Saturday, September 23, 2006

Weekend Stuff

Wow! I actually won something! Anne Frasier had a groovilicious contest & I won this CD. Okay, I was actually second, but who cares? I'm gonna get to hear some tunage I haven't heard in ages (I wore out my tape way back when). Thanks, Anne!

Tired, tired of scribbling, not much else going on. Tomorrow is another day - for tonight I'm just gonna watch the rest of The Wire (season 1) and drink a little wine. Hey, it is the weekend!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The First Five Pages

I'm not big on "how to" writing books - my favorite, Stephen King's On Writing, is more of a memoir than a writing guide. Still, Noah Lukeman's The First Five Pages is pretty damn helpful. I'm not saying it's perfect. I don't quite understand his issue with the ubiquitous question mark (grounds for early rejection), and Miss Snark has given conflicting advice re. postage (Lukeman is in favor of FedEx, while MS suggests regular postage), but there's plenty of good stuff nonetheless.

This book isn't so much about how to write, but what common mistakes keep your manuscript exiled to the shit end of the slush pile. You know. The basics. The things all writers have heard a million times, and most of us need to hear again. So I'm working my way through and trying some of the exercises he's got at the end of each chapter.

While I recognize that I've got plenty of room to improve, I'm also feeling pretty damn good about how much I've grown over the past few months. I really, really needed to be reminded of this. Not the oh-wow-I'm-tha-shizzah thing, but the hey!-practice-does-pay-off-dammit thing. It's amazing how hard it is to remember the progress I've made. It's equally amazing how much attitude effects outcome. My husband threw a quote at me today (hate it when he tries to be supportive like this), that I'd heard before. "Whether you think that you can or that you can't, you're usually right." - Henry Ford. The bastard was right.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mad about Milk

I need to stop reading the news. Yes, reading - I got rid of cable tv years ago & get my news from multiple web sources. Whatever. I gotta take a news vacation.

I made the mistake of reading a translation of the Pope's controversial speech. I'm not going into it, but it made my blood pressure rise.

Then I stumbled across a video (damn you, YouTube!) about some Fox TV news reporters who got fired because they wouldn't lie. They were working on a story on milk & the bovine growth hormone. The Florida courts backed up FOX News & said it was okay for the network to LIE...about what goes into approx. 25% of America's milk supply. Whatever. You can watch the video for the gory details. I've switched to organic milk. I'm voting with my dollars. I don't care if it's a little more expensive, I'm not putting freakin' cow hormones into my body on purpose. Doesn't that seem, oh, a little STUPID?!!

So no more news. For at least a week. I'm getting too irritated & I've got other stuff to do. You know, the kind of stuff I can actually have some impact on. Like words on the screen/page, windows cleaned, edits done, dishes washed, letters get the idea.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Book Meme

Lots of stuff to catch up on today - writing, editing, toilet scrubbing (literal and metaphorical), so I thought I'd do the book meme that Dana posted ages ago.

1. One book that changed your life.
It's hard to pick just one, but I've got to say The Sound and the Fury , by William Faulkner. The former postman of Oxford, Mississippi blew my little 15 y.o. mind with his complex characters, heavy dialect and the way he teased out the story line. Did I mention that I grew up in Mississippi? Or that I knew a few families that were truly Snopesian?

2. One book you have read more than once.
Hmm. Guess I'll have to say Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. I still love how the book works on so many levels. And then there's the surrealism and super-loaded symbolism of the characters. Love this book.

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
That's easy. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. One of the finest books ever written. Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, Scout, Jem, Dill (aka super young Truman Capote!) - all characters I really enjoy spending time with. And, of course the story.

4. One book that made you laugh.
Skinny Legs and All, by Tom Robbins. Hey, a writer who turns a can o' beans, a dirty sock and a painted stick into anthropomorphic characters is all right with me. Not to mention the not-artist artist who turns an Airstream trailer into a giant turkey sculpture on wheels and devises a "spy" coat with a hundred slips of paper that say he loves Ellen Cherry Charles in a hundred different secret codes. Then there's Salome & the secrets of the Middle East conflict. Damn. Love this book.

5. One book that made you cry.
Just one? I guess there's always Sylvia Plath's angsty, beautiful classic, The Bell Jar . One of the most powerful written depictions of depression and straight up hopelessness I've ever read. *Sniff.*

6. One book you wish had been written.
Guess I'm working on that one already.

7. One book you wish had never been written. Can't think of one. Okay, there are books I hate, that I think are dangerous, but that doesn't mean I don't wish they'd been written.

8. One book you are currently reading.
Sacred by Dennis Lehane.

9. One book you have been meaning to read.
Oh crap. I can think of about twenty. Still waiting for The Perfect Storm to arrive. Guess I'll stick with that one.

10. Now tag five people!
Er, tag yerself if you want to do this one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Spinetingler Link-O-Rama

All right people, the Fall Issue of Spinetingler is up and available for your reading pleasure. I'm pleased to say that I was a guest editor for this issue - it was fun & I always learn tons from editing work by other writers. Hey! My first editing credit! Kinda cool.

Lots of great short stories and reviews - including a kick-ass review of Anne Frasier's newest novel Pale Immortal you can read here.

Don't forget to check out Between the Hardbacks with Barry Eisler and J.A. Konrath, by M. G. Tarquini and the Very Famous Elizabeth Krecker. A must read for writers who are interested in self-promotion techniques - and a fun read to boot.

So...what are you waiting for?! Get crackin', er, reading!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

You Must Be a Writer When...

You must be a writer spend the first 45 minutes of the drive to Phoenix working out character names/descriptions/relationships.

You must be a writer addition to a blanket, i.d., and beer money, you take a spiral bound notebook & a pen into a Van Morrison concert.

You must be a writer when...the solution to an opening you've been struggling with comes clear half-way through "Here Comes the Night."

You must be a writer when...the shmacka-fracka pen you brought with you turns out to be bone dry.

You must be a happily married writer when...your fabulous husband cons the folks at the Hawaiian vacation give-away booth into giving him a pen for you.

You must be a writer spend most of the jazz-styled rendition of "Moondance" writing out a page and a half of the opening scene - and you know it doesn't suck.

You must be a writer when...even though you only got 3 hours of sleep, you're still in a better mood than you've been in months - 'cause you got the damn opening down.

Nice to be a happy camper, even if it's only until the next chapter...

Edited for those who are more interested in how the concert was (that's right, that's you Steve):

Van Morrison is famous for doing either craptastic shows, or amazing shows with little in between. There was no suckage in last night's performance. The Cricket Pavilion is a huge outdoor shed venue, but it was a lovely night for a show & I actually was glad to be on the lawn instead of on the floor - the pink clouds were gorgeous & fitting.

The jazz version of "Moondance" was a little weird - couldn't quite make up my mind about whether I liked that one or not. The newer, country-esque songs & country/blues covers were awesome. Van also satisfied fans of his older tunes with "Here Comes the Night," "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Wild Night," "Jackie Wilson Said," and closed the show with a truly kick ass Chicago Blues style version of "Gloria." His band was amazing - Cindy Cashdollar's (from Asleep at the Wheel) steel guitar was unfreakin'believable, the fiddle player (can't remember his name off the top of my head), and the rest were just incredible. And I can't believe the man didn't pass out in the Phoenix heat - he wore a 3 piece suit and hat for the entire performance, looking much like he did in the photo for yesterday's post. What can I say? No disappointments for this fan! Great show with the added bonus of kick starting my little grey cells re. writing stuff.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Off to See Van da Man

Van Morrison at the Cricket Pavilion in Phoenix. Tonight. Cheap seats on the lawn. Do I really need to say more?

photo © marc marnie

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Good Places to Visit

Lots of stuff going on & getting behind a bit on the writing, so today I'm just going to give some links to places I like to visit. And just to keep it short & sweet, I'm sticking to AZ blogs/sites.

If you're interested in what life in a small mountain town in AZ is like, check out Granny J's blog, Walking Prescott. She's got lots of great photos, knows her history & is generally a great blog read.

Want to know a bit about Arizona desert ecology from a super liberal and occasionally potty-mouthed artist dude? Check out C. Atrox's Arizona Babylon. He's got a great post up now about desert tortoises.

Like poetry? Check out NORAZ Poets Southwest.

Awesome photos? Go to The Flagstaff Daily Photo .

Go to Coyote Radio if you want to hear some cool poetry, spoken word, radio theater, Prescott Arts Beat, or local music.

And then, of course, there are fellow AZ writers, humorist M.G. Tarquini, and the extraordinary Elizabeth Krecker.

Great people, great blogs. I love Arizona! Take a minute to check out these blogs & websites & I think you'll see why. We've got so many interesting folks here - and the weather doesn't suck, either. (FYI, I got my wish re. the rain slowing down. I don't feel too awful about it. Just heard that this has been the 6th wettest monsoon season on record!).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Quits Redux

Author M.E. Ellis is donating the royalties from the sale of her e-book Quits to NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). If you like creepy stories and want to help out a good cause, you can get your copy of Quits here.

Quits Book Trailer

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Rainy Day

Zelda - black lab mutt


I shouldn't say this, but I'm really getting sick of all the rain. I know, I know. Arizona's in the middle of a multi-year drought and needs every drop of moisture we can get, but...I'm starting to miss the warm, dry days of early fall.

I'm tired of gray skies, and I'm tired of getting woken up in the middle of the night by my dogs freaking out - Zuzu hates the thunder and isn't shy about sharing her thoughts on the matter. Whatever Zuzu does, Zelda does, so I end up with two dogs whining and pacing. I'm so done with it. Then there's the fact that I just steam cleaned the carpets. Not so good with 2 dogs tracking in mud because of all the RAIN. So I find myself humming that tune of children with cabin fever, "rain, rain, go away..."

Time to stop whining & get to writing.

Another downside - Snails everywhere!!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Quits - A Review

M.E. Ellis

Wayne is not a monster, although at first glance he fits the bill. Unhappy with the attitudes of modern women, he decides to conduct a grotesque “experiment.” Wayne chooses a teenaged girl as his test subject and kidnaps her, intent on finding out how long it will take to break her. What he didn’t count on was how the experiment would end up changing him.

M. E. Ellis delivers a complex character that I would love to hate, but can’t. Wayne takes us on a journey through the torments of his childhood and into the darker regions of his adult psyche. And yet…hope and humor and compassion shine through, in spite of the horror. I never would have guessed that I would end up almost liking this mother hating, bunny loving, cliché quoting, kidnapping madman. But I do, and I bet I’m not alone on this one.

Quits is an honest-to-god creepfest, guaranteed to keep you up well past your bedtime turning the pages. After racing through it, I found myself flipping back to reread sections of the book to see how the author worked in the clues leading up to the killer twist near the end of the story. Quits stays with you, much like Wayne’s description of the lingering stains of childhood fears, “Everything you’ve ever feared as a kid is supposed to vanish with the arrival of adulthood. It’s like washing powder cleans those stubborn stains and they’re gone, but I bet if you put the material under the microscope it’s still there.” Consider yourself warned.

Want your own copy? You can get it here at Wildchild Publishing.

Quick Update

Still recovering from work days (hey, I'm supposed to be a stay-at-home lady now - Three 12hr work days in 6 days is NO FUN!!!). Not to mention the cyber hangover from Tuesday's Pale Immortal release party/blog crawl/pimp-o-rama. What can I say? Anne Frasier knows how to throw a killer blog party.

I've got a review to write - I've been horribly remiss & a bit overwhelmed. So while I finish that up (hopefully to be posted later today!), I'll leave you with a bit of poetry that I read over at Dink's blog. Made me remember once again how powerful and wonderful a poem can be. Scurrying off to write my first ever review.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pimpin' Pale Immortal

Interrupting all broadcasts with this VIP (very important pimpin') message...
Check out Anne Frasier's awesome new novel, PALE IMMORTAL, on sale at fab bookstores everywhere TODAY!!! Visit here to listen to the soundtrack and mp3s, read the first two chapters, and learn more about the book.

In the meantime, sit back with the beverage of your choice (I'm going with a white Russian!) and enjoy the video trailer for...

PALE IMMORTAL - A new novel by Anne Frasier

My Pimp Name Is...

Luscious Luv

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hail Storms & Clouds

It hailed so hard yesterday, I felt like I was back in Mississippi. Fortunately, none of our skylights got broken.
The upside to monsoon storms...cooler weather and gorgeous clouds. Finally getting back to normal and tackling the projects & stuff that's been piling up on my desk. Coming soon - a review of QUITS, by M.E. Ellis!