Hill University and while this year's retreat was successful, the next year shows incredible promise.

In years past, the event was attended by Alumni of the university's Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. However, next year we're hoping to move the retreat up to the next level. We've massaged the name to the In Your Write Mind Workshop and added an additional track (business modules and craft modules) for attendees.

If the business meeting is any indication, the Write Mind Workshop is going to be stunning. I can't wait.....

Oh, right.

I won't be able to attend because I'll be in the middle of getting the F added to my M.A. Unless I work some JUJU magic that will allow me to take my residencies in January terms....all depends on when I'm supposed to graduate.


Anyway, I wanted to take a moment and tell my co-authors that they will be missed for the next 6-12 months until I see them again. And for those of you who were not present at the Retreat or residency (Gary, AG, Jill) were missed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just When I Thought...

I've been meaning to do this post on writing genre fiction. It would start something like this: I'm writing what some might call dark urban fantasy. It's not really horror as most of the violence takes place "off-page". I'm writing this because horror has a particular connotation that I don't really want to be attached to. Then I pick up an issue of Rue Morgue, a Canadian magazine devoted to horror movies, books, music and games. In a word, horror culture. And I really want to write horror because it's fun and it's scary and I think I do it really well. Besides, I was getting a bit bored with this urban fantasy thing because it was sort of "nice" and not really dark and horrific.

Don't get me wrong, dark urban fantasy can be as dark as any horror novel. As a matter of fact, both times I pitched Fallen Angels as a dark urban or suburban fantasy, the person looked at me and said, sounds like horror. But it wasn't as horrific as Institutional Memory or Forever Will You Suffer, my first two books. I wouldn't say Fallen Angels belongs in the horror genre compared to some of the books out now. Not so dark or gory. But an agent and an editor called it horror. So what do I know?

Then something happened today that changed my perspective. The agent I most recently submitted the partial to wants the whole book and wants to represent me. So I'm back into the book, giving it one last look over. Another look over. This is the fifth final look over the thing's gotten and for right now, I think it's as good as I can get it. Maybe in a few years I can make it better, but for now, it's as good as it's gonna get.

I'm having coffee with this agent on Friday to talk about the book, her connections, and my vision for my writing career. Hopefully it'll all jive in one of those divine synchronistic ways and the book will go to auction and I can become that philanthropic person I always wanted to be and give money to a variety of charities and still have enough to send Ben to the college of his choice. Hey, a guy can dream, right?

More to follow.

Happy Writins!
Gary . . .

Friday, February 26, 2010

What would I take?

Here's a fun little survey to take. It's courtesy of author Kaye Dacus.

If I were stuck on a deserted island (not one with smoke monsters and Others and time travel), I would want:

Book (other than the Bible): The Complete Works of Shakespeare -- poetry! comedy! tragedy! history!

Person: Matt Duvall (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Food item: Blueberry crumb pie (I figure this has all the four food groups in it)
Beverage (other than water—there’s plenty): Ocean Spray Diet Blueberry Juice
Celebrity Chef: Hubert Keller
Three CDs*: Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA, The Little Mermaid Soundtrack
Three Movies*: While You Were Sleeping, Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson's) and Return of the Jedi
Personal Care Product: Tweezers
Three Articles of Clothing (other than underwear): A sports bra (or is that underwear?), a swimsuit and a long sleeve t-shirt (for those cold beach nights)
Piece of Technology*: My laptop!
Wild Card: Sunscreen
*Because, of course, you’d have a CD/DVD player and a mysterious source of unlimited electricity and/or batteries!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Seton Hill Writing Retreat

9th Annual Seton Hill WPF Writer's Retreat and Conference

WHEN: June 24 - 27, 2010

GUEST SPEAKERS: Jim McCarthy, Agent, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
Janet Reid, Agent, FinePrint Literary Management
Annette Rogers, Acquisitions Editor, Poisoned Pen Press
Tina Trevaskis, Director of Marketing & Sales, Samhain Publishing Co.

This event is open to the public. Registration opens on March 1, 2010.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Am I a Writer?

Gary's last post made me think. Then it made me realize I need to make a confession.

I'm not like other writers. I'm not. I never tell them that, though. Because if I tell them how I'm different, they'll look at me and shake their heads and whisper, "She's not a writer."

Part of me thinks they're right. Part of me thinks I'm just a wolf dressed up in writer's clothing. A writing impostor.

Why am I not like other writers?

I don't dream about my characters.
I don't go in writing withdrawal. I'm perfectly content if I don't write for a day, a week or a month.
I don't think that my characters speak to me. Or find me. Or control themselves. Or any of that other stuff people say their characters do.
I don't get writer's block (I just get writer's crap).

Does this all mean that I'm a bad writer? Or am I not a writer at all?


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Love to Write or Love the Idea of Being a Writer?

This week, I was in Atlanta for a conference related to my dayjob. Actually, I'm in still in Atlanta, although the conference is over. In the middle of this taxing conference (I am, what I discovered, a state tax professional), I had dinner with Jim Moore (, a very fine horror writer, and a great friend. Over the course of dinner, he proposed this question: Do you love to write or do you love the idea of being a writer and the "writer lifestyle"? Hm...

There are days where writing is tedious. The words don't come, the characters aren't interested in participating in the story and, well, you know the drill. Or, like I've discovered this week, you're so focused on life around you, you can't switch into creative writer mode (yes, I have the left/right hemispheres issue (see Rush's Hemispheres for more on that syndrome (a damned fine CD))). Participating in a week-long state and local tax conference is a good way to avoid being creative. I am living La Vida Tax.

But I digress. So there are tedious days where I think, maybe I just love the idea of being a writer and don't really love writing. The whole idea of being a writer is (and I know some sexy writers). You get to ponder life, hang out in coffeehouses and drink too much coffee under the pretense of creative thinking, you go to cons and hobnob with the literary upper (or middle or (God forbid) lower) crust, and you get to feel creatively important. You may write some stories, maybe take a stab at a novel, but in the end you wind up watching another CSI rerun or surfing eBay for those footie pj's you always wanted. You even say to yourself "Not tonight dear, I'm just not feeling...literary."

You know what? That's all right. You have every right to do what you want. Far be it from me to tell you whether you love writing or love the notion of being a writer. I can only talk from where I'm at, about me, to you. So back to me. Do I love writing or do I love the idea of being a writer?

Sure there are tedious days and even more days when I don't get a single word out. But wait. There are days, more often than otherwise, when the words come like magic and the plot is right there and the characters and I are grooving together and it's all one big awesome jam, like Woodstock, sans the weed and mud, but plus the Grateful Dead-like meandering spaces, the rhythmic beats, the sunshine and the love, man, there is the love. Eh...wot?

No matter how I slice this, it comes to the same thing: I am a writer and I love writing. It may be tedious at times and I may be tired more evenings than I should, but conversely, when I don't write, I get kinda cranky, and irritable, and unpleasant.

What this means is that every night I don't write, it's not because I'm not a writer, but because I'm using an excuse to not write. And that just ain't right. I can always find another reason (spelled excuse) not to write. But if I don't write, I don't move closer to that awesome "writer lifestyle".

I leave you to ponder this: If you love writing and you want to publish your writing and maybe make some cash doing it, what's stopping you? What excuses are you using to keep from writing?

Next time I'll talk about some of those excuses that could keep us from writing. So until next time (and it will be less than six months or however long it's been since I last wrote here), may you find joy and excitement in spilling tales from your brain, may you realize your love of storytelling and let it come out of you in strokes of creative genius. Eh...wot?

Happy Writin's!
Gary . . .

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What happens when you have no plot?

I am cursed with pretty good characters who seem to never do anything. I guess arguably, then, they aren't good at all. Where do plots hide?What makes a conflict plotable? I've often wondered this as I search the depths of my brain for a good conflict.

Here's a test(which is taken from the real life questions I ask myself when trying to determine if I should take something seriously):

1. Does this problem complicate my life?

If no...move on.
If it an "I can't have PB&J for lunch because I'm out of PB" crisis or an "I can't go to work because my leg was broken, my car is on fire, I was hit by a little person dressed up as a seal swinging a bat, etc, etc." kind of crisis.
-->If it's the first...move on.
-->The second...okay we have something. Maybe.

2.Does it complicate the lives of my immediate circle?

If no...move on*.
If yes...does it inconvenience your circle or does it blow up their world?
-->The first...move on*.
-->The And is there loss of limb?

3. Does it complicate the lives of thos outside your circle?

If no...move on**.
If yes...does it inconvenience them or does it blow up the world?
-->The first...move on***.
-->The Is it a figurative "blow up" or were bombs involved?

4. Does this problem destroy the world?

If you wish it had?
If yes...are you to blame?

These are a few questions I ask myself before embarking on a plot adventure. Perhaps you can use them as well, but if not, I don't really care.

Ciao and happy writing,

*Unless the point of your plot is inconvenience, really, you're better off moving on to something more solid UNLESS your objective is a very short and/or annoying, melodramatic story. If you can prove me wrong, I urge you to do so.
**Unless item 3 is true. Not every story has to have a world focus.
***Unless the inconvenience is something like zombie dogs and you're a mail carrier delivering brains. That might be an inconvenience, but it might also be plotable.

PS...I made these up just now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

That Quiz Thing from Deanna by Way of Heidi Ruby Miller

1) Do you type or write by hand?

I write by hand on my computer monitor. It's a mess.

2) Do you save everything you write?

No, Jesus does that.

3) What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

The answers to this quiz.

4) What character have you written that’s most like yourself?

I created a superhero named Datt Muvall. Tall, handsome, impervious to pain, able to telepathically sense bra colors without a Facebook status message campaign... yes, he was very much like me.

5) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

I "borrow" them. Mostly from Isaac Asimov novels.

6) Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Only the ones about Isaac Asimov novels.

7) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Leave my grammar out of this. The poor woman's almost ninety.

8) Does music help you write?

Only if it's about Isaac Asimov novels.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blasphemous, I know....

I did something unforgivable and arranged my books by color. I'll never be able to find anything but it looks incredible. So I guess we'll see how long this lasts. In the meantime, enjoy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interview: Eight Writing Questions -DL

I saw this over on Heidi Ruby Miller's blog and since I can never turn down a good survey (see facebook for proof) I thought I'd join in. Perhaps my Project4Word cronies will also join....

1) Do you type or write by hand?

I must write on computer. Anything I write by hand will either be lost in one of about fifty bags, the floor of my car or the stacks of paper I have gathered but will never go through in my house.

2) Do you save everything you write?

If it was written on computer, then yes. I even have some floppy disks with my writings though no means of accessing them. If hand written....see above.

3) What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

The Beauty of David. It's an atrocious short story with an excellent concept and a pretty good twist. If only I could rewrite it without losing the feeling of it.

4) What character have you written that’s most like yourself?

Technically, they are all me which speaks to my enormous vanity, I suppose. The character that is most like me would be Jana, my angsty pastry chef. If I say I love her am I really saying I love myself? I don't know...

5) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

My ideas come from music, from people watching, from news articles, from my brain thinking, "What if?", from the people I hang out with, from work, from everywhere, I suppose.

6) Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Oh my goodness. I have an entire anthology sized folder of dreams.

7) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Ha! Concern over grammar and spelling has held me back for years. Instead of moving forward with the story, I would look back at all my typos and cringe. Write or Die has helped me overcome this problem of mine. I still cringe, but I've been able to move forward and complete a story for a change. I haven't done that since my thesis.

8) Does music help you write?

Music is my number one inspiration. Without it, I would not be creative at all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ringing in the new year....

After a long hiatus, I decided to dive headlong into the blogoshere once more. Keeping up on four blogs while maintaining other projects and a full time job will, I expect, get a bit hairy from time to time, but I've always been up for a challenge. I've also been all about burning my candle at both ends.

As to what I've been up to since my last post back in October....well. I spent the majority of July through October traveling for work and decided to throw a delicious, if ambitious Halloween shindig involving three types of fondue (see for all my recipes). The next day, November 1 marked my first day of my very first NaNoWriMo. This pretty much consumed my November.

December flew by and since I don't want to bore you with details, just know that I had a successful month with my craft business ( and a moderately successful Christmas with gifts. Unfortunately, My friends especially got shafted on the gift front this year though I still have three gifts sitting on my table ready to give away. However, I doubt I'll see these friends of mine until the spring thaw.

At least that is how it's starting to look.

I am proud to say that I only had one Christmas/Holiday melt down this year and it was fairly mild. So where does that leave me for this brand new year? We're almost ten days in and I'm still catching up on some gifts but I did manage to take down the decorations today. I'm concentrating on resting up this month since my plans for the rest of the year explode as of February 1st.

And you'll just have to stay tuned to read what exactly those plans are.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Thoughts on Misery

MFA-type navel-gazing, for those who might be interested.

I was glad to revisit Misery for our horror genre readings course. It's been several years since I first read this novel, and I was interested to see if it still held the same morbid fascination for me now as it did when I was a teenager.

Read the rest...