Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yay! Books are Cool!

Not terribly original, but definitely heartfelt. (See how I got not one, but TWO adverbs in one lil' ol' fragment? Yep, that takes skill, people.) Books are, in fact, very cool.

I finished two really decent reads recently - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon followed by I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Both are YA books - since my current WIP is a YA I figured I should check out a few in the genre - and both restored my faith in the power of the well-written novel. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary. Of the two, The Curious Incident was my favorite - no surprise as Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is my all-time favorite book & the two stories have a fair bit in common.

In spite of the wahoo of discovering kick-ass writing by people I'd never read before, finishing the novels left me with a problem. Yep, I was out of reading material. Okay, technically I still have a few books floating around that I haven't finished, but I just didn't want to read any of them. Most are of the too good to give up on entirely, not good enough to keep me racing to the end variety.

Neil Gaiman's Stardust to the rescue. Good grief can he tell a good story. I'm not a huge fantasy reader, but I love his writing. Around the half-way mark I started to worry, though. What the hell am I going to do when I've finished this one? Well, it must be my lucky day, 'cause the books I won for the Cozy Noir thingie came today. Yep, 2 books by Duane Swier... ah shit, I have to look it up. Okay, it's Duane Swierczynski. I just wanted to read the first paragraph, and ended up ten pages in on The Wheelman before I knew it. I didn't even open up The Blonde, 'cause I have the terrible feeling it'll be the same deal and I REALLY can't manage 3 books at a go.

So yes, books are cool and I'm a happy camper. I know some people can't read while they're writing, but I can't stand NOT to have something completely different to immerse myself in when I'm working. Thank god (and writers!) for good books. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Can't Settle Down

I admit it. I've got a bad case of the clicky-clickies. I should be working on the novel - hell, I WANNA be writing, but am I? Uh, no. Obviously not, or I wouldn't be typing on this here blog thingie. Crap. There's just so much other interesting (and less stressful on the brain) stuff to read elsewhere.

Like My Book Made Me Bald over at Anne's blog, and the cranky lefty dude's 2-part post on his Thanksgiving camping trip at Arizona Babylon - I'm so stealing some of his photos for wallpaper. Or how about an ex-pat living in Germany showing off his culinary skills? Check out Steve and his bad-ass cooking.

Then there's the nasty turkey carcass photo on Mindy's blog and poor Bonnie's massacred shoes. On a brighter holiday note, Granny J has cool pics of Prescott's Christmas displays (yes, Prescott has dubbed itself Arizona's Christmas capital...go figure). Of course, some of us are still recovering from Thanksgiving.

Wanna read about the latest round of how-much-violence-is-too-much in the crime fiction world? Check out Sandra's blog. How about some super-short stories inspired by mug shots? Click over to L.A. Noir. For a look at the thin line between fiction and reality, take a look at Toni McGee Causey's post over at Killer Year.

There's tons more (there always is), but that's a little taste of what I've been doing instead of, y'know, writing the damn book. Now that I've outed myself, I guess I'll have to go back to staring at the screen again. Someone should really take my mouse away from me...

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Mr. I Love a Mystery, at work in front of his Royal typewriter. I thank my lucky stars (and the good folks at Apple) every damn day that I don't have to work like that. Nope. I get to sit in a reasonably comfortable chair in front of a computer that allows me to correct my many, many typos, changed thoughts, and general errors as quickly as I want.

And that's what I'm doing. For quite a while. In fact, for the forseeable future, I'll be working on this here novel thingie until I get the flippin' first draft down. So if I start whining about how freakin' hard writing is (and it is, it really, really is), somebody please remind me just how easy I've got it in these here modern times...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Elmer Fudd Dance Re-Mix

No, this isn't a You-Tube Post - though I'd spend a dollar to see an Elmer Fudd dance re-mix any day. It's more of a reprise of the "be vewwy, vewwy quiet, I'm hunting words" post of a while back. I'm working hard to flush those tricky words, plot points and characterizations out of the brush and thickets. So it's gonna be quiet around here for a few days. I've got as much pre-Thanksgiving cooking done as I can and am working furiously to get some legs under this novel. So have a fab holiday (if I don't get back until then), and enjoy those lovely turkey tryptophans...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Teeny-Tiny NaNo snippet

Yes, I'm horribly behind the NaNo word count. No, I'm not terribly concerned. However, spurred on by the Great Galloping Aussie's NaNo excerpts, here is a tiny, tiny bit of what I've been working on. It's very rough, but I'm working on NOT editing super hard-core as I go along. It's driving me nuts, but I'm working on it.

*Be forewarned, this is a very gritty tale, so if violence bugs you, don't read on*

What’s left of Jason Parker can be found at an abandoned farm twenty-eight miles northwest of Phoenix. His body is just outside the barn, close to a patch of cholla and prickly pear cactus. The ants have already started in on him. There won’t be much left if he isn’t found in the next few days or so. The desert is always hungry and doesn’t like to let anything, especially dead things, go to waste.

I watched him die. I stayed and watched him bleed out onto the hard-packed dirt, waiting for him to hurry up and get it over with.

When someone gets shot on t.v. or in a movie, they usually fall down and die. Bang, bang, you’re dead. That’s not how it happens in the real world. Jason didn’t fall down when the 9mm round ripped through his belly. Not right away. And he didn’t just kick it either. It took him eighteen minutes and forty-one seconds to die. Almost twenty minutes of listening to the whistling sound of air sucked into lungs that couldn’t keep up and watching his hands try to keep his organs from sliding out.

I’m not sure what I think about that. Jason Parker was a murderer and he deserved to die, but Christ that was a hard way to go. I thought I would be the one to pop him. I wanted to be the one. I put a lot of effort into the plan. That’s not how it went down, though. But now, crouched over the meat that used to be Jason, it’s not so clear-cut.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Power of Purple

When I was in college (many, many moons ago), doing the Art School Babe of Doom thing, I had no problem running around Chicago in Doc Martins, a hippie skirt and a black leather motorcycle jacket. And oh yeah, orange hair shaved on one side.

'Cause, y'know, I was cool. At least as long as I was at school or stayed in the designated freaky art school areas (clubs, coffee houses, certain galleries, etc., etc.). Going to the grocery store or the post office or a "regular" department store was a different story. Sometimes it didn't matter at all. Sometimes people said stupid stuff and sometimes I was treated like...well, a potential criminal. And once, while traveling home for Christmas, a redneck in a Mississippi truck-stop seriously wanted to kick my ass. Not because I said anything to him, but because of how I looked. Plus, I think he really wanted to impress his girlfriend. Weird.

So now I'm knocking on 40, I work at home, and I decided to try out some of the colors I never got around to (purple, blue...still contemplating the possibility of fuschia). And you know what? People treat middle-aged women with purple hair quite a bit differently than they did the art school chicky. And most of it's not bad. In fact, I can't tell you how many women of various ages have confided that they would like to do something like that and I've had 2 ask what brand of dye I used. Double weird.

The really interesting thing is that people tend to either feel quite comfortable asking personal questions, or they try to ignore me. Seriously, when was the last time you asked a stranger what kind of hair dye they used, or why they chose to do something? I don't really mind, but it's still interesting. The lady at the laundromat wouldn't look me in the eye - she worked pretty hard to act like I didn't exist. She settled down when she realized I wasn't rude, angry, or an axe-murderer. Another woman asked me if my hair was this color on purpose. I almost laughed in her face...uh, no. Now that you mention it, this isn't on purpose, but the result of a terrible grape KoolAid industrial accident. Very tragic. So now I'm wondering how to work this into a story - the whole look different enough so that no one actually looks at your face disguise.

The men are a different story. My poor opthamologist couldn't muster more than "your hair wasn't that color before, was it?" followed by "it suits you." I know he was struggling, trying to be nice. I caught another guy openly staring at me (as in, he kept right on staring after he knew I had seen him), with kind of a creepy smirk on his face. What's up with that? Folks who know me just laugh and shake their heads, or think it's fun.

And I guess that's what it comes down to, having a little fun. Nobody gets hurt, I get to giggle and watch how folks react. I can't help it. It's just so damn funny how easy it is to knock people out of their comfort zone over something that has zero direct impact on their own lives. Plus, like I said before, they're a lot nicer to the eccentric middle-aged lady than they would ever be to the so-called attention-seeking teenager. Gotta love how we come up with handy-dandy boxes to put people in so we can figure out how to cope!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Prosthetic Arms and Snowdens...

Okay, it's after midnight and I'm busy avoiding writing stuff. Basically, I'm slacking and I'm all right with that. Besides, I've had entirely too much fun watching Mindy and Daniel duke it out over at Anne's blog. Writers...(shakes head sadly at the general overexcitability and pugilistic tendencies of the scrivener tribes). I freakin' love blog fights!!! Hee!!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Skelowriter Goes Blurple

Seriously busting a move to make some headway with the NaNo novel. More than a little behind, but in a way I think the craziness and forced (brief) hiatus was a good thing. Don't really want to say more, except that I've set a ridiculous goal for myself today. It might even be attainable since the hubster is out of town for a few days. When I don't have to worry about things like cooking, cleaning or the finer points of hygiene (yes, I'm still in my flannel p.j.'s), I have the headspace and lifespace to get a hell of a lot done.

I'm still waiting on photos from Day o' the Dead, but you can see some pics over at Granny J's blog. There is even a picture of me in my blurple-ness and a pic of Tiff (she's the one with the halo...don't you believe it). I had a chance to meet Granny J and talk briefly with her at the show. It was an absolute pleasure - I love meeting fellow Prescottonian bloggers and she is truly an interesting lady.

So Coyote will have a breather until it's time for Fool's Fest. Hopefully we'll be able to get some studio time in to record, and we'll be listening to the Day of the Dead show to see if it sounds all right for podcasting. There were a few blips (hey, it's live dammit...I'd like to see you get up in front of a bunch of people and do it perfect!), but overall it went really well. Starting next week, I'll be setting up regular office hours at the studio. I'm leaning towards Tuesdays and Thursdays (not Thanksgiving, though!) from 4pm - 8pm and then some Saturday hours yet to be named. So any of you who live in the area can stop by and say hi or talk to me about doing a show or podcast. It's time to get things moving over there at Studio A!

Back to the task at hand. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, words on the page.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Just Checkin' In

I am beyond tired (and confess to a better than average hangover - damn you Canadians & your tasty Pear Cider!!!), but the event is over and after another good 12 to 16 hours of sleep I should be ready to get back in the writerly saddle. I have much to catch up on and am actually looking forward to it...I missed my story and characters, I actually missed all the evilosity that is wrapped up in the writing process. How extraordinarily weird, but true.

I've talked with Tiff (foley artist for Coyote Radio Theater) and we've decided to start doing our own show - we're gonna call it "The T and A Show." Before you think we've gone completely nasty, her name is Tiff, mine is Angie & yes, the double entendre was too good to pass up. Especially since she brought up T & A in the interveiw with Andrew. So in the next few weeks, the premier podcast of "The T and A Show" will be wending its way through the web. And yes, I will be posting about it here.

So, uh, I'm tired & I'm gonna get some sleep now...hopefully back to my usual annoying self quite soon.

And I'll be posting pics of the show when I get them. Just a little warning, first. I dyed my hair kind of a blue purple (or blurple, if you will) for the event. The effect is...well, it is what it is. I like it and am contemplating keeping it for a while. Hey, when you don't have a day job that involves caring what the public thinks, you might as well have some fun!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Check out this podcast episode!

Prescott Arts Beat podcast. Here's an interview with me and Tiff B. (foley artist) talking about Coyote Radio. I confess that I was a bit difficult as a guest - mainly because my husband was doing the interviewing. And, uh, it's hard to convey the uh, sarcasm without coming off as a total be-yatch. A little embarassing, but I promise that no husbands were injured in the making of this radio show. Also, there are 2 short sketches from last year's Day of the Dead Show. So, y'know. Hope you like it.

Day of the Dead Interview - Part 1

Day of the Dead Interview - Part 2

Day of the Dead Interview - Part 3

Also, there's a bio of Milton J. Squirrel, leader of the Squirrel Liberation Front over at the Day of the Dead blog.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sparkle 125: A Word from an Artist

As promised way back when I first posted the artwork for this year's Day of the Dead t-shirt, here's a bio of artist Kim Atkins. Even though I admit to being entirely prejudiced, I think she's a kick-ass artist and an awesome person, too.

I've known Kim for 12 years, give or take a little. We met when we were both working at an art supply store in Evanston, IL. I was finishing up art school & Kim was busy actively making art and corrupting young artists like me. We worked together at two different jobs and shared studio space for a short time in the closest thing to an actual artist's garret that I ever want to deal with. Oh, and she took me to my first Grateful Dead shows (kinda weird for me - I was a total art-school-babe-of-doom & didn't get the allure of the Dead...I learned). Anyway, here's what she has to say for herself about how she got started in the visual arts and what her process is like. To see more of Kim's work, you can visit her website. Scroll down her web page to see a selection of her mandalas - you can click on the images for a larger view (a must to see the kind of detail she puts into her drawings and paintings).

Kim Atkins: Artist's Biography

Raised in the small town of Middletown, Indiana, I taught myself to draw at a young age. As a teenager, the local high school art club encouraged my interest and development as an artist. One year, I traveled with the art club to New York City. We visited museums and attended theater productions. It was inspiring - I couldn't believe a fifteen year old could buy booze almost anywhere in NYC without an ID.

Anyway, I went on to attend Ball State University in Muncie, IN where I studied graphic design and fine art. I graduated with a BFA in 1988. Since then I have worked as a freelance graphic artist and completed fine art projects on commission. While working for a construction company in Anderson, IN that did not believe in hiring employees, I was required to start my own business, Sparkle125 LLC. I was one of their graphic design and marketing "vendors" for two years.

My favorite mediums are watercolors and colored pencils. I particularly enjoy white on black drawings like the one I did for Coyote Radio. When asked to do the drawing within a circle for this project, I was thrilled.

I am most fond of creating mandalas. Mandalas have different meanings depending on what religion or spiritual mythology you subscribe to, but for me they are drawings within a circle. The circle is a container for whatever you want to keep in it. Draw a circle, draw something inside of it and you have a valid mandala.

Carl Jung used the mandala as a therapeutic device and I suppose I do as well. I find more joy in mandala creation than any other form of artwork. I was inspired to do these back in the mid-nineties while staring at my Indian tapestries. I never got sick of looking at them. In fact, there is a tapestry on the ceiling above me right now.

My art has often been more inspired by music than other artists. A Grateful Dead show was an amazing moving art gallery of T-shirts. I would often take my sketchbooks into shows and draw before the concerts. Sometimes I would just draw on other people. Amazing how people on drugs will line up for the silliest things.

I am currently working on several drawings and a series of colored pencil mandalas. It's often difficult without motivation or a fire beneath my feet. I thank Coyote Radio for that.

We pick up the t-shirts this Friday. I'm so stoked!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blogger Mysterioso

I have no idea why, but blogger is pretending that my last post never actually existed. I wanted to make a minor edit & discovered that my cute killer squirrel has disappeared into the blogger version of the Bermuda Triangle. Go freakin' figure.

Still have no time for blogging anyway. Much madness on the way to next weekend's Day of the Dead show & with continued NaNo nonsense. Still moving slow, but maybe I'll be one of those last-minute sprinter people. Even if not, the novel is coming along nicely and I'm really happy with it and my progress/process thus far. My husband is less thrilled with my thug/bootylicious playlist...he's a leetle bit sick of Ludacris, Snoop Dogg & Sean Paul. And I think Twista scared him. He's a patient, supportive man who understands my need for mood/subject appropriate writing music. Even if he doesn't like it much. Especially when he caught me singing "mutha-f*@#er get high, get low, get drunk" under my breath while shopping at the grocery store. Oops...

I can't believe how much I miss spending time visiting blogs, but it's just gonna have to wait a bit. So thanks to everyone who's offered words of wisdom, encouragement and cheerleading (yeah, I'm talking to you, Anne, Dink, Steve, Sandra, Trace, NaNo co-conspirators Daniel and Stephen and especialmente Mindy...I'm sure I've forgotten somebody - please forgive my tired brain). Here's wishing every last one of you a fab week of general goodness!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Uhhh....What Time Is It?

It's after 2 a.m., I didn't make the 1667 again, and I really don't care. (Okay, mebbe a little bit...I'm kinda competetive) I did get over 1100 words, which is up from yesterday. More importantly, I don't hate most of them.

The really good news is that I love my story. The characters are talking loud and clear and that kicks ass. Part of the problem (undeniable need-to-edit-as-I-go aside) is the story format. Anybody out there ever done a reverse narrative? It's flippin' hard. But I've committed to it and I don't think I could tell the story differently now. Actually, I tried yesterday and I think that was part of the frustration. The damn story just won't go that direction.

Really, truly, I didn't mean to come off like a big whine-a-thon. I understand that some people really love the "whoo-hoo" of quantity over quality. That's ultimo fab. But for me it's more of an oh-shit-I'm-WAY-out-of-my-comfort-zone kinda deal. That's not a bad thing, just...challenging. I'm digging the story and the characters and the truth is that I'm writing way more than I usually do, even if I'm not up to NaNo speed. It's still early, dammit!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I didn't make my word count goal yesterday. I broke a thousand, but was still over 600 words short by midnight. After being all bummed out, I got over it and went to bed. I'm just having a hard time caring more about quantity than quality. It basically goes against everything in me...I'm working on it, but I dunno if I'll be able to put that part of me on hold for NaNo. And I'm torn on the whole issue. It's good for me to get out of my slow-ass safety zone and move faster than I want to. But am I going to get to the end of November hating everything I've committed to the (virtual) screen?

All right, this sounds whiney and that's not how I feel or what I mean. I'm just...exploring the possibilities here. And that's really all I've got. It's a new day and I'm jumping in fresh. I'm not happy with 80 % of what I wrote yesterday. Not even close. But I'm moving on, cause it gets kinda boring playing freaked-out-writer-up-a-tree.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And the Race Begins...NaNoWriMo 2006

That's right. It's officially started (a little over 15 hours ago by my clock in AZ).

Three hours into the writing and I'd already managed to completely freak myself out. Thanks to Mindy for talking me down from the tree...

Diving back in for round 2 & then catching up on Day of the Dead stuff & giving the short story one last polish before I send it off to Spinetingler. No worries, though. I've got the fire department on speed dial in case unexpected treed author syndrome strikes again.