Month: November 2011 Page 2 of 3

Alice Playlist…

The playlist is getting steadily more solid, if not in order yet. For some reason, I’m not listening to it when I work, but at random other times, at which point I have to fight the urge to go write (because I have to do other things, too). I think I’ll have to weed it down a bit, too.

“Sail,” AWOLNATION.
“Mad World,” Gary Jules/Michael Andrews
“The Kingdom,” Jesca Hoop
“Elephant Gun,” Beirut
“Bizness,” Tune-Yards (with better capitalization)
“Wake Up,” Arcade Fire
“My Favorite Things,” Youn Sun Nah
“Crystalline,” Bjork
“Postcards from Italy,” Beirut
Alice,” by Pogo
“Zombie,” The Cranberries
A piece of music for an AMV that I’m trying to find the name of…
“Toxygene,” The Orb
“From the Air,” Laurie Anderson
“Once in a Lifetime,” Talking Heads
“Mercy Street,” Peter Gabriel
“The Scientist,” Willie Nelson (a commercial! who knew! –Apparently, people who watch TV.)
“Welcome Back Victoria,” Jesus Jones

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-11-13

  • Kill your excuses, Combat naysayers with facts & figures, & Mail your stories like a pro http://t.co/A5SvKVCP #
  • Stuck in #NaNoWriMo #pubwrite #amwriting How to Fail & Keep on Writing: http://t.co/A5SvKVCP #
  • Brain dead. But at 25K for NaNoWriMo. #
  • Hahahaha @AlinaBKlein 😀 Stellar advice. RT “@Michelleiswordy: Writing: Get it all out first. Worry about derp later.” #
  • I hereby declare today "Think Too Hard" day! Yay! …I think. #
  • This so-called "Zen" tea isn't helping either. #
  • Bunny Attack finally flipped free on Amazon, is #1 for Spine-Chilling Horror in Children's Ebooks. Hee! http://t.co/1XvmAT4X #
  • My daughter Ray got her brown belt last night! http://t.co/Fi1lyxfP #
  • Fantabulous list of recommended reading for MG/YA SF/F by @DavidBrin1 http://t.co/FCsuZjPm #

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Fiction: Threads of Life, Threads of Guilt

Now available at Amazon.comSmashwordsB&N, and OmniLit.

Threads of Life, Threads of Guilt

DeAnna Knippling

Mattie’s ready to give up when her twin, Matt, drags her to Casa Eva, reputed to be St. Augustine’s “fountain of youth” for cancer patients.  But can she be cured of losing her will to live?

If I were a better person, I wouldn’t have cancer. That’s what my last doctor told me.

“The Casa Eva,” Matt announced as I turned into the parking lot, looking for an empty space. I didn’t see any at first, and I felt the big, hairy knot in my gut loosen. There wasn’t any place for me here; there wasn’t any hope. We could turn around and just go home.

“There, there!” Matt exclaimed, almost jumping out of his seat to point out a vacant spot that I’d passed. I slammed on the breaks, almost tossing Matt through the windshield as he threw off his seatbelt. I checked the rear view mirror, then slowly reversed until I could pull into the spot.

Matt opened the door, and the sealed environment of the car popped like a bubble. The heat and humidity that I’d been so successfully fighting for days pushed against my cheek and soaked my clothes as fast as if I were drowning. I felt my throat close up. The entire length of I-95 had smelled like a fat woman’s perfume.

Matt jogged halfway across the parking lot before I heaved myself out of the car. The front entrance was around the corner, whitewashed concrete fronted by green lawns, stone fountains, open pools, palm trees, hedges, and columns. I breathed shallowly, limping. For some reason, my ankle had started to bother me during the last few stops. Then I saw the sign for complimentary valet service and rolled my eyes. Story of my life.

I was met at the entrance by a man as large as a medium-sized grizzly bear but was impeccably groomed, wearing a white shirt and tie. He had a subterranean beard, a smooth face hazed over by an extreme amount of incipient fur.

I smiled at the Gentleman Grizzly—I couldn’t help it—and he offered his arm to me. It was a perfectly courteous gesture that I would have brushed off in any other circumstances. But I’d had to drive the entire way from Montana to get here for Matt’s little experiment, and I was feeling it. Matt had never gotten his driver’s license, depending on friends and family to drive him wherever he wanted to go.

Gentleman Grizzly led me inside. The doors rolled open with a small squeak that made G.G. noticeably frown. A rush of hot air followed me into the hotel, but it weakened and passed away as we walked into the lobby. My airways relaxed. The perfume faded, leaving behind only a cool dryness that somehow wasn’t as sharp as normal air conditioning. I blinked in the soft light, which was almost a balm on my Southern-fried eyeballs.

Matt rushed up to me with a wheelchair in tow. “Mattie, you shouldn’t be walking. I brought you a wheelchair.”

It was just like him to make me drive three days across the country, then rush to get me a wheelchair. “Matt, when I need a wheelchair, I’ll ask for one. I’m fine.”

Matt gave me a hurt look, plopped down in the wheelchair, and popped a unconvincingly dejected wheelie. The Gentleman Grizzly led me through the lobby straight to the elevator.

The lobby was full of carved dark wood, white plaster, and marble tile. There were large Arabian rugs everywhere, and a stone fountain surrounded by a square pool of blue-and-white tiles. G.G. led me to the elevator, which had three walls of dark wood and one mirrored wall. I turned my back to the mirror before I could see myself; I probably looked even worse than I felt.

The carpet in the halls was so soft, I sank into it. This was a cushioned kind of place, a slow kind of place. There was a high-backed wooden chair just outside the elevators, and G.G. led me to it. I sat down in it. He stepped almost behind the chair, and there was a soft click; then he was pushing the chair on hidden wheels down the hall to my room.

My eyes filled with tears, but I blinked them back. Casa Eva was widely reputed to be a “fountain of youth” for cancer patients, a luxury hotel where your every whim was catered as you were treated by the very best quacks. But a surprising number of us came back, healed. It was a literal last resort; if you couldn’t be healed here, you couldn’t be healed anywhere.

It was a perfect place to die.

On a side note, it always amazes me when nobody else has the same titles I do.  Also, this is twin stories of love and loss.  G.G. just kind of sticks in my mind…

 

Fiction: Threads of Life, Threads of Guilt

Now available at Amazon.com, Smashwords, B&N, and OmniLit.

Threads of Life, Threads of Guilt

DeAnna Knippling

Mattie’s ready to give up when her twin, Matt, drags her to Casa Eva, reputed to be St. Augustine’s “fountain of youth” for cancer patients.  But can she be cured of losing her will to live?

If I were a better person, I wouldn’t have cancer. That’s what my last doctor told me.

“The Casa Eva,” Matt announced as I turned into the parking lot, looking for an empty space. I didn’t see any at first, and I felt the big, hairy knot in my gut loosen. There wasn’t any place for me here; there wasn’t any hope. We could turn around and just go home.

“There, there!” Matt exclaimed, almost jumping out of his seat to point out a vacant spot that I’d passed. I slammed on the breaks, almost tossing Matt through the windshield as he threw off his seatbelt. I checked the rear view mirror, then slowly reversed until I could pull into the spot.

Matt opened the door, and the sealed environment of the car popped like a bubble. The heat and humidity that I’d been so successfully fighting for days pushed against my cheek and soaked my clothes as fast as if I were drowning. I felt my throat close up. The entire length of I-95 had smelled like a fat woman’s perfume.

Matt jogged halfway across the parking lot before I heaved myself out of the car. The front entrance was around the corner, whitewashed concrete fronted by green lawns, stone fountains, open pools, palm trees, hedges, and columns. I breathed shallowly, limping. For some reason, my ankle had started to bother me during the last few stops. Then I saw the sign for complimentary valet service and rolled my eyes. Story of my life.

I was met at the entrance by a man as large as a medium-sized grizzly bear but was impeccably groomed, wearing a white shirt and tie. He had a subterranean beard, a smooth face hazed over by an extreme amount of incipient fur.

I smiled at the Gentleman Grizzly—I couldn’t help it—and he offered his arm to me. It was a perfectly courteous gesture that I would have brushed off in any other circumstances. But I’d had to drive the entire way from Montana to get here for Matt’s little experiment, and I was feeling it. Matt had never gotten his driver’s license, depending on friends and family to drive him wherever he wanted to go.

Gentleman Grizzly led me inside. The doors rolled open with a small squeak that made G.G. noticeably frown. A rush of hot air followed me into the hotel, but it weakened and passed away as we walked into the lobby. My airways relaxed. The perfume faded, leaving behind only a cool dryness that somehow wasn’t as sharp as normal air conditioning. I blinked in the soft light, which was almost a balm on my Southern-fried eyeballs.

Matt rushed up to me with a wheelchair in tow. “Mattie, you shouldn’t be walking. I brought you a wheelchair.”

It was just like him to make me drive three days across the country, then rush to get me a wheelchair. “Matt, when I need a wheelchair, I’ll ask for one. I’m fine.”

Matt gave me a hurt look, plopped down in the wheelchair, and popped a unconvincingly dejected wheelie. The Gentleman Grizzly led me through the lobby straight to the elevator.

The lobby was full of carved dark wood, white plaster, and marble tile. There were large Arabian rugs everywhere, and a stone fountain surrounded by a square pool of blue-and-white tiles. G.G. led me to the elevator, which had three walls of dark wood and one mirrored wall. I turned my back to the mirror before I could see myself; I probably looked even worse than I felt.

The carpet in the halls was so soft, I sank into it. This was a cushioned kind of place, a slow kind of place. There was a high-backed wooden chair just outside the elevators, and G.G. led me to it. I sat down in it. He stepped almost behind the chair, and there was a soft click; then he was pushing the chair on hidden wheels down the hall to my room.

My eyes filled with tears, but I blinked them back. Casa Eva was widely reputed to be a “fountain of youth” for cancer patients, a luxury hotel where your every whim was catered as you were treated by the very best quacks. But a surprising number of us came back, healed. It was a literal last resort; if you couldn’t be healed here, you couldn’t be healed anywhere.

It was a perfect place to die.

On a side note, it always amazes me when nobody else has the same titles I do.  Also, this is twin stories of love and loss.  G.G. just kind of sticks in my mind…

Brown Belt!

I remember when my daughter, Rachael, first started going to karate, almost two years ago.

Oh, man.  I was embarrassed.  I know now that being embarrassed was kind of a dumb thing to feel, but at the time: embarrassed.  She couldn’t stand still.  She’d fidget through the whole class.  She’d run around in circles.  She’d sit when she was supposed to stand and stand when she was supposed to sit; she’d talk while the sensei was talking.  I felt like, “Ah!  I’m a terrible parent, to raise such a wiggly child!”

Now I can see that that was part of the problem:  I was trying to raise a wiggly child by making her hold still.  It just doesn’t work like that.

I watched her teachers work with her over the last couple of years.  Yes, some of them did try to make her hold still.  But most of them just ignored her unless she was bothering someone else, and it just kind of…worked itself out.  Maybe it was seeing the other kids–the older ones, paying attention.  The younger ones, acting like fruit loops.  And sometimes the older ones acting like fruit loops and the younger ones paying attention.  Maybe it was just that things got harder, and she had to pay attention, if she wanted to stay at the same belt level as her friends.  Maybe it was that the people who paid attention and asked questions…got more attention back, over time.  Or something else, I don’t know.

I do know that fussing and trying to make her hold still wasn’t making either of us happy.

So here are to two years of karate, and to Rachael for getting her brown belt yesterday!  I am so very, very proud of her.

The List of Hypothetical T-Shirts

I think I need to start a list of T-shirts to make:

DON’T EDIT YOUR FACE!  IF YOU EDIT YOUR FACE, YOU’LL F@#$ IT UP!

Warning:  TMI

…and now, WTF, St. Augustine?  WTF?

Which, you know, there are stories behind all those shirts that I won’t get into now, but they would make me happy.

I also need a Parp? shirt from Hyperbole and a Half, but she hasn’t made one yet, as far as I can tell.  I have a couple of covers that I’d wear as T-shirts, like Bunny Attack!   I think I can make one for myself (as a book promo), but I can’t sell them unless I get a different license.

I feel a t-shirt designing mood coming on…

NaNoWriMo Week 2: Nobody said it was easy

You know, my week starts on Mondays.  So this week is a day short.

I have the Coldplay song in my head that goes, “Nobody said it was easy…but nobody said it would be this hard.”

For me, this is about the place where the doubts start to creep in.  I’m not at the point where I think I’m a terrible writer and I don’t deserve to live.  That’s usually later on in the game, where I can’t remember anything other than “one foot in front of the other.”  No, now is where I start second-guessing myself.

“What were you thinking?”

I question my basic ideas about the book.  “Oh! You should have thought of X ahead of time, because you’re just going to have to write around it now.” Or, “This book was stupid; it was always a stupid idea.”  Or, “This book was a perfectly fine idea, but you are not the right person to write it.”

That’s the one that’s getting me right now:  I keep thinking, “How could a non-mathemetician possibly hope to write a Lewis Carroll book?  You’re such an idiot.  Okay, parts of it are fun, but you’re a twit.  A complete twit.”

I’m a Zelazny reader, and for some reason, it’s really striking me this year that he could have been talking about writing when he was writing about walking the Pattern in the Amber series.  In short, if you don’t know it: Amber’s a magical world with a magical Pattern down in the basement of their castle.  If you walk the Pattern, you gain the power to move through various Shadows, or sub-worlds of less “reality” than Amber.  Our world is one; the world of Camelot is another.  There are an infinite number of these worlds.  Walking the Pattern is dangerous; if you don’t finish it, you’ll die.  It’s hard to walk; it’s like walking with lead boots through a thunderstorm.  There are three “veils”–places where the Pattern is dramatically harder to get through.  –And before the Pattern existed, all was chaos.

Here I am, at the first veil.  If I can push through, it’ll be easier for a while.

It doesn’t matter if I’m not a mathematician.  This book is not from Carroll’s POV, but from Alice’s, and she’s not a mathematician either.  APL probably knew more about mathematics than most mathematicians could shake a stick at, but I don’t need to deal with that now.

 

 

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-11-06

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Review for Tales Told Under the Covers

Liz Barone has a lovely review of Tales Told Under the Covers up:

Tales Told Under the Covers features ten short stories for middle graders, but they definitely entertained me on an adult level. I liked that almost every main character had some sort of problem that all kids have, and that they resolved those problems after overcoming things so fantastical, the adults in their lives wouldn’t believe them if they hadn’t been there, too. These kids rolled with the punches and took things into their own hands when the grownups were too scared to move. These kids were underdogs — like I was as a kid. They inspired bravery and made me laugh out loud. The stories themselves are a blast, even at their creepiest; De has the coolest imagination.

Take Neil, the hero of “Zombie Girl Invasion.” He thinks girls are gross, and he likes running around pretending to shoot things. He gets in trouble all the time for being too loud while pretending to shoot zombies. When the zombies invade for real, he has to save his parents and help a zombie girl. I’ve noticed that zombies are becoming more and more popular, which is cool but also a little unnerving, because no one wants to see zombies become nauseating the way vampires and werewolves have. De’s zombies are so hardcore, they even eat each other. No one is safe, and that’s just the way I like it.

That’s right…it’s no fair if the zombies can’t get eaten 🙂

Kid Writers: “What are you writing?”

The dreaded question.  “So, you’re a writer.  What are you writing?”

Because you can’t tell the entire story that you’re writing every time someone asks you that question (especially if you’re not finished yet), you have to give them the short version.  But how do you come up with a short version?

  1. Tell people what type of story it is.  Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure, Mystery, Romance, True story, Historical, Current-day, and so on.
  2. Pick one or two main things in the story and say the story is about that: “It’s about dinosaurs.”  “It’s about friendship.”  “It’s about blowing up cars.”  “It’s about two friends who are dinosaurs.”  “It’s about blowing up cars with your friends.”
  3. Give a short description of what makes your story awesome:  “Guinea Pig Apocalypse – guinea pigs destroy the world.”  “The images on TV come to life.”  “Zombies vs. Frankenstein.”
  4. Give a short description of what happens in your story.  This one is more complicated, so I’ll talk more about it below.

Figuring out a short, interesting description of what happens in your story is a good thing to do:  not only can you explain your story more easily (especially if you’re trying to get someone to read it), but it can help you get unstuck and help you get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong, because you have to think very hard about what the story is about.

Here’s how to do it:

Think about your main character and how they see things.  If they’re angry, try to feel the same kind of angry.  If they’re a detective, try to think investigating thoughts.  If they’re romantic and start out the story disappointed in love, try to imagine what that feels like. Try to think like your main character.

Now, imagine that your character is in a movie preview, and someone is describing what’s going to happen in the movie, to try to get people to watch the movie.  The voice is usually very dramatic or funny, depending on what kind of movie it is.

Third, imagine that the voice is describing your story as though it were a movie.  It’s best if you can imagine that the movie voice is almost like your main character’s voice, and cares about the same kinds of things that your character does (example in a second).

Tips:

  • The movie voice description has to be short, three sentences at most, and you have to be able to say those sentences in a few seconds.
  • Don’t give away the very end of your story, but you have to give away what the story is about.  For example, if you were writing a murder mystery, then you have to say who gets killed. It can be a mystery to the characters, but the reader has to know they have a murder to look forward to.
  • Don’t say a character “is” something, like “Harry Potter is a normal boy who becomes a wizard.”  Boring, and you just wasted a sentence!
  • And finally, you’ll know if you have a good description if the people you’re listening to say, “Oooh.”  If they just say, “Oh, well that sounds interesting,” then it probably isn’t.  If someone who likes to read the kind of story you’re writing gets all excited about your story from your description, it’s a good description.

For Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone:

Harry Potter’s unfair aunt and uncle try to hide the truth from him:  his parents didn’t die in a car accident when he was a baby, but in a magical battle with an evil sorcerer, somehow killed by baby Harry.  But Harry finds out about magic anyway and leaves for the magical wizarding school Hogwarts, only to discover that some people hate him for being famous, but other people hate him because they want to bring the evil sorcerer back to life…to kill Harry.

(Not perfect, but I hope you see what I mean.  These are really hard, even for famous movies.  But a very good thing to learn how to do.)

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