Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

This post was originally featured at The Writing Network as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      School’s over. Summer’s started.
      Her toes dip in to the deliciously cool water. The bottle-colored ripples turn her bright magenta toenails a murky color but she had wanted them painted blue anyway, so it did not bother her much. Mom told her that a lady chooses neutral, muted tones and sheer shades. French-tips and healthy, buffed, naked nails are best. They had argued about it for five whole minutes at the nail salon before Mom relented and allowed her to have her pedicure done in eye-popping pink.
      Who wants to be a lady anyway?
      She drew her knees up to her chest, teetering on the edge of the boulder, and lay her arms upon them. Her pedicure was a little chipped, but it looked a million times better than her fingernails. They were chipped and broken and chewed down to the quick. Climbing rocks and trees, two of her most favorite things, was not condusive to maintaining a pretty manicure. Mom told her that a lady’s hands spoke volumes about her character. Well-kept hands imply a tidy, ordered mind and a conscienious soul.
      I wonder what mine say… nothing good, I guess.
      July was going to be hot this year, but hopefully not as muggy as June had been. She pushed a loose, scaggly lock of ashy blonde hair out of her face and sighed. Her hair probably looked a mess too. Mom told her that she should brush it at least twenty-five strokes in the morning and before bedtime to keep it glossy and healthy. A lady takes good care of her hair, it shows that she is proud and confident, though you must be vigilant to not become vain or arrogant.
      Betcha no one would think I was vain or arrogant if they saw my hair today.
      Though she had chosen a spot in the shade to wait, the world kept turning and the sunlight shifted. She could feel her cheeks growing hotter and redder with every minute. Soon she would be the same color as a tomato, only with hair, and in a day or two, she’d be peeling. Mom told her that a lady is mindful of her skin and always wears sunscreen to protect it. Sunburns can lead to splotchy sun damage and premature wrinkles.
      And cancer. You never told me that, but I know its true.
      She could hear her father calling from the back porch and she tried to tune him out. Maybe they would leave without her and she could just stay here by the creek with her dirty feet and her ruined manicure and her tangled hair. She would stay right here by the water until she was covered in bug bites and mud, until she was stinky from not bathing and so hopelessly filthy that Mom would have a conniption fit.
      She would have to come home and toss me in the tub and scrub me until my skin hurts and tell me all over again about how a lady is supposed to be.
      Instead, when her oldest brother came stomping down to the creek to get her, she did not argue and let him lead her back up to the house. Her father ran her a second bath and her middle brother hung her dress on the door. She scrubbed her skin until it was so pink it nearly glowed and her toes were wrinkly from the water. She doused cotton balls in acetone and wiped the polish from her toes and nails. She brushed her hair until it shone and hung straight and shiny down her back. The dress was new and sort of itchy, but she dutifully donned it and looked at herself in the mirror.
      I guess I look a proper lady. Sort of.
      Her father looked sad when she came down the stairs, but it was hard to tell why. All three of her big brothers were impatient and the youngest scowled as he asked her what in the world had taken her so long. Dad told him to be quiet, because as Mom always said, a lady may keep you waiting, but the wait is always worth it.
      “You look lovely, princess, your Mom would be so proud,” her Dad told her as he escorted her to the big black car parked in the drive.
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Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

[Note: Image reproduced from a writing prompt at CreativityPortal.com.]

Not To Be Confused with “Abe Lincoln Vs. Zombies”

Not To Be Confused with “Abe Lincoln Vs. Zombies”

This post was originally featured at Writers Write Daily as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      I’m a voracious reader. I love to explore new genres and time periods I have never read pieces from which is probably why my collection of books runs such a strange gamut. Some of my most recent purchases (or borrows) have been: “Captivate & Control” by Raymond Frazee, “Cedar Woman” by Debra Shively Welch, “A Dance with Dragons” by GRRM, “The Kobold Wizard’s [censored] of Enlightenment +2” by Carlton Mellick III, and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith.
      Historical fiction has always been a favorite of mine – whether it was frothy, romantic novels by Rosalind Laker, time-line twisting adventures like “1632” by Eric Flint, or alternate realities following what if questions such as: what if the Nazis had won WW2? Maybe that’s why my modern day fantasy novel features a big “What If” of it’s own… What if Mages were real in our frantic post-Y2K world?
      The novel I am currently reading is the aforementioned “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith. the man responsible for the hilarious and action-packed and surprisingly awesome “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. “AL:VH” has been made into a big budget Hollywood film produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov. With a pedigree like that, I imagine it will be a fairly fun romp. The motion picture adapation is probably the only reason Jack’s brother picked up the book, but he loved it and passed it on to us.
      My quick prediction for the adaption? To be successful, the movie will have to pack a lot more punch than the novel does.
      Me? I enjoyed it because I adore alternate reality fiction; because its a welcome tweak to the nose of history buffs who insist that things could only have happened this way because the book cleverly finds ways to subvert these assumptions; because the idea of gangly ‘Honest Abe’ trotting around the western reaches of the United States killing vampires is freaking awesome; and because it really is a unique take on the way overdone vampire fad of the aughts. Still, I would not necessarily say it was ‘action-packed’ in the same way a film by the director behind “Wanted” should be. There is a lot (a LOT) of exposition and very little direct dialogue. Although that breaks several cardinal rules of modern fiction, I liked the fact that the author was not suckered into fitting his vision into the tight box that today’s prose is supposed to fit inside. Instead, he put out a book filled with fictional journal entries, recollections, memories and suppositions, which is peppered with historical fact and just enough photoshopped evidence to make you pause and wonder.
      One of my favorite lines, thus far, is when Abe’s little Angel Boy, Eddy dies at the age of three years, ten months, and eighteen days. Henry comes round to console (and tempt) him and makes Abe a beautiful, terrible offer – to bring Eddie back to ‘unlife’ as a vampire. Abraham recalls the heart-wrenching choice:


      … However, he saw to it that I received the note before the service. In it were his further condolences…and a reminder that there was another way.
      A way to see my boy again.
      […]
      He would be small forever. An angelic murderer. I could not bear the thought of keeping him locked away in the dark. Of teaching him to kill so that he might live. I could not condemn my son to hell.

      This was not the first, nor the last, time Henry would pop into Abe’s (fictional) life and try to use his grief against him, seducing him into soliciting eternal unlife for his deceased loved ones. I think Abe’s vehement denial in this case struck me so strongly because of my personal ‘fed-up-ness’ with the vampire fad of the past decade. Glittery vampires, romantically tortured vampires, good-guys-who-just-happen-to-drink-blood vampires. Boo-hiss. I like my vampires old school. Evil and monstrous. Maybe they have a shred of humanity that regrets what they must do, but still, they are evil because they choose self-preservation over ending themselves (and the violence/killing/sorrow/et cetera that ensues). Abraham Lincoln sees what vampires truly are and what must be done*.
      There is a lovely sequence between Abe and his friend Edgar Allen Poe in which Poe romanticizes the unlife in a way that Lincoln cannot wrap his head around. Poe is a gloomy, dark fellow with a penchant for the twisted and depressing, but he is the only other living person Abe knows who is also aware of the existence of vampires. They bond over the subject, with Abe’s abhorrence and Poe’s reverence somehow meeting in the middle.
      It ends thusly:


      “I begin to suspect,” said Abe, “That you would like to be one of them.”
      Poe laughed at the suggestion. “Is not our existence long & miserable enough?” he asked, laughing. “Who in God’s name would seek to prolong it?”

      I have not yet finished the novel, but I am more than two-thirds of the way through it and though I do not want this post to sound like a review, I can say that I am enjoying the journey and would certainly read another novel by the author. I would also recommend the book without hesitation to most folk I know. In fact, without knowing a thing about YOU, reader, I will recommend that you check out “AL: VH” and let me know (Facebook, Twitter, Website) what you thought of it.
      This novel is certainly out of my typical genre and out of my writing wheelhouse, but it does touch upon most of my favorite things. I’m not sure that I would say it helped my writing technically, because Seth Grahame-Smith breaks all the new conventional rules for how a novel should be paced, white-space, dialogue tags, exposition, blah blah blah – things that I truly take to heart when editing my own work. However, I would say it did open my mind to alternative perspectives and after reading it, I’ve got two new ‘ideas’ floating around my mental inbox, waiting to be fleshed out or tweaked into an existing project. That’s a blessing, and a curse!
      What I’d like to know, friends, is have you read anything in this ‘twisted history’ genre? If not – why not? If so, would you recommend the book? Do you like considering the ‘what ifs’ and possibilities of alternate reality? What’s your biggest ‘what if’ moment? For instance, what if the Nazis had won WW2? What if Sarah Palin was elected president? What if no one had ever invented sliced bread, or the telephone, or the iPad?

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

*= Note from PP: Oh! Irony. Having now finished the book, a spoiler alert… even Honest Abe isn’t perfect!

More Than Words

More Than Words

This post was originally featured at Just Natalie as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      Music is just about as necessary to my process as you know, words, ideas, and uh… breathing. It is very rare that I choose silence when I’m writing. However, the best mojo comes when I am able to turn on a playlist, hit shuffle, and tune out all the lyrics and drums and screaming dinosaur rockers and just hit THE ZONE.
      When I was a tween, writing my first novel, I had a cassette tape of Bryan Adams’ “So Far, So Good” a greatest hits compilation. I could hit play on that album and start typing. Then I’d blink and the whole side would be over and I’d have vomited a few thousand more words onto the page. Hours might have passed and I was none the wiser, so wrapped up in THE ZONE was I.
      I literally wore that tape out. One night, right in the middle of a climactic fight sequence, the ribbon snapped and I cried. I cried like my grandmother had died all over again. I was afraid I would never be able to write again. Well, I have written many thousands of words since I was twelve, but I am sad to say I have never quite reached that level of instant ZONE-ness. Even after I finally got a disc man and a copy of “So Far, So Good” on CD.
      Alas.
      When I think of a song that seems to fit my WIP, Incandescence, the first thing that came to mind was “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones for the antagonist, Alexander. Then “Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight” by the Misfits for his cousin-slash-cohort, Isaac. But those don’t really apply to the story as a whole…
      So I turned to Jack and asked, “Jack, what song would you say describes my book?”
      He quirked a brow, opened a browser to Youtube.com and played this:
      (link to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVmB3lRjCmc)
      And I laughed. I guess I talk too much about how the setting is – the near future, as the world we know crumbles.
      C’est la vie. That isn’t part of my standard writing soundtrack, but it sure works for me.
      So – have you read anything lately that brings to mind a specific song or genre? What and why? C’mon – tell me all about it!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

NaNoWriMo 2012 – Day One

NaNoWriMo 2012 - Day One

      It’s here! It’s here!
      Wheee! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) began at midnight and I’m so excited I could spit.
      Since I am going to be super busy meeting my daily goal (1667 just to reach the 50k, but double that to actually complete the novel in November) I will probably not do a whole lot of blogging. Which is par for the course, isn’t it? I’ve been a terrible blogger these past few months.
      Please forgive me.
      At any rate, I was going to stay up and write starting at midnight, but alas, I was tired and fell asleep at about 10 on 10/31. But, I woke around midnight-thirty and the words just wouldn’t wait. Thus, I put to pen the official ‘first words’ of “Inferno” (first draft) – a line six words long.
      I then returned to bed and slept until four or so, woke, and wrote.
      In total, despite reading 95 issues of The Walking Dead because I. Could. Not. Stop., I added 5211 words to the first draft of “Inferno”, completed the Prologue, Chapter One, and part of Chapter Two.
      This may sound like a great start to NaNoWriMo 2012, but I really wanted 10k for Day One. C’est la vie. There are 29 days to go in this frantic month of writing and I shall make it to 50k for sure. Its the 100-120k I’m worried about reaching…
      Wish me luck!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.