Month: April 2012 Page 1 of 3

People Juice – Diane R. Thompson

I have a new story up, under another pen name.  I hadn’t planned to whip this name out until I got YOUR SOUFFLE MUST DIE out, but it really is that same sensibility.  Sam from YSMD is shinier…but just as violent, underneath it all.

So:

People Juice

by Diane R. Thompson

 (available at SmashwordsB&NAmazon, and more)

If there’s one thing that can ruin your workday, it’s getting harassed. Beautiful, blonde Jackie has figured out how to handle it—most of the time. But last Friday she almost got snagged in the parking lot by a guy in a hoodie wearing too much aftershave, and now she’s out for revenge.

People juice. It’s what I call my ability to handle other people and their idiot problems. I’m not shy, but I’m an introvert—being around other people just sucks the energy out of me. So when I’m out of people juice, that’s it. It doesn’t matter whether I’m having the time of my life or I’m at my ex-in-laws’ house. Love ya, gotta go, goodbye.

Fortunately, not many people notice at work. I’m in Quality Analysis at Bell-Maus Software Design, and everyone thinks I’m a stuck-up bitch out to get them. And the guys who hit on me don’t notice anything but my breasts anyway.

Hit on me. Good phrase.

So Monday I come into the office with a black eye. I’m making coffee in the tiny break area, because I’m the only blonde chick in the office, and if I don’t make coffee it’ll look weird.

José comes up behind me and tries to rub up against my butt as he slides past me to the fridge, but I twist out of the way and shove him from behind, so he gets cock-blocked by the garbage can.

“Hey!” he says. “What did you do that for?”

“What?” I say.

“Push me.”

I shake my head. “No way, José.” He hates that.

“You did!”

“Awww, did somebody lose his balance and decide to blame the dumb blonde?”

He finally manages to get his eyes out of my cleavage, sees the black eye, and says, “What happened to your eye?” Then the jerk tries to feel me up again.

“Fender bender,” I said. “Friday night. Some guy in a hoodie tried to jump me in the parking lot, then rammed me from behind when I got in my car. I whiplashed into the steering wheel. As if you didn’t know.”

I step aside, pour myself a cup of rancid coffee, and sip it noisily. Last warning. He’s wearing a white shirt, and I’ve performed scattershot on him before.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I didn’t get a look at the guy, but I smelled him. And you were working late last Friday, too.” I take a deep whiff of his aftershave.

He splutters. “Are you accusing me?”

“Change your aftershave recently, José?”

He leaves the break area without another word, and yeah, he’s so mad that he forgets to pretend that the only way he can get around me is by bumping uglies. He’s in his supervisor’s cube faster than you can say “preemptive accusation of sexual harassment.”

I like messing with José. It doesn’t use up much of my juice.

*R is for “Raclette.”  Foodie pen names need foodie middle names: it’s a melty cheese that’s traditionally toasted in front of a fire, then served melted on potatoes with pickles. Yum, right?

New Fiction: People Juice

I dream of getting back into a routine…but it just ain’t happening right now.  I’m going through an awesome if somewhat disruptive learning process right now, complete with attendant mood swings (“I can’t write worth a damn!” “This is so much more awesome than anything I’ve written before!” etc.), and I’m not sure which way is up these days, let alone how to think more than one step ahead.

But when I think about what  might happen when I get a grasp on this, I twitch with excitement.  So I’m going to say I’m headed in the right direction.

I’m not sure how things are going to go for the next few weeks; I may not get a lot of blogging done.

At any rate, I do have a new story up, under another pen name.  I hadn’t planned to whip this name out until I got YOUR SOUFFLE MUST DIE out, but it really is that same sensibility.  Sam from YSMD is shinier…but just as violent, underneath it all.

So:

People Juice

by Diane R. Thompson*

(available at Smashwords, B&N, Amazon, and more)

If there’s one thing that can ruin your workday, it’s getting harassed. Beautiful, blonde Jackie has figured out how to handle it—most of the time. But last Friday she almost got snagged in the parking lot by a guy in a hoodie wearing too much aftershave, and now she’s out for revenge.

People juice. It’s what I call my ability to handle other people and their idiot problems. I’m not shy, but I’m an introvert—being around other people just sucks the energy out of me. So when I’m out of people juice, that’s it. It doesn’t matter whether I’m having the time of my life or I’m at my ex-in-laws’ house. Love ya, gotta go, goodbye.

Fortunately, not many people notice at work. I’m in Quality Analysis at Bell-Maus Software Design, and everyone thinks I’m a stuck-up bitch out to get them. And the guys who hit on me don’t notice anything but my breasts anyway.

Hit on me. Good phrase.

So Monday I come into the office with a black eye. I’m making coffee in the tiny break area, because I’m the only blonde chick in the office, and if I don’t make coffee it’ll look weird.

José comes up behind me and tries to rub up against my butt as he slides past me to the fridge, but I twist out of the way and shove him from behind, so he gets cock-blocked by the garbage can.

“Hey!” he says. “What did you do that for?”

“What?” I say.

“Push me.”

I shake my head. “No way, José.” He hates that.

“You did!”

“Awww, did somebody lose his balance and decide to blame the dumb blonde?”

He finally manages to get his eyes out of my cleavage, sees the black eye, and says, “What happened to your eye?” Then the jerk tries to feel me up again.

“Fender bender,” I said. “Friday night. Some guy in a hoodie tried to jump me in the parking lot, then rammed me from behind when I got in my car. I whiplashed into the steering wheel. As if you didn’t know.”

I step aside, pour myself a cup of rancid coffee, and sip it noisily. Last warning. He’s wearing a white shirt, and I’ve performed scattershot on him before.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I didn’t get a look at the guy, but I smelled him. And you were working late last Friday, too.” I take a deep whiff of his aftershave.

He splutters. “Are you accusing me?”

“Change your aftershave recently, José?”

He leaves the break area without another word, and yeah, he’s so mad that he forgets to pretend that the only way he can get around me is by bumping uglies. He’s in his supervisor’s cube faster than you can say “preemptive accusation of sexual harassment.”

I like messing with José. It doesn’t use up much of my juice.

*R is for “Raclette.”  Foodie pen names need foodie middle names: it’s a melty cheese that’s traditionally toasted in front of a fire, then served melted on potatoes with pickles. Yum, right?

 

How to Write from All Five Senses

I have a new article up at Indie Author News:

There’s a lot of good advice I didn’t take because I didn’t understand it at the time. Granted, taking advice before I’m ready for it isn’t smart–like taking the training wheels off my bike before I have a sense of balance. But now I have those training wheels off (although I haven’t stopped training), and I need to re-look at a lot of that advice.

Right now, I’m studying the use of all five senses in my writing. When I first heard the advice, I blew it off. “That’s so obvious, duh!” I said…but didn’t do it. Maybe because it never clicked. Maybe because it was explained poorly. Maybe because I wasn’t listening.

So why is it important?

Not because it makes my fiction “more realistic.” After all, it’s stuff we’ve made up; why is being “more realistic” important (especially in a fantasy or in a surreal work)?
It’s important because it’s easier to control your readers’ thoughts and feelings when you use sensory details. Or, if you want to sound less like a mad scientist and more like a literature professor, “to help your readers see the world in a new way.”

Granted, this comes out the morning after I just finished reading a Stephen King book, so I’m a bit depressed on my writing skills.  But the advice is really, really good.  And many thanks to Dean for giving it to me 🙂

How to Write from All Five Senses

I have a new article up at Indie Author News:

There’s a lot of good advice I didn’t take because I didn’t understand it at the time. Granted, taking advice before I’m ready for it isn’t smart–like taking the training wheels off my bike before I have a sense of balance. But now I have those training wheels off (although I haven’t stopped training), and I need to re-look at a lot of that advice.

Right now, I’m studying the use of all five senses in my writing. When I first heard the advice, I blew it off. “That’s so obvious, duh!” I said…but didn’t do it. Maybe because it never clicked. Maybe because it was explained poorly. Maybe because I wasn’t listening.

So why is it important?

Not because it makes my fiction “more realistic.” After all, it’s stuff we’ve made up; why is being “more realistic” important (especially in a fantasy or in a surreal work)?
It’s important because it’s easier to control your readers’ thoughts and feelings when you use sensory details. Or, if you want to sound less like a mad scientist and more like a literature professor, “to help your readers see the world in a new way.”

Granted, this comes out the morning after I just finished reading a Stephen King book, so I’m a bit depressed on my writing skills.  But the advice is really, really good.  And many thanks to Dean for giving it to me 🙂

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-29

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The Writer’s Negativity Checklist

I just got back from the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, and boy, is my brain tired.  But I had to write this down…I was talking to Chris Mandeville about feeling like a failure as a writer at one point during the conference.  I said something like, “And then I realized I was feeling extremely negative, so I went down my checklist and realized I was just tired.  All better now.”  And she sounded kind of shocked…a checklist?!? Yep.  I have a checklist.

Feeling negative about your writing?  Lots of critical self-talk?  Wondering why you ever thought you could write, no matter what positive things other people tell you?

Before you give in to despair, stop and go through this checklist!

Every writer I’ve talked to about it, from newbies to professional writers, has admitted they have overwhelmingly negative thoughts from time to time.  So rather than running away from your writing or digging youself a hole of depression, go through this checklist to make sure your negativity isn’t coming from an easily-repairable source.  By the time you get rid of everything on the list, you should be either writing or taking care of what needs to be done.

(Non-writers: yes, when we’re writing or stuck at writing, these really are things that we don’t notice.)

Physical

  • Are you hungry?  Eat something healthful.  (Prepare ahead with appropriate snack foods.)
  • Have you had enough water today–not coffee, not soda, but water? If not, drink water.
  • Are you in pain or discomfort (headache, allergies, sinuses, backache, carpal tunnel, etc.)?  Take medicine and write down a note to address root causes later.
  • Are you tired? Sleep.
  • Are you sick? Take medicine and write down a note to address root causes later.
  • Are you stiff? Walk around.  I find this the perfect time to do laundry/dishes/etc.
  • Have you exercised in the last two days?  If not, exercise.
  • Are you tense (you may need to dig deeper for the reason)?  Stretch, meditate, take a walk–whatever works for you.
  • Are you indulging in a repetitive habit (you may need to dig deeper for the reason)?  Change what you’re doing for a few moments to see if inspiration hits; your subconscious is trying to tell you something.

Mental

  • Are you bored?  You may be writing the wrong thing or headed in the wrong direction.  Reread last few pages and see if you like them.  If not, remove/save elsewhere back to the last place you read and liked (don’t “think,” read and then decide).
  • Are you restless?  You are looking for something.  Do research.  Do something (anything) new.  Expose yourself to the random for a while.
  • Are you stuck?  You are probably not in your character’s head(s).  Make sure you know what the character is wearing and review what’s happening for all five senses.  If still stuck, change what you’re doing for a few moments to let your subconscious process any complex situations (again with the laundry/dishes/etc.).
  • Do you find yourself making excuses rather than write?  Free write for ten minutes, exploring the reasons you’re avoiding writing, but allow yourself to wander as necessary.  When you’re avoiding writing for no conscious reason, then your subconscious muse needs to tell you something.
  • Are you easily distracted?  Make sure your external world aligns with your internal world–clean, organize, add inspirational objects, mess things up, etc.–but don’t stop to make it perfect if you feel suddenly focused.
  • Do you feel you’re not coming up with inspired choices?  Free write/brainstorm/outline/idea map every dull choice you can, then change your behavior for a few moments to allow your subconscious to process new ideas.  Identifying the less than optimal in a conscious way clears the subconscious for further inspiration.
  • Are you overwhelmed? Your subconscious relies on your conscious brain for logic when intuition isn’t working.  Approach a problem analytically until your writer brain can take over again.

Social/Emotional

  • Do you feel like a fake?  Overdo it in an area over which you have control: write a lot, submit (and get rejected) a lot.  You cannot fake wordcount or the number of rejections you have (you can only lie about the number).
  • Are you stressed about external approval?  Use your social network to gain external approval in a minor way–share funny, sweet, cool, or otherwise awesome things on a regular basis.
  • Are you unacceptably jealous of another writer?  Put them in a story, changing any identifying details or history, and do something terrible to them.  You’ll either feel satisfied or you’ll feel sorry for what you’ve done to them.  Either is better than jealousy.  (This works for all kinds of unacceptable feelings toward other people, really.)
  • Do you have too many things to do?  (See the tip on being overwhelmed, too.)  Write a list of what you need to do, and prioritize.  Consider ways to get rid of all but the top five items on your list.
  • Too many emails? Unsubscribe from as many emails as possible or change your settings to digests.
  • A note for freelancers–not making enough money? unhappy? bored? not diversified?  Pick your most unsatisfactory client and politely get rid of them.
  • Are you stressed about a major life event? Allow yourself to cope.  Thinking the same thoughts/feeling the same emotions over and over is a sign of not coping.  A good method of coping is finding a metaphor for what you’re going through and writing a story using the metaphor (we do become writers partially because that’s how we process the world around us, by organizing it into a story and giving it meaning).  Sometimes you just have to stop creating and heal.

Fundamentals

  • Are you a “good enough writer”? Questioning your ability is a sign that you’re ready to learn something new; people who are incompetent can’t recognize their own incompetency (the Dunning-Kruger effect).   Take heart; you’re getting ready for a jump to the next level as a writer.  You will never stop learning how to write better, and it’s uncomfortable every time.
  • Are you in a rut? Pick a new genre/media/format/length to write in.  You will need to read & research to find out what your sweet spot in that genre is.
  • Do you feel dissatisfied with your writing, but you can’t identify what you need to learn/fix?  You should a) keep writing, b) free write on your dissatisfaction, and c) read various approaches to writing advice that may or may not have anything to do with what you suspect the real problem is.  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  If you look.
  • Do you feel that you are following all the advice you’ve read, but you want to push yourself outside of a rational approach to writing (I find that both rational and irrational approaches work best when used together)?  Read until you are conscious of reading something especially good, then type it up.  You’re forced to go into real-time (meditative) brain mode, which goes straight to the subconscious to teach you how the greats did their work.  Warning: can spoil you for a lot of shoddy, one-trick writing.
  • Are you really supposed to be a writer?  Assess how you spend most of your leisure time.  If you aren’t a reader, then you may not be a writer.  If you are a reader, take a break from writing for about two weeks, then schedule a solid block of writing and force  yourself to do it, whether you want to or not.  If you feel better after you write (fewer nightmares, better alertness, feeling of purpose, relief, etc.), then be a writer.  If you feel worse, then you may not be a writer.  It’s a calling; that means you stop being fully functional when you don’t do it.  Conversely, if you haven’t been writing, schedule a reasonable, regular writing time/wordcount per day for two weeks, then stop suddenly and see whether you feel better or worse. Don’t count how you feel while writing, only when you’re done, and for the next few days.
  • Feel that you’re handicapped by some shortcoming as a writer? Every aspect of writing, from speed to focus to dialogue to query letters, is a skill, and someone has figured out how to build that skill.  Find out who does that skill at a remarkable, insane level, and find out how they built that skill.  Read some Tim Ferriss while you’re at it.  If you are really good at something (that’s not writing), analyze how you did it.
  • Are you not sure whether what you’re doing is worthwhile?  (The “but I could have done something useful with my life, like being a teacher or a nurse” interior monologue.)  It’s never a bad thing to ease the burdens of another person’s life by entertaining them, or to help them process something painful or bewildering.  It’s only a question of whether you’re giving people something or calling attention to yourself.   To paraphrase Robert Crais at PPWC the other night, it’s not about you, it’s about the story.  Work to get over yourself.

There you go, the checklist 🙂  An interesting experiment, writing the whole thing down.  Usually, I’m good by the time I get through physical and mental, but sometimes I do have to go all the way down.  If you have more items, share 🙂

Update:

Of course I forgot something, and I’m doing it right now…I call it “having a zen day.”  It’s when I’m having the kind of day where everything is so complex you don’t know up from down, your brain is full, and even writing a list doesn’t do it.  At that point, I just do whatever the next thing is, when I get done with the thing before it.  Like, you look at a piece of paper and decide that it’s trash, so you dump it in the recycle box, see a piece of clothing on the floor, dump it in the laundry, get inspired to write a blog post, then see a pile of receipts that needs to be put into Quicken, etc.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-22

  • Alien Blue (SF adult novel) and Beware the Easter Moon (middle-grade Goosebumpy horror) free 2d only: http://t.co/lkBhY0LB #

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Free fiction up – two days only

Apologies, I’m writing this ahead of time, because I’m actually at Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference.  April 21-22, my ebooks Beware the Easter Moon and Alien Blue should be free at Amazon only.  Pass the word!

Free fiction up – two days only

Apologies, I’m writing this ahead of time, because I’m actually at Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference.  April 21-22, my ebooks Beware the Easter Moon and Alien Blue should be free at Amazon only.  Pass the word!

The Test

New kids’ fiction now available from AmazonSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble,with other sites to follow (Kobo, Apple, Sony).

I’m trying something new…

This is actually a two-story pack, with “The Test” and another kids’ story set in a fantasy world, “The Scaredy Wizard of Theornin.”  Both play around with Grimms’ fairy-tale themes.

The Test

by De Kenyon

Mari von Ingler is good for nothing, not making sausages or sewing a straight line or anything of use in her village, so her father arranges for her to be an apprentice to a mage…but only if she can pass the mage’s test.

But when the mage arrives, he only sends her out into the forest with no instructions but to come back and tell him whether she passed. She means only to stomp off into the woods and hide for an hour, but now she’s so lost that it would take magic to find her way back…

Mari von Ingler leaned gently against the warm white wall of the inn on the bench made out of half of a tree trunk that nobody but travelers sat on. She didn’t dare move an inch more, or the splinter poking through her thick wool skirt and linen underthings would bite her. She closed her eyes and tried to swallow back the rotten taste in her mouth. She wished she hadn’t eaten Mama’s good food; she wished she couldn’t smell the roast turning on the spit, inside the inn.

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