Monday, July 30, 2012

Short update

Just after 2pm today (PST), my husband's grandmother died. She's been suffering for a long time with a horrible strain of cancer.

I know she's finally at peace, but it doesn't make the loss any less difficult.

Too many family members have died this year.

Too many people are gone.

Due to the circumstances, I won't be online in the near future. 

My brain is full right now.

Glad to be home, and blog awards/memes!

I just got home yesterday. The time away was good and I was able to read 7 or 8 books while away. Well, technically, I finished the last one this morning.

Since I'm a little draggy this morning, I'm extra pleased that two people tagged me so I have an excuse to not have to think a lot today ;)

TL Bodine tagged me for the 'Be Inspired' Meme and Kathy McKendry tagged me for two blog awards.

For the 'Be Inspired' Meme:

Q: What is the name of your book?

A: "Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags"

Q: Where did the idea of your book come from?

A: Honestly I don't have a good answer for that. At the time I had a fully finished MS out with a published author who was going to edit it for me (but for personal reasons had to pull out) and I was experimenting for the first time with 1st person POV (for a MG Magical Realism story), when one night, I just opened up a blank document and spilled out over a thousand words of new material. The character just came out of nowhere and blindsided me, making it impossible to continue writing the MG story.

Q: In what genre would you classify your book?

A: YA Contemporary, though there is a sort of murder mystery-ish quality to it as well.

Q: If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

A: uhm... I suck at these, especially in this case 'cause I'd need a 14 year-old-kid who is so androgynous you can't tell if they're male or female. They'd also have to be tall and super skinny. For Triss... hmmm, again, I'm bad at this. Short (like 5'-5'2" tall) with a clearly-Jewish nose. Really, I'm not picky about what any of the characters look like.

Q: Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book.

A: A nameless, gender-ambiguous teen rides shotgun with Triss, the driver of the car and the situation, on a mission to dump the corpse of a classmate whose death they might have, sortof, maybe had something to do with.

Q: How long did it take you to write your book?

A: Well, I wrote about 4,000 words in September/October, then about 20,000 words for NaNo 2011. After that, I put it on hold to start a YA Northern Fairytale. I started back at 'Brake Fluid' a few months ago and finished the first draft in June.

Q: What other books within your genre would you compare it to, or readers of which books would enjoy it?

A: Courtney Summer's "Cracked Up To Be", Justine 
Larbalestier's "Liar" (with no werewolves), Nova Ren Suma's "Imaginary Girls", and to a much lesser degree, Anonymous's "Go Ask Alice"

Q: Which authors inspired you to write this book?

A: Probably "Go Ask Alice" would be first on this list. I read it when I was 9 or 10 and since I was so young, most of it went completely over my head, but what stuck with me was how fascinating it was not to know the main character's name... and I remember, even then, thinking how cool it would be not to know the gender either.

In the past, I've experimented writing short stories with gender-ambiguous characters, and most of what I write is from male perspectives. I didn't plan 'Brake Fluid' to be this way, it just sort of happened.

The other books mentioned in the previous question were all ones I read before starting this one and all had certain aspects that, like the nameless character in "Go Ask Alice, leaped out at me and got my brain working on new possibilities. None were planned for, but in retrospect, I can recognize the influences.

Also, I know I've been heavily influenced by Banana Yoshimoto's writing. In all her books, the story starts after a *big* event, like death, and focuses on the fallout. If you've read anything of mine, and go check out any of her books, I'm sure you'll see some similarities in character development/growth/theme.

Q: Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

A: Drunken teenage parties, twisted/manipulative bets, sex, love, desire, revenge, death, and a genderless main character. What else is there? Oh yeah, someone gets stabbed in the gut with a butter-knife. It was a party. Things happen.

Q: Now tag five others:

I'll get to this later :)

For the 'Versatile Blogger' Award:

1. Thank and link back to person who gave you award


2. List the rules


3. List seven random facts about yourself

a) My favourite colour is green

b) If I could only pick one meal to eat forever, it'd probably be salmon sashimi, gomae (a cold spinach salad) and unagi (eel) with rice. And I'd wash it down with green tea and hot sake.

c) I tend to stand far away from people when I talk because I'm tall* and all my friends growing up were really short. It's easier to make eye contact/converse standing farther apart when there's a big height difference. Also, apparently I'm intimidating, so it helps when I'm not standing right beside/towering over people. It's something I'm overly/unnecessarily conscious about.

d) There are very few material things I'm attached to. One is my Sims snowboard, the last edition they sold in Canada. It's blue with butterflies. It's a replacement for my 1995 collectors edition Shannon Dunn designed snowboard which was stolen the first year I lived in Victoria. I'm still ticked off about that and look for it every time I'm on a mountain, even though I know it's completely ridiculous since it was such an old board, the thieves probably just trashed it.

e) I don't normally like reading novels about werewolves/vampires/etc, but I'll happily read about them in comic books. I have no idea why. The latest one I'm reading is 'Blood Alone' by Masayuki Takano. I like that it's so *quiet*.

f) I follow a lot of online comics. Like, easily over a thousand. Yeah, that's a vice I should probably scale back on...

g) If I could choose any pet in the world (taking into account realistic parameters of food/upkeep/etc), hands down, it would be an ocelot. When I was a kid, I was able to pet one at a zoo in Belize and have been in love with them ever since.

4. Nominate 10 people for the award and notify them
I'll get to this later :)

For the 'Fabulous Blog Ribbon' Award:

1. Post the rules


2. Name five of your most fabulous moments in real life or in the blogosphere

a) The first time someone commented on my blog, and every time thereafter :)

b) My first dive (scuba)

c) My second snowboarding experience

d) The first request from an agent

e) Every time I come *home* after being away

3. Name five things you love

a) Rain

b) Flavourful, delicious food

c) My family, friends, and pets

d) Reading

e) Snowboarding

4. Name five things you hate

a) Racism and any other form of thinking it's okay to believe some people are worth more than others

b) Bad drivers

c) Liver, cabbage, cucumber & overcooked fish

d) Irresponsibility (in life, actions, words, etc)

e) Getting a fever

5. Pass it to five other bloggers

Okay, I kept saying I'll get to this... but I also know how many people get tagged for the same awards, SOOOOOOO, I'm going to do what I usually do:

Any readers who want to participate/play/join/accept any of these, please post a link in the comments.

I promise to read/respond to every last one of them :)

Thanks again TL & Kathy! I had a blast answering these :)

* I'm only 5'9", but when all your friends are Asian and around the 5' mark, it makes a big difference.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Giving it away

I don't watch the evening news (too depressing), but I do love watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

On June 26th, Stephen Colbert interviewed Richard Ford, whose new book is called 'Canada'.

Link to the episode is here, unfortunately, the feed is not available to Canadians, and I don't know about the rest of the world, although obviously if you have a VPN service running, you can watch it anywhere.

The book 'Canada' starts out:

"First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later."

...and Colbert's comment really hit me. He said (paraphrasing) "Why should I read the book now? You've given away the entire plot in the first two lines."

Ford's answer was something along the lines of, "Well, I hope you'll be anticipating those events and read on to find out what happens."

The reason this comment hit me is because 'Brake Fluid' is remarkably similar. On the first page you know Jackson's dead in the trunk and before the end of chapter one, you know there was a party six months earlier where Jackson hit Triss and she stabbed him with a butter knife. You also know that party is the reason Jackson's now dead, and that he died a couple of days before the story actually starts.

That means, in the first chapter, you know how the two past nights ended, and you can assume the ending of what's happening in the present... since the MC & Triss are trying to get rid of the body.

So... have I given it all away?

Well, I don't like to think so. This is my first time writing a murder-mystery-ish type story, but murder mysteries always start out with a dead body, and you read on to figure out who did it.

'Brake Fluid' is a little different in that all the characters involved know who did it, but the reader doesn't.

All three timelines (the party six month ago, the night Jackson died, and the present where they're trying to get rid of the corpse) play out in bite-sized chunks.

And I wonder, is that anticipation enough that someone will want to keep reading?

Let's just take one, small aspect of the story. Triss stabbing Jackson with the butter-knife.

I chose a butter-knife because it's a funny/memorable enough item that the reader won't forget the stabbing is coming*. Sure, it happens at the end of the party, so they have to wait for it, but they know it's coming even while everything else is going on, and they don't know the exact circumstances of when/why it happened.

The first time the reader actually sees the knife is midway through Chapter 13, but the actual stabbing doesn't happen until Chapter 16. The butter knife is mentioned several times in between, but that's it. It's there, hanging around, just waiting to be used.

As I'm working on my first editing run on this story, the question of anticipation is something that weighs heavily on my mind. Will it encourage the readers to eat up the story faster, or will it get annoying, like I'm deliberately dangling a carrot out of reach?

And I supposed I won't have any clear answers until I get comments back from my writing group/online CP's.

Have you ever written a story where the anticipation of the event is more important than the event itself? How do you know when 'enough is enough'?

* I've even seriously though of re-working the title to include 'butter knife'. The closest I've come to a substitute I like is, 'Butter Knives, Brake Fluid & Body Bags', but I think it's too much of a mouthful. The rhythm isn't as nice as 'Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags'. What do you guys think? Even in the title, I'm pretty much giving it all away ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rethinking writing

Some of the long-time followers know I sent off a small first-batch of queries back in November/December after winning one of the Miss Snark's First Victim/Authoress' Secret Agent contests.

I sent 10, only 10 (to test the water). I'm aware that is an absurdly low number.

Then my querying dried up due to the high volume of family members dying, being rushed to hospital/emergency, and coming down with terrible illness/afflictions.

Querying was so far down on my list of concerns that I barely got excited each time I was asked for a full/partial, and it barely phased me when (ultimately) the story was rejected by every agent who made a request. I was pretty numb about the whole thing, which is why I didn't send out any more or make any kind of further effort. In truth, I nearly forgot about it entirely.

About two weeks ago (just as I learned another relative has a very short time to live), I heard back from the second-to-last agent who still has the full.

...and that one hit me kindof hard.

It was a personalized response (I got a couple of those, which was nice/flattering), and it clearly pointed out the single major thing I have always worried about with 'Simon's Oath'.

When I wrote the ending... I knew I liked it. I was also completely aware that probably, out of 10 readers, 9 of them would hate the ending.

Now, the problem with 'SO' isn't the ending itself, it's the character arc of one of the two main characters, Simon.

Y'know how, at the wrap-up of every story, the main character hits the lowest point, has a revelation (of sorts), and then climbs back up, even if it's only a few feet?

My story ends with Simon still flat on his face. Sure, there's the implication that things will work out better for him... but he never truly climbs to his feet and takes a step in the right direction. Which doesn't work in the world of YA. In adult fiction, it would have been fine.*

The ending fits with his character, and while I find it satisfying, I was already aware that it would be a difficult sell, because while Simon changes and grows as a character... it's not really a vertical growth. He sinks deeper with every choice he makes and then the rug is (essentially) pulled out from under him in the end. It's not quite Hans Christian Anderson where the matchstick girl dies in the cold and the little mermaid dissolves into bubbles, but it certainly leans closer to that than a Disney-fied 'everyone lived happily ever after' kind of ending.

It's not just a simple matter of re-writing the ending because the failure in the Simon's character arc to turn up at the end makes the wrap-up feel too fast, disrupts the expected ebb/flow of the story, and leaves somewhat of a bad taste from what I had hoped was a bitter-sweet end.

The question now is... what will I do with it? 'Cause it's not an easy fix. I'll probably have to tear apart/re-write the last 1/3 of the story, maybe more.

I don't even know if it's something I can fix on my own, because I know I'm not objective.

Has anyone else had a major problem like this with a story? Did you stick with it, or abandon it like a single sock that's lost it's mate and never looked back?

Any suggestions would be completely welcome/appreciated :)

*which is probably why another agent suggested I re-write the book with an adult audience in mind.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Words which reveal

I'm both proud of my words, and horribly embarrassed.

While I can happily spend hours upon hours analyzing my own words (or those of others) with the members of my writing group and online CP's, I balk at talking about writing to anyone else.

If someone else brings it up, I'll change the subject, flip it off with a joke or a sarcastic comment.

I can count on one hand the number of people (in real life, not online) who know I write.

It's not something I'm comfortable discussing.

And that's 'cause I'm both proud, and embarrassed by my own words.

Oddly enough, the two are inseparable. It's because I'm proud that I'm embarrassed. Because I'm embarrassed, I work harder so I can be proud.

It's a vicious cycle :)

A while back, someone asked me in the comments why I write YA and whether I thought it was limiting my prospects and, I admit, I've been thinking about the question ever since.

One reason I want to write YA is because it's harder.

...which is why my cycle of pride/embarrassment is relevant.

Let me take this from another angle. In animation, or even just in figure drawing, the difficulty level is night-and-day different between drawing male and female characters. Males are super easy 'cause they're made up of hard geometrical shapes and straight lines. Drawing females is murder. They have so many soft curves/round shapes that they're incredibly difficult. Even harder is animating them and keeping them *on-model* because, literally, a deviation of a line's breadth can make a female character look overweight or anorexic. get three guesses as to which gender of characters I primarily focused on while in animation school.

So why is YA harder? Well, for one, that's like comparing a 10 second commercial to a full length film. In a commercial, you have an extremely limited timeframe to sell an idea whereas in a full length film, you've got 90 minutes.

Writing YA is like shooting a commercial. The audience won't put up with filler, obvious preaching/lesson-teaching, over-written descriptions/etc. Older readers will give you the benefit of the doubt/patience and read work that younger readers will not. YA has to be clean, sleek, and efficient as possible and teens can smell BS from three miles away.

So that's one reason I write YA.

Another reason is because I like the themes of YA, specifically the struggle for self-identity.

Again, because I struggled so much with my learning disability growing up, and still do even today, self-identity/confidence is very much still relevant to my own life, and I think to almost every person out there who isn't a sociopath. I also think that (some) YA is so popular with adults is because it reminds them of their weaker self who was struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong.

In a way, I think it's an important theme that bridges the gap between age-groups.

Lastly, and most importantly, I just write what I what to write, and oddly enough, that just happens to be YA. Again, I think it's because of the themes that interest me... things like trust/betrayal/confidence/responsibility/etc, many of these just work better, and is more relevant, with younger characters, and appeals to younger readers as they are stepping out from under their parents' protection and gaining awareness of the larger world around them.

The themes, the age group of the characters, and the voice all dictate how a book is positioned in regards to categorization/audience.

Personally, I don't think a lot about categorization. I just write the book I want to write and figure it out from there.

As for the notion of limiting my prospects... well, that doesn't bother me. I've never had much of an interest in competing with other people because I spent so much time competing with myself. If I can write something I'm happy with, and others like it as well, I'd be 100% content.

I hope that answered your question, icyHighs :) If it hasn't, feel free to ask in the comment box, and if anyone else wants to chime in, you are perfectly welcome to do so :)

I'd love to hear about why you all write in the genres you do.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hooks & Hangers - edited

One of the best parts of being on vacation is the ability to sit and do nothing, and by that, I'm talking about the usual distractions and responsibilities that exist at home.

On vacation, I relax, but I always get a ton of writing/editing done. Sure, it may look like I'm just playing around on my computer for hours on end, and I admit... some of the time is spent reading online comics and catching up on blogs... but I love writing on vacation.

I only left yesterday morning, and already I've added approximately 2,000 words to 'Brake Fluid' and re-cut all the chapters so they're a little shorter. Since all the hard work is done, and  'cause it doesn't take a lot of extra effort on my part, I thought I'd post them for those who are curious to see how the book-breakdown is changing.

Keep in mind, these are still fluid because, editing-wise, I'm only in the middle of chapter 10, but I'm happier with the way these are cut now. Hopefully you agree these hooks/hangers are a little better ;)

Chapter 1

It’s easy to forget that crazy is relative.

Always trust the driver, that’s the first unspoken rule of riding shotgun.

Chapter 2

Three more exits and we’re off the interstate and ready to snarf some fast-food tacos.

She makes me wanna die.

Chapter 3

Weapons of mass destruction, that’s what Jackson called us.

‘To mom, congrats on being one year older than dead’.

Chapter 4

At the red light, Triss rolls to an almost-stop, flicks on the left-turn signal, then pulls out without checking for oncoming traffic.

They clinked glasses, though his was empty.

Chapter 5

When we reach her mom’s house, Triss starts to swing into the driveway, then thinks better of it, pulls a u-turn, and parks across the street.

That’s the second unwritten rule of riding shotgun.

Chapter 6

Right now I’m really feeling the cold, which means I’ve lost.

I suppose it’s only ‘cause I was with Triss, and she could get away with murder.

Chapter 7

Five minutes after we leave her mom’s house, Triss pulls into the Walmart parking lot and throws her purse at me.

I should have changed the song.

Chapter 8

In retrospect, I think Jackson chose Spence as batter just so he could watch Triss at work.

So I left Kate in a heap and didn’t look back.

Chapter 9

I’m standing in the brightly-lit bathroom of Triss’ dad’s condo, slowly building up my courage.

"I trust you.”

Chapter 10

By the time my clothes are in the dryer, I’m sitting on Triss’ bed, and there’s a half-empty bottle of red wine on the nightstand.

I’m not positive, but I think Triss is back to normal.

Chapter 11

When my stomach is full, Triss hands me a multivitamin and watches critically as I swallow it dry.

For once, for the first time ever in my entire history of riding shotgun with Triss, there’s no music playing.

Chapter 12

I remember the suffocating moment of dead silence before Jackson blew up.

We head east into the middle of dead-ass-nowhere.

Chapter 13

Spence was still locked in Jackson’s bedroom with the key.

After all, it was just a butter-knife.

Chapter 14

“It was a home-run.”

A very small party.

Chapter 15

The two of us sit in the coffee shop, not moving, not touching and not talking until my coffee is cold and sludgy.

“Oh shit,” I say, and drop the phone without erasing it.

Chapter 16

As Spence disappeared down the hall to find Kate, Triss hopped off the counter and crossed the kitchen towards me.

He liked being the dealer.

Chapter 17

“Ah, damn it!” I wrap both hands around my knee and press hard, which I’ve always thought is a weird natural reaction.

That it was really his fault for getting dead.

Chapter 18

I’m finally getting myself back under control.

I would have run right then, even though it was too late, ‘cause things had already gone horribly wrong.

Chapter 19

Triss’ mouth is still pressed against my forehead when her phone buzzes.

Then she laughs like she’s just gone crazy.

Chapter 20

“What do you mean, other players?”

Whatever expression my face showed in that moment, it hurt her, it hurt her so terribly that she didn’t come to my rescue and speak.

Chapter 21

An hour plus of walking only takes a few minutes in the car, and soon we’re rolling down main street at what seems to be a terrifying speed.

I knew that bastard was cheating.

Chapter 22

I kick aside a rusted-out Coors Light beer can before stepping out of the beast.

And that’s when it hit me that we were in real, serious, freaking trouble.

Chapter 23

My hands are stuffed in my pockets and my arms are locked against my sides.

Which is absolutely the worst thing to do when you’re riding shotgun.

Chapter 24

Back at the car, Triss unlocks the trunk and we look at each other.

Sorry, still not posting the last line ;)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Finally, a few de-witched pictures

Okay, so we've lived in the witch's hut for a little over a year now and I've been hard at work.

As a reminder, here's one of the *minor* de-witching projects I completed already.

What the pictures won't show properly is that our entire acre is covered in knee-deep ivy and 4' tall grass. And under all of that, a thick patch of persistent and noxious weeds.

So, lately I've been talking about working on the patio/pool. If you want to re-watch the funny video of deer eating birdseed on our witchy patio, it's here, but just to show the pure, untainted witchiness of this place when we moved in, here's the patio before any work was done:

(you can click on the pictures to view at full size)
Actually, I lied. I took this picture after I'd already cut down a bunch of ivy that was crawling all over the patio. What you can't see in the picture is that there was about 6 pieces of random furniture on the patio where I was standing that had been left to rot for... probably 5+ years. And no, I have never tried to start that lawnmower. See that brown stuff on the cement? That's moss. Nearly 2" deep in parts.

Can you see that grey, squarish lump on the upper patio? That *was* the chimney for an outdoor fireplace which was 4'x4'x18". The chimney was solid cement, 7" thick with rebar in it which required 2 solid days of whacking at it with a sledgehammer and using wire cutters on the rebar. Here's a picture when I was about half done.

I don't have a picture of the pool full, but I have one I took while I was draining it (before I chipped off all the blue/green tiles, but after I removed all the heavy cement cap stones from around the rim).

Disgusting, eh?

I used hoses to drain most of the water, then used a broom, shovel & wheelbarrow to haul out all that gunk. I think I unloaded close to 35 wheelbarrow loads of gunk. Note all the brown moss around the pool... on the left side I had already used a flat headed shovel to scrape away the majority of it before power washing. I also took down a hideous clap-board fence from the end of the pool which was built with the odds-and-ends of about a dozen different kinds of scrap wood. There's another fence you can see a bit of behind the grey pump house which is also down now. A motivated five-year-old could have kicked that thing down.

In the background you can also see the big shed I spent last week re-roofing.

Now, here's what this backyard is starting to look like:

Better? I'm having someone come out to remove the chain-link fence in August.

Also, our front yard used to look like this (after a tree was cut down, which had our entire front yard and house in shade, so even this is better than it was):

Do you like the classy patch of sand? Yeah, there were renters in here when we bought it who used to sit out on the lawn and throw beer cans into the garden and smoke. That pit of sand was his giant ashtray. That was marvellous fun digging out.

Now the front yard is looking more like this:

So, was I right in referring to this place as "the witch's hut" all this time? My next project will be to re-do that grey pump house by the pond/pool. The entire wooden top needs to come right off, I'm going to build something lower/nicer with a roof that either slides on castors or lifts in sections (I haven't decided on the design yet), and the electrical in there needs to be completely re-done.

Some of you probably think I'm crazy right about now... to enjoy tackling projects like this, but really, I find this stuff fun and satisfying because I can see a physical result/change for my hard work.

Things never feel quite like they're *mine* unless I've left my mark on them, and this witchy-hut is finally starting to feel a little bit like home...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hooks & Hangers Blogfest: Hangers!

Okay, somehow Blogger just decided to destroy my post... so this is a fix/re-post.

Second day for the Hooks & Hangers blogfest, so here's my Hangers for 'Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags'. Right now, too many of them end on the night Jackson died, so as I add words during my first editing pass, most of the hooks/hangers will change as I move scenes and re-cut chapters.

One small note, I will not be commenting on blogs with word verification this time as I get an instant migraine trying to prove I'm human.

Word verification is not dyslexic-friendly :(

Some other members of this blogfest included one-line pitches (which were fun to read), so here's mine for 'Brake Fluid':

A nameless, gender-ambiguous teen rides shotgun with Triss, the driver of the car and situation, on a mission to dump the corpse of a classmate whose death they might have, sortof, maybe had something to do with.

Chapter 1

Maybe I should have mentioned that Jackson’s not freshly dead.

Chapter 2

It’s been two days since Jackson died and we haven’t opened the trunk since we shoved him in there.

Chapter 3

They clinked glasses, though his was empty.

Chapter 4

Triss is the only warm thing I have.

Chapter 5

“You know I only need you.”

Chapter 6

So I left Kate in a heap and didn’t look back.

Chapter 7

I couldn’t believe I felt guilty, and it wasn’t ‘cause of Fay.

Chapter 8 (sorry, I had to add the second-to-last-line)

And I swear Jackson almost hit her right there, but he didn’t. That happened later.

Chapter 9

It’s the old lady and she’s royally pissed.

Chapter 10

I know I’m a coward, and as the crippling fear drains away, my stomach goes queazy, like I’m about to be sick.

Chapter 11

And the night would have ended safely if Spence hadn’t walked into the kitchen right then with the key to Jackson’s bedroom in his hand and an apology on his lips.

Chapter 12

“Oh shit,” I say, and drop the phone without erasing it.

Chapter 13 (the absolute worst of the lot -> told ya run-on sentences are a problem in my first drafts!)

Even though I was too slow to realize there weren’t a million cars lining the street like there normally was for one of Jackson’s parties, I should have known something was wrong when he opened the door that night.

Chapter 14

“How about a new game?” he had asked.

Chapter 15

The game was always just him and Triss.

Chapter 16

His eyes rode over Triss and fell on me.

Chapter 17

"Pick the high card and I’ll tell you who’s in my bedroom right now.”

Chapter 18

“We’ll need big, black garbage bags and duct tape.”

Chapter 19

Haha, fooled ya. No way I'm posting my last line!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hooks & Hangers Blogfest: Hooks!

So, according to the rules of the Hooks & Hangers Blogfest, today's the day to post my hooks.

I'm choosing to post from 'Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags', a YA Contemporary/Murder which hops between three timelines. For the newbies who followed the blogfest link here, if you're curious, you can check out my 'What I'm Writing' page. This story is listed as Project #4.

Since I have only just completed my first draft, and always end up adding a lot of words during the first editing pass, my hooks and hangers will probably change as I continue to refine this story.

And, true to (lazy) form, I prepared this post and the hangers post the day I signed up for the blogfest, and don't plan on updating these two posts even if editing has changed the content since.

Chapter 1

It’s easy to forget that crazy is relative.

Chapter 2

It wasn’t our fault, not really, like flicking a lit cigarette from a car window doesn’t always cause a forest fire that rips down the coast and burns up a kajillion dollars worth of rich-white-real-estate.

Chapter 3

What Jackson didn’t know is that I was the one who swiped his bedroom key at the party.

Chapter 4

When we reach her mom’s house, Triss starts to swing into the driveway, then thinks better of it, pulls a u-turn, and parks across the street.

Chapter 5

A single white light turns the corner followed by the whining putter of a scooter engine.

Chapter 6

“I’m tired,” Triss says.

Chapter 7

I’m standing in the brightly-lit bathroom of Triss’ dad’s condo, slowly building up my courage.

Chapter 8

I think Triss’ body heat is catching.

Chapter 9 (holy run-on-sentence Batman! This needs to be cut in two)

After we clean the breakfast dishes, Triss and I pile into the beast where it takes twenty minutes of swearing, coaxing, pleading, before I finally have to get out and give the beast a push-start, then she sputters a burning-oil-gasp out her tailpipe and the engine turns over.

Chapter 10

That night, after Jackson stomped down the stairs, Triss held out her hand to Spence.

Chapter 11

Through the cracked windshield, I can see Triss talking fast with an old man.

Chapter 12

As Triss and I sit in the tiny coffee shop, I wonder how things would be different if I had stayed with Kate that night.

Chapter 13

As Spence disappeared down the hall to find Kate, Triss hopped off the counter and crossed the kitchen towards me.

Chapter 14

With her foot off the gas, the beast slows in the time it takes Triss to reach over the gearbox and lightly run her fingers over the brand-new tear in my jeans.

Chapter 15

Triss touches my face and I finally lift my eyes to hers.

Chapter 16

His voice cuts through the line, “I want to talk to my daughter.”

Chapter 17

There’s about a dozen red, plastic gas tanks piled up next to rotting cardboard, broken pallets, and a small dumpster.

Chapter 18

The road through the park is long and quiet, with miles of giant trees that shut out any hint of melted sunlight.

Chapter 19

The lake is difficult to pick our way around.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Koi in the pond!

Okay, I swear one of these days I'll post a couple pictures, but the husband and I were sitting out on the patio after breakfast and we had the first sighting of the new koi!

I counted 9 of the 12 I threw in there last week, and it looks like three or four of them have already grown an inch or more in length. They must be finding a lot of tasty critters on the bottom...

The husband took a short video but it doesn't want to imbedded into Blogger for some reason.

Here's the link

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yeah, it's summer... I've been outside working on the witchy-yard instead of on my computer. And there's a lot of big projects to make this witchy-yard liveable.

One nearly completed big project is the dilapidated swimming pool conversion into a reflecting pond. I finished building shelves with concrete blocks and filling large areas with clay-rich earth and planted a ton of cool water plants.

Today was awesome...

'Cause I went to West Coast Koi Farms (who have been breeding Japanese stock exclusively for over 20 years) and picked out a dozen koi small koi (between 4-6") to put in.

...which pretty much disappeared into the pond.

I will get more at a later date. Because the pond is *new*, the bacterial/nitrate cycles need to stabilize, so even though I wanted to throw in three dozen or more fish... it's better to wait and do them in batches.

Also, we have no idea if they will simply be food for the raccoons/hawks/eagles/herons/etc.

What was cool is, while we were having dinner on the patio last night, a female mallard duck flew in and landed in the pond and was swimming around and bathing while we were eating. VERY cool.

The other big project that's going on is re-roofing a large shed. The roof is 300 square feet and it's been in progress for 2 full days now, and will probably take another 2 to finish it off. It's been so hot that the tape on the shingles keeps sticking to the tar, so it won't peel off. Makes it a little frustrating 'cause I just want to get the roof done and onto the next aspect of fixing this shed.

When the roof is done, I need to cut out all the rotten floorboards, replace the floor, and do a lot of work in the interior.

The eventual plan is for this to be my painting room, so electricity will need to be wired in and there are some open areas that need to be walled in, probably a bit of insulation, then drywall/paint/etc.

I'm hoping to have it done sometime in September, or at least in a usable state.

And of course there's the ongoing project of simply de-witching the yard. Digging out weeds, pulling out ivy, cutting back overgrown monstrosities...

It's a big job.

Any big summer plans or projects? Writing or otherwise?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hookers & Hangers Blogfest

The weather's been so great that I've definitely been slacking with this blog, and my writing.

After all, doesn't the sun and warmth make you want to go outside instead of hide away in front of a computer screen? ...or is that just 'cause I live on the west coast where there's all together too many grey skies throughout the year?

Well, to motivate me to edit my now completed first draft of 'Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags', I've joined the Hooks & Hangers Blogfest.

Want the rules?

We all know how important the first and last lines are in every chapter. This blogfest will hopefully get your HOOKERS and HANGERS polished making it impossible for readers to put down your book and leaving them begging for more!

On July 16th, post the first sentence from each chapter.

On July 18th, post the last sentence from each chapter.

Post as many as you like!

We will be judging everyone’s first three HOOKERS and first three HANGERS. We’ll each pick two winners (MOST ENTICING HOOKER and MOST IMPOSSIBLE HANGER) making a total of ten winners! Winners will receive a 10 page (double spaced) critique and a Friday Spotlight on FFF!

Sounds fun, right? To add your blog to the hop, just put your info in the linky below and have the hookers and hangers ready to view on the 16th and 18th of next month. Remember you can do as few or as many as you'd like, so even if your work isn't complete, feel free to enter it!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Finally home

...and it's nice to have a computer again, 'cause posting on my phone always sucks :P

The nice thing about a few days away from everyday life... you start getting ideas...

...and tomorrow I'm going to dig back into my 'Brake Fluid' first draft and add on to a few scant scenes that I knew were *missing* something I couldn't quite put my finger on before now.

Item #1: rocks.

Item #2: guilt.

Always fun to write about ;)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!!!

Okay, it's 2:40am on July 1st

We JUST got back to the hotel after an awesome 11th inning Seattle Mariners win against the Boston Red Sox, and my man Ackley (Lucky # 13) ran in the winning base.

Seriously, we've been to a ton of games in the last 2 years, and this is the first time we've seen them win :)

AND, in Buckley's bar in Belltown, about 20 of us sang 'Oh Canada' as soon as midnight hit, and the live band played along.

It was awesome :) one of those 'bucket list' kind of awesome things.

Okay, time to sleep. I hope you all have a great weekend as well :)