Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Novel Ideas: Are They Really Your Own?

Think about it. A novel idea is born inside a writer's mind. Plot, characters, dialogue, and conflict formulate around the idea. Applying pen to paper, the artist allows the story to be told. But, is it (the idea) really his own?

 Plato was one of the earliest philosophers to provide a detailed discussion of ideas. He considered the concept of idea in the realm of metaphysics and its implications for epistemology. He asserted that there is a realm of Forms or Ideas, which exist independently of anyone who may have thought of these ideas. Material things are then imperfect and transient reflections or instantiations of the perfect and unchanging ideas. From this it follows that these Ideas are the principal reality (see also idealism). In contrast to the individual objects of sense experience, which undergo constant change and flux, Plato held that ideas are perfect, eternal, and immutable. Consequently, Plato considered that knowledge of material things is not really knowledge; real knowledge can only be had of unchanging ideas.
(Source: Wikipedia)


Now, take for instance, vampires. I know, the "story" has been done. And done. And done. However, the IDEA of vampires, is it owned by a particular someone? Copyrighted? According to the U. S. Copyright Office, no, an idea cannot be copyrighted. 

What Is Not Protected by Copyright?

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for
federal copyright protection. These include among others:
• works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of
expression (for example, choreographic works that have
not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches
or performances that have not been written or recorded)
• titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols
or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation,
lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
• ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts,
principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a
description, explanation, or illustration
• works consisting entirely of information that is common
property and containing no original authorship (for
example: standard calendars, height and weight charts,
tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from
public documents or other common sources) (Source: U. S. Copyright Office)

I realize this may be common knowledge, but in this era when so very much of us and ours is out there (on the web) for everyone to see, copy, use, borrow...it's definitely something to contemplate.

A frog can only be produced from a tadpole. Simple science. Can anyone create a picture book about a tadpole growing into a frog? Yes. (Although, I'm sure there are plenty of adorable pbs' about this subject) However, an author's job is to make the story their own. Tell the story in their own words. Make the tadpole truly authentic.

A Polliwog's Tail
(pb idea created for this blog post by Candy Fite)

Piper, an unruly polliwog in love with her own glorious tail, denies her froggy fate by refusing to learn how to hop on her newly grown legs. 

It's that easy. A tadpole to frog...done before. A polliwog with an attitude, refusing her fate...too cute.

So, as writers or readers, what are your feelings on this subject?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Acorn Art

I've played all week with watercolors. Most of them I wasn't happy with at the end. A few, I believe capture the essence of the story. Here is a cute close-up of Little A. as he's just fallen from Papa's branch. Tell me what you think. I'd love to hear your opinions! 
Happy Sunday!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Picture Book Dream & Watercolor Art by Candy

For many of us aspiring authors, publication feels unattainable. The thought of seeing our work in print dangles before our faces, just out of reach. Agonizing torment. For some of us, the dream (or nightmare) has visited (plagued) our nighttime slumbers for decades.


My ultimate dream? To publish. Do I need to top the bestseller charts? Nah. If I could make one child smile and cherish my book, my dream would come true.


I've toyed with painting since my childhood. Oils and watercolors are my art of choice. I've never thought of myself as a painter, but sometimes, I actually produce something worthwhile. 


My first complete picture book, Little Acorn's Big Fall was first written in rhyme. After receiving kind rejections (and agonizing silence) for over 18 months, I decided to redraft the story in prose.

In the beginning, I struggled. Little A. was insistent upon rhyming his voice. I begged, pleaded, and agreed, that if he would show a little faith in me as a writer, I promised to be true to his story. So together, he and I reworked the story. We wrote and rewrote until both of us were satisfied that we'd stayed true to authenticity of his tale.


As I typed our prose, something magical happened. I began to visualize the art as the words appeared on the page. Abracadabra. Bibbity-bobbity-boo!

Here's our visualization for page 3:

Oh, if anyone is a grammar person, I've went back and forth with the last sentence on this page. "Only one in ten thousand acorns grows into a tree." I read it as the subject is "one" and the verb is "grows," or should it be "grow," I'm confused!! It looks funny the way it's written now.

If anyone knows of a publisher or agent hunting for author / illustrator combos, please leave me a comment! I have five on my list to research for now. Thank you!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hermione Rocks My Heroine World

All you YA fans MUST check out Jen's latest blog post over at Unedited or The YA Sisterhood! They have an amazing Tournament of Heroines going on over there. It's quite easy to vote! It's as simple as a *click, click, vote* to cast yours and help your fav.


So, who're the heroines you might be asking.

The final two contestants: Hermione (our Hogwarts wizardly heroine with all her super awesomeness), my fav, of course!


Here's my Hermione cheer:


"Go, Hermione...Get busy...Shake your broomstick!"




Claire from the Morganville Vampires--best of luck to ya!














What are you waiting for?


Point your wands over to Jen's or the YA Sisterhood blogs to find out how to vote!

Don't forget to tweet about it #TeamHermione or #TeamClaire #HerioneTourney or @YaSisterhood @jenunedited

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Recovered Book Hoarder

I finally did it. My husband has been hounding me for years to go through my bookshelves and get rid of the ones I'll never read again. He wanted me to photograph my bookshelves and show you the "mess" here on my blog. I refused. I will tell you that on top of the horizontal rows of books, I had vertical stacks of books. They were piled everywhere. 


So, I've got issues. Who cares? I. Love. Books.


I collected 11 bags of books and one bag of Writer's Digest magazines with issues dating back to 1999. Were you aware that Half Price Books buys almost anything? What they don't buy, they'll recycle for you! I figured the magazines would be recycled (I didn't have the heart to do it myself!), but they were thrilled to get them and decided to sell them as a collection. Outstanding.
 
Half Price Books' 40th Anniversary is coming up this year! Happy Birthday HPB. :))


I walked away with $50 (and two new books...shh!), and my bookshelves are neat, organized, and only contain what I can't live without or what I haven't read yet. It wasn't easy. Actually, it was quite painful! But, I do feel a sense of accomplishment, and the house feels uncluttered.


I admitted to my husband that I've been hoarding books because I feel unsuccessful with my writing. For every day I don't get requests for my Little Acorn PB manuscript or something BIG doesn't happen with my writing, it makes me feel better to buy books.


I'm satisfying my need to be published by buying books. Wow, that sounds terrible when I say it aloud. 

Most books I read, but some just sit on the shelves, looking pretty. I'm also a sucker for a beautiful hardcover. I love the scent and the feel of a book. Does that make me a weirdo?


How about you? Do you buy books for something other than just to read them? How often to you thin out your bookshelves? Do you find yourself hiding the purchase of another book?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Soon-To-Be-Published in SUCKER LITERARY MAGAZINE

GUESS WHAT???

I have an edgy YA short story soon-to-be published in Sucker Literary Magazine's inaugural issue. An exact publication date is undetermined, but Editor & Founder Hannah Goodman and her suckerlicious staff are working night and day to wrap up this issue very soon!

Knowing Hannah, she's selected some spectacular authors and illustrators to showcase in her first issue. (Nope, not biased...just proud!) It's going to be sensational!

Don't be a sucker and miss out on the first-ever issue of Sucker Literary Magazine!

Find Sucker Literary on Twitter @SuckerLitMag
Facebook: Sucker Literary Magazine

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts...Where, Oh Where Has My Writing Spark Gone?

We are all sleeping in here at our house, all except my husband, who's working. Police Officers do not always get the holidays off. We arrived home after midnight last night after visiting our Nana in ICU. She's spent the better part of the last two weeks fighting for her life after suffering a major stroke and then a cerebral hemorrhage. Now, she's battling pneumonia. 

Yesterday, she endured seven hours of an adverse reaction to morphine. Had the admitting nurses noted her chart correctly two weeks ago, they would've known NOT to administer her an Opiate drug. I won't go on about the ordeal, as it was extremely traumatic. I'd like to think it was an honest mistake, and that they will now care for our Nana like she was their Nana. One can only hope.


As the matriarch of our family lies in her hospital bed, with many color-coded tubes running in and out of her frail body, I am saddened today. Thanksgiving is usually spent at her home, as we all bustle around her cramped kitchen preparing dinner. 

I ask that you count your blessings today as you sit around your table. Consider yourself lucky to be sitting with your loved ones, friends & family. I'm comforted by the mere fact that Nana probably has no clue it's Thanksgiving today.


With all of the current stress in the family, my writing spark has dwindled. I can't find it at the moment. I feel like Sweet Polly Purebred, searching for her Underdog. "Where, oh where has my writing spark gone? Oh where, oh where can it be?" Then along with not writing comes the crushing guilt of not writing. It's a vicious cycle.


As I sit here, typing this post, it occurs to me that I must cut myself some slack. Relax. Take a breath. Do some yoga and just be. Be happy that Nana is alive. Be content with what I have written in the past and all that I WILL write in the future. 


Hmmm...what a novel idea! Be happy with what I have. Count my own blessings.


I think I'll get in the kitchen and bake those Spiced Rum Pecan Pies I've been meaning to bake for the holiday.



Happy Thanksgiving, my friends & followers. 
May your day be beautiful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Warm & Fuzzy Blog Fest Week 4

Ugh, it's almost over! I've had such a great time meeting all the spectacular writers / authors during Juliana Brandt's Warm & Fuzzy Blog Fest. 

Week 4 we're supposed to post what makes writing worth it for us. Then we are to post one of our Warm Fuzzy moments. It can be a scene from a WIP, short story or poem.

What makes writing worth it for me? It allows me the ability to release. Express. Share. Give. It makes it all worth while when someone reads something I've written, and they say, "Wow! tell me more!" 


Here's a tiny warm & fuzzy from a picture book I wrote last year:


Little Acorn wiggled around and found a cozy place to rest.
Although a bit frightened, he trusted Father knew best.

"Sleep tight, Little Acorn, have no fear.
I will watch over you. I will be right here."

Little Acorn twirled around until he was tucked in snug.
He pretended the leaves were like Father Oak's hug.

He whispered, " Be brave,"  and he tried not to weep.
He closed his eyes, and settled in for a long winter sleep.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SCBWI Regional Conference & Blog Award

A ginormous THANK YOU goes out to Allyn Stotz  for nominating my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award! Make sure you check out her lovely blog, too. Her blog heading is absolutely adorable!

The requirements of receiving this award are:

1. To thank the giver and link back to her site.

2. Provide 5 random facts that folks may not know about you.
3. Pass this award on to 5 other lovely blog sites. Let them know you're awarding them. Link to their sites.
4. Copy the award logo and paste it onto your own site.
Here are the 5 random facts about me that you probably do not know about me (unless you've peeked on my quirky me page).


~I'm tremendously afraid of driving in the mountains and riding on boats.
~I have a hankering for pickle juice.
~I've had over 40 jobs so far.
~My absolute favorite place to write is an airport.
~I have self-diagnosed A.D.D.


The 5 Lovelies I'm nominating the award to:

Have you seen this gal's smile??? Angela Orlowski-Peart has a lovely smile & blog! http://www.angelapeart.com/


You must check out Jen's Unedited blog. It's lovely and hollers personality! http://jennifer-daiker.blogspot.com/

Angela Brown's Blog is just as lovely as she is! She's one supportive blog buddy to follow. :)) Check out her Pursuit to Publishness...
                   http://publishness.blogspot.com/

If you haven't seen Jessica Therrien's Imagination To Publication, you must! Her heading is one of my favs!
                  http://jessica-therrien.blogspot.com/
Last, but certainly not least...Susanna Leonard Hill, a wonderful picture book author! Her blog is so lovely it makes me happy inside with its warm colors and kid-friendly images. 
                  http://susannahill.blogspot.com/

I had the privilege of attending the SCBWI Brazos Valley Connections & Craft 2011 conference this past Saturday. We had the opportunity to listen to some outstanding authors / illustrator; Kathi Appelt, Molly Blaisdell, Doris Fisher, and Brian Floca.

Agent / Editors consisted of; Claudia Gabel from Katherine Tegan books-Harper Collins Imprint, Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties, Inc. and a special interview from Martha Mihalick of Greenwillow Books- Harper Collins Imprint.

A huge thank you goes out to Liz Mertz and everyone else who assisted with the preparations. It was a spectacular day of a workshop, presentations, and connecting!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kick Em' While They're Up...Kick Em' While They're Down

Isn't it interesting how writers abuse and mistreat their main characters? We throw them curve balls, cause them to have accidents, put them in the middle of chaotic situations or worse, life or death scenarios. Why? Because we can. Because it makes an excellent story. Because readers desire to experience conflict with their favorite characters, as they cheer them on or cry on the sidelines. Readers want to feel. Experience. Relate.


This week's Warm & Fuzzies Blog Fest is all about exposing our malicious intents aimed at our main characters. 
Juliana Brandt writes:

There’s something spectacular about the trauma main characters go through and the way they manage to come out on the other side healed. Sometimes, I wish I could experience a complete character arch like that, but in reality, being an MC would be awful.
This week, take a moment to look at the trouble you get your MC into. How do you kick them while they’re down? Without revealing too many secrets about your WIP- take us through your MC’s arch.

This week, we will visit the other Warm & Fuzzy blogger's blogs and come up with nifty titles for their works in progress. 

My newest wip characters are still in the process of becoming who they are, so I'll use my YA historical fantasy I finished recently. It is currently title-less, so give me something great!!! The town's name is Vinegaroon, TX. There is also some element of fantasy for the time travel. Eerie is more like it...

What Title Would You Give Me...?



Seventeen-year-old, Josey Jones finds herself hurled into the past where she learns that life on the dusty pioneer trail is not only dangerous, but after she discovers she plays a vital role in an ancient family mystery, will she ever be able to find her way back home, and if she does, will she go?


  • College-bound Josey is ripped from the present and thrown into chaotic post Civil War Texas.
  • Outlaws, angered Natives, and starvation are not the only threats to trail life.
  • Abduction
  • Thirst
  • Venomous Reptiles
  • Brutal attacks
  • Near drownings
  • Temptation
  • And, then there would be the mysterious, creepy way she was catapulted through time...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kudos To My Writing Bestie

Swing! 

I'd like to dedicate this post to my favorite writing partner. We met three years ago as Library Assistants through the public school system. When we discovered that both of us were writers, we started meeting weekly. I have to admit, some days when we get together, writing is the last topic that comes into the conversation. 

Why? you may be asking yourselves. Writing partners should discuss writing things, right? This may be true, but Nisha is more than my writing partner, she's my friend. My writing confidant. My sounding board. My teammate. My cheerleader. And, I am hers. Some days, I don't know what I'd do without her. 


Yesterday, I gave a presentation to promote my soon-to-be-finished rose rustling book. I had the honor of presenting to a room full of rosarians at one of the largest old garden rose nurseries in Texas. Nisha was there, along with Liz and Jacqueline from our regional SCBWI group. It was wonderful to look out in the audience and see their smiling faces.


Especially, Nisha.


I arrived home after a successful afternoon to find the newest issue of the SCBWI bulletin in my mailbox. I fixed a cup of tea and settled down in my comfy chair to do my first of many read-thrus. To my pleasant surprise, Nisha's awaited article was there on page 23. She wrote Swing! this past summer. I was completely moved by the story when I first read it because not only do I know Nisha and the writer she is, but I also know the child she refers to in the story.


I know the writer, Nisha. The one who sometimes needs to be coaxed into taking that swing. The writer who sometimes hesitates to express herself through words. The writer, who like so many of us, allows fear to paralyze the pen.


But, page 23 proves that not only did she take that swing, but then she proceeded to sprint all three bases, and slide into home with style and grace. (We're talking SCBWI bulletin, Sista!)






Way to go, Nisha! I am so proud of my writing bestie.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

WNFIN Challenge

As if I need another challenge to complete by a particular date! Yep, I joined yet another writing challenge called Write Non-Fiction in November. My goal is to complete my Rose Rustling Non-Fiction book in 30 days. I started a blog about rose rustling and my writing project, and completed an outline last month. My Adventures in Rose Rustling can be found at http://texasroserustler.blogspot.com


I've set additional goals to edit during the month of December, and as a Christmas gift to myself have it professionally edited, and then proceed to self-publishing sometime in January. I know, big goals, but I KNOW I can do this!


I plan to market this book on Amazon, Twitter, my blog, and it will be sold after my rose presentations. The owner of The Antique Rose Emporium has also agreed to write a foreword for the book and sell it in his garden stores at two Texas locations.


If you have a non-fiction project you'd like to give a whirl, join me in the challenge. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guess My Current WIP

http://julianalbrandt.com/blog/

Ugh, well I guess I missed the boat for the first week on this blog fest! There I was standing at the pier. Little did I know that ship had done sailed. 

I just entered my post, and the contest ended last Friday *she types smiling*.  Y'all can still read it here on my blog if you'd like. It has a motivating message at the end. Oh well, on to this week's contest!

This week, we’ll cater to those of us who are completely possessive over our WIPs and don’t want to give anything too telling away. Instead of posting something intimate about our writing, post a picture or piece of music that describes your WIP.
What do you look to when you write? What inspires you? How else do you use your creativity? Music? Pictures? Art?

Some of you may know, I write many things all at once. I'm a writer with ADD. Big time. I've selected the YA book I'm working on since the non-fiction about roses would be too simple to guess. Here is a photo that teeters on the verge of tipping the bucket about my WIP. For me and my writing, this image speaks volumes.


Can you guess? What does this image say to you?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pull the Covers Over Your Head--My Top 5 Scariest Books Ever

 My Absolute Favorite Scary Books



There is no doubt about it. I like a good scary book. One that keeps me on my toes, peeking around the dark corners of my house, sleeping with the lights on. But, there have been a few that still haunt me, even years after reading them. In order of scary to the most wet-your-pants-frightening, I'll list my top 5 favs. 









1.) Tommyknockers by Stephen King
~As if living in the woods alone wasn't creepy enough, King had to go and add aliens.


  2.) Kiss the Girls by James Patterson 
~Serial-girl-stalking-abducting-hide-you-in-an-underground-hole-scary! 









  3.) Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
~White creepy van + moth larvae = can't sleep at night frightening. 









4.) The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
~Flies & evil spirits? 









Drum roll please...

  5.) The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
~Uh, uh...no way. I'm even having a difficult time looking at the cover of this one. Possession is my absolute nightmare from hell. This one keeps me bed-bound, even 25 years after I've read it. Yes, folks, that made me 15 when I read this book. I had to sneak it in my bedroom, and I read it under the covers with a flashlight. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much after this one.




What is the scariest book you've ever read? What makes you pull the covers over your head? Ghosts? Vampires? Psycho killers? Aliens?

BOO!




Thursday, October 27, 2011

So You Think You're a Writer?

Yeah, I do.


Writer: One who writes, especially as an occupation. ~American Heritage Dictionary

A writer is a person who produces literary content, including but not limited to stories, poetry, music and other literary art, advertising, procedures, and books. Writers are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it, in the required format, to Development Executives. ~Wikipedia

Definition of WRITER: one that writes. ~Merriam Webster
  
Writer - Definition
Though anyone who creates a written work may be called a writer, the term is usually reserved for those who write creatively or professionally, or those who have written in many different forms. ~WordIQ.com

(Monday, October 31st) ~Interestingly enough, Rachael Harrie's 
Rachael Harrie's Blog Building Campaign has come to an end. I read on another campaigner's blog Jessica Therrien that she was joining Juliana Brandt's Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest It seems appropriate (and much needed!) to join in the fun, seeing as I just had my writer's cheek slapped something awful. The blog fest begins with telling a story about telling someone you're a writer and their reaction, good or bad. I hope this suffices...

So, You Think You're a Writer?
 
Recently, I was literally punched in the gut by something a family member said about my writing. It was second-hand information, but it hurt nonetheless. She said she was disappointed that I'd decided to pursue my writing career, because I wouldn't ever really do anything with it anyhow. I was always picking up new projects, procrastinating, and then never finishing the job. She also said it was a complete waste of my time.

I've always wanted to be a writer. Always. A couple of years back, I made the decision to do something with a few pieces I'd written. This particular person seemed genuinely sincere as she cheered me on. Little did I know she was mocking me behind my back.


Knowing I made myself vulnerable to her and looked to her for support is what hurts the most.

After I heard this, I fought to choke back the nail-studded lump in my throat. The tears flowed despite the fact that my eyes were squeezed shut. My heart shattered in a thousand pieces.

The harsh words came from someone who claims to love me. Obviously, not. After my crying fit, I dried my tears, blew my nose, and promised myself to not let her get me down. The interesting thing, is I've always written something since she and I met over 20 years ago. I guess in her opinion, if I'm not on the bestseller list, I'm not a success. 

Clearly, from the definitions of a "writer" above, I am a writer. How do I know this? Well, to put it simply, I write.

To all of you out there, struggling day to day to find the encouragement to keep writing, this post is for you. It doesn't matter what anyone else in the world says, even if it is a family member. If you put a pen to paper, you are a writer. Remember to stay true to who and what you are. 
True success is in the heart and mind of the beholder.

Big Hugs & Write on!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sucker Literary Magazine Acceptance

YA Short Story Accepted

Holy cow! Just received word that SUCKER LITERARY MAGAZINE has accepted one of my YA short stories!!!


Here's me shouting the news from the rooftops:
(Okay, obviously not me, but this is how I feel!)










Here's me dancing a wee, "I'm ecstatic gig!"





(Okay, again not me. But funny picture, right?)








Now, here's me wearing cheese on my head:
(Yes, it's me, and has nothing to do with my story acceptance. It's just funny.)








But seriously, I'm completely psyched about having my story appear in the first edition of Sucker Literary Magazine. The Editor, Hannah Goodman is quite the success herself. Take a peek at her website & blog. Not to mention, she rocks as an Editor!


Thanks for celebrating with me!


http://www.hannahrgoodman.com/
http://www.hannahrgoodman.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fishing Stinks

Rachael Harrie's 3rd Campainger Challenge- Show Not Tell

 I've been having a blast with Rachael Harrie's Campaigner Challenges. It's time for the 3rd challenge. Here are the rules:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:
  • that it’s morning, 
  • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • that the MC (main character) is bored
  • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise."   (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).
My entry is exactly 300 words, and I've incorporated all three made up words. All five parts of the challenge above have been met, I think! At least I tried.
 



Fishing Stinks

Frankie wakes up on her foldout lawn chair. Cranky, sweaty, and damn sick of smelling trash, she jerks her head up. On the horizon, a rosy glow stretches wide as the sun peeks over. Now, maybe they can leave this retched place. Nothing worse than sand in your panties, sticky saltwater, and grit on your skin.

"Oh, baby, you're up. Wanna fish for a while?" Jed says.

Not no, but hell no. "I'm tired of fishing. We've been here all weekend," says Frankie.

"Just a bit longer, darlin', I promise," Jed says.

That's what he said last night.

Synbatec, the sanitation department several hundred yards from the coast, explodes into action. Banging, clanking, men hollering, and giant dump trucks line up to dump their loads.

Didn't anyone recycle in Texas anymore? Damn wastopaneers is what they are. Shoving trash into landfills, mucking up the state, they oughta be ashamed of themselves.

The Gulf heat boxes in the nauseating Dumpster stench around Frankie. She gags, tasting trash on her tongue. She yanks her t-shirt up over her mouth. A churning in her empty stomach makes her thankful she didn't eat last night.

"Oooh, wee! I got myself anotha one, baby!" Jed says. He pops up, reeling in his line. He's hootin' and hollerin' and carrying on about his big one.

Big one. He thinks he's got a big one.

Frankie spills off her chair when sirens blare behind her. Jed is still wrangling with his big one, as a muscled beach patrol officer struts up. Flashy mirrored glasses conceal his eyes.

"Y'all have to evacuate the area. There's been a sanitation tacise in the water. We're closing the beaches," he says, spitting a brown patch in the sand.

"Awe, man!" Jed says, throwing down his pole.

"Oh well," Frankie says, smirking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little Acorn's Big Fall

It is that time of year when at any given moment you can be knocked on the head with an acorn. Tumbling, bumbling down from the trees, fall is the time when oaks release their seeds. It is also time for the squirrels to gather all the acorns they can find and stash them away in their nests for food during the upcoming winter.

My first complete picture book I ever wrote was Little Acorn's Big Fall. When I thought the manuscript was ready, I sent out a few queries to agents looking for picture books. I caught the interest of one Literary Agent, but haven't heard a peep from her yet. I'm thinking it may be time to move on and send it elsewhere.

The sweet story has a special place in my heart, and I hope to see it in print one day. My main character is Little Acorn who struggles with the weight of his responsibilities of becoming a tree. What he's really worried about now that he's forced from his father's branch, are hungry squirrels or even worse, rolling away and getting lost! Little Acorn wonders if he'll be the successful 1 out of 10,000 acorns to survive.

Written in a flowing AABB rhyme scheme, Little Acorn's Big Fall is on the hunt to find the perfect literary agency or publishing house, where together, they can create harmony in the world of children's books.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Her Way to Somewhere...A Wink of Fiction

Here's another Wink of Fiction. The theme for this week's Wink of Fiction is, there's a story around every corner. Literally, in this case. I decided to write about a photo taken from my husband's smart phone while he was in town one day last week. He emailed it to me. As an artist, I look at this photo and see character & story. Many stories. Here is what comes to mind as I first glanced at this photo. Hope you enjoy!






On Her Way to Somewhere

She is just passing through on her way to nowhere, somewhere, everywhere. Hundreds of people see her everyday, but she sees no one. Hears no one, except the voices in her head, telling her this and that. There are so many voices now, she cannot name them all. They come and go freely, like a crowded mental expressway.


She feels content when the good ones are around, but the bad ones, they make her do mean things. Like spitting on the sidewalk, throwing her cigarette butts on the ground, stealing from others, breaking into buildings to pee or even peeing in the street. The bad ones tell her not to care what others think. There is a young one who sings her a sweet lullaby every night when she closes her eyes.

She puffs on the cigarette she stole from the construction worker.  Finders keepers. He shouldn't have left his pack on the bench.

She pops a squat in the middle of a parking lot. This is a fine place to read a bit of Sparks. Oh, how I love me a good love story. The Notebook. Could of been me, except my husband walked out on me all because I was sick. Dirtbag.

Hmph! Well, I will sit right here and smoke my stolen cigarettes until the police kick me out of here. I will put up a stinky fight though. I sure will. Hadn't showered in over two weeks. And, I wish this dern hospital wristband would come off.

What's that? Hush now, child. The mean one's coming, and you know how she likes to boss us around. You rest, I'll wake you later.

"Excuse me, ma'am? You can't sit here. This is a parking lot. You'll get yourself run over," the policeman says, bending down closer to the woman. "C'mon now." He put an arm out to help her up.

She lunges for him, hissing, her eyes wild. "Leave us alone!" she screams. She crouches back down on her haunches and reads.

The police officer backs away, talking into his hand-held radio. He calls for backup. Sheila, his partner was good at handling these kind. She'd know exactly what to do. While he waits, he directs traffic around the woman. His good deed for the day.

He observes the peculiar woman who's hunched over a book. A cigarette dangles from her mumbling lips. He can't make out what she's saying. Maybe she's reading out loud to her herself. She's filthy and grungy and looks like she's been in the same teal dress for weeks. Her tangled hair is wrapped in a lavender bandanna. He can't help but stare as he wonders who she is and how she became this way. He wishes Sheila would put a move on it.

Thinks he's gonna tell us what to do! He better think again. Dern cop try and bully us.  See how he backed off, girls? I showed him!

Now, who picked this soppy love story anyways? Fine! Where were we? Oh yes, the wife just woke up and remembered who she was again...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Imago's Love at First Stink

Rachael Harrie's Writer's Platform-Building 2nd Campaign Challenge is:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
  • include the word "imago" in the title
  • include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.
For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

A HUGE-MONGO Thank you goes out to all the judges and fellow writers who "liked" or voted for my flash fiction piece! I was extremely honored to win 8th place in the challenge.

For those of you who read my first campaign challenge, and know I have a deep, dark secret of liking the freaky & creepy stuff, you'll find this very different, yet still creepy in its own special way. 

I struggled with this one, because the first story that popped into my mind was fiction, and creepy. Very creepy. *Think Silence of the Lambs vs. Kiss the Girls. You know the story: creepy, psycho kills people, hides insect larvae in victim's mouths, damp, dark basements, caves...stuff like that. But, I figured most of y'all who would stop by would be wondering if it was another scary one! So, I had to shake things up a bit. I hope you enjoy my piece! Thanks, Rachael for an extremely challenging challenge! Sorry, no mirror in this one. It's exactly 200 words.
  

The Imago's Love at First Stink


Stapelia gigantea and Green Bottle Flies
The moment the Stapelia gigantea oscitates its flesh-colored petals, a rotten miasma resembling the stench of a rotting corpse, emits into the atmosphere. Also known as, the Carrion Flower, the five-pointed bloom stretches out like a starfish. Tiny fibers or hairs cover the rough texture of the petals. A deep maroon lacuna sits like a cavern in the center of the flower, enticing the Phaenicia sericata (the Green Bottle fly) with its foul odor. The fly crawls in, and is tricked by the scent of decaying meat. While exploring, it pollinates the hermaphrodite plant. Female flies sometimes lay their eggs in the pit of the flower, and in ten hours, the flower is crawling with maggots.

Stapelia gigantea is a succulent plant in the milkweed family. Bees and butterflies pollinate most milkweed plants; however, the Carrion Flower attracts flies as its main pollinator. Young gardeners, especially boys, will enjoy growing this cool and stinky plant. Its immense flowers are ten to twelve inches in diameter, and as long as it's grown outdoors, the scent is only minimally offensive. Author's note: Sensitive sniffers, please take precaution.

As a gardener, I'm in a constant state of perplexity at the synchronicity in nature.


*******

You can click here to read the rest of the entries! Like mine, if ya do! :))
The Super-Duper Entries of Rachael Harrie's 2nd Campaign Challege

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blog Awards and Great Video

I've been a very bad blog buddy this past week. Dear, sweet blogger,  S.L.Hennessy awarded me another Liebster Blog Award, thanks S.L.:)) She has a super blog over at: http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

K.T. Hanna (loving her blog!!! You must check it out!) Awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award!!!
http://www.kthanna.com/

Then Claire over at Crazy California Claire awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award! Wow, thanks, Claire!!! Check out her blog! http://clairehennessy.blogspot.com/ 

I'm feeling some major Blogger love these days. Thanks, my fine bibliophile friends!!!

While I'm off working on my NPR 3-Minute Fiction story, Working on Deadline Revisions and writing my 2nd Campaign Challenge, have a looksee at this video. You may have seen it before, but for anyone who suffers from writer's block, it's a must-see! It's called George Lucas in Love

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/81256481/

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Wink of Fiction-


Tick-Tock
Nothing Good Happens at 3:00 a.m.

She rolled over, hearing a familiar hum. The digital alarm clock read 3:00. Darkness swarmed around her as she crept down the hall. The chaotic buzz stemming from the kitchen grew louder. On the granite counter, the empty blender whizzed. She unplugged the appliance. Light blared in from every window, blinding her. She froze. Her heart in her throat, she choked. The memories flooded back to her. It was time, again. Held captive by fear, she waited for the magnetic pull, and like clockwork, it arrived. In an instant, she disappeared. Time stopped. The digital numbers on the microwave read 3:01, only upon her return, would time continue. Everything would be as it was before, all except for the scar branded on her withering soul.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Door Swings Open with Flash Fiction

Let me begin by saying THANK YOU to Rachael Harrie over at Rach Writes. If it wasn't for the first challenge in the campaign she's hosting, the "door" may have remained closed. Figuratively speaking, that is.

The door to new and uncharted writing territory. Lately, I've been questioning my writing. What exactly is it I'm attempting to do? This past weekend, I sat down and asked myself, "What do you want to write?" Then, a second question, "What is it they (teens) want to read?"

My answer...

Suspense, thrills, creepiness, chills, fear, heart-pounding action, the not overcooked paranormal, darkness, & monsters (of all kinds-including human). These were the elements I searched for in books as a teenager. I was one of those teens who spent hours, reading the backs of books, trying to find the very best one.

These scenarios defined a "really great book" back in those days:
  1. If I couldn't keep my nose out of it.
  2. The plot / characters clouded my thoughts when I wasn't reading.
  3. If it kept me up reading into the wee hours of the night.
  4. If I was afraid to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  5. Or afraid to look under the bed.
  6. Or again, afraid to look in my closet.
  7. If it made me hide under my bed covers.
  8. If it forced me to buy every book written by the same author.
  9. If I was afraid to close my eyes.
  10. If when I was finished reading the book, it haunted me.
Bottom line, I loved books that could scare the bejeepers out of me. So, why is it that I keep trying to write stories to impress adults? Literary wonders for...whom?

What do teens want? I asked my 14-year-old daughter's girlfriends.

Their answers?

Scary stories. Really scary stories. Stories that keep them up at night. Stories that haunt them for days, weeks after they're done reading. And, not just monsters, but haunting characters and plots. Books they HAVE to recommend to all of their friends. Books that make them hungry for more.

Last week, I stepped out of my cozy writing zone, and I challenged myself to write a 200-word flash fiction, with the "crazies" in mind. I attempted to write something eerie and suspenseful. Something I would've liked to have read when I was young.

After reading all the super cool comments about my piece, I realized, I like it. I like the present tense, quick-paced, creepy feel. I like the way this piece could be a terrifying end or a completely irrational, freaky beginning of a story.

Thanks to the 1st campaign challenge, fellow campaigners for all of your awesome comments, and thank you to Rachael for challenging me to let the door swing open.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Grumpy Bug Syndrome - Living in the Land of the Blahs

Some days, I feel like The Grumpy Bug
Ugh, I rarely get in one of these moods. You know the kind where you question yourself. What the heck am I doing? Who do I think I am? What makes me think I can be a writer? Once the questioning begins, it's a downward spiral to the land of Blahs.

A little world-building here. The Blahs is the land of yucky feelings. Where the moody blues grabs a hold of your soul and squeezes all the happiness out, leaving you in a pitiful state. Once you've landed in the land of Blahs, it's quite difficult to escape. The Blahs force field holds you down, sometimes it'll even force you into a ditch, face first. The only way to pull yourself out of the land of Blahs is having faith in yourself, in what you're doing and who you are.

It's having the faith that's the hard part.

So, here I sit. On the border of Happy Me-ville and the land of Blahs, one foot in each world. Question is, where will I land? Hopefully, I'll feel better in the morning, but this evening, all I can wonder is, what the heck am I doing, and what makes me think I can be writer?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Door Swings Open...

Our first campaign challenge is to write a 200-word Flash Fiction short story. Beginning with, "The door swung shut." I wrote the story in present tense, so I've switched the verb tense, hope that's not breaking the rules! I've taken on the challenge + the extra challenges of exactly 200 words, and ending the story with "the door swung (swings) shut.

I've included my own challenge (to myself, that is!), and incorporated the 1st campaign challenge to also be about my current YA wip.




The door swings open...

Swarming from all directions, they're on her. Pawing her, pulling her to the cold concrete, she crawls on her belly toward the light. The incessant moaning is everywhere. Above her. Behind her. Beside her. She retches from the rancid stench of decomposing flesh. Hurrying across the floor, she scurries like a cockroach. Grubby fingers fumble about her legs, her feet. Blindly searching. They smell her breath. They sense the life force pulsing inside her chest. The blood in her veins.

There, at the end of the hall, in a doorway, Heath waves his arms, beckoning her toward the light.

Almost there.

Pain rips through her right leg, and she screams, heightening their hunger. Reaching around, she swipes at her assailant. Its nails dig into the meat of her thigh. Its skin is sticky and moist, and she knows without looking, it is open flesh. Oozing, rotting flesh. She pulls free from its grasp, scrambling away.

"Laney! Hurry, c'mon!" Heath shouts.

He looks like an angel with the light haloed behind him. She picks herself up. A stabbing ache shoots up her thigh. They claw at her. She runs to the light.

...and the door swings shut.

Liebster Blog Awards

I'm a bit behind on awarding my top 5 picks for the Liebster Blog Awards. Thank you, Angelina C. Hansen for nominating me for this award! It's my turn to pay it forward. What is the Liebster Blog Award?
The award is said to have originated in Germany. Translated to English, Liebster means “beloved”.  The Liebster Award is meant to bring more attention to blogs with fewer than 200 followers.

It comes with a few simple rules:
  1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. Thanks, Angelina C. Hansen, one of my newest online writing peeps!
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog or email them.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
Here are my top 5 picks for the Liebster Blog Award:

Catherine Stine's Idea City
Stacy S. Jensen
Brittany
http://havingacquiredwords.blogspot.com/
Sarah P. and Blurb is a Verb
 
And best of all – Have a beloved time blogging your heart out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Turn Off That Water, Girl!

Bless her "green" heart, my Gramma Greene never ceases to amaze me. Even nine years after her passing, I can still hear her raspy voice. "Shut that refrigerator door! You're wasting electricity!" I was never allowed to linger inside the fridge, in search of a snack. My bathwater could only be three inches deep. Seriously. We're talking hard-core conservation efforts.

At Gramma's house, dishwater and rinse water were filled in the morning in buckets, which sat in each side of the sink. Cold, murky dishwater that contained food floaters. There was a distinct odor that lingered around the sink, growing stronger as the day progressed. Every night, along with the coffee grounds and egg shells, the dishwater and rinse water buckets would be taken outside to use in the garden.

As a young girl, the buckets in the sink, especially the dishwater, made me gag. Lucky for me, Gramma always washed the dishes, so my tiny fingers never really had to touch the water. I just scraped the dish, and tossed it in the bucket. The only thought that ever crossed my mind was, that must be an old-fashioned thing to.

Never, in a million years, did I ever realize that Gramma was practicing the ever-so trendy, recycle, reuse, and renew technique! Gramma Greene was truly green back in the day!

With the sudden onset of the absolute worst drought I've ever lived through, I have succumbed to Gramma's practices. I'm filling dishwater (in the morning) in a bucket in the sink (despite the crinkled noses of not only my daughters, but my husband), and reusing the water to give my plants a drink in the evenings.

It feels familiar and good, and I can almost feel Gramma there with me, walking around the garden, distributing the water. The once, foul scent, has become as pleasant as being acquainted with an old friend, bringing a smile to this gardener's face.

I can close my eyes as I pass the sink, inhaling the familiar scent, and hear Gramma's raspy, nagging voice, "Tsk! Turn off that water, girl! As your great grandmother Phipps would say, waste not, want not!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Liebster Blog Award and The Platform Building Campaign

Fellow blogger, tweeter, She Writer, and author, Angelina C. Hansen Angelina C. Hansen selected me and four other writers for the Liebster Blog Award this week! Thanks, Angelina! What an honor!

Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign


I also signed up for the Platform Building Campaign on Rachael Harrie's blog Rach Writes . It's a wonderful opportunity for any blogger / writer / author who has the desire to build their online presence, and connect with like-minded peeps. Can't wait to get started! Join in the fun!




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roses and Their Preferred pH Level

Roses do best in a soil with a pH at about 6.0 to 6.5. This is because important nutrients are most available to a rose at this level of acidity. The soil in my area is generally alkaline. To make matters worse for the roses, our well water contains a high pH level. The result adds further to the alkalinity issue in the soil. Our pH level in the soil and ground water varies slightly, but it averages from a high 7 to an 8.



I'm not a science buff, just a simple gardener. It doesn't take an expert to know that roses do not like a higher pH level. They prefer conditions closer to neutral or slightly acidic.

What's the answer? Well, my first choice would be RAIN, of course. But, seeing as how most of Texas is in an exceptional drought, my second choice is to counter the alkalinity in the soil. Adding sulfur, pine needles, coffee grounds, urea (yuck thought!), and acidic mulches / compost to my rose beds will at least provide acid into the soil, correcting the alkalinity issue to a certain degree.

I like this chart. It shows me the pH level for 
different sources of water. I would rank my well water with the baking soda / sea water box. According to the chart, maybe I should water my roses with milk!


Another option is incorporating more older China roses to my beds. They can tolerate a higher pH level. 


A normal summer in south Texas brings afternoon "pop-up" showers, which can dump an inch of rain in less than an hour. However, nine years ago, my family moved further inland, decreasing the number of coastal showers we receive. Still, south-central Texas usually receives summer showers, but not this year. Rain water is preferred by the roses because it generally has a pH level of neutral to slightly acidic.


At this point, the roses are going to have to settle for what I can give them. The bushes that do not survive, I will replace with Chinas, as they have proved to be the toughest so far. 


My last option is to take out all my roses and replace with West Texas flora, which will most likely not happen. I can't imagine my gardens without roses. The thought makes me pout. I've visited West Texas, and they grow roses right along side of their yucca and agave. If they can do it, I can.


I also need to convince myself that losing a few is nothing to get my britches in a twist over. Just move on. Replant. Improve the soil, plant tougher varieties, and get over it.