Friday, October 30, 2009

Thrilled - A Halloween Story

Today I thought to myself, "I should write a Halloween story."

So I toyed with the idea for a little while, musing about what I would write about for Halloween. I couldn't write for most of the day, though... Had to head out to Seattle for a training session, so no writing there. Then my husband and I went and saw the Michael Jackson theater release, "This Is It."

While we were watching Thriller, I thought to myself, "Hmm..."

Next thing I know, an idea is forming in my head... What if I wrote a short story, based on his song Thriller? It's going to just be on the site for free, so it's not like any royalties will need to be paid, right? Why not!

But I needed to do something else with it...

So I listened to the song on pretty much repeat, and pulled up the song lyrics. Close to midnight... Okay... Well, it was around 8:00 here... What if I... HMMM...


And that's how the idea was born to post the story in parts, for the verses of the song, release the first one the night before Halloween ("close to midnight"), and then the next parts on Halloween itself.

While writing, I had half a screen of the lyrics, and the other half of Word. Had to get it right, you know.

Of course, I just threw this together in like half an hour... So if it sucks, sorry Mr. Jackson. I still love you. <3 But hopefully it is, and will be, enjoyable.

I'm just starting on part two... So we'll see how that one turns out!

Read "Thrilled - A Halloween Story".

Writing: Family Dysfunction and Relationships

I know, I know, I said I would write about "Image" today... But I got this idea in my head, and, you know, when you get it, you go with it! Take the magic while it's there. (That's a lesson, btw... Capitalize on the adrenaline while it's pumping. Or, write about it while the idea is flowing!)

Today I'd like to discuss writing relationships. I have this intrinsic love of writing dysfunctional families. I really do. It's not because my family is messed up, but maybe because my family is the exact opposite of messed up. My dad is my favorite person in the entire world; my hero; my best friend. My mom is one of the most impressive people you could ever meet. And my sister is really just amazing.

And yet, writing about messed up families just intrigues me. The interaction they (don't?) have. The underlying currents of angst. The way it messes with my characters.

I'll give you two examples, from recent writing ventures...

The latest manuscript I was writing (while blogging, you can scroll down for it), was about a girl who lived next door to two brothers. She starts dating the older brother, all the while slowly falling in love with the younger one. And, by the way, the younger and older brother? Yeah, they hate each other. And their mom? She's dying of cancer, and the older brother blames the younger one for making her die faster.

It's a pretty basic tale. Slightly more complicated and a little more involved than that, but there's the overview of it. (I never said I was writing Sebatini here!) But the messed up relationships--two brothers who hate each other after the same girl--just intrigues me.

Now, if this happened in real life, my heart would break for all three of them. Because, you know, no matter which brother the girl ends up with, their relationship with the other brother would be broken for the rest of their lives. But in a book... Well, in a book, everything can be happy.

If you wanna go that way, that is... ;)

Case-in-point-number-two: A while ago, I wrote a little tale about a girl who ends up falling in love with her step-brother, who is a year younger. (That's all the detail I'm going to give on this one, because it's actually one of my very favorite stories of all time, and just thinking about it makes me want to go back to it again.)

Can you imagine? 16 year-old girl. 15 year-old boy. Step-siblings. Well that's just a recipe for disaster in the first place, but my sick mind twisted it and really ran with it.

I have this vague obsession with making the lead male younger, too... That one I think I can explain. I always thought I would end up with a younger guy, because when I was younger they seemed nicer than guys my own age, but it never actually worked out that way. I always ended up with older guys. But I think that stayed with me, plus, it causes all sorts of stigma problems for the characters to deal with. Hmm... I think younger guys try harder. (This is quickly dissolving to a train-of-thought, so I will stop there.)

I'd like to say that I tend to lean on the side of caution when it comes to these messed up relationships... I don't write about parents beating their children (which isn't to say I won't), and I don't write about fathers raping their daughters (which I never will--attempted rape is a common theme in my books because rape is fucked up and every girl should know that it's out there and to fight back). But I like to play with messed up relationships.

Maybe I'm a little messed up myself...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today: On Publicity. Tomorrow: On Image

When I was young I had this dream about being a writer.

I don't mean I was sleeping and while I slept I had a dream. I mean, I had this idea in my head that was my dream of being a writer.

I was probably around 24 (I'm 26, now), and I was in the kitchen of my own house. I don't know how I knew it was mine, I just did. And I was pouring myself a cup of coffee, wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. The sun was shining through the kitchen window over the sink, and I was smiling to myself even as I looked out into the backyard, covered in lush green grass.

The phone rang, and I answered it, and it was my agent, telling me that my latest draft of my manuscript was due, and I was teasing her about not being done, and she was freaking out talking a mile per minute, and as I was smiling away and teasingly apologizing, I was moving through the hallway of my house to my study. It was filled with tons and tons of bookcases, and this lovely oak desk with a nice computer on it. And as I sat down at the computer and looked down at the printer, I interrupted her and said something like, "Well, if you want, you can come and get it now. It's sitting on my printer." And then she freaked out about what a horrible person I was for letting her rant like that and then went on about how I was her favorite author ever and promised to be over immediately before she hung up on me. And I smiled and turned to the computer and continued working on my latest piece.

That was always my dream of writing.

I didn't know that the reality of it would be so much different. I didn't realize how much marketing an author would have to do to get their book noticed. I missed that memo, I guess. But it just doesn't make sense to me. A writer isn't a marketer... A writer is a writer. Expresses themselves with words. Why have a writer who is also a sales person? Is that like an actor who can sing? Triple-threat kind of deal?

Taking jobs away from people, if you ask me. :P

I've been reading this book my lovely husband bought me on promoting your book, and it sounds, frankly, exhausting. And it basically says, you know, you need to care enough about your work to promote it. There's a quote from one author who said something like, "When you're done writing, you're only 50% done."

Does that sound miserable to anyone else?

And don't even get me started on them saying that once your book is published, no media or anyone else will pay attention to it. "It's all about the build-up TO the publish," it says. "Because there are thousands of other books coming out behind it that it's competing with."

One part said that you needed to send out 100 ARCs to generate media buzz. 100!!!

And, cold calling?! The book ACTUALLY suggests that you cold call book stores, libraries, etc., and ask them to stock your book. They also talked about doing consignment deals with bookstores for self-published books.

But... I work full-time. Actually, I work more than full-time. And I'm not super well-spoken. That's why I'm a writer. It's the best way for me to express myself. I'm pretty long-winded when I write, but not much in-person. So how is someone like me, who is best expressed with the written word, supposed to cold-call to sell myself with shameless self-promotion?

Today my husband also bought me the 2010 Writer's Market (which you SHOULD own, btw...). He couldn't find the one for Literary Agents. But I had him stock up on envelopes/stamps/etc., because I think getting an agent is probably my best next step. I still really want to make it work my way; I LIKE my way. I LIKE being in charge of what does and doesn't go in my manuscript. But I think I need some help. No man is an island, you know?

--As an aside, I think you'd be surprised to know that in my job, I'm part manager, part project manager, part copy writer, and--get this--part marketing manager. Ironic, huh?--

Tomorrow's blog: The image

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MRIs, Neurologists, and Steamcon

So, I had the MRI on Thursday.

They asked me a zillion questions about myself on this questionnaire, including whether I had removable dental work. (I don't, but I have fillings, and a permanent brace on the back of my lower teeth from when I had braces in my teens.) Apparently the MRI is a giant magnet, and just the slightest bit of metal can get ripped right out of you. Comforting thought, huh?

I also have a tube in my tear duct from my eye surgery, and after deliberating with the nurse over whether there was any metal in it (because NO ONE wants that ripped out of their face) she decided to call the doctor who did my surgery and came back with, "It's silicone."

So I was given a long hospital gown and a pair of ridiculously large drawstring pants, then a locker for all of my stuff. I was ushered into a room where I was laid down on a sliding bench, and they put a pair of headphones on me and offered to cover my eyes with a towel after telling me I'd be in there for about forty minutes. I agreed. Then there were all of these clicking sounds, and I didn't open my eyes, but I could tell that my head was being caged in--they don't show that on House.

Then I was being slid in to the large tube, and I heard the nurse talking to me through the speakers in the tube. She asked if I was okay and if I was ready, and though I was scared, I agreed. She warned me about the loud noises, and then there was music in the headphones.

The first few seconds were agonizing as I waited for my fillings to come flying out of my mouth. For my brace to come ripping through my gums. For any other metal randomly in my body that I didn't know about to come shooting out and send me into excruciating pain. There wasn't anything I could do about it; my head was caged in. My eyes were closed and covered, but I knew it anyway. And though I had what appeared to be the end of a turkey baster in my hand as a panic button, it didn't seem like it would be a quick enough reaction if something was torn through my head. So for several tense moments, I just waited, trying to listen to the music over the drumming in my ears.

Then came the noise.

It sounded like a heart monitor. Only the beeps were every second or so. It must be the machine, I realized. It was on. I was tempted to touch my tongue to my brace and my fillings, but I was too scared that they'd cut my tongue off if they were going to come flying out, so I didn't. I remained as motionless as I could, thinking back to all of those episodes of House where they kept telling the patients to sit still.

There were a lot of different sounds throughout the test... Fast high pitch beeps like a heart monitor, low, dull beeps, rapid beeps that came at half-second or faster intervals and sounded like a jackhammer and shook the bed (she warned me about that one, but it was actually my favorite because it was like a massage), loud wails... The sounds were right at my ears and excruciating. The headache I had grew worse.

She came in after a while, stopping the machine first, gave me a shot and asked if I was okay, and then finished up the test in six minutes. (I know, because when she gave me the shot she said, "Only about six minutes left.")

When it was over, I felt a little dizzy and disoriented, but I was glad to be out of the cylinder. I don't think it's something I'll want to do again. Especially after the headache it left me with.

Of course, when I went to the neurologist the next day to talk about my dizziness and the migraines that had sent me to him in the first place, he looked at my MRI results which declared an "abnormality". For ten minutes I waited in total fear while he went to check it out, then came back and showed me pictures of my brain, only to tell me that it was nothing to worry about, probably just an enlarged vein. Yeah... That doesn't worry me at all.

He also told me that he had a colleague who wouldn't treat a patient for migraines until they'd been off of caffeine for at least 6 months, because that was how long it took to get caffeine out of your system (he was trying to convince me to cut back on my abnormally high caffeine intake), and I just smiled, biting back my, "If my doctor said that to me, I'd just find a new doctor."

So now I get to keep a migraine journal, since I'm having them all day every day again. So, yay.

And yesterday my husband and I went to Steamcon. It was... Wow. The costumes those people had put together were incredible. It was really amazing. I was really jealous of a lot of them. And they were very nice, friendly, kind people. The vendor room was this teeny-tiny little room with too many things crammed into it and so little space that you literally bumped into someone wherever you moved, but everyone was conscious of that and trying really hard to apologize to people and not be rude. Not like Disneyland. It was really nice. And they had some amazing corsets... Selling for astronomical prices.

We left after just an hour, though. We were completely out of place there, and sadly, we didn't even have a schedule of events until we were in the car driving home and flipped through the newspaper they had given us in our registration bag. In the fake newspaper were the events, but by that time we were already half-way home. Irritating!

I won't say it was a waste of time, because getting to see it all was cool, but I wish that I'd known what the schedule was before we'd arrived so we could have planned a little better. Also, the layout of the place was very poorly constructed, so we spent a good fifteen minutes wandering around the hotel totally lost. Lame!

I didn't even find any steampunk books... :(

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MRI - An Exercise in Finding Writing Ideas Everywhere

I've got an MRI today at 3:45.

I'm excited to get to see what it's like, but at the same time, I'm not super thrilled about being stuffed into a tube.

Hopefully I'll get some cool ideas about being in the hospital... Gotta look on the bright side, right?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Supernatural - I'm in Love

Has everyone seen Supernatural?

Apparently the show is almost five years old. Or, is five years old, I guess, since they're on season five. But me being me, I don't watch the CW, so I've completely missed out on the amazingness that is Supernatural.

Until now...

My husband and I bought the first season while we were on vacation, to keep us busy in the hotel while we were resting. We couldn't stop watching. Is it just me, or is it one of the best shows EVER? The mastery behind every camera angle, the music and how well it ties to the show, the director's dedication to keeping to his vision, the writers and their wit, the storyline arcs and their ability to throw in a funny episode JUST when it starts to get too serious... DAMN. Seriously. How could I not know about this before?!

I love this show.

My husband and I watched all four seasons, then bought the episodes for season five through Amazon and watched those... in the span of two weeks. Yeah, we're dedicated and obsessive. It makes us fun.

And then I discover that there are Supernatural books?! I was going to buy the Supernatural RPG book for my husband for Christmas as a tease (he used to play DnD!) but then I saw that there are actual books based on the Supernatural 'verse... And more coming in 2010!

Needless to say, I ordered them.

I also ordered Richard Castle's "Heat Wave". 'cause it's a fictional book in a TV show that they made real. And that's just damn cool. I'll admit, though, I've ready read the first couple of pages, and I'm not sure I dig it. But we'll see!

Until next time, y'all... Supernatural! (And now you know what's caused my latest absence... But can you blame me? Dean is yummy.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Publicity is a bitch.

It's true, seriously! I was driving home from work and got all depressed thinking about how no one will ever read my book because they don't even know it exists. So then I started thinking about ways to promote my book, but that's exhausting.

A while ago, my sister suggested that I try to sign up with a college and have some business majors work on promoting my book, and give them a goal of sales to achieve by the end of the semester. It could be like their final project or something like that.

At the time, I didn't take to the idea, but now more and more I'm thinking, "That's not bad..." I'd like to sell at least 100 more books before I put out the next "Quest of Dai" book, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen, and I don't want to be mean to the people who have read the book and want the sequel. So maybe hiring some kids who want a good grade would be a good idea.

Honestly, by the time I get home from work, I don't want to think about book publicity. I just want to write, read, chat a bit, and then watch TV. Trying to talk to stores about my book is tiring. Thinking of what to try next to get the word out there? Exhausting.

Which isn't to say that I'm not going to continue... 'cause I actually believe in my book and my writing in general, and I really, really want people to enjoy it. But it's still tiring to find those people who would like it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tear Duct Surgery aka, "Where has Vivian been?!"

Long, long blog (with pictures!) regarding my tear duct surgery, a little about my vacation, and basically, why I've been mute for weeks!