Jan 31, 2011

Hopping Projects and Outlaw Traitors in Derbyshire

This is right up some of your alleys. Ellie Garratt is hosting Top Ten Horror/Science Fiction Movie Quotes Blogfest on February 6. To sign up, click HERE.

Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out is hosting the A to Z Blogfest extravaganza in April 2011. Click HERE to sign up and read more about it.

Here's a great blog for you science buffs and sci-fi writers http://sciguy-science.blogspot.com/

Seems I am intending on entering three contests. One is local. Two are international. So, I've been working on short stories and am eyebrow deep in a novel revision. Deadlines looming, so excuse me if I'm quiet this week. I'll be busy kicking myself in the head and bitching at myself.

Have seven shorts out on submission. Got one rejection back already, but it wasn't unexpected. The piece didn't quite fit their niche. Shrug. But you never know unless you try. They encouraged me to submit again. So, that's positive. Already sent the piece out elsewhere.

Reading anything good these days? I'm reading The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. Maybe that doesn't surprise you, since I've done some posts on history. The beginning of this story was great. Seemed to sag for a bit, but is picking up again. Will see how it goes. As long as there's history in it, I'm happy. I love glimpses into other times. Always fascinates me.

I'm also reading Outlaw Tales of Oregon by Jim Yuskavitch. This is research for a future novel. I've been enjoying it. The outlaws are colorful and it gives me some insights into my state's history. Just finished Women's Voices From the Oregon Trail by Susan G. Butruille, which I loved. Also for research puposes. I found it a fascinating read. History is good enough for me, but mix in women's history and I'm extra interested. This book really gives a flavor of what it was like to travel the Oregon Trail. Sounds pretty horrible. Those were some hardy souls.

I'm also rereading Pride and Prejudice for about the 200th time prompted by a recent rewatching of the movie. The Keira Knightly version is my favorite. I'm a major Jane Austen fan. I watch the movies over and over [especially Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice] and read all her books over and over. If I'm not careful and overdo it, all my characters start speaking with English accents.

I really love reading old literature. People in other eras did not think the same as we do. I find those differences intriguing. It feels like time travel to me, so I get a rush out of it.

So, how's your writing / projects going? What are you reading?

Jan 28, 2011

Early Elves and Slugman: Mesopotamia Statuary

Fridays at the Met. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Today we continue our foray into ancient Near East art.

Almost everything that exists today in high civilization began at Sumer - jobs, cities, laws, schools, 360 degrees in a circle and a dozen come from Sumer - their math was based on the number 6 - and urban is derived from Sumer's best known city, Ur. And according to a news program this week, accounting, too. Now there's a journalist after my own heart - speaking of Sumer in relation to modern times. In relation to anything, you'll get my instant undivided attention.

The first elf? I have to admit I find
this statue curious.

The two figures in the foreground seem to
merge together and form a slugman.
Hmmm, must write that down in my idea journal.

What never ceases to inpsire you?

Jan 26, 2011

Mondo in 2001

Sometimes my mood gets a little silly ...

My name is Mondo. I am a spaaaace caaat.

Mondo, it's 2011.

Doesn't matter. All stories to do with me are timeless. So, here we go ...

Once upon a time, there was a cat who ventured through space. Uh, yeah. His name was Mondo. On planet Credenza, he bumped into a monolith.

"This is a very linty planet. And what is this?"
"You lost your helmet, Mondo."
"That's not important. Planet Credenza
has breathable air."

"Must look closer. What's inside?"

"It's full of stars ..."
"Now I am a girl cat dressed in clothes"
"Now I am a tall blond cat dressed in clothes"
"Now I am Mondo and him and her"
"Now we are rocks"

"The end"

Perhaps Mondo will have more space adventures in the future. Do you have a silly side?

Jan 24, 2011

Road to Authordom and Top Ten Blogfest

Take advantage of every opportunity around you and keep an open mind. Keep learning and reaching. Like everything in life, authordom is a process and a road - filled with bumps, holes and twists. Many a published writer I've met admits to writing several novels before getting 'the' nod. And that isn't the end of a bumpy ride. Seems the norm these days is two books then dropped. So be prepared. Take advantage to get as well known as possible and get connected with your readers, so you can carry on for yourself. Throw yourself full tilt into the marketing game. Do not depend on someone else to sell you. You should be selling you. This is your career. Take ownership.

I've been fortunate to have many local resources - the writers guild, my critique group and open mic at 2nd Sundays. To be known in your local community is a great resource when you get published. So if you haven't gotten out there yet and gotten visible, I highly reccommend it. It's probably the hardest thing for us introverted writer types to do.

Now onto the blogfest.

Top Ten Music Blogfest

sponsored by Alex J. Cavanaugh [busy working on the sequel to CassaStar].

I often use music to feed my muse. Muse is also a particular favorite band.

1.  Anything by Elvis Costello
2.  Anything by Muse, Uprising a particular favorite
3.  Air in G by Bach
4.  Paranoid Android by Radiohead - like many more songs, but this one is my favorite
5.  Caribou by the Pixies - like I said for Radiohead
6.  21st Century Digital Boy by Bad Religion
7.  Anything by the Cure - most favorite is Why Can't I Be You
8.  Can't Change Me by Chris Cornell
9.  Ball of Confusion by Love 'n Rockets - and like I said for Radiohead
10. Most anything by Cat Power

Not necessarily in this order except for Elvis C. Always #1 with me. And I need to squeeze my love of the legendary Freddie Mercury in somewhere. Another honorary mention: Rain by Breaking Benjamin. I could go on, but I won't.

My novels have theme songs. 1st one - Higher by Creed. 2nd - Paranoid Android. How about you? Do you use music in your creative process or to fuel your other passions? What about advice on traveling the rocky road to success? Those of you with a book or more published, what have you learned?

Jan 21, 2011

Near East Relief

Fridays at the Met. Click on any photo to enlarge.

As thrilled as I was to be in the presence of such great works of art, a room devoted to the Ancient Near East called to me like ... beacons.

In my first lit class in college, we read the "Epic of Gilgamesh", which blew me away. The first story ever written, it is at least 5,000 years old. Talk about time travel! Sumer has fascinated me ever since. So, it is no surprise to me that I used this ancient culture as reference to pen my first novel.

Most of the reliefs are from a later time period - Akkaddian - after Hammurabi conquered Sumer. Babylon is the most famous point of reference from the Akkaddian era, noted as the birth of civilization. Sumer predates it, however, and its culture was adopted in whole by the citizens of Babylon.

Obviously, this is a pet topic / interest of mine. What about you? What is a pet interest of yours?

Jan 19, 2011

Firefly Han Does the Robot in Style

So, these little tidbits pop up from time to time, and I feel the need to share.

First off, some Firefly trivia: apparently in some scenes of the Joss Whedon genius series is a Han frozen in carbonite. For more see HERE. Oh darn! An excuse to watch Firefly again. My favorite episodes were Jaynestown and Out of Gas. You?

Click to enlarge. Look at Mal's left shoulder [our right] for Han.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy. For more information see HERE. They have a really cool video, too.

As Spock would say, "Fascinating."

Flight of the Conchords - The Humans are Dead - This made me chuckle

Thanks to Nomar Knight, Jezri and Tara for the Stylish Blogger Award.

Be sure to vote in the poll - what is Pluto - and add to the discussion on super powers on my homepage: http://www.mpaxauthor.com/

Jan 18, 2011

What's Your Process Blogfest

Hosted by Shallee of Life, The Universe and Writing.

Life of this writer. My most creative hours are morning. I'm fresh. Words flow free.

Ideas and inspiration come throughout the day, however. Usually while doing something mundane - making dinner, working out, driving, reading, right before I fall asleep, in the middle of the night, watching TV / movies and in conversations with others. Although I will act on the inspiration, writing is mostly a daytime activity for me. When my brain feels spent for the day in wordsmithing, I print out what I wrote. I read it in the evening and edit it with a pen. In the morning I begin with inputting those edits. When a chapter feels done, I move on. Usually takes several days to a week or two in the revision phase.

With the next novel, I plan to move much faster in the first draft phase. Doesn't mean I will. I do a lot more organizing and planning at the revision phase - chapter outlines, character studies and the like. I just prepare the minimal basics for a first draft - main characters, setting, needed research and plot. I need to know where I'm going to end up before I can start. I need a 'purpose' or aim to write toward. Otherwise, I feel I'm wasting my time.

In the submission process, I send a few out at a time then wait for the replies. I've been tweaking / rewriting before doing another round. But that's about to change. I've learned a lot since my first stories and the first ones have been so through the revision wringer, they're done.

I deal with rejection by sending out more submissions / queries. I've gotten some very interesting rejection. Most times they use my name these days. One said my story was not for them, but told me to keep submitting it; that it was sure to sell. So, that was nice and encouraging. I've gotten a few requests for revisions and resubs. Several times I was in serious running. Those are probably the most disappointing rejections - to know I was that close. Yet they are also encouraging and keep me going.

Rejection is all right. Means I'm in the game. Many kind editors have given me personal feedback along the way, which is as rare as a 'yes'. Learning to master the short story are skills I can bring into my novel writing. It's certainly helped me to hone my pitching skills.

My process for reading in public - take a deep breath, place husband in the audience and go for it. I had him video my readings for awhile. By watching myself and by watching other people, I improved a lot. I actually enjoy reading my work now.

What about you all? How do you handle the rejection-love? Have you tackled the reading in public beast yet? What's your golden hour for wordsmithing?

Jan 17, 2011

Block Neverwhere and What's Pluto

Happy Monday everyone!

I had a terrible case of writers block end of last week. Just horrible. Granted, it was restricted to one story, but it drove me crazy. It inspired an article on the blasted ailment on my website: WRITERS DESK

I also updated my bio, calendar and news. Everything but Discovery, which I will update later this week. I also have a new poll and discussion up on the home page of my site.

What is Pluto?
What super power would you like to have? Replies limited to 250 characters. Hit the yellow 'discussion' on the left hand side at the bottom.

The next book in the Wistful Reads bookclub will be Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. He is always a treat and this book falls into the urban fantasy subgenre. Intrigued by lands like Narnia and Alice in Wonderland? This story may just be your thing. We'll talk about it more in March.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a tough go with a lack of inspiration on a short story rewrite end of last week. I loved the new 1st five pages, but could not figure out where to go from there. I struggled with all my devices and tricks for days with no luck. After writing that article, my muse found me again later that evening - just when I was about to put the piece down and get back to the novel or another rewrite.

After sitting and being still, I knew that story needed revamping. And I suppose the struggle was worth it as I am quite pleased with where it is going now. A friend's feedback has me quite focused and on track with it. I'm glad I invented multiple routes when stuck. When I am done with the rewrite, it will sit and be still once again since it is such a major overhaul of the story.

Have another rewrite slated after this one plus continuing on with revisions on novel#2. Also came up with 5 new short story ideas while trying to come up with something for the stuck piece. Did more submissions last week. Will keep at it. Onward and onward and all that.

What are your tricks when the muse leaves you high and dry on a piece?

Jan 14, 2011

Japan and The Nile

Fridays at the Met. Click on a photo to enlarge.

Egypt and Japan are such a natural pairing ... No? Well, I'm going to show the pics together. I could make something up about Buddha visiting Egypt in the guise of a pharoah ... in a spaceship. Mummification was a way to send alien spirits back to the homeland, galaxies away ... Want to buy one? An alien spirit? I'll send you one for $10 ... telepathically.


Replica of a Buddhist Temple

How would you merge Japan and Egypt together? Hope you enjoyed the field trip.

Jan 12, 2011

Replay and the Time Loop

Replay by Ken Grimwood uses the science fiction plot device of the time loop - an instance of time played over and over. Usually only one or a few characters are aware of time replaying itself. Replay uses an adult lifetime as the time span relived over and over. Each subsequent life is shorter, so it becomes apparent the gift of time is not forever for the protagonist.

The question of the novel is: what would you do if you could go back and do it all over again retaining the knowledge you have now.

As the main character explores various options, he finds different degrees of happiness and torment. Some he won't chance again. He finds another person reliving lifetimes like he is and they try to find out why it is happening, but they don't figure it out. It just is. Parallelling life itself. We ask: what is it's purpose / meaning. We never really find out.

And if you could live your life over again knowing what you know, would you? Are there forks in the road where you might now decide to go the other way? In some ways, we humans try reliving certain aspects of our lives or to turn back time. We get stuck until we decide to move on or find what we need. Sometimes we get stuck for a very long time. So, is the effort futile?

Anyone else read Replay? I found it a great read and enjoyed making the discoveries of each lifetime along with the main character. What nuggets did you take away from it?

Probably the best known example of the time loop plot is the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray's character relives the same day over and over and he is the only one with memory of it. Another I can think of off-hand is an episode of SG-1, Window of Opportunity, where O'Neil and Teal'c relive the same day over and over.

Would it get tedious? Or would you enjoy reliving a chunk of time again and again with impunity? And I wonder, if we are the sum of our experiences and choices, how would changing them change who we are? Certainly, if we change our choices it effects the people in our lives, too.

Anyone attempt to write a piece using the time loop plot? I would find it very challenging. Hmmm, that means I will think on it and attempt it in the near future.

Jan 10, 2011

Festing a New Beast, or Something Like That

Want to mention a couple of upcoming blogfests, in case you're unaware and would like to participate.

1.  Shallee of Life, the Universe and Writing is hosting a What's Your Process blogfest on January 18. Sign up here

2. Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh is sponsoring a Top Ten Countdown music blogfest on January 24. Sign up here

So, the beast died last week. RIP Wrongway. He's been replaced with a new beast, which I am very happy with thus far. It has no name yet. Although I am leaning toward naming it after the main character in my current WIP.

What a weakling I am, that I could not bear to go any longer than a few days without a desktop. Our routines and habits really do get ingrained, don't they? We rebel at any change to our ingrained habits or throw tantrums. Something to keep in mind in our writing. Huh? Everyday life is full of lessons.

Another is: always backup your work. Everyday. I lost nothing but a few emails.

I wrote a new short story last week. It needs a little bit of work, but the idea is there. I really enjoy writing cerebral, abstract crap - sort of like surreal paintings with words. Although I enjoy it, I have to tamper such stories with grounding. My crit group hates when I write that sort of thing. If I give them some grounding points, they do better with it. For now, the piece needs to sit and be still for a few weeks before I decide how it should be grounded.

Working on chapter 5 of the novel revisions. Finished the second total rewrite for "Beacons". One of my 'revise and resubmits'. I think I finally got it right. Also tweaked another short story which delves into the abstract / cerebral. It's a flash fiction. It's about ready to submit.

Did some submissions last week spurred by some encouraging rejection. Wierd how that can be motivation. Huh? Do you ever find rejection motivating? Got a good rejection story? I received one recently which said I should be flattered they read the whole thing. It gives me a chuckle, but I'm not really sure how to take that one.

Jan 7, 2011

The Egyptian Tomb

Fridays at the Met.

The holidays gave us quite a holiday from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We spent a lot of time trying to find our way to the Egyptian tomb. The museum winds about like a maze. It is a delightful maze to get lost in.

The riddle of the Sphinx -
refused to let me get a
clear shot. This one is the most
in focus.

The moat and buildings simulating the ruins as found in Egypt.
My niece and I were all excited about going inside the temple.

But you could only take a few steps
inside, which was disappointing.
There was this statue of half of a

Some castings of writings found inside the tomb

I was surprised at how similar some of the Egyptian engravings are to Sumerian / Babylon. I researched Sumer for my first novel. Ancient civilization often inspires me. Do you draw from history at all in your creativity? How do you use it, or avoid it?

PS, the PC is dead. RIP Wrongway. Seems the motherboard went caput. The good news, when I get a new PC I can recover the hard drive, and I back up my writing every day on a flash drive. I had not done so yet when Wrongway went black the other day, but had the latest novel edit sitting on my desk in printed form. So, no real disaster. Only I can't access anything on the PC until I replace it and plug in the old hard drive.

Jan 5, 2011

Monolith Action Figure

My monolith action figure arrived! From ThinkGeek.com A very exciting day indeed!

Pristine in its unopened package.
It was larger than I expected and heavier.
There's more than one?
Mysteries of the monolith abound
Makayla gets into the sci-fi spirit of it all

It's filled with stars if I photoshop it
It's no shoe box
[shoe boxes are Nini's favorite kind of boxes]
 Oh what fun will spring from the monolith now that it's on my desk? Ghost of Arthur C. Clarke, it'd make a pefect home for you. What would you do with a monolith action figure?

ps, I am again having PC issues. I hope just the monitor blew and nothing more serious. Anyway, not having access to the PC at all is a problem .... Hope to be up soon and typing this message unnecessarily.