Friday, September 28, 2012

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #4

I'm posting late in the day again, but it's better late than never.  Busy days can make it difficult to get everything done.

In case you haven't read the previous installments, follow the links below.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #4

RC balanced the diary on her knees.  Her back was pressed against a damp stone wall, her legs stretched out straight ahead of her.  Her muscles ached from the brisk march Alyx had led her on through the back alleys of town, and she wished she had something more comfortable than a concrete basement floor.

The search for Alyx’s brother proved unsuccessful.  They hadn’t seen evidence of anyone, and his spirits were suffering.  He kept up his end of the conversation, but his words became quiet, subdued.  Now he sat on an inverted metal bucket along the adjacent wall.  The way he hunched over with his chin resting on his fist vaguely reminded RC of a statue that she’d seen in a previous life.  The long silence, which she had filled with her thoughts as she transferred them to the page, finally began to bother her.

“You okay?” RC asked tentatively.

“It must be nice to have someone to vent to,” Alyx commented, his eye falling on Romero.  “A diary’s better than I’ve had since Ollie disappeared.”

RC remembered that she forgot to mention Ollie’s name in Romero.  She made a mental note to do that next time.  Rule #7: Though people may not remain close to you, it’s still a good idea to remember everything about them you can.  Information is at least as valuable as a good meal.  

“I make do with what I have,” she replied dismissively.  She definitely didn’t want to be the topic of conversation.  Rule #8: The value of information means it can also be used against you.  Don’t give away too much about yourself.  “So, do you know where we are?  I’ve never been in this area before.”

There was a reason for that, of course.  This abandoned section of the city sat right on the edge of the central habitation area.  Only a few blocks over, people went about their lives, living and working.  Those who weren’t in the meat locker, anyway.  If it weren’t for Alyx’s determination to look after Ollie, he could live a normal life there.  He’d never be around anyone his own age, but he work in a nursery where the children who came from the meat lockers were raised.  Or anything else the overlords didn’t want to do themselves, for that matter.

“I know this area fairly well,” Alyx replied cryptically.  He ran his hand through his hair, which looked like it might be blond after a strong stream of water knocked all the caked dirt out of it.

“Any reason?”  RC didn’t have a reason to be suspicious of him, other than good old Rule #6.  Yet, if she let her guard down and was betrayed when she knew better than to let anyone get too close, she’d kick herself all the way to the meat locker.  Then she’d be trapped.  She couldn’t stomach the idea of sacrificing her freedom for someone else’s benefit.

He shrugged.  “I knew people who used to live here.  Since it’s familiar, I figured Ollie might have come here.”

That made some sense, but it also made RC cringe as her third rule came back to her.  Avoid old patterns to avoid predictability.  Yet the home field advantage couldn’t be dismissed entirely.  Balancing these two contradictory ideas in her head, RC quickly drew up another rule.  Rule #9: Operate in familiar territory with caution.  Becoming too relaxed or lingering in an area for too long quickly negates any advantage gained by familiarity.

Returning her attention to Alyx, whose shoulders slumped so far forward it seemed a boulder must have fallen on them, she realized his hunch was more than a passing thought.  “You really thought he would be here,” RC pressed.

“I’m worried about him.  The longer he’s gone, the more I think he might’ve been caught.”

This had been the unvoiced essence of her thoughts for most of the day.  “Even if he has, he’ll be useful to them.  They’ll only hurt him if he resists.”  Like Pete resisted, she added silently.

Alyx laughed wryly.  “If you’re so sure of their good nature, why are you running too?”

A fire sparked in RC’s chest.  “Hey, I hate those pisswads as much as anyone else ever could, but I was trying to make you feel better!  That’s what a decent person does!”

He recoiled, analyzing her with startled green eyes.  “Sorry,” he murmured.  “I didn’t think I’d strike a nerve like that.”

“Well, you did,” RC spat, though her anger was already ebbing.  Something about Alyx’s expression disarmed her fast, and a little alarm sounded in her gut.  Be careful about getting attached, she warned herself.

A silent moment passed between them, and RC avoided his gaze.

Then the sound came.  The rhythmic sound reminded her of  a heartbeat pounding through the floorboards, but the reality was much worse.  It was the sound of heavy footsteps.

“Ollie!” Alyx called as he leapt to his feet.

RC suddenly wanted to shake him.  “Shhh!  How can you possibly know that?” she hissed.

Alyx looked sheepish.  “I know this neighborhood because we lived here.  In this house.  I figured if I was going to find him anywhere, it would be here.”

Now she wanted to slap him.  “The security bots scanned you.  For all you know, there’s a patrol coming in here to ask you questions about why you’re lurking in the restricted areas of the city.”

Alyx looked up, as if trying to see through the ceiling.  The footsteps were traversing the floor above, but it was still only one set.  “Stay down here.  If it’s a patrol, I’ll make sure they don’t find you.”  Then he bolted for the stairs.

Her stomach turned.  If she were smart, and if her rules meant anything, she would listen.  That’s why, when she found herself jumping up to pursue him and knocking Romero to the concrete in the process, she knew she was the one who needed to be slapped.

Go to Entry #5

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Language of the Heart

Today I wasn't sure what I wanted to talk about.  Sometimes topics don't readily present themselves, and part of having a schedule is forcing yourself to produce writing whether it comes naturally or not.

I decided to reach for a source of inspiration.  For me, a quote works well for that.

Yes, I use quotes a lot, but I enjoy analyzing them.  I don't simply look at what someone said and go "Yeah, that must be true.  This person said it, after all."  If we all treated a quote this way, they would indeed be absolutely useless.  I know I've read quotes about quotes (which is enough to screw with your mind all on its own), and many of them insinuate that using quotes is a form of intellectual laziness.  If you automatically take the quote as gospel and accept it without reflection, then yes, you are being lazy.

When I find a quote that speaks to me, I like to consider why that is the case. Does it say something that feels right?  Does it infuriate me?  What is it about my personal experiences and beliefs that ignites my reaction?  In exploring that reaction and forming my own opinion about the quote in question, I am flexing my intellectual muscles.  There is nothing lazy about the ways I use quotes in my writing.

My advice for using quotes is simple.  Don't feel bad about reaching for the source of inspiration.  The art you create while drawing inspiration from something else is still original, and it's an extension of you.  The source of inspiration in no way invalidates what you've made, and you shouldn't let anyone tell you differently.

Wow.  In picking a quote for today, I raised a topic of conversation separate from the reaction I intended to showcase here.

I love this quote, and it spoke to me the first time I saw it.  I'll tell you what it says to me.  Language is a powerful thing.  It isn't simply something we use.  Our native language is who we are, and it's the way we interact with the world. Everything around us is defined in our minds by a name.  As we grow up, we learn language and the realities of the world concurrently.  Children are shown an object and learn the name for it at the same time.  Name and image become one.  The identity of the object is contained within the word we use to describe it.  When we speak to someone in our native language, the conversation flows easily, because the language of our thoughts corresponds with the words we hear and utter in return.  We can appreciate the words exchanged with such a depth of understanding because those words are part of our identity.  The nuances, the inflections, the color and flavor of the discussion can be savored because we don't struggle to understand the most basic meanings.  It isn't about simply interpreting the words, so we're free to go further than the basics.

I know for a fact that speaking in a second language is much different.  If a child learns multiple languages early on, they can freely change between them without difficulty.  However, for those of us who learned later on in life, it's far more complicated.  I took Spanish for four years in high school, and I always did well in the subject.  I learned a lot, and one of the things I took away from the experience was an understanding of why the above quote is true.  Before speaking, I formed the thought in English and consciously translated it in my head.  The words always come first in English.  It takes significant effort to translate them and send them out into the world.  Then, whenever I got a response in Spanish, I had to listen more carefully and consciously align those words with the English version.  When you spend so much time focusing on this process, you're working from intellect and not instinct.  Communication is more than possible, but that barrier is always there.

You think first in your native language.  There's no way around that, because it's written into your mind.  Your world is written in it.  You exist as you do in your world due to your linguistic relationship within it.  This is part of the reason why I love language as much as I do.

I've gone on too long already, and there's plenty more to say.  Does anyone have any thoughts about this issue?  How might linguistic differences create conflict in the world?  How can we find ways around misunderstandings?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blogspiration 18: Mind and Matter

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA& Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

For my Tuesday Treat post, I thought I'd give you the Blogspiration that I didn't get around to putting up over the weekend.  I promise that the time I saved by doubling up will be dedicated to my writing, and not to something yucky like doing dishes or folding laundry.

This quote has always resonated with me.  I know I've read it everywhere, and I've heard it at about 50% of the graduation ceremonies I've attended.  Okay, this may be an exaggeration, but even if it is, it isn't by much.

That being said, this cultural pervasiveness does not take away from the quote's meaning and power.

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I try to keep this in mind for both my personal life and my writing life.  There are exceptions to this rule, of course.  After all, discussing hot button issues at family dinners can result in unsavory consequences.  I mean, when people are wielding dinner knives, a little verbal restraint isn't a bad thing.

Joking aside, I try to say and write what is true to me.  Those I love don't have to agree with or like everything I commit to paper, nor do I have to agree with every viewpoint expressed by them.  In the end, the valuable relationships are strengthened by respectful disagreement and dialogue.

Besides, who wants to write a story while constantly worrying about that potentially controversial thing you wrote?  That sounds utterly exhausting. Write what's true to you, and you'll reap the rewards of being genuine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Musing About A Bad Week

My muse has wanted little to do with me for the past week.  Maybe Pleiades is dancing on a mountaintop or seducing a handsome alien prince on the other edge of the galaxy.  Who knows?  Each day I do my best to write, and the act of making myself sit down and do it has proven helpful.  Even so, I haven't felt the flare of wondrous inspiration that is often the impetus behind my best work.

I think we all have those weeks where inspiration seems to be lacking.  There are a number of factors behind my lackluster writing week.  First of all, both of my kids were sick last week.  Dealing with long feverish nights for two children simultaneously is enough to drain anyone.  Then, on top of that, I switched brands for a prescription I'm taking to save money on it.  And miraculously, by doing so I went from spending $26 a month to $1.80 a month.  That's a huge difference for me, and one I was happy to find.  And while I'm feeling fine now, the initial switch left my head feeling kind of foggy and my emotional switches capable of being measured on the Richter Scale.  To put this in perspective, my son Jude took a brand new bottle of shampoo and happily poured it down the drain while I was tending to his sick little brother.  The end result, a wasted few dollars, no immediate hope of clean hair, and a torrent of tears on my part that can hardly be justified by the mere inconvenience inflicted upon me.

Imagine it: a fully grown woman reduced to tears by a spilled bottle of shampoo. It was as if I were pregnant all over again (which I'm not, by the way-I promise). Truly, it was a sad sight to see.

Anyway, so in my muse's absence, I'd like to say this.  I hope Pleiades is off somewhere far away, and that she's using her free time to indulge in activities that are more than marginally inappropriate.  I sincerely hope she is doing things that would leave me hanging my head in shame for weeks to come.

You know why I want that for her?

It's simple.  If my muse goes out and parties herself silly, she should have plenty of inspiration to spread around.  I am a mother of two, and I am not rich by any means.  At this stage in my life, I don't have the ability to go out and see the sights on a regular basis.  Instead, I need to depend on my muse to do that for me.

That being said, I still hope she comes back soon.  I have so much to do!

Reader Appreciation Award

I have been tagged for the Reader Appreciation Award.  I owe a big thanks to Johana Vera of  Bookworm's Multiverse for passing this one on to me.  Her blog is great, but I had to follow her the second I saw the awesome name she'd chosen for her blog.  I mean, seriously, how could a blog name be any better than that?

  • Identify and show appreciation to the blogger who nominated you.
  • Add the reward logo to your blog.
  • Tell your readers seven things about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-10 of your favorite bloggers for this award.
  • Inform your nominees you nominated them.
So, I have to come up with seven things to share about myself.  I share a lot on this blog, so finding seven new things to share may not be as easy as it sounds. Nevertheless, I will give it my best!  This time, I'll try to keep this list of facts related to my writing.  This is a writing blog after all!
  1. For someone who has a passion for writing science fiction, I have little confidence when it comes to describing the more technological aspects of my stories, such as spaceships.  So many science fiction shows have their iconic ships, and I feel like the ones I put in my stories feel generic in comparison.  Maybe I'm setting my standards too high, and in the end, I care far more about the quality of the story I'm telling.  Still, it would be nice to design something cool and memorable.
  2. I think better when I write a story with a pencil and a notebook first. That's how I write my outline and key scenes.  The act of forming the words with my hands does something for my creative side.  Writing can be a very physical act for me in that way.  Writing by hand also has the added benefit of forcing me to look over every word a second time as I type the story out.  This gives me a chance to catch my mistakes.
  3. When I write an action scene in a book, I gain insight on how it will work by acting it out.  I always make sure no one is around to see me do it, because I don't want anyone to witness my pathetic attempts at mimicking ninja kicks and knockout punches.  I am not a fighter, but I play one in my living room to an audience of me, myself, and about a  thousand characters that live inside my head.
  4. I know I've mentioned this periodically, but I'll still say it here.  When I write a key scene for a book, I often hear a song in my head that I feel fits with the mood or the events taking place.  I feel like I'm making a movie in my head, and I need all the elements that go along with that.  For me, music is one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle.  If I can find the write piece of music to inspire me, the scene practically writes itself.
  5. Lately, when I find myself absolutely stuck on a WIP, I try to find another writing project to focus on for the moment.  It helps me circumvent the gears in my head that can't seem to turn out what I need.  It's better to be creating something than sitting frustrated over something that just isn't working for you.
  6. Writing is the way I explore the world.  I write characters who live very different lives than I do, primarily because I want to learn what it's like to live in someone else's shoes.  I've never been a man, but I've tried out the male perspective.  I've never been the athletic type, but I've written athletic characters.  I am not gay, but I've written from the POV of characters who are.  For me, this exploration through my writing adds to the rich tapestry of my life.  I write science fiction, because I can envision diverse, exotic worlds and the impact of futuristic technology on human interactions.
  7. I constantly question whether I'm a good writer or not.  I do not, however, question whether I am a writer.  I know that I am a writer.  I've always been a writer.  I only wonder whether I am good enough to achieve my goals, and I need to know how I can continue to improve.
All right.  I need to pass this on to 5-10 people.  In the interest of saving myself time, I've chosen 5.
  1. Laura @ Stranger Than Writing
  2. Laura @ My Baffling Brain
  3. Christine Rains
  4. Krista McLaughlin
  5. Mina Lobo @ Some Dark Romantic
And that's all I've got for now.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #3

I know I'm posting this really late for a Friday, but it's been one of those days.  Of course, it's still Friday, so it counts.  I'm just amazed that I got it done at all. Let's just say my children have learned to coordinate to do evil deeds.  They may well turn out to be super villains when they grow up.  Devilish, these two can be.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

Here are links to the other parts of my story in case you haven't read them yet.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #3

Dear Romero,

For now, 1 +1=2

I swore I’d travel on my own for a reason.  Extra people only throw a wrench into the works when you can least afford it.  Sure, when you pair up with people, you can split up the labor, and you can take turns with the watch.  I understand that, but the risks aren’t always worth the benefit.  After all, I’ve fed myself fine.  I’ve clothed myself without any help.  Why do I need anyone else to help me with the things I can already do?

Romero, I know what you’d want to say right now if you were real.  You’d point out that I’m writing in a diary for company.  Companionship isn’t without its perks.  When you only have yourself to talk to, conversation can get boring fast.  Yet, in having a diary as a companion, I can spare myself the indignity of talking to myself aloud.  I might actually start believing that I’m crazy if I go too far down that road.  This is as close as I can get to talking to a real person without incurring the icky strings that come attached.

Rule #5: Friends are a liability.  People’s mistakes can kill you, and losing a loved one makes you weak and vulnerable to attack.

Remember, I lost my brother Pete to these creatures.  That felt like a sucker punch in the gut.  It seemed like I couldn’t breathe for days after that.  I stumbled along through my daily life.  Luckily, I was still 14 at that time, so I wasn’t running for my life yet.  If I were old enough for the breeding, I would’ve been toasted by a security bot and thrown into the meat locker within seconds after Pete’s dramatic exit from the world of the living.

Anyway, I’ll summarize my latest harrowing escape from the security bots.  I pulled a boneheaded move and turned a corner without checking it out first.  Sometimes you’re in a hurry and you hotrod yourself into a hot mess.  In my old life, any run in with the cops could be explained with a brief “Sorry officer, I was in a hurry.”  (I’ll admit it, I had a tendency of skating super quick down crowded sidewalks, but I actually was in a hurry about 2/3rds of the time, I swear!)  Yes, said officer would almost always dismiss what I had to say in my defense, but my punishment ranged anywhere from a warning to a modest fine.  When you run straight into a security detail of techno monsters, there’s no such luck.  The minimum fine is 14 years imprisonment.

So yes, I should have been more cautious.  When those hands latched on to me from behind, I whirled around looking for some soft flesh to kick.  In my panic, I assumed it may have been one of their spore infested minions.  Some are green with bug eyes, some more squat and squishy, and others look more humanoid.  With them, you never know what you’re going to get.  Though none of our people are grown enough yet to be spore spawn (give it another ten years and you won’t be able to trust any child you see roaming the street), there are also those who help round up strays to curry favors with our overlords.

Rule #6: Presume that anyone might sell you out.  Physical similarity does not necessarily indicate loyalty.

So, when I turned and saw a human about my age, I didn’t dismiss or assume anything.  I couldn’t even assume gender, because when everyone you meet is wearing the same tattered street clothes and has the same unkempt hair that’s grown too long, it can be a challenge to differentiate.  This stranger’s facial features also weren’t pronounced, and the dirt and general grime clinging to their skin obscured them further.  However, when I heard the voice shouting “Run, now!” I could tell it was male.  Not deep, but the sound was clear enough.

A fraction of a second later, the hands were pushing me down a set of stairs I hadn’t seen before.  They led to a sidewalk that ran around the basement level of the house.  My rescuer shielded me, so when the high pitch squeal associated with an identity scan went off, I know the beam hit his face instead of mine.  The resolution of these scans is so high that the grubbiness that throws most people off the scent means nothing.  I knew without a doubt this guy’s features were being matched up with an identity as I yanked open the basement door.  We’d have to move fast to elude the inevitable pursuit.

Or so I thought.

When my knight in dirty cargo pants stopped just inside the door to catch his breath, I was stunned.  “We can’t stay here,” I hissed in a low voice.  “They know where we are!”

He shook his head.  “They only scanned me, and they won’t bother coming after me.  I’m useless to them, because I’m sterile.  They may as well pick up an empty cardboard box for all the good I’d do them.”

“Lucky you,” I said.  Those are honest words too.  His lack of potency purchased him his freedom.  And mine too.

I learned a lot about my rescuer while we moved on to another house.  His name is Alyx (he made sure I learned to spell it right once he saw I’d be writing about him), and he’s searching for his brother.  Apparently he wasn’t blessed with Alyx’s good fortune, and he’s been on the run.  They got separated a couple of days ago.  Since Alyx can pass by security bots without incident, he was gathering supplies for his fugitive brother.  Then, one day, his brother wasn’t where Alyx last left him.  He’s been looking ever since.

Anyway, Alyx may be handy just for his ability to circumvent the bots.  So I’ll stick with him for a little while.  Just not too long.

Yours Truly,

Go on to Entry #4

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Wednesday Wordle Party

There's been an illness hopping around my family, so I'm having to plan my blog posts according to an erratic schedule filled with crying children.  No easy task, I can assure you.

I know a lot of bloggers like to play around with the wonder known as Wordle.  Until this past weekend, I'd never actually tried it.  And now that I have, I must admit that I'm hooked.  I'd like to show you some of the word clouds I created using Wordle, and also to explain why I find these useful.  Maybe I'm only saying they're useful because I need to justify all the time I spent playing around with them.  Judge for yourself whether the benefits I claim to have gained from these sound legitimate or not.

This first wordle was created using my essay "Universe."  I posted this essay for the "My Teenage Life Bloghop," and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive responses I received.  To read the post containing the original essay, go HERE.  

I now present to you a visual representation of that essay.

This second wordle was made using my short story "Blood and Tears."  I particularly like the font used for this one.  It feels old and grand, and it goes well with the name Henry (which appears prominently here).  The story may be science fiction and it may take place in the future, but the struggles highlighted in this story have been around since the beginning of human existence: death, subjugation, loss, etc.  I feel that it works, even if only because it looks cool.

This wordle was composed using the revised version of "Blood and Tears," but if you're interested in looking at the story as originally posted on this blog, look HERE.

This next one was done using my flash fiction piece "Nuance."  Though I plan to revise it soon, this has been made with the original version.  To read the story, click HERE.

Some of you may ask why I made all these, and this is where I must justify my activities.  Well, aside from procrastination (which is a reason why I do a lot of things), I did it to help me visualize my stories.  Part of what I struggle with in the world of editing is that a work as a whole seems too large to tackle a lot of the time.

In making these Wordles, I dissected each story and came to see what stood out most prominently in the narrative.  When you see certain words in bold letters, you are seeing the words you used most often, and you can compare them to the rest of the words in the field in a non-linear way.  Doing these word clouds gave me a different perspective on my stories.  If a theme I hadn't really meant to use appears in these, I can consider whether to use that theme to its fullest potential, or I can elect to downplay it and focus on the intended theme in my revisions.

As a writer, I feel I need to use every tool I have at my disposal to make my stories the best they can be.

This last one, on the other hand, doesn't give me that advantage.  This is just my name, the name of my WIP Prices Paid, and the name of each story I have planned for it.  This was done mainly for fun, and in part because I wanted to see some representation of my goal.

Hey, that's still visualization!  So this last one had a purpose too!  I knew I could justify my procrastination if I put my mind to it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Social Media Insanity!

I'm late posting today because both of my kids are sick.  Last night was a long night, and sleep was frequently interrupted by crying and runny noses.  It has been anything but fun.

As such, I'm sure you'll understand the low maintenance post today.  The content of this post is brought to you by Comediva.  This is a terrific website, and they always find a new way to make me laugh.

First, I decided to share a video that shows the extremes of social media addiction.  Many people are addicted to Pinterest, but this is clearly beyond and reasonable level of pinning devotion.  

Next is A LINK to some funny pictures combining the world of Harry Potter and Doctor Who.  I recommend taking the time to check it out, because it really is fun!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest


It's time for another fantastic Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh blogfest.  He has a way of engineering truly epic blogosphere gatherings, and a ton of equally groovy people have signed up to participate.  How could I resist taking part in this?

The objective is simple.  To quote our host:

One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!

Movies, books and guilty pleasures!  Oh my!

Movie Genre: Science Fiction

I love movies!  When it comes down to it, I like quite a few genres.  I enjoy a good action flick, provided of course that it has a solid story, and a strong female character always helps!  However, my all time favorite movie genre has to be science fiction.  In the end, it's no contest.  I love the diversity involved in sci fi, like otherworld settings, character background, and conflicts that arise with the use of technologies we can only dream of at this point in time.  There's also a lot of adventure, and a lot of complex questions.

The visuals can also be fun!

Music Genre: Rock

Music is something that can be particularly hard to pinpoint.  There are so many genres and subgenres to choose from.  However, in general, I tend to like more rock music than any other. Whether it be indie rock, hard rock, metal, or rock of the softer persuasion, I'll give it a chance.

I grew up with classic rock as a kid.  That was the music my parents listened to.  During the weekends, my dad would work outside with classic rock blaring over the radio, and later on we would grill out to the same radio station.  I guess it was inevitable.

Book Genre: Science Fiction

For those who know me, this is an obvious choice. My love for science fiction has been a consistent factor in my life.  I grew up watching it, and I grew up reading it.  My home was packed full of sci fi gems, because that's what my dad read.  Any time he loved a book, he recommended that I read it.

Again, as it is with movies, I love science fiction books because of the questions they raise.  And there's a wide range of questions to be asked. That's part of why I write within the genre.  I like to ask those questions that deal with the nature of humanity, and with where we might be going as a species.  I also love creating exotic and fascinating worlds that I could never see in person.

Guilty Pleasure Movie:  Bad Movies

Okay.  I don't really feel all that guilty about admitting this.  Again, I grew up watching the bad B budget movies that everyone made fun of.  I watched MST3K religiously for a good reason.  I enjoyed making fun of these movies.  While I didn't consider many of them good, I thoroughly enjoyed watching them.

Maybe that's the essence of a guilty pleasure. You know it's not good, but you enjoy it in spite of that knowledge.  It doesn't change the fact that you love it.

I enjoyed watching old Godzilla movies with my dad, even though I knew they had their ridiculous elements and inconsistencies.  I am also an Ed Wood fan. Yes, I admit it.  I like Ed Wood movies.  They may be bad, but I find them fun.

And for the record, Plan 9 From Outer Space is a bad movie in many respects, but I know for a fact I've seen worse.  If I can enjoy watching something, no matter how badly made or conceived, that alone earns it some points with me.

The Power of Distraction

Here we are at the start of a brand new week.  And within the bookends of this newest week lies the possibility to achieve great things.  At least, this is what I need to tell myself.  This is the kind of thinking that will power me through my edits as I spiral dangerously close to the clutches of tedium.

My main issue for the last week has been maintaining the level of concentration I need.  The lure of future projects tries to pull me off course, tempting me with the new while I try to improve the old.  

Pleiades:  You're not disciplined enough.

Me:  Normally I'd argue with you, but sometimes I think you're right.

Pleiades:  Wait . . . what did you say?  Did you just agree with me?

Me:  After a fashion.

Pleiades:  Maybe I should start recording our conversations.  An admission like that doesn't come around too often.

My muse is far too confrontational sometimes.  I'm also starting to think I might secretly be harboring a muse of distraction somewhere deep inside my brain. Maybe I should set Pleiades loose on that one so I can get some peace and quiet for a little while.

In analyzing my progress thus far, I can confidently say this much.  Out of the 7 stories I plan to use in this compilation, only 3 of them still need major work. The rest just need a few minor adjustments.  Looking at it that way, life seems more manageable.  I can, and I will, do this.

Finishing this project, after all, is the only way I'll get to move on to the other projects that are trying to lure me away.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blogspiration17: Once a Writer, Always a Writer

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA& Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

I've known that I'm a writer since I was in 1st grade.  That's when I tried to write my first novel.  Given that I had a limited vocabulary at the time, and knew practically nothing of punctuation, it made for a terrible first novel.  Still, it was the beginning of something I knew would be a part of me for the rest of my life.

I told stories whenever I got the chance.  Writing felt so natural, so it seemed odd when people asked me why I did it.  Why wouldn't I write?  That's the real question.

The following quote is true.  Though I cannot say what my life will be in 10 years, or 50 years, I can say this much with absolute certainty.  If I am still alive, I will still be a writer.

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Most people work jobs that pay the bills, but ultimately are not a part of who they are or who they want to be.  They have a separation between their personal and professional lives out of necessity.  

For me, being a writer is not a way to pay the bills (and trust me, writing certainly isn't paying them anyway).  Being a writer is more than a job.  It is an entire life.  It's a way of existing in the world.  No matter how old I am, I will be a writer.  There is no retiring from it, because you cannot retire from who you are.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #2

Here's the second installment of my newest serial.  The last entry came purely in the form of a diary entry.  This is experimental for me.  I want to show a girl who's trying to document her experiences with the help of her diary.  After all, it's the only confidant she has.  At the same time, it doesn't seem realistic to communicate everything second hand purely from diary entries.  That's why I'm trying to interlace third person narration with her personal accounts.  At this point, it's too early for me to tell how it's working out.  All I can say for sure is that I'm having fun with it.

For those of you who haven't read the first installment yet, you can follow the link below.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #2

She tapped the yellowed page with the tip of the ballpoint pen, leaving blots of black ink in the margin.  It had taken several seconds of furious scribbling in the margins to get the ink flowing again, and she knew she shouldn’t be wasting the ink like this.  Yet the repetition of it helped her think.  Was there anything else she needed to say?

Then it dawned on her.  She had indeed forgotten something.  At the bottom of the page, she scrawled a short addendum.

Romero, I was so busy giving you a name, I forgot to tell you mine.  I’m Rose Carter, but Pete always called me RC.  It sounds better than Rose, anyway.
She closed the notebook again, and the well-worn black cardboard cover stared up at her.  This was the only friendly face she could count on.  When she found Romero hidden away beneath a pile of tools in this garden shed, his first few pages were home to gardening notes.  Since the original owners of this notebook were nowhere to be found, RC had torn them out and shoved them into her backpack.  They would be useful for starting a cooking fire later on.

Already dressed for the day in threadbare jeans and stained white shirt, RC waited only for the morning’s first patrol bot to pass.  She stationed herself beside the square window that faced the street.  It wasn’t easy to see since the road was several feet higher than the shed due to a steep downhill slope.  However, this would help since it seemed unlikely the bot would bother scanning anything at her level.  It would have to stop and recalibrate its systems to broaden its scanning radius.  That would simply take too much time.

While RC waited, she did a quick inventory.  She’d already rolled up the tarp that she spread out to use for a bed.  Her clothes were already stored in her backpack.  All was ready to go.  With nothing left to do but wait, she opened the notebook to the back cover.  She pressed the pen extra hard against the white cardboard so the words would come out bold.

Tips for Surviving the End of the World
Rule #1
Carry your entire life on your back.  Never assume you’ll be able to return to the place you slept the night before.  That assumption is a luxury that no survivor can afford.

After she finished writing the words, she heard the distinctive hum of motors.

Through the dirty glass, she could just make out the sleek black body of The Scorpion as it flew low over the street.  She didn’t know what the overlords actually called this model of bot, but she felt her nickname was appropriate.  Like a scorpion, this bot had two long arms with claws on the end that could shoot out and hold a person in place.  The tail shot tranquilizer darts that could bring you down from a distance.  This was the creepiest security bot around.  She might’ve tried to outmaneuver the lower level security bots, but not this one.  Few tangled with The Scorpion and escaped the meat locker.  Unless, of course, you considered the grave an acceptable escape.

The Scorpion soon disappeared from view, obscured by the house next door.  She hesitated for a moment.  The peace of this shed was the best she’d managed to find in months.  Located on a side street far from the town center, the patrols were less frequent.  She’d spent nights in ditches, trees, anywhere she could find.  Between towns, she huddled in shrubs to avoid the police units.   Yet, once she walked out, she couldn’t come back.  Her general rule of thumb was to never, under any circumstances to stay in one place for more than three days.  Last night had been number four.  The time to move on had already passed.

RC took a deep breath.  Shoving Romero in with her other supplies, she took one last look out the window.  Confident it was clear, she yanked open the little wooden door and ducked outside.

The chill of the morning prompted her to pull her frayed gray jacket tight against her body.  Sticking close to the houses along the street, she remained in the shadows and out of sight.  If a random security detail moved through, which was bound to happen from time to time, she could take cover quickly.

RC made a mental note to write down Rule #2 when she got the chance:  Keep your back covered, and map out an escape route everywhere you go.

Most of the homes in this area had been abandoned for months.  Though the homes were unoccupied, there were still some canned goods to be found, along with other things that people going to a meat locker for 14 years wouldn’t bother bringing along with them.

It was too bad she couldn’t risk sleeping in one of these houses.  They were randomly searched by security details.  Fortunately, smaller buildings like the garden shed usually slipped under the radar.  The aliens still didn’t seem to understand that some were willing to endure the draftiness and lack of a mattress to maintain their freedom.

That would be Rule #3.  Avoid old patterns.  Acting like you did in your old life will only make you predictable.

RC turned down an alley, intent on using rear entrances.  The front entrances were visible from the road, and were therefore vulnerable.

Her stomach dropped when she saw a line of small security bots blocking her path.  Their red indicator lights flashed as they registered RC’s presence. 

Silently uttering every curse she could think of, she wished she’d added in her new Rule #4 earlier: Look for opposition before committing to a direction.

She was waiting for the sting of the dart when a pair of hands seized her from behind.

Go on to Entry #3