Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Experiments

A little background: The word "experiment" used here has a very particular meaning. In a sense their entire relationship up to this point has been an experiment devised to test the boundaries of the "gifts" they've been given. It's hard to explain...

In short, they only meet a week before this scene occurs. And they've already been "intimate." Yes, yes, I know. Penny didn't guard her purity all that well. Whatever.

This is the first time they've seen each other since this happened. They really don't know each other at all.


Through the bare branches of the trees near the forest edge, I see Will lying on the ground. His arms are spread out away from his body, and his eyes are open, staring up to the sky. For a second it crosses my mind that I should turn around and leave him alone. "Too soon, silly girl," a voice chants in my head.

His shaggy hair lays in all directions. This is the first time I've really seen his face, I realize. The smoothness of his forehead fascinates me. A bold desire to touch it moves my feet toward where he lay.

"Cloud animals?" I ask, stopping beside him and looking up to the cloudless autumn sky.

No answer. I prod his arm with the tip of my boot. "Or, just comatose," I guess again, wishing I had just gone back to the house and left him alone.

His mouth quirks into a half smile, though he doesn't look at me. "I'm redefining the meaning of time. And you're ruining the experiment."

"Hmm...So long as we're just experimenting," I say pointedly, and crumple down next to him, laying down just outside his reach.

I brace myself for the cold, but the ground still radiates the warmth of Indian summer. The wind rustling the leaves that linger on the tree tops just barely brushes across my face.

We lay in silence and I try not to look at him. I watch the sky instead, wondering what it is he's looking for. Soon, the quiet of the moment takes over, and my mind wanders to the things I've learned about myself since arriving on the island. Eighteen years worth of memories cloud my vision of the sky. I'm not the person I thought I was.

"Murderer!" My subconscious screams and I scrunch my eyes tight. I breathe in and out with deliberation, concentrating on the sound air makes as it moves through my mouth. But dread spreads through me like wildfire. The benefits of meditation refuse to take hold.

"You're ruining the experiment," Will murmurs. I open my eyes and turn to look at him. He's laying on his side now, facing me, his head resting on the arm that stretches toward me. The long shadow of a tree covers his face and I can't see his expression.

And as just like that, I am sinking into the ground at the same time I am flying. I shut my eyes again, feeling a different set of emotions too hard to process.


Die Alone

I'm working on a romanic scene right now. I've been dreading it because in my experience, romance in real life and romance in fiction are two different things. I'm trying to instill a little truth in Penny and Will's relationship without making it depressing.

This song is inspiring the scene. I've loved it for a very long time and it has specific meaning to the overall plot of the novel. Excerpt from the scene will be posted at some point today.

"You make me think I won't die alone..."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hiding the Cover

Many years ago, this was my favorite book ever:

I was twelve when I first read it and it completely sucked me in. And not only did I enjoy it, but I was proud that I had read it. I mean, here I was reading a real grown-up book after years of Sleepover Friends and Babysitters Club books. I quickly amassed my own V.C. Andrews library. Within a few years I owned every single VCA book in existence, even the Ghostwritten ones (which at that time amounted to the first half of the Dawn series).

And the madness didn't stop with early adolescence, I continued feeling the love clear into college, and created fan site after fan site devoted to sharing the VCA gospel.
It was a ball of fun then. But embarrassing to admit now? You bet.

The last couple of days I've been putting together a wishlist for the Hubby of things I'd like for Christmas this year. I started with books, of course, and spent more time than I care to admit on Amazon honing my list. I added books, I removed them. This process repeated thirty or so times.

The problem was something I've struggled with for a couple years now. There is a gap between books that bring me the pure joy of reading, and books the that I'm not embarrassed to admit I've read. (There are a few exceptions of choice, as I mentioned here.)

Since I joined Goodreads, the pressure to read books deemed socially acceptable is more intense. Before when I was embarrassed of a book I was reading, I'd just keep the cover down on the table while I was reading at lunch, or I'd crease the spine of a paperback to hide the front cover with the back pages. But now I have a harder time hiding that literary fluff. My account looks like I haven't read anything for ages....but that's not true. I just haven't read much I'm willing to admit to.

Which brings me back to my wishlist. I finally decided that I shouldn't care what anyone thinks of me. I put books on that list that are the equivalent of literary marshmallow peeps. But you know what? I'm going to enjoy reading every last word.

A few other confessions while I'm at it:
  • I read young adult books on a regular basis.
  • These days I'm really into reading fan fiction.
  • My favorite mystery series involves a talking teddy bear.
I'm working on not being ashamed of these things.

Friday, November 19, 2010

First Person = FAIL!

 I suck at writing in first person.

Here's why: I do alot of living inside myself. For every one thing I say, there are probably ten more that I'm thinking. Sometimes it's some thing I'm worrying about, or something I'm reading, or maybe what I need to pick up at the store. But most often, it's a line to a poem I'll never write, or an observation about life that has no relevance in the conversation of real, day to day life. So I keep quiet, because really, who cares but me?

One example (out of millions): On Monday I was pumping gas when I saw a Canadian goose fly across the sky. It was alone, honking, and flying with purpose. Immediately I starting wondering where he came from, where he was going, and why he was alone. I decided that maybe he'd been left behind. Maybe the other geese had already left for points south, and now he had to make the journey alone. The whole thing made me sad.

I make up these little mini-stories multiple times a day. This is how my brain works. I'm pretty sure I'm abnormal.

This abnormality complicates the first person writing process. Because in a novel, ACTION! is a pretty key component. And who wants to read a book where the main character daydreams about migratory birds all day?

Hey! That goose just took off with my internal dialogue!
When I started writing Dark Luck, I started it in first person. Then a couple of days later, I moved it to third person (my happy place), but then I decided to stop being a chicken and moved it back to first person.

And yeah, now it's a convoluted mess. But that's where editing comes in, right?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doing the Splits

I spend alot of time doing the splits.

I'll hear Little E crying, but Crazy H is clamped onto my leg with a level of tenacity that can only be compared to a crocodile bite. Or Crazy H will fall down and bump her knee, and I'll want to go and comfort her, but I'm up to my elbows in Little E's poopy diaper, and there is no graceful way to back out of that job half-done.

Josh helps, of course, when he's home. But more and more often he's away on business and I'm left splitting myself into pieces trying to keep it all together.

This weekend I was watching the girls play and I realized how much I've forgotten about their lives. What was H's favorite toy six month ago? I honestly can't remember. How much more will I forget before they're grown?

For example: Crazy H's favorite things right now are spiders and worms and witches. She asks me every morning if she can be a witch and put on her halloween costume. One day last week, I let her wear her cape to daycare and it made her day.

Also: Little E has taken to saying, "Please" for everything. It's ridiculously cute and impossible to say no to.

These are the little things I don't want to forget. So why don't I make more of an effort to write them down? The simple answer is that I'm often too busy writing about others (that is, people who don't actually exisit) to write about my own family.

So many of the little decisions we make in life are based on selfishness. Bottomline is, I need to limber up a little and do the splits more often.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ten Favorite Books of All Time

In no particular order. Keep in mind that this is not my idea of the best books ever written. These are just the books that mean the most to me, for one reason or another. Some are "candy bar" books, and others are more literary. I love them all equally.

Pride and Prejudice
I read this book every year, and every year I'm amazed at how much I love it. I've read many classics over the years, but this is one that reads so much like a contemporary novel, I have a hard time remembering that I'm reading an "old" book. I still wish Lizzy would just kiss the crap out of Mr. Darcy, though. That man needs it.

Little Women
I first read this in High School and remember hugging the book tightly after I finished it. I still feel compelled to hug it every time I finish it (which is about once a year or so). I always wanted sisters, so there is fascination to me in the bond between the March girls. I only hope that H & Little E have the same type of relationship. I'll be reading this book to them as soon as they are old enough to appreciate it.

Tara Road
To be honest, I've read a few Maeve Binchy books, and this is the only one I've liked. But I more than like this book, it's full on love for me. Yeah, the writing is run-of-the-mill, and the plot is disjointed (and to a certain extent, non-existent), but the characters are so detailed, and beautiful, and flawed that I'm willing to overlook alot. This book is comforting like a pair of worn flannel pants, and delicious like a cup of hot chocolate. A guilty pleasure.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
I was going through a tough time in life when this book was given to me by a former teacher. I was twelve, so probably a little old for it (I'd already moved on to adult fiction by this time), but it was love at first read. The excitement, the adventure, the mystery! I still re-read this book on a regular basis and it is without a doubt my favorite childhood book.

The Time Traveler's Wife (Just made the list!)
I was stunned by how much this book affected me. I bought it because I knew a little about the premise (well, I knew the title, which says enough) and it seemed like a really interesting idea. I love anything that ties literary fiction with magical realism, which is my absolute favorite sub-genre. The strange thing is that I don't even particularly like the characters, but the way the story is told is so beautiful that it's a work of art to me. I'm sure I'll re-read it many, many times.

Harry Potter Series
Alone, probably none of the books in the series would make this list. But together, they are close to the top of the heap. Fantastic story, brilliant writing. Can't get enough of it, actually.

The Book of Ti'ana
A book based on a video game. And a full-on fantasy novel at that, which isn't usually my thing. But this is without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read. It's number two in a trilogy, and outshines the other two like crazy. From the world-building, to the characters, to the plot. Yum. Love this book. (And now I want to re-read it and I can't find my copy. Eep!) The very first website I ever built was devoted to this book. That's saying something, I think.

The Weight of WaterThis book proves the worth of Anita Shreve. It's arguably her best and rawest book. Emotional, taut, vivid, but sparse. Every time I read this I'm surprised by the craftsmanship of it. It makes me wish I could write so honestly. Very inspirational.

I never usually talk about it, but Emma is actually tied with P&P as my favorite Jane Austen book of all time. It's funny, satirical without being mean, and so modern that like P&P that I forget it's almost 200 years old. (For fans of the movie, the BBC version produced last year and released through Masterpiece Theater is SO much better than the Gwyneth Paltrow version, which I previously loved.) Not a book to be overlooked.

On Writing
I have a love and hate relationship with this book. Every time I read it I beat myself up, wonder why I bother trying to write, and Josh ALWAYS threatens to throw it out because I get so emo when I read it. But this book is on the list because as much as it makes me feel inferior, it also inspires in a way I can't explain. I love King for writing this book, and I'm going to prove him wrong one of these days. (Ask me what I mean one day when I'm not trying to write a novel.)

What are your favorites?

Still Plugging Away

Well, same story, different year.

I'm not going to finish the 50k.

There is no way possible for it to happen. BUT! Before you go thinking I'm a failure, I'll have you know that I have been writing each day. So, I haven't given up. That's a first for me, so I'm saying I'm still in the game. If I can write every single day this month, that's a win.

I've got something special to post here later.