Thursday, June 30, 2011

Zombie Thursday presents-- Something New! and Hellraiser, the Comic Series!



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Last week on the Facebooks, I mused that I may not write about zombies every Thursday. No one seemed to comment on this fact, except my friend Mary, so I decided that was a sign that everyone thinks it is a great idea!* Today I present a new segment in Zombie Thursdays--

Zombie Thursdays presents-- Miranda Talks About Other Scary Horror Stuff that isn't Necessarily Related to Zombies, but that She Thinks You'll Enjoy Too! (Working Title)

So today, I want to further talk about another obsession of mine. I've actually spoken about this a lot already, so it may come as no surprise when I tell you I am a huge fan of Clive Barker and, specifically, his novel The Hellbound Heart. If you are unfamiliar with this book, first I suggest that you should read it** and, secondly, you may be more familiar with it under its cinematic title Hellraiser (and the seven other movies that followed in the franchise). Like a lot of multiple movie film franchises, only the first one was fully directed and envisioned by Barker. In fact, Hellraiser is an insanely close adaptation of the book with only a few minor/major differences.


While several of the films that followed the original have a lot of great moments, scenes, and lines, really only the first four are seemingly a complete set and story arc (but don't forget, Clive Barker only wrote and directed the script for the first film. Keep this in mind). Of all the eight Hellraiser films, I recommend these the most! And please, do not refer to Bloodline as the "Pinhead in Space" one... if all you know is that the fourth movie takes place in space***, you haven't seen it. Or if you have, you've missed the point entirely.

What I really want to share with you today is the *new* Hellraiser comic series that recently came out! What's so special about this series is that it's the first time since the original novel and movie that Clive Barker has begun writing for the characters and the world of Hellraiser again!**** Unlike the old school Marvel comic series that was based off of the world of the Cenobites, this new undertaking is 100% cannon to the novel and the first two films. It is not fanfiction. It is not a reboot. It is completely legitimate to Barker's characters and world. Which, for a hardcore fan like me, is AWESOME!


The art work and writing (co-written by Barker and Christoper Monfette) are incredible. Not only is the tone and story preserved and expanded, but some familiar faces have been brought back, including the "Female Cenobite" and everyone's favorite girl, Kirsty Cotton! If you are familiar with the whole film franchise, so far it seems as if they are ignoring the events surrounding Kirsty in Hellseeker. Which is probably for the best... The series plot revolves around a bored and jaded "Pinhead" who is trying to reclaim his humanity. Meanwhile, Kirsty and other puzzle-box survivors have joined forces to form The Harrowers. Their mission is to seek out the remaining gateways to Hell and destroy them once and for all. Some really awesome artwork and visual elements include a pipe organ made from dead bodies (yes, really. It's pretty awesome) and a carousel music box that functions as a portal to the Cenobites!

If you're a horror fan, a comic fan, or a Barker fan, the new series is something you must check out! Anyone can pick this series up and will probably enjoy it. You don't need to be a mega-fan (like me) to understand everything that's happening, however, I highly encourage that you at least either read the novel or see the first (and preferably the second) film before diving in, just to give you a better understanding of the world and the history. The Hellbound Heart can always been found at Borders or Barnes & Noble, and right now the entire franchise (except the third film) is available for instant streaming on Netflix.

As a warning-- both the book and the movies are graphic. Despite what you may think, these are not "slasher" films, but they are violent and extremely sexual in nature, so if that's not you're kind of thing, don't watch. But I do promise, the violence and themes all have a reason beyond normal "torture porn" type of films. This is intelligent horror.


As for the comic, the first two issues were so outrageously popular, the first printings are completely sold out from the publisher! There's a chance you may still find them in your local comic shop as well as a second edition printing should be available online. Both issues #1 and #2 have several covers, easiest to find are Covers A and B. As of now, I do not believe there is a release date yet for #3.

I hope you enjoyed today's new segment for Zombie Thursdays! What books-t0-movies-to-comics-to-movies-to-books series do you enjoy? There are a lot of them out there, share your favorites!!

*Or everyone was just too lazy too comment on my idea.
** See my above warning about the content of the book before you rush off to buy it. Especially if you are younger.
*** While part of the film does take place in the future on a space station, it has little to do with being "in space." In fact, the movie spans over four centuries of history and myth. This is no "Leprechaun 4" which really was just "Leprechaun in Space."
**** Yes, I know that "Pinhead" is supposed to make an appearance in the Third Book of the Art. But it hasn't been finished or published yet, so we can only guess what the encounter between the Lead Cenobite and Harry D'Amour will be...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Best of June: The Dark and The Light

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: What's the best book you've read this month?

For the record, I'm excited that this topic has come back. Like, wicked excited. Knowing this topic happens monthly, ensures I complete at least one book a month*. I gave half of the eight I read this month four stars, but there's only two I'm still thinking about.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
What I liked about it: Surprising, I enjoyed the novel-in-verse format. This made for a fast, engaging read. The subject matter is handled well and I was totally rooting for Kristina throughout the novel**.

After reading it, I understand why so many places ban this book. I don't agree with it, but I get where they're coming from. (That's an entirely different subject and one I can rant about a lot.)

Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Brendan Halpin and Emily Franklin
What I liked about it: I talked about it here, but I realized the vagueness of my review didn't do the book justice. When you have the set up of two people stuck in a fake romance, it's interesting to see that change and how it happens. There's no dark issues in this book, which is a nice break from the rest of my June reading which covered the sequels to Crank and The Shifter***.

If you like the sound of Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance, you can win a signed copy from me. All you need to do is tell me your best fauxmance story (and outcome).



* Though given my spastic reading pace, this hasn't been a problem. Yet.
** Something that didn't happen during it's sequel. I spent a lot of time calling her a stupid shit.
*** Which wasn't dark/edgy, but dark with murder and stuff like that. 
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: LA '86 by The Soho Cobras

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Feature: Things that Amuse Me

We all have those little things on the internet that crack us up; I'm no different. There's a lot out there that gets me into a giggle fit. Things that Amuse Me will be an irregular feature where I'll share these things with you.


I love new features. What can we expect?
A hodge podge of things. One day it might a link, other times it might be a paragraph explaining why I laughed like a loon during Casablanca*. No matter what, it'll be something short and sweet. It'll also probably be way more insight into my brain than you need**.

Are we getting one today?
You bet your ass you are!

Today it's all about the spoofs on the periodic table.

Like this:
Image courtesy of Shalotka at deviantart.
Or this:
Image courtesy of The Big Picture.
Or this:
Image courtesy of Woman's Day.

What fake science-y thing amuses you?

Don't forget to enter to win a signed copy of Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance!


* True story.
** But it's my blog, so there.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Feels Like a Hammer by Dangerous Toys

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Excitement

As the dreary, winterish months are my most busy, the sunshiney, summery months are my most productive. The warmth energizes me and the sun stays out way past it's bedtime. There's color and sound and overall awesome*.

I'll admit it: I like the Daystar.

I also like the color yellow**.

Today's post isn't about confessions. It's all about what exciting things are on the summer front for yours truly now that Falling to Normal is going out for one more beta***.

  • New projects. I mapped out two during Weekend of Awesome and I have a few more in my brain. The first order of business though is to work on something that is purely fun.
  • Summer reads. A couple of Fridays back, I listed the books I was planning on reading this summer. Because the all had a light, summery feel, I decided I'd rock that theme as long as I'm able to****.
  • New writing techniques. My new thing is to try a new approach with each new project. I have a copy of 90 Days to Your Novel and with both WIPs out for beta, it's the perfect time to try this out.
  • Bags. I have a crocheted tote bag pattern I want to try out. Plus I have a few easy patterns for fabric bags I might give a go to.
  • Movies. There are so many coming out this summer it's ridiculous. Wizards. Super heros. Poohbear. THE ROOM.
  • A redux of Real World Cape Cod. It should be as awesome as last year.
What fantastic things are on the summer front for you?

Don't forget to enter to win a signed copy of Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance!




* We'll overlook the ice cream truck that stops daily outside the day job. For now.
** This is a recent development. My inner goth is working through the shock.
*** Tomorrow.
**** This is entirely dependent on what I have in my TBR crate.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: The Forever People by My Dying Bride

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kick Start Your Creative Slump!

We all have those moments where the ideas/words/brilliance don't come. If you're like me, these times when nothing ends up on the page mean a lot of bitchy behavior until the block passes. If you're also like me, you like to expedite that process. The question is how?


I've talked about this before, but that was more geared to when your brain entirely too fried to do anything. This is just about getting those juices going.
  1. Music. Sometimes a song's lyrics is all I need to get a shiny new idea. In fact, I have a few kicking around the ole noggin that have yet to be developed.
  2. Books on craft. Believe it or not, a lot of scene ideas come to me when I'm reading a how to book. When I was revising Phoenix Rising, I was also reading Writing the Breakout Novel. While the things that popped up didn't tie into what I was reading, the nonfiction allowed that other part of my brain to relax from the super tight hold it's usually in.
  3. Exercise. Not that I've done any of it lately, but when I did, it helped. Something about the concentration on form, repetitions, and breathing clear out the brain. Think of it as a reboot with a kick.
  4. Something crafty. I took up crocheting after a two-decade hiatus. Again, focusing on something other than writing lets that part of the brain relax. When your writing brain is all happy, that's when the magic happens.
  5. Free writing. If I'm under the gun and have to get something finished, I don't have the time for numbers two-four*. The stress is upon me and not letting up anytime soon. This is when free writing works for me. It takes between one and two pages before my literary diarrhea gives me anything useful, but when it does... It. Is. Awesome.
What I'm saying is if you need to get your creativity flowing, you need to give your brain something else to do.

Also, do you want a fun summer read? I'm giving away a signed copy of Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance. Go here to enter.

Don't forget to head over to Paper Hangover for more awesome tips on how to get a jump-start on your creativity!

* Sorry, Exercise. I know I have to work you back in somehow. Please send me suggestions on how to help you help me.
____
Last.fm hit of the day: Miss U by Blackfield

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Start Summer with a Good Fauxmance

During Weekend of Awesome, Erinn arranged a Skype chat with YA author Brendan Halpin. As I said in my WOA recap post, he was totally funny and smart. Our chat with him gave us insight on the industry we're all pushing our way into*. Talking with Brendan cemented the fact I need to read all his books. Now.

Turns out I had already planned on reading Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance. I planned on it for two reasons: I loved the premise and the last book I had read of Emily Franklin (Brendan's co-conspirator co-author) I enjoyed. It's a win, right? Right.

If you haven't heard of Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance, allow Goodreads to tell you all about it:
Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

What I liked about it: The dual POV, the Shakespearian tie-in, the theatre speak. Fielding's voice. All of this was packaged in a quick read that I devoured in 24 hours**. It was the perfect way to kick off my summer of fun reading.


Good news! I'm giving away a signed copy of this book to one lucky member of the Lurkdom. All you need to do is tell me in the comments your best fauxmance story (and outcome) and leave your email address. Contest ends July 1, 2011.


Good luck everybody!

* For anyone keeping track, Pam is currently in the lead.
** And totally eschewed my editing responsibilities for. Sorry, project.
__________
Last.fm hit of the day: The Cry of Silence by Draconian

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fire!*

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's Topic: The house is on fire and you've only got time to grab five things. What are they?

I live in a pretty questionable house that has tons of religious artifacts and questionable wiring**. Example: a lamp works where there are no outlets because it's hard-wired onto another wire. Somewhere. The grace of god is probably the only thing that keeps my house standing.

So because of this, I go through periodic bouts of fire paranoia--that thing where you're convinced the house will burn down in the middle of the night***. Thanks to this, I have a plan in place.
  1. The cats. Much easier said than done, this will take the most time to do. Have you ever tried stuffing two cats into a carrier?
  2. The laptop bag. This always includes the laptop and paperwork for whatever project I'm working on. And my camera.
  3. The purse. Which includes the money, checkbook, iPod, and keys. And is usually found next to the laptop bag.
  4. The phone with charger. Right next to the exit, I can rip the charger out of the wall with the phone still attached.
  5. Hubby. He would be running around grabbing his own five things, so this wouldn't happen until we were in the street watching everything burn. It would probably be one of those compulsive grabs like "omigod! What the hell are we going to do???" but it's still a grab and therefore, counts.
Now I'm thinking about fires again, which isn't a good thing. This means tonight I'll be making sure everything is squared away just in case****.

What five things would you grab in case of a fire?


* Apologies for the less-than-creative title. 
** Among other things, but that's another post.
*** It doesn't help that in the four years that Hubs and I have lived in our questionable house, there have been three fires in the neighborhood hasn't helped, either.
**** Maybe even suggest to Hubs that we start home fire drills.

_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Excitable by Def Leppard

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boston Area Kid Lit Meet Up

Bloggy friend Kris Asselin has organized a meet up of local kid lit writers, readers, librarians, or anyone interested in children's books. If this sounds interesting, you should come.


Refreshing Sugar Sweet Red Strawberry Martini Drink
Credit: D Sharon Pruitt
I'm in. When is it?
Today at 7.30 PM.

Where?
Paparazzi
2 Wall Street
Burlington, MA 

If you're a writer, this is a great way to meet other writers who write for the same audience. Even though we interact with each other over our blogs and Twitter, we need to build relationships in real life too.

So, if you're interested in meeting some people who are as passionate about kidlit as you are, come to Paparazzi. Make sure you reach out to Kris first though by one of the following methods: Twitter (@KristineAsselin ) or email (krisasselin (at) yahoo (dot) com).

I look forward to seeing you there!

______
Last.fm hit of the day: Nowhere by Murderdolls

Monday, June 20, 2011

We Got A Winner...

Happy Monday Lurkdom. I hope your weekend was full of awesome.

The day job is extremely busy right now and due to life I didn't pre-plan any posts. This works out rather well since today I get to announce this winner of the Circa Starter Kit Giveaway. We had a total of 58 entries for this bad boy. Random.org picked the winner.

*drum roll*

Heather Kelly!

Heather, be on the lookout from an email from me. Congratulations on winning!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Twitter Hit List


As I pointed out on Tuesday, I tweet a lot, so it's timely that Paper Hangover wants to know who they should follow. Below you'll find a nice mix of resources plus contributors to my 10K plus tweets.

Writer Thesaurus. Angela Ackerman's other Twitter handle for sharing useful links that pertain to things like description and all kinds of sensory detail.

4KidLit. Pretty much a link aggregator, the ladies behind Adventures in Children's Publishing supply you with a constant string of useful links.

Agents. There are a shit-ton out there, and if you're serious about publication, you should follow agents to get an idea of their likes, peeves, etc.

Fox 25 News. When I bother to watch the news, these are the people I watch. I love their morning program. This would only work if you're from the Boston area or writing about Boston, I suppose.

The Weekend of Awesome ladies. Holly Dodson, Erinn, Marquita Hockaday, Pam Harris, and KO. All of them are fantastic** not to mention if you follow all of us, you'll get to see all of our conversations. Even though she wasn't part of WOA, you should also follow Meredith McCardle and Tracey Neithercott to follow more of our conversations.

Bonus! The Boston Illiterate Society. Still in the works, this shit lit Twitter feed and companion site will be the destination for all bad literature***.


What Twitter feeds should I check out?


* Some of these contain several sub-categories and while I know there is such a thing as lists, that requires way too much concentration on my part to really utilize it's power.
** You should follow their blogs too.
*** We hope.
______
Last.fm hit of the day: One Last Goodbye by Anathema

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zombie Accessories Make Me Cool


Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Not only are zombies just fun, they also come in handy (and not just as mindless slaves). As you all may remember, not only do I love watching zombie movies, reading zombie books, and talking about zombies, I also like to accessorize with the undead!

Recently, I came to the conclusion that I what I do for a living is the thing I probably hate doing the most in the world. One of the perks of the job I dislike is some friendly stock options. Anticipating (hoping) that I may not be at this job for much longer, I decided to sell my stock. A good portion of the profits went to making my credit card debt vanish, but I also decided that I should buy myself one completely unnecessary item that I otherwise couldn't afford.

Enter the Iron Fist "zombie chomper" purse and wallet! I was able to find the purse cheap online and even had a discount coupon, so that's why I went with *two* unnecessary items.


This bag is just fun! It's pretty large (although not wide), so it holds a lot of my stuff. It also gets a lot of looks and compliments for it's uniqueness. The wallet is great because it has many card slots, a pocket for bills, and a zippered pouch for coins, etc. One of my main complaints about wallets is that they don't have enough space, and if they do have enough space, they're usually huge and bulky. Not so with the zombie wallet!


Also recently, I attended a first round job interview with another company. To my delight, one of the human resources girls introduced herself and claimed to love zombies! Good news to me, as I happened to be using my zombie purse that day. Will it get me the job? No, unlikely. Will I be remembered? I sure hope so!

Iron Fist makes other items in this design scheme, including a bikini, heels, flats, and shirts. What other zombie accessories do think it would be cool to own?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's About...

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!

Oh, how I hate love a good guessing game, but I do plan on rereading it this summer, so bonus.

However, we know I have issues saying what a book is about. The Weekend of Awesome girls saw this firsthand when I struggled with my elevator pitch for Phoenix Rising. Holly witnessed it when after I gave said pitch and she asked a question. My answer was "uhhhh..."

In short, I never do the book justice.

Oh, boo-hoo. Stop stalling.
Okay, okay!

In order to protect one, three 14-year old boys are sent far away from home. Little do they know the country town they've been instructed to stay in isn't safe for them and when the one that needs protecting falls for the one girl he shouldn't, everyone is at risk.


I'm pretty sure only one who lurks will get this, so I'll make a deal with you. Take your best guess below. Then, come back this afternoon for some clues to point you in the right direction. Also, don't forget to enter my Circa notebook contest.



Update, 4 PM: Only one person sorta guessed, but I figured she would. So it's hint time.

wizard thinkingIt involves a series of books that I blog about a lot. (Look at the label for the name.) The book I'm specifically referencing has this guy (found on the left) in the title. It also was made into a comic book series.



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Last.fm hit of the day: Locked in the Dark Side by Negative

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tweet Much?

Apparently, I do. Last week I surpassed 10,000 tweets. It's taken me over 3 years to do this, but I did. There should be some kind of award for this or something.

Oh, wait.


Tracey Neithercott* made me this pretty adorable award for the occasion.

I'd like to thank the Academy for supply me with the technology to tweet-walk and to prattle on about The White and Stripey Ones, not to mention share the strange findings at my local grocery store. To Twitter, to being my second highest internet distraction.

A major thank you also goes out to those peeps who I talk to over the Twitters. This insanely high tweet count wouldn't have happened without your support.


Lurkdom, do you tweet? How often?


Don't forget to enter my Circa Starter Kit giveaway.



* We've also determined that we *may* have been separated at birth. There are too many similarities to ignore.

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Stuck with You by Voltaire and Amanda Palmer

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dabbling with a Shrunken Manuscript

I finished my Mad Libs draft of Phoenix Rising in December 2009 and then let it sit for a looong time. The incubation period had nothing to do with me not loving the project, but everything to do with life and that other monster, Falling to Normal*.

While I worked on Falling to Normal and then nanowrimodraft10*, Phoenix Rising percolated some more. I edited and still wasn't confident on sharing it with people. Yet. Hubby went and actually read Mad Libs draft 1.1. Much to my surprise, he even had feedback**. So I took his feedback and thought. Then, in support of procrastination, I decided I'd try doing a shrunken manuscript.

A what?
It's this thing I read about on Darcy Pattison's website and several other blogs. What you do is you take your project and condense it down to thirty pages. The goal is to get a visual look at the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript.

I'll admit that it sounds convoluted and pretty confusing. I had to reread the directions multiple times before I got it, but once I understood what I was supposed to be doing, it finally clicked. Once you've eliminated all page breaks and reduced the font to something ridiculous, you're supposed to locate your strong chapters, your dialogue heavy scenes, etc. From everything I read, the shrunken manuscript is adaptable to what you are looking for.

That sounds like a pain in the ass.
Phoenix Rising, shrunken.
Maybe just a little. Especially when you live with The White One who really likes messing up anything you stick on a table. Crazy cats aside, I did manage to complete a shrunken manuscript.

Since Phoenix Rising is a multiple POV book, I wanted to make sure that all my key players had equal face time with the reader. My two main characters needed to own the majority of the scenes and my secondary ones couldn't upstage them.

I color-coded my POV characters and my dialogue-heavy scenes***. Halfway through the first act, I encountered a problem. I had a fifth POV. I knew four was pushing it, but FIVE? I hurried back to my key and added my fifth character color code, denoted by a grey P. (I had run out of highlighters.) Then I backtracked to incorporate the added POV.

In my head everything seemed cool, but the shrunken manuscript does not lie.

The key with a hastily added "P."
What did you find out?
  • I suffered from a sagging middle.
  • Pike disappears for the entire second act and is barely visible in the third, but is super-important in the first.
  • Walker's POV is much stronger than Kyla's.
  • I had only two dialogue-heavy scenes!

Interesting. How did this change your revision plan?
With such a heavy focus on Pike in act one, I knew I had to carry that through the rest of the novel. This was an easy fix by eliminating what I discovered was a SIXTH POV and throwing those scenes in Pike's POV. It tightened up the middle a bit as well.

And since I was already aware of my crap middle, I put extra focus on strengthening those plot points. Things push along better now with some much needed development on the subplot frontier. Walker's POV is still stronger than Kyla's, but I think that's okay for now. Their combined story works better that way I think.

Will you shrink again?
Most definitely. As I get older, I'm discovering that I'm very much the visual learner. I think doing it so early in the revision process eliminated several drafts. What's awesome is that I can tailor my focus with each go-round as well.


What new techniques have you tried prior to a big revision?

Also! I'm giving away a Circa Starter Kit. You have until Sunday to enter.




* Remember, Alicia + titling = literary disasterpiece.
** The last beta read from Hubby was problematic because it wasn't something he was jazzed about.
*** Being the dialogue-loving whore I am, I fully anticipated every other page to be all dialogue.
____________
Last.fm hit of the day: Presence by Anathema

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Summer Reads, One Contest

I've never been so glad for Friday to come. This weekend promises to be a busy one filled with seeing friends, housework, and revisions on yet another WIP*. Summer makes me more productive, even if I feel like dying while I do it.

Since we had our unofficial kickoff to summer almost two weeks ago, it's time to think about beach reads. You know those light books with no dark themes that you devour while you take in too much sun? The Paper Hangover peeps want to know ALL ABOUT THEM.

Confession: I've only consciously picked books with summer in mind once. That was last year for the week I was at the Cape Cod version of The Real World house. This year I'm planning out the entire summer of reads, but here are my top five in cover form.


That first one, by the way? I'll be giving away later this month. However, I'm also giving something away today.

During NaNoEdMo, one of my writing friends Megan had this awestome-tastic notebook she was sticking her notes in. Instead of a metal spiral, it was plastic. Even her plotcards had them. The paper was designed for notetaking. What was this thing I've been missing?

Image courtesy of Lifehacker
A Circa notebook from Levenger. Levenger is this fancy pants store for the "serious" reader and writer. I went and picked up the starter kit and I fell in love. It's like if a notebook meets a binder without the clunky factor. I shared mine during Weekend of Awesome and the girls got all excited. It was immediately decided I should give one away.

So I am.

To read more about the Circa Notebook, you can go to the Levenger site or read about it at Lifehacker. I'm still working on my Circa for the assassin project, but once it's complete. I'll share it with you all.

To enter the contest, you must be a follower. The contest will be open until June 19th.



Erinn, Kat, Pam and Quita are also doing Weekend of Awesome giveaways. Don't forget to check them out!


But, back to the original topic. I need some more good summer reads. Lurkdom, what do you suggest?



* Not to mention catch up time on the end of Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries.
________
Last.fm hit of the day: The Damage by Tapping the Vein

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Zombie World News


Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

To be honest, I feel like a zombie today. I don't know why... change in weather? Not enough sleep? Too much sleep? The "excitement" of having to go to work in fifty minutes? I'm really just not sure. But usually when I'm feeling like this, I like to surf the interwebs for some good zombie material.


Today I stumbled upon the Zombie World News website. The website is very interesting-- part news reporting, part collective writing project, part social commentary, with lots of other parts thrown into the mix. The majority of the page seems to be an archive for various news articles from around the world and chronicles the outbreak of a zombie virus known as necro-mortosis. The articles begin around 2006 (although these are back dated, the site isn't that old) with the first signs of the virus emerging in Haiti. The rest of the news stories come from different sections of the world as the ongoing zombie outbreak occurs. At the moment, the writers have purposely not made the outbreaks into an apocalypse style catastrophe (like World War Z scale apocalypse). The progression is written as a slow build up, having readers believe there is a threat, but not causing a panic.

So, what's great about this site? It seems like it is a community project. Everyone is encouraged to submit news articles to help keep the narrative of this zombie story going. There are submission guidelines that can be found on the page to help you out before you send something in. As I mentioned above, right now they are looking for small, personal stories about an emerging outbreak, not a full on zombie war. In this "world," that hasn't happened yet. I really respect that aspect, because so often in zombie movies or literature, the reader just assumes the outbreak has already happened on a large scale. Wouldn't it be cool to see a And The Band Played On style zombie movie? Showing the origins and the build up to a zombie viral epidemic, but never really showing the full on disaster? (If such a film exists, please let me know!!)

There was also a really neat article about quarantine centers popping up all over the country and that many were being protested. Protesters could be seen holding signs that said, "Get a Life!" and "God Hates the Undead!" The first thing that came to my mind was a commentary on abortion clinics and the protesters that can frequently be seen outside with signs like, "Choose Life!" However, I may be giving the writers too much credit for their cleverness.


Now... what's bad about the site? Editing. Editing, editing, editing. I understand this is a site with submissions from all over and people with various writing abilities and talents. However, they claim the right to edit any article submitted for grammar errors, etc. They fail. Not only do most articles contain huge errors (and I'm not talking "oh, I think there should be a comma there..."), but even the official FAQs and "About Us" page are filled with punctuation errors, the first letters of sentences are not capitalized, and (most frustrating of all) the site seems to use the word "none" when they really should be saying "non." For example, they talk about internet sites selling remedies for the necro-mortosis virus, but state that these are "NONE effective." This usage was not a one time mistake. I encountered it everywhere on the site. Perhaps the site is run from another country and this mistake is a language barrier issue? I don't know, but it was very annoying.

In the end, it is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have some time to kill or are at work and are tired of reading real news articles about politicians' penises and Sarah Palin's magic school bus. As a final note, so as not to panic the easily confused or hoodwinked, the site is very explicit in saying it is for "entertainment purposes only." There is no zombie outbreak. Yet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ground Your Reader, or Why Storyboarding is Important

The Room is our generation’s Rocky Horror*. It’s at best a D-List movie with horrible stock footage and acting right out of a CCD production of Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The writing is Nemesis-worthy.

Basically, if The Room was being graded for actual artistic merit, it would beyond fail.

However!

The Room is a great learning experience. Tommy Wiseau’s “masterpiece” is a great example on what not to do in writing from character confusion, sloppy dialogue, poor pacing, and more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stories in Song

Steve Almond talks about song and how it's a great way to study concise storytelling. When you think about it, it makes sense; songwriters have to do it in three minutes.

Because I can, I want to share my top five* storytelling songs. As always, this isn't in any particular order and subjected to change at my discretion.


Monday, June 6, 2011

In a Word, Awesome


This past weekend marked the first annual Weekend of Awesome. If you lurk around here or around Kat's, Erinn's, or Pam and Quita's blog you might have heard something about it*. WOA was our version of a writer's retreat.

Neat. So it was a conference?
No, conference and retreat are entirely different. The purpose of a retreat is to focus on getting your project worked on. We scheduled a few non-writing activities like pitch practice and movie night, but everything did focus on craft in some form or another. Which, of course, is awesome.


Ah. What was the best thing about the weekend?
By far it was meeting Pam, Quita, and Kat in real life. (I've met Erinn before, but it's always fun to reconnect too.) It's always great to meet my "in the computer" friends. And as I've said before, some of my greatest friendships started through the internets**.

The WOA Ladies
However, there was more awesomeness to be had.

Four For Friday, Special Monday Edition: Weekend of Awesome***
  1. Skyping with Brendan Halpin. We had a Q&A session that lasted about an hour. He's funny and smart and answered all our questions about his process with honesty. Erinn's raved about him a few times and after our Skype, I totally see why.
  2. The work. I flew into Hilton Head with the plan to do prewriting. I've plotted out two novels. *throws tons of confetti*
  3. Talking. It's so refreshing to be able to discuss craft with other writers. Not only other writers, but other writers in your genre. We spent a lot of food time discussing strengths and weakness, the best books we've read, and the ones that are just too horrific for words.
  4. Reinforcement. The weekend was also a great reminder that I'm not alone in this. After this weekend, I have four other fantastic ladies to bounce ideas off of, to get feedback from, and to receive encouragement.

The weekend was such a great experience for all of us that we're planning on doing it again in 2012.

Lurkdom, tell me: if you've been to a retreat, how was the experience? Also, how was your weekend?


* You might have also heard Holly talk about it.
** Case in point, Miranda.
*** I really like looong titles.
__________
Last.fm hit of the day: Temporary Peace by Anathema

Friday, June 3, 2011

Excuses to Toss Aside


I have plenty excuses for things: exercise, legitimate blog posts, laundry. When it comes to writing, I can't think of anything though I'm sure there's something I use.

*racks brain*

*plays Bejeweled*

If I had one excuse it involves cash. Since I'm half of the Gregoire-Poirier super force, all finances are shared. This means that even if I want to take that 10-week course on short story writing, I need to weigh it against things like bills. That's one excuse I'd love to chuck aside, but my other half might get upset.

Thoughts like that are depressing, not to mention it's Friday, so let's lighten it up.
  • Only the classics help you become a better writer. I've thrown this out long ago. You can learn just as much about pacing, conflict, and tension from novels that deal with quivering members and heaving bosoms.
  • Bejeweled helps me brainstorm. No it doesn't, freewriting works better.
  • There's too much TV to watch. There is, but sacrifices must be made. That means Highlander, Renegade, and other questionable TV from the 1990s will be shelved.

But Alicia, you only list 3 things.
Actually, with the paragraph about money, that makes 4. So this will be a Four for Friday.

Enjoy the weekend, Lurkdom. Don't forget to head over to Paper Hangover to join in the fun!

___________
Last.fm hit of the day: Almost Home by Michale Graves

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Zombie Video Humor for the Tired Soul


Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Oh my... sorry I missed last week, friends. I hope you didn't think my absence was due to being taken up during the Rapture, or getting killed by a bunch of crazy people at the Anime Central Convention. Unfortunately, I was just exhausted from a number of things. And also unfortunately, I'm barely struggling to hang on here. Today marks my ninth day in a row of work without any time off.

Well, at least you have a job, Miranda. Some people aren't so lucky. You're correct. I am fortunate to have a job, for certain. But working almost 80 hours straight with out any days off is bad enough. Working that many days straight where I work and am constantly treated like I am a plebeian by the people of the world, it's rough on the body, mind, and soul. As such, I haven't come up with anything too clever to write about today. However, a good default is... funny videos! And there are always good zombie videos around.

Take this one, for example. I will not hide the fact that I was not a huge fan of President Bush the Second. So, I quite enjoy this little gem (credit goes to Myeverything.com... or something like that.)


I hope everyone else has been having a much more relaxing two weeks than I! I actually have two days off starting tomorrow, so I suspect I will be sleeping. A lot!

Know of any funny zombie videos? Post them in the comments!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Did It for the Accuracy

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: What is the strangest/weirdest thing you've ever researched?

It's been established that I'm easily distracted.

Even with my love of Wikipedia and the Googles, I never hop on there for hell of it. I start off with a purpose. Sometimes it's to prove Hubby wrong, like how many hits came from Bush's Sixteen Stone*. Most of the time, though, it's for research.

While revising Phoenix Rising this month, I've researched the following topics:
  • contents of an aphrodisiac
  • behavior under the influence of ecstasy
  • how to kill with magic**
  • how to become a ninja***

Do you like asking Google random questions? What have you discovered?



* The answer is five.
** Apparently you can only do this in Harry Potter.
*** There are no ninjas in Phoenix Rising. I got distracted by another idea on a rather tedious scene.
___________
Last.fm hit of the day: In Bloom by Nirvana
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