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Mar 31, 2011

Overcast

I sat in the car, silent, as John drove to the airport. I ignored him during the wait in the terminal, focusing on a photo project I’d started before the storm – there was enough editing to keep me occupied until my laptop’s battery ran dry. He fell asleep on the plane, or maybe he was faking it for my benefit. Either way I didn’t care.



Our first words to each other that day were mumbled apologies as I ran into him exiting the closet.


The worst of John’s emotional outbursts seemed far behind us. I feared mine were only now floating to the surface.


The little things had started to irritate me again. I tried not to count as I picked up the ninth sock from the floor in the living room. I put the jelly jar back in the fridge without comment. When I came back to the kitchen two hours later, and saw the half gallon of milk sitting on the counter, I knew I had to leave or I would explode.


Without a word to John, I put on my coat and went for a walk.


Thanks to a quick text before I left, Nancy waited for my on the only blue bench in the park.


The park maintenance crew had stopped painting it back to the drab brown after their fourth attempt had only resulted in our fourth session of late night painting. They’d gotten no complaints, so far as I knew, so there really was no point to fighting it.


“How are you holding up?”


I rolled my eyes at her. She knew exactly what my relationship with John Sr. had been like.


When I sat next to her, I tried to ignore the expectant sigh.


“I think I’m going to leave John.” The word’s came out of my mouth so resolutely, it was the first time I actually believed myself.


“Okay.” She stared over the small pond without the slightest sign my revelation had surprised her.


My head snapped to her. “Aren’t you going to ask me why?”


“You can tell me your little reasons, the things that have been eating away at you and then I’ll tell you the real reason.”


“You’re right, it is the little things, they’ve built up over the years to the point that I just can’t stand it. You know, I came back from being trapped in Arizona and not a single thing had been done in that house? I was greeted by mounds of laundry and teetering piles of dishes. And I don’t accept the excuse that his dad died, because ninety percent of that built up before Sr. took the plunge. He has no respect for me at all anymore. What’s worse, I don’t respect him anymore.”


I paused to catch my breath. I knew I should feel bad about the callous words I was spewing, but at this point, I just didn’t care.


“And his family… you know this weekend, they were actually looking at me with all of their pity! I’m not the one who died. I certainly didn’t lose anyone I loved. I don’t need their pity.”


“Are you sure it’s not about the affair?”


That stopped my ranting. Eli was the one thing I hadn’t told Nancy about – she knew him, but I had no idea she’d figured us out.


“I’m not leaving him for Eli, though the thought had crossed my mind.”


Her eyes widened at me – the first hint of surprise. “I didn’t know you two had a thing, but good for you. I always liked Eli. I was talking about John’s girlfriend.”


“Oh.” I wondered why this news didn’t hurt.


 
Dam(n)<< >>Pouring
 
***
This week's RWH prompt was to write about someone who irritated you. Johnn certainly fit the bill.

Mar 30, 2011

Review: Children of Scarabaeus

Children of Scarabaeus

(Sequel to Song of Scarabaeus)
 

Science Fiction Adventure with a dash of romance

Published by Harper Voyager












My Summary:

Edie and her bodyguard, Finn, have been through hell and back and now, with a plan to save the fringe worlds from further oppression, they’re fleeing Crib space. When plans don’t go quite as expected, they find themselves in the one place they didn’t want to be: back in Natesa’s control. Now, as Edie learns the true extent of Natesa’s plans, she begins to see there’s more important things at risk than her own escape.

My Review:

Ms. Creasy has done it again. This novel is one I couldn’t bear to put down. Like its predecessor, her second novel is action packed and quite unpredictable. The emotional and mental strain of her protagonist is entirely relatable, even in an entirely foreign environment.

Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:

This novel, and Sara’s debut, Song of Scarabaeus, are both novels you should own. Seriously.

Sometimes it takes a quartet to make a song sound right...

Mar 29, 2011

Review: Blameless




Blameless

(Book 3 of the Parasol Protectorate)


Paranormal romance in a Victorian Steampunk age

Paperback, 384 Pages

Published by Orbit

Released September 2010








My Summary:


Her Queen has fired her, her family has turned her out, her husband is drunk off his furry behind, Lord Akeldama has mysteriously gone missing, the Vampires are trying to kill her and now, the only thing Alexia can do to escape her vampiric and social persecution is flee to Italy. Things are never easy in the life of a preternatural.


(I gave you a very short summary because… OMG is this book full of fantastic things that would easily be spoiled.)


My Review:


Oh! The shenanigans one can get up to while traveling the continent with a parasol! In her third Novel, Ms. Carriger has not stepped down the action, or emotional havoc she wrot on her endearing cast of characters in the first two novels. With the exception of the constant thread of death, this alternate history tops my list for fictional places/times I’d love to live. I loved Steampunk before I found Ms. Carriger, I can tell you I love it even more now!


Buy Borrow, Brush Past:


Seriously, if you’ve finished the second, you know you have to buy this one. It is just too good to pass up!





Watch out for ticking ladybugs…
 Review: Souless - Book 1 The Parasol Protectorate
Review: Changeless - Book 2 The Parasol Protectorate












Review: Heartless - Book 3 The Parasol Protectorate

Mar 28, 2011

Sex at Work

Shouldn’t be done.



Of course I’m talking about writing it (though in any case the statement above applies). I do 90% of my writing whilst at my day job – one of the perks of said job – and while that’s great, when it comes to writing a sensual scene… an “audience” of 9-14 men whom I don’t find particularly attractive is definitely not something that helps with inspiration.


So, last night I sat on the green couch and tapped out the scene that could not be written at work. I’m pleased with it, and I’m happy that today, I can move on with the story.


Anyone else have this problem? Where else shouldn’t you write sex?

Mar 25, 2011

Friday Counts

A bit of fun: my WiP progress

March & April (SD)

May & June (A&V)

July & August (D&D2)
 

Review: Changeless



Changeless
(Book 2 of the Parasol Protectorate)

Paranormal Romance in a Victorian Steampunk age

Paperback, 400 Pages

Published by Orbit
Released April 2010











My Summary:

The newly Lady Maccon, Mujah to her royal highness has a great deal of adjustment to do. After all, she’s only been married three months and suddenly there’s an entire regiment encamped on her front lawn and her husband decides to take an impromptu trip to Scotland. This coupled with the strangest thing a plague that caused the supernaturals near the Thames to be unable to change and which seems to be heading north, has her majesty’s Mujah on a derigible following after her husband. She is joined by the oddest of travel companions: A sister whom Alexia loathes, her maid, her husband’s valet, and the ever inappropriately hatted Ms. Hisstlepenny. Her husband’s previous pack has been changeless for months but getting them to tell her why is going to be tougher than pulling a werewolf’s teeth and there is the pesky fact that someone seems to be trying to kill her…

My Review:

As delightful as the first, this novel brings you all the delights of the Scottish accent as it assaults you with “dinna” and “ken.” While some of the plot elements are a little predictable, that does not discount from the novel’s entertainment value. The ever entertaining Ms. Histlepenny adds that comedic air that only a friend who is truly oblivious can and Conell continues to heat up the page. This novel is a beautiful follow up to a stunning debut.

Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:

Buy this and the third book together. Believe me… with the ending on this bad boy, you’re going to want to have the third one in hand right away.

Werewolves can be so very tempermental…

Review of Soulless - Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate
Review: Heartless - Book 3 The Parasol Protectorate

Mar 24, 2011

Dam(n)


Sitting in the decade old, glittery red vinyl booth, I traced the rim of my coffee mug apprehensively. John had gone into town with his brothers for a pickup game at the local athletic club. It was a ritual not even a death in the family would change.


I waited patiently in the truck stop diner a half an hour south of town. The untouched doughnut slathered in pink frosting and thoroughly doused in red sprinkles sat expectantly next to the third refill of coffee. I’d ordered it in deliberate defiance of my diet but no longer had the heart to partake of its sugary sweetness.

The bell on the door clattered against its support as a heavyset, bearded man in a dark grey vest and hot pink trucker hat made his way quickly to the counter. Calling the staff by name, he placed his order and took up a loud conversation with a waitress named Dottie. I did my best to ignore him. What did I care if there were four lanes blocked heading into town from the east?

I pulled a heavy swig from the mug, and winced. I hadn’t put any cream or sugar in this particular round.

Shaking out the pink sugar packet, I looked up hopefully as the door clattered again. Eli walked to the table as though we met here every day. Nothing about him seemed out of the ordinary. That calmed me. I couldn’t tell you why.

“How you holding up?” he asked as he kissed my forehead and slid into the opposite side of the booth.

“I’m doing okay. I’m always better when I’m away from that god-awful house.”

The waitress arrived with another cup and filled it without asking. Eli didn’t say a word, pulling the mug to his lips, taking a long draught. His eyes remained fixed on me the entire time.

He didn’t look like a man who had just driven eight hours, across state lines to come to my aid.

I looked down at the confection laying on the plate in front of me. Guilt rippled through my stomach as I thought of the real reason I’d asked him to come. I was selfish. That much I knew as I tightened and loosened my grip on the warm brown ceramic mug in my hands.

He sat with me in silence for an hour as I fought with what I wanted, what was right and what we both needed.

Eli was a delectable doughnut slathered in pink frosting and doused in red sprinkles. Everything I wanted and craved, but the worst thing I could continue coming back to. I knew that from the outset, It was why I’d planned to tell him our little arrangement was over. But now that it was on the plate sitting there so quiet in understanding, I knew I needed it. I couldn’t bring myself to let it go.

The first bite of that sugary confection tasted like nothing else. Perfectly sweet and utterly mouth watering.

Eli smiled at me across the table, perfectly sweet and utterly mouth watering.

My diet was going to hell and I didn’t care one bit.

Resevior<< >>Overcast

***
 
This weeks prompt was to write a story inspired by the picture at the top of the post in less than 600-words.

Mar 23, 2011

Review: Soulless

Soulless
(Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate)

Paranormal Romance in a Victorian Steampunk age

Paperback, 384 pages

Published by Orbit
Released October 2009













My Summary:

Alexia Tarabotti has no soul. But she’s better off than you might think. In a Victorian London where Vampires and Werewolves are as common place as high tea, Alexia’s soulless state is something that should keep her out of trouble. Her Italian heritage, one of the only other things her father left her besides her soulless state, seems to bring in more trouble than it’s worth. When Alexia is attacked by a vampire with an obvious lack of manners or education, she finds herself in the middle of a plot that could bring the supernatural sect of the London ton crashing to the ground.

Lord Maccon, head of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, a werewolf and inexcusably Scottish, would prefer Alexia keep her bustle out of BUR business, but it seems that Alexia has found her way into the tangle and as more and more supernaturals go missing, it looks like they’re coming after Alexia too.

My Review:

Wonderful. This novel will keep your nose glued to the pages and your heart thoroughly invested in Alexia’s trials. Ms. Carriger found a way to blend together the beauty of historical romance with both the paranormal and steampunk edge. The secondary characters are unerringly likable, from Alexia’s best friend with horrible taste in hats, to Lord Akeldama , the frivolously rococo rove vampire, to Angelique, a drone you only see for a few moments, and who is unforgivably French, but utterly endearing.

Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:

Buy this one. Buy it now. Don’t bother reading any more. Just go get it.

Vampires, Werewolves and Parasols, oh my!


Mar 22, 2011

Review: The Phantom Tollbooth


The Phantom Tollbooth
Illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

Classic MG Fiction

Paperback, 256 pages

Published by Random House
Released 1961







My Summary:

Milo is facing child-form Ennui. The world he inhabits bores the proverbial pants off him and he’s unhappy wherever he is with whatever he’s doing. When a mysterious package presents itself in his bedroom one evening after school, Milo unwraps a Tollbooth that makes no guarantees. As Milo pays the toll, driving though in his toy car, he finds himself suddenly in the lands beyond driving into Expectations.

The colorful cast of people he meets as he travels through the Doldrums to Dictionopolis and on from there through the forest of sight and the valley of sound to Digitopolis on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Along with his trusty companion Tock – a feisty watchdog – and his not so willing guide, the humbug, he travels through the land beyond revitalizing his interest in his own world.

My Review:

I read this as a child and have loved the story ever since. It’s a wonderful story no matter what age you are. If you have kids, get it and read it to/with them. If you don’t and haven’t ever read it, consider this your opportunity to fall back into a world where everything from the smallest number to the most unappetizing number is marvelous. If you have read it, find the time to read it again! There’s nothing like reliving the classics!

Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:

Go to your local library and check this one out – I don’t care if you feel silly going into the kids section.



Take a moment to change your point of view.



Mar 21, 2011

Author Interview: Beth Revis


Beth Revis’ Debut Novel broke onto the New York Times Bestseller list the week it hit shelves. Having read it, I can understand why. It is amazing.

This North Carolina girl is a world traveler and former English teacher who’s YA Science fiction novel Across the Universe takes us to the confines of a spaceship on its voyage across the universe to find a new Earth - and all the problems this journey causes for the spaceship's inhabitants.


Once again, that’s enough from me! Here’s the interview:

ABK: Who is your favorite all-time protagonist and why?
BR: I think Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia. He's flawed--and he has to live with his mistakes. I think what did it for me was in PRINCE CASPIAN, when the others get their gifts from Santa Claus back out of the treasury, and he doesn't have a gift. Or perhaps in VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, when he tells Eustace that he understands what it's like to have done something horrible and be forced to live with yourself.

ABK: Same question as above, but for your favorite antagonist.
BR: That would be the Operative from the movie SERENITY. I love, love, love that he actually has a very legitimate reason for doing what he's doing. He thinks absolutely that he's doing the right thing--and if you listen to him, you sort of agree with him. His motivation is crystal clear and logical.

ABK: What inspired your first novel (published or unpublished), what got you started?
BR: My very first novel (unpublished) was inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia (I'm very much a fangirl for the series). When I was very very little and reading the books for the first time, I remember that sense of wonder when I realized that the story was about more than lions and witches and wardrobes. It was like a puzzle to find meaning. And I wanted to make my own puzzle.

ABK: What book are you reading, right now?
BR: I just finished BLACK HOLE SUN by David McInnis Gill last night, and I'm starting THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin tonight!

ABK: Was “landing” your agent what you expected it to be?
BR: Not at all! First of all, it took much longer than I expected--I wrote ten novels over ten years before the eleventh novel in the eleventh year won me an agent. By that time, agents had become this near-mythical creature, but in reality they are very nice people!

ABK: What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
BR: Revising. I don't plan as I write, so I have to revise heavily, and it's always excruciating.

ABK: Do you think writing about space is the result of your love of travel and exotic places?
BR: Yes!! The idea of being trapped in one area--whether something literally trapping, like a prison, or figuratively trapping, like living in a small town, terrifies me. I got through life living in an oppressively small town by knowing that there was more out there in the world, that I could one day leave. So I can understand the desire to leave for a journey across the universe rather than across the world...and I can also understand how terrifyingly claustrophobic it would be to be trapped in the space ship during the journey.

ABK: What did it feel like, when you found out people not only loved your book (as they should) but it had made it’s way on to the NYT Best Seller list?
BR: Surreal and dumbfounded! I was sitting at the kitchen table, paying bills when I heard the news. My husband came home about a half hour later, and I ran out the door and yelled, "You're taking me out for dinner tonight!"

ABK: If the YA Mafia DID Exist, would you be a consigliere? Or an underboss?
BR: LOL, I wouldn't be cool enough to be a member!!

ABK: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with burgeoning authors?

BR: When given the choice between doing something new or sitting at home writing, do the new thing. Never turn down the chance to live, to experience, to feel rather than to sit at home and write.



Grab her book at your local bookstore or at Amazon.com. You won’t be disappointed.

For more from Beth, visit her website, blog or tumbler.

Mar 17, 2011

Resevoir

I didn’t really remember getting in the car. I remembered my half-assed excuses to John, my deathly urge to get away from that house – that family – and I remembered Marion quietly plying them to let me go.


The gravel crunching beneath the rental SUV’s tires played like white noise in my head as I followed the twisting road, trying to find my way out of the backwoods.

As I fled Marion’s palacial home, I had only one destination in mind: the airport. I was going to leave this blasted place and never look back.

Salty tears blurred the road ahead of me and I saw the fork I knew would take me back to the pavement, back to civilization. In a moment of uncertainty, I chose the other fork.

I was not uncertain of which way would lead me back to town. I was uncertain of my initial choice. Was fleeing truly the best way to handle this? I wanted to be done with it all, done with John and his family, done with the decisions I forced myself to make every time I chose to spend a weekend away with Eli. I pulled off to the side of the road and all but fell out of the car. Something drew me back into the forest, something I couldn’t begin to explain, even to myself.

I climbed the pine needle covered hill. A canopy of evergreens blocked all but the most persistent of the mid afternoon sun’s rays. By the time I stopped, my nylons were torn to the point that I could have walked onto an eighties music video set without a second glance.

There was no fallen log here, so I sat in the squishy, needle covered hill. “Screw it,” I said, as I thought about the state of my posterior. The family would simply have to deal with a muddy behind for a few minutes… if I decided to go back.

Marion’s words echoed in my head and I felt the weight of the watch pulling at my pocket.

To think the man who had degraded me for years because I couldn’t bear children had suffered from the same affliction. I idly toyed with the notion of telling John, batting it away nearly as soon as it had entered my thoughts. I may not be an inherently good person, but I wasn’t cruel.

My head started to swim and all the anger, regret and sorrow built-up in me over the years washed over me as though the dam had broken. Gasping for air, I tried not to let the tears brimming at my eyelids flow.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, startling me. How did I have reception here?

The Phone flashed a picture of Cal State’s logo with the name E. Masterson beneath it.

Eli spoke before as soon as I accepted the call. “Are you okay?”

My heavy sigh echoed through the trees around me, urging a crow to take wing with an irritated caw.

“I hardly know anymore.”

Flood<< >>Dam(n)

***

This week's Red Writing Hood prompt asked us to write about a detour.

Mar 16, 2011

Why I'm a Freak for TRDC

My dear bloggy friend/Critique partner, Joann, introduced me to The Red Dress Club towards the end of last year because, well, I guess she didn't feel I was getting enough writing stimulation...

So, I ventured on over to their blog and tried my hand at some of thier prompts. I have to tell you, having my thursday blog posts decded for me is nice.



When this year came around I decided to give myself even more of a challenge, so I decided to try to write each post as a continuing storyline from the one previous. My goal is to write this storyline each week for the rest of the year, Concluding it with the final prompt in December 2011.

If you'd like to read the hole story so far, this is the first post: Frigid. the continuing story links at the bottom of each post.

I post them every Thursday and link up each Friday.

Have you tried TRDC's writing prompts? If not, get over there! 

Mar 15, 2011

Glistening Green, RememberRED


The shell snaps as my mother puts the halved pea shells on my plate, two year old fingers grasp at bright green pods. Crunching crisply, I wince, putting it back, and decide I do not like peas.


pearls roll about on my plate, only stopping when they collide with the volcano of mashed potatoes and gravy. I give the waiter my patented six year old glare. How dare he provide me with these pebbles of disgustingness? Trying to pick around them, I enjoy spoon full after spoonful of the starchy mound next to them. Suddenly I hear the squish and taste the brightness of the pea. It’s not so bad when mixed with mash and gravy. I clear my plate.

The plate set before me at my friend’s house holds a heavy helping of peas with no mashed potatoes to save me. I look at it regretfully, knowing exactly what I must do. “When a guest, you never refuse food.” The words echo against my eardrums like hummingbirds’ wings. Ten year olds don’t get a choice in what they eat at other people’s houses. I take a bite and chew the mushy green vegetable with out tasting, wondering why they couldn’t have chosen broccoli that night. It isn’t until the third bite that I realize, there’s nothing bad about the way they taste – and they’re better than the burnt rice pilaf piled next to them. I liked peas… who would have thought.

Grandma sets the bowl of green beans on the table. The stick of butter and slab of bacon she’s added to them should have me clamoring directly for the bowl, but I wait. She asked what I’d want for dinner while spending my annual 23 weeks of summer vacation with her, I had only one request. The bowl arrived, and the glistening green veggies sat like pearls before me. By the time I was finished, I had more peas on my plate than venison. My uncle took the bowl, while looking at my helping curiously. What can I say. I LOVE PEAS.

***
I decided to join the Red Dress Club's other writing prompt this week.
This is a memoir prompt each week and this time they asked  us all to write about our favorite fruit or vegetable. Hope you enjoyed.

I love peas more than any other veggie... I even have the necklace pictured above.

Mar 14, 2011

Plateful

I’ve got a writing schedule. It is my plan. The only way I’m going to get what I want done this year, done. I can stick to any plan as long as it’s lain out in Excel format, so that’s what I do. I’ve got myself a lovely little spreadsheet telling me what to do (I find it very easy to take orders from something so organized as Excel).
Because of my goals for this year, I have to keep to a quota, I want to finish the first draft of my current WIP by April 30th. That means approximately 1500 words a day – no biggie.
I was even confident enough to take on critiquing another person’s story while working on this word goal each day, and let me tell you, it hasn’t been too tough yet.
I say yet, because I took on that critique before my mother/editor-of-all-things-grammar informed me she’d have my 4th novel’s newest set of edits to me by today.
My mother always wants lots of time to work though the books I send her and that’s fine. I simply work my way into the mindset that I am, in fact, not going to die if it takes her a little while to get back to me. So, I figured, I’d be getting my revisions back around the time this WIP’s first draft was done… or at least not until tax time. But here I am, with another thing to add to my pile of things to get through… Needless to say, my plate is a smidge full.
So my WIP steak and my critique peas were perfectly happy sitting there on grandma’s china, but the heaping mound of revision mashed potatoes are threatening to give me a bellyache. Gotta pace myself…
What does your plate look like right now?

Mar 10, 2011

Flood

The service was solemn, John said few words before bursting into tears. In all, the man in the casket was loved by his family and friends alike. Dozens of people – most of whom I did not know – packed the church.

I didn’t attend the will reading, there was no point. John Sr. and I had never been close, not since he found out I was the reason his eldest son would never give him grandchildren.

Sitting alone in the living room of a house I’d felt unwelcome in for years had me on edge. The sounds of children playing out back with my sister-in-law only made it worse.

I set my purse on the table near the front door and quietly slipped out. One glance toward the French doors of the office where the will was being read told her no one was paying attention to me.

The wooded landscape surrounding their palatial Oregon home – John’s mother was a Laundry soap heiress – pulled me down one of its paths. I didn’t know where it went, and I didn’t care that my adorable marc Jacobs pumps were getting soiled. I just needed to leave that place.

John Sr. and his disapproval followed me into the woods. Even in death he haunted me.

The path opened out onto a pond. And I trudged through the knee high grass to sit on the log facing over the water. It didn’t matter that my skirt was getting muddy and possibly collecting splinters. The way I felt right now I’d probably burn the outfit when we got home. I had a half a mind to do it now, propriety be damned.

I’d sat there for ten minutes when I heard the first call. My name peppered the woods, drowning out the bird sound and the hum of insects. I pretended not to hear them, focusing on the ripples of water skippers as they’d land and float across the still surface.

“There you are.”

Marion’s gentle voice broke though my reverie like a hatchet to my skull.

Smoothing back her white coif, Marion slowly made her way through the grass and sat beside me. She was the picture of grace in light of her husband’s death.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “I shouldn’t have slipped away like that.”

“My John was never particularly kind to you.”

The bluntness of her words drew me back. “He was a man of his own thoughts. I respect that.”

Marion shook her head at me and I could feel the gesture’s scold. “John was an ass at times. To you worst of all.” She patted my hand before pulling hers away. “John was a prideful man, we’ve never told the children, but he’s not their biological father. He couldn’t have children in much the same way you can’t. It was a mark of pride for him to never admit that weakness, your openness was an affront to that.”

As she said these words, her second son, Marvin came into view. “They’re over here.” He called back over his shoulder.

“Before John left on that trip, he finally realized that you shouldn’t be treated differently than his other children simply because you are a stronger person than he was.”

She placed something heavy in my hand and stood to return to her son. I looked down at the heavy pocket watch in my hand and finally allowed myself to shed a tear for John Sr. not because he had died, but because his life had been a lie.


Sluice << >>Resevoir

***

This week's RWH post called for us to "write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it." The word limit was once again 600.



 
I tried not to be too obvious with the ugly thing that's beautiful, hopefully it's not too obscure.

Clive Cussler (1931 – Present)

(At this point, you’re probably noticing that these have all been men… well, I don’t think my favorite female authors really need posts. They’re all well known and frankly I don’t think you need me to tell you how awesome L.M. Montgomery or Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott were.)



Clive Cussler’s novels are Maritime adventure novels. He is best known for his Dirk Pitt novels (One of which was made into that horrible Matthew McConaughey movie).

Dirk Pitt’s adventures have a little bit of Cussler himself in them, he created NUMA, the National Underwater Marine Agency (in real life it’s his non-profit that searches for shipwrecks, in his novels, it’s the government agency his main characters work for) and he is an avid car collector. Each of the cars driven by Dirk in his novels are in his own private collection. Cussler even in inserts himself into his novels on occasion as a dues ex machine of sorts, and the character after his son, Dirk, born 12 years before the first novel was published - ironically, Dirk Cussler has begun co-authoring the Dirk Pitt series with his father.

If you want to look into his novels, I’d suggest starting with Inca Gold or Cyclops in his Dirk Pitt Series, or with Serpent in his Numa Files Series.

Mar 9, 2011

Robert Asprin (1946 – 2008)

Here is a man who died the way I wish to: in bed, reading a Terry Pratchett novel.



If you love all things silly and nonsensical, you will love Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventure series. Fantasy can have a way of dropping completely out of reality. Asprin embraced that fact and decided to create his own reality with his own rules in this three decade-spanning series. The series mainly follows Skeeve, a young Klahd magician; Ahz, a demon from the dimension of Perv; Gleep, Skeeve’s pet dragon; and Tanda, a nymphly Trollop (female troll).



Each of the books titles are a play on words, substituting Myth for another word (usually miss). (e.g., Sweet Myth-Tery of Life, Hit or Myth, Something M.Y.T.H. Inc., and so on…)

Mar 8, 2011

Frank Herbert (1920-1986)



Frank Herbert is a well known author for anyone who reads science fiction. Most famous for The Dune Saga, Herbert published dozens of novels while he was alive and his son went on to finish and publish the works he was unable to finish after his death.



His novel Dune, the first in the Dune Saga, is the “best selling science fiction novel of all time.”




I’m not going to go into him in much detail, because I think most of you know him already, if you don’t, try picking up Dune. It’s a long read, but it’s an intriguing one.






A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You're there now doing the thing on paper. You're not killing the goose, you're just producing an egg. So I don't worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It's a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I've heard about it. I've felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I'd much rather go fishing, for example, or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, "Well, now it's writing time and now I'll write." There's no difference on paper between the two.


– Frank Herbert


Mar 7, 2011

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940)

This Thursday is my birthday, and in celebration of that fact, I’m going to tell you about five of my favorite authors this week.



Exactly forty-seven years before I was born, Mikhail Bulgakov died. He was forty-eight.

In his 48 years he wrote nearly a dozen novels and a handful of plays. Nearly all of his works are critical of the soviet government, a fact that resulted in all but one of his novels being published posthumously. The most famous novel he wrote, The Master and Margarita, was published twenty six years after his death by his widow.



Bulgakov was a master of surrealist literature. His works inspire and challenge the imagination while dealing with the gritty facts of the soviet lifestyle.

While he was not recognized in his time, he had a minor planet named after him in 1982, and The Times of London cited The master and Margarita as one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.

If you have the time I’d suggest picking up a copy of The Master and Margarita, it’s a tetch long. If you have less time, but want to see the masterpiece that is Bulgakov, I’d suggest picking up The Heart of a Dog.

Mar 3, 2011

Sluice

The door was unlocked when I arrived home, John in the living room. The plasma displayed a basketball game that seemed to be played literally in our living room. He didn’t say anything as I shut the door and hung my keys on the hook.


“Hi,” I said as I made my way toward the hall.

His beer bottle nodded his greeting to me as he took a swig.

Putting away my things was as easy as dumping the contents of my suitcase into the laundry chute. A glance at the barren closet told me John hadn’t had time to do laundry while I was gone. I’d have to get on that soon, unless he planned to start arriving to his brokerage in dirty, rumpled docks.

I stashed the suitcase in its normal place, high up in the closet and made my way down to the basement. John ignored me again as I passed. It had become routine of late.

The fourth and seventh steps creaked as I made my way downstairs. The thermostat hadn’t been touched since I left. Shivering in the fresh wool sweater I’d hastily pulled on in the bedroom, I looked regretfully at the desk through the office door. The black screen of the Mac called to me longingly. After this long away all I wanted to do was to get back to photo editing.

Sadly, the mountain of laundry beneath the chute would not go away without intervention. Pouring the detergent into the basin, I started the fill while sorting through the pile - beginning at the top to dissuade any rebelling sock that wished to start an avalanche.

By the time I had it all sorted, the washer was humming gently as it swished the clothes about. The laundry room had turned from a mountain to a smattering of foothills.

My stomach growled in protest as I considered hiding away in my office. The last thing I’d eaten was the box of Bunch a Crunch at the gas station.

Climbing the stairs – squeaking at seven and three – I made her way into the kitchen. The granite and stainless was very different from the polished wood counters and the 50’s throwback appliances of the cabin. At the moment, I couldn’t decide which I preferred. The kettle on this stove had a plastic handle. Looking down at my bandaged hand, I decided there were some advantages to the modern approach.

The refrigerator was bare, aside from a few cucumbers and tomatoes, a block of cheese, a half drank gallon of milk, and the remains of a case of beer, there was nothing but condiments.

Pulling out the block of cheese and the tomato, I set to work slicing. When life gives you cheese and tomato, make a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.

Buttering each side of the bread, I lay them in the hot skillet and listened to them sizzle as I lay the slices of cheese on and top the one slice with the tomato before scooping the top piece of bread on.

I heard John behind me, I knew he’d be leaning against the archway into the kitchen. Pretending he wasn’t there, I flipped the sandwich and smushed it with the spatula.

“Zoe.” John’s words were quiet, “Dad’s gone.”

I turned to see red eyes, puffy from crying. The spatula clattered to the floor as John wrapped his arms around me in a hug that felt like an assault.

“He went fishing last Saturday morning. James Drummond found him. He must have fallen in.”

The sob that tore from John’s throat broke my heart.


Flurries << >>Flood

***




This week's RWH Post asked us to write a story inspired by one or bothe of these sentences: "Water gives life. It also takes it away."  and keep it under 600 words. I did my best to follow that prompt as well as keep this story line going.

Mar 1, 2011

The Road Map of a Story

Yesterday Jen, at Unedited, wrote a letter to her first draft. As I’m working on my first draft of… well, 4 stories at the moment, I’ve been thinking a lot about what goes into draft 1 for me as opposed to what ends up there in draft 5 or even draft 11.


Draft 1: Getting To Know You.

As I begin a novel, I know where it’s going to start, where it’s going to end and most of the major road blocks in between, but that’s just a roadmap. I don’t know yet that on page 65 I’ll end up discovering something that I need to go back to page 10 to foreshadow.

Draft 1 is like taking a road trip. You can look at the map in your hand all you want, but until you actually drive that road, you don’t know the little adventures waiting for you along the side of the road.

You’re discovering your story in all its facets. As opposed to knowing the rout you plan to take.

Sometimes, you just have to pick a different route.
(I took this picture above Grand Falls - NE of Flagstaff, AZ)




How often do you find yourself on Detours in a MS? Are they generally forced – due to “road construction” or are they usually the result of your own meanderings? Is there anyone out there who has actually written the exact novel they thought they would when they sat down to type the first words?