Sunday, October 31, 2010

SUNDAY INPSIRATION: Wisdom of Edna Mode

If you're not familiar with Edna Mode, she's a larger-than-life, big-things-come-in-small-packages designer in the movie The Incredibles. Unofficially based on Edith Head, a famous Hollywood costume designer, she is hilarious, gritty, and wise. Following are my two favorite sayings from Ms. Mode:

"Never look back dahling. It distracts from the now!"

"Luck favors the prepared, dahling!"

Here is a clip of the indomitable Edna Mode. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THURSDAY AESTHETICS: This Blog Sponsored By Nike

Today Thursday Aesthetics  honors Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory. It is my hope that she will in turn bless some of my works or prose that are currently submitted to various sundry contests and submissions. Enjoy.

(yes, this is made out of snow... and it's about 30 feet tall)










Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Joyce Carol Oates on character development

I'm going to see her speak live on Friday, so I thought it would be nice to see what she has to say on various subjects related to writing. This clip is an engaging look at character development. Enjoy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Never Ending Scene Blogfest Entry



Thank you to Brenda Drake for hosting this blogfest. Please visit her page to get a list of the other entries. We were all charged with writing a scene with a cliffhanger of sorts. A scene that you would rather stab your eye out then stop reading. Hopefully my scene has done that.

My selection is from a short story in which I re-wrote a popular fairytale. I wrote it under a pen name because the entire work as pretty *romantic* we'll say. Again, hopefully the selection will leave you... hungry for more.
***
     “Thanks for the concern,” she casts a sarcastic glance up toward her strapping savior. “But, maybe I want a little danger in my life.”
     Scarlet pulls her hood down, allowing a wider range for her peripheral vision, and then sets off again. After several steps, her cloak sweeps up and her fiery tresses rustle as a sudden gust whips through the trees. Wrapping her cloak tighter around her shoulders, she strides on with purpose. Determined. Her feet crunch the goldenrod, crimson, and rusty sienna bed beneath her slippered feet, a rhythmic cadence pacing the cricket’s delightful chorus as she travels deeper into the darkness.
     Her eyes adjust to the unlit path, treetops shunning the moon’s attempts to light Scarlet’s journey. A sharp whistle sails past her ears. Tickling. Unnerving.
     A howl pierces the night’s crisp air, ripping through Scarlet’s consciousness. Faint footfalls gnaw at her soul. Beginning as a well-spaced, monotonous drone, the rate of them increases the faster Scarlet’s own feet move.
     Suddenly, they stop. Everything stops. Eerie silence cocoons her. Deafening. She looks cautiously. Nerves fraying. C’mon, girl! Get a grip!
     She steps forward again, feeling eyes on her skin. Their heat primal… inhuman. Her pale skin prickles beneath her cloak, goose bumps rising, hair standing on her neck. She rubs her arms as chills thread through her arteries, icing her blood. Her eyes dart from side to side. Searching. Combing the spaces between cold shafts of moonlight suddenly permitted to stream through the dense canopy of treetops.
     From the darkness appears a single pair of foreign eyes. Glowing. Sinister. A low growl reverbs. Scarlet’s heart rises into her throat, pulse racing madly as a huge, bristly wolf prowls from the abyss onto the path, blocking her advance.
     Snarling. Hissing, it speaks, “Grrrl, it’s a bit late for dinner. Evening snack, are you?”
     Scarlet stares into the teeth of the beast, into the heat of the slivered, lupine eyes, unable to break its gaze. Captive. She curses her folly in not taking the roundabout way. Her red lips purse tightly. She grips her basket tighter, pale, boney knuckles protruding to sharp points.
     “Did you not hear me, grrrl?” the wolf snarls. “Did no one warn you of me? Surely they must’ve.”
     “Your speech is rather proper for a w-w-wolf.”
     “The better to ease your fears, my dear, and lower your defenses…”
     Scarlet’s heart hammers in her chest. Her pulse drums in her ears. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Her free hand twitches as she searches desperately for a witty remark to divert the wolf’s mind from devouring her.
     “What’s in the basket?” The wolf snarls, raising his eyebrows, drawing closer. “You smell, I mean, it smells… delicious.”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SUNDAY INSPIRATION: Life Is A Game Of Inches

Are you going to fight for the *inches* in your life... the inches that are the difference between winning and losing... living and dying?

Football is often metaphorically compared to life. In fact, football offers many lessons for life, chief among them teamwork and trust,  individual responsibility and sacrifice.  As a former football coach, I've seen and heard a number of fantastic pre-game and half-time speeches. Coaches are generally at the height of their existential selves when delivering these inspirational homilies... part shaman/ part revival preacher.

Following is a clip from "Any Given Sunday" Pacino at his best.
*warning-- there is light profanity in this clip*... (but the clip is so powerful)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Contest For YA Writers

If you write YA, follow this link to Guide To Literary Agents
They are hosting a contest. Hurry up! Run.
Contest ends soon!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

THURSDAY AESTHETICS: Ancient Ruins

I love to look at ancient ruins and envision the energy that coursed their hallowed halls. My imagination runs wild when I stare long enough at a picture... and I begin to see people and lives. I guess that's why I write about this time. I will get there one day. I'll step  bare feet on the sandy soil, take it into my hands and listen to the whispers of 3,000 years. But, until then, I always have the following pictures. Enjoy.
















What sort of things inspire you to do what you do? Which picture above is your favorite?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: A Query Conundrum

Does This Look Like You In The Query Process?

(*que Psycho music*)

Well, you're not alone. The query process is fraught with anxiety for all who still have to query. The following video does a great job of telling you what aspects of the query to focus on.

This features Elizabeth Lyon, editor extraordinaire.



Here is an additional resource for Query Writing.

To get good feedback on your queries, there are a lot of good blogs that have Query contests with real agents. That's a good chance for you to not only get your work in front of an agent who is on the hunt, but also get get constructive comments. You should be able to Google: Query Contests and get some good hits.

Below, please post your successes or warnings about queries. What worked. What hasn't worked. Remember, we're *all* works-in-progress.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SUNDAY INSPIRATION: Paulo Coelho on Luck, Coincidence, and Faith


Thursday, October 14, 2010

THURSDAY AESTHETICS- Dare To Dream of Santorini








Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Interview Is Live @Critique This WIP!!

 Please visit the blog below to read the probing questions and answers inquiring minds want to know!!

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Advice from Stephen King

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Hook, Line, and Sinker" Blogfest


Thanks to Justin Parente over at "In My Write Mind" for hosting this blogfest. Please visit his blog for the rest of the entries.

The premise of this blogfest is simple. Hook. The. Reader. But simple it is not to make a reader fall in love in precious few pages. It's somewhat akin to the last blogfest I did called "At First Sight." A writer has to get the reader to love their character in the first 500 to 1,000 words or else the reader will skip to the next book they're considering. We're competing for fleeting interests and scarce disposable income.

So here are the tests your story and character must past in the first 1,000 words or less.
  • Who is the character I am relating to?
  • Does he/she have a personality that I crave to read?
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they are introduced?
  • Are there secondary characters to assist the hook along, with conflict or pace?
  • Lastly: do I love the character? Do I want to read more about him/her?
So, without further ado, here are the first 770 words of "Caenus."  Do tell me if I've gotten your attention and you want to read more. And If not, tell me what's lacking.

***

“I need a strong son to reign when Hades darkens my doorstep!” the king barked. “You’ve won no sword fighting events and no archery contests. You can barely ride a horse. When will you be strong enough to command the military?”
Prince Caenus sidestepped a thrust from his friend’s sparring sword, feeling the heat of the king’s gaze needling his skin. During a brief lull in sparring action, the prince shot a sidelong glance toward where his brooding father sat on the wall surrounding the courtyard of the royal palace. Disappointment had bent the lines on King Kranos’ forehead.
A biting sword point poked Caenus’ ribcage, demanding the prince’s attention. Caenus shifted his sun-kissed frame. Dodging his friend’s advance, Caenus darted between fluted columns near the perimeter of the otherwise sparse courtyard.
Caenus’ best friend and sparring partner, Golan cut off the prince’s evasive maneuver.  And again, wood beat against wood. Jab. Swipe. Swing. Block. Dust rose from the ground in random clouds, kicked up by the swiftly moving feet of the two young men. Their sparring swords danced against one another as familiar foes.
 “Is that your best, Caenus?” Golan jeered, ducking a half-hearted swing of the prince’s sword. “Is there no more fight in you than this peasant’s display of swordsmanship?” 
Golan knocked the sword from Caenus’ grasp and, with the flick of his wrist, guided the tip of his own sword to Caenus’ throat.
“King Me!” Golan shouted with victorious confidence. He smiled broadly, perspiration creating sheen across his short crop of dark hair.
With Golan’s sword tip at his throat, Caenus looked around the courtyard slowly, again catching sight of his disapproving father. He appreciated the training session, but thoughts of his upcoming eighteenth birthday held center stage. Caenus brushed his hair from in front of his eyes. His squared jaw softened as he wiped beads of perspiration from the length of his straight nose into his loincloth, already dirty from the sparring session.
“I need to find a way to impress my Father,” Caenus whispered slowly, peering through a wispy brown curtain of his own hair.
“Yes you do!” Kranos blared directly into his son’s ear, grasping a handful of Caenus’ hair.
The prince gasped at the preternatural speed with which his father had crossed the courtyard.    
“Are You Training Or Playing Games?” Kranos barked again. “There is no place for the mediocre in the history of great men! ”
Caenus remained silent, deferent, his father’s disappointment slicing straight through him. He looked at his father diagonally due to how sharply his hair was being pulled.
“Are you destined to be like your worthless brothers?  I’ve not had a son yet that could even return from the games, let alone win them,” Kranos spat on the ground, shoving his son’s head. “If Iapetos and Adrastos could see you now, gods rest their souls. You’re not even half the prince they were.”
Caenus’ heart sank as a lump formed in his throat. His stomach clenched. A single tear formed at the corner of his eyes as thoughts of his deceased brothers bled into his father’s disappointment. Though he hadn’t known his brothers well, he still looked up to them. Now their ghosts haunted him.
“I know what’ll make a man of you,” Kranos growled. “I’m sending you to the Isthmian games to face your brothers’ demons.”
“What? No, I’m not ready…” Caenus willed the tears back.
“Get ready!” Kranos roared. “If it is my sons’ destiny to perish at the games, then you’ll either fulfill that destiny or return home victorious.”
Caenus had never really considered his destiny. That was, not until his father mentioned it. And even then, the concept seemed so ethereal that the prince slid it to the bottom of his consciousness.
“And if I don’t win…?”
 “If you do not win,” Kranos crackled, glaring at his youngest son. “You will fall in to the two year ephebos military training alongside all the other sons of Iolkos. Disowned. Disinherited. No longer a prince, but a plebe. You will live beside them in the filthy barracks. You will eat the same gruel they eat. And, you’ll have to fight every other son of Iolkos for the crown!”
“Will you not be proud to have me simply return from the games, victorious or not?”
 “Simply returning means you didn’t give it your all. Anyone can shrink away from the challenges to preserve their life. Only a win will release your brothers’ souls from their chains.” Kranos snapped. “I’d rather you die at the games if you’re not going to win!” 
Caenus’ throat dried to parching.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
~ Toni Morrison

SUNDAY INSPIRATION- And Still I Rise

Since I highlighted Icarus and his "fall' from grace on Thursday, I figured I would offer a Sunday Inspiration about "rising." So today I give to you the illustrious Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise.

Enjoy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"At First Sight" Blogfest Entry


Do you remember what it was like the first time you saw someone who made your heart skip... your cheeks flush... your knees buckle... your stomach flutter?

"At First Sight" is a Blogfest hosted by Jacee Drake that explores that *moment* or collection of moments when two people first meet and time stands still. Following is an excerpt from my WIP where Caenus first meets the luminescent but mysterious Adriande.

***

While watching Golan lose another arm wrestling match, Caenus’ eyes rose in time to notice a group of young ladies inconspicuously entering the taverna. Hooded cloaks draped their heads and shoulders, understandable at this time of evening, as the night breeze that swept in from water could send shivers, even in the summer. The cloaks also helped to hide their femininity, as women were not typically in the streets at this time of the evening, certainly not in an establishment of that sort.
The hoods, however, failed to completely cover their faces and their beauty was evident to anyone paying attention. A brown waterfall of hair spilled from one lady’s hood, framing a small round face.  The second lady’s hair had been well tucked. The third had hair the color of fire and a short lock poked defiantly from the top of her hood to fall gently across her forehead. She quickly repositioned her hood to conceal the stubborn strand, but it refused to go willingly.
The young ladies sat down at a corner table, requesting bread, olive oil and water. The red-haired beauty shot furtive looks around the room as if she was looking for someone, expecting someone. Caenus kept one eye on them and one eye on Golan, seeing that he got into no trouble.
By no means had he come to the games to chat up local girls, but strangely, he felt compelled to act. As the night wore on, Caenus seized an opportunity to talk to the fire-haired maiden. 
“Trying not to be seen?” Caenus asked, slipping up to her from behind, noting her dull gray laborer’s cloak.
“Apparently it’s not working,” she replied dryly.
Taken aback by her cold delivery, a curiously confused expression wrinkled Caenus’ face. She radiated a warm glow like freshly stoked embers, luring him, begging him to keep talking. He paused a moment then tried to elicit a warmer response, “Are you here for the games?”
“Obviously you are,” she responded, shooting a glance at the fever yellow, contestants’ headband wrapped loosely around Caenus’ forehead.
“All right, let me guess...  You think the games are for meatheads and showoffs with nothing better to do with their time and their lives. Am I correct?”
“Impeccably.”
“It’s full of young nobles sent to impress their king fathers and princess brides-to-be, yes?”
“Perceptive.”
“Well then, I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not royalty, eh?”
She shot a glance toward him, raising a naturally arched eyebrow. “You’re not? Everyone in the games is a prince of something or another, are they not?”
“Not me.  I’m here for the glory alone- a poor goat herder from Iolkos creating a name for myself and looking to win favor from the gods,” he replied, which was not terribly far from the truth.
“You don’t look so poor.” She gestured to his well-constructed attire.
“Borrowed,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Solicit, scrounge, and steal. It’s a hard life on the streets of Iolkos.  Nothing you’d know about.”
     “Borrowed, eh? That’s funny,” she chuckled, looking around the room for her friends who had wandered off. “Well, nice meeting you...” she offered with an emotionless pause, urging him to fill in the name blank.
“Caenus,” he beamed with confidence. “And you are?”
“Adriande,” she deadpanned. Her emerald eyes contrasted with her fire-hued tendrils and alabaster skin. She turned on her heels to leave.
Caenus smiled to himself, smitten with his new acquaintance. Lost in thought, he watched the girl exit. Certainly, she must be here to watch the games. For who in Corinth could escape the magnetic pull of the games?  And, if she indeed intended to watch the contests, perhaps I could impress her enough to somehow gain her company again. I think there’s more to her than met the eye. If I ever see her again, I’ll know for certain. 
 

THURSDAY AESTHETICS- In Search of Icarus

This maiden voyage of Thursday Aesthetics honors Icarus (Ἴκαρος) who soared too close to the sun on wings built by his father, Daedalus. His story is a classic one with duplicitous threads of inspiration.
Read his story here.

On one hand, yes, our parents warn us from danger not because they're evil ogres, but because they're simply trying to save us from ourselves. As children (and no matter how grown you get, you're still your parent's child), we should heed wise words when they are in fact wise.

On the other hand, shouldn't everyone dare to soar as high as possible. Stretching your wings is the surest path to growth. Reach for the stars... even if you miss, you're sure to get off the ground.

Enjoy this post.












Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: What's Your Best Pitch?

I know that for many of you, the question above is colored by MLB's "Hunt for October." Images of Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez (pictured below) come to mind. I certainly understand... 'tis the season, after all!


But, I am not talking about heaters, sliders, change-ups,  breaking balls, or knuckle balls. I am talking about Pitching Your Story to an agent or editor. It's likely more nerve wracking than standing on the mound as Albert Pujols walks to the plate with 2 outs. An MLB pitcher has a stable of pitches at his disposal, not to mention three strikes to get you out.

When you pitch to an agent or editor you have ONE (1) chance to make an impression. Sound daunting...? It is!

Never fear, though, I have found three very sound posts that helped me distill my pitch. Hopefully they can help you as well.

How To Write A One Sentence Pitch

How To Write The One Sentence, One Paragraph, and Two Paragraph Pitch

11 Questions For Crafting A Pitch

I am participating in a pitch contest over at Market My Words and here is my 2 sentence pitch:

"When a prince in ancient Greece is forced by his father to compete in the games that already claimed his brothers' lives, he tangles with a brash competitor who'll stop at nothing to win. The prince's biggest test comes when he falls for a mysterious local girl at the games who spirals him toward a fight-to-the-death for her hand."

That's what I'm entering, so any comments you all have would be appreciated. By all means, tell me what you think.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SUNDAY INSPIRATION

Welcome to the maiden voyage of a series I'm calling "Sunday Inspiration." Every Sunday I will post something that I think may help to Fuel your Forward Momentum, or... Inspire You!

Here is today's inspiration... best enjoyed with your morning energy drink of choice.  Cheers!
 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"They're People Too" Blogfest Entry


 Thank you to Tessa Conte over at "Tessa's Blurb" for hosting this blogfest entitled "They're People Too!" In this blogfest we were charged with personifying an abstract concept. As some who've read my snippits before can attest, I like bringing the weather to life.
 The following entry is from my third book in my "Caenus" trilogy. 
 ***
At the Iolkosian base on the shores of Ares’ Altar, campfires pitched flames skyward as guardsmen gazed, keeping vigilant watch for any movement.  Their eyes, great deceivers, told them the untruth that all was calm. Only their fluttering hearts could have detected reality. All but too late, as if they realistically had had a chance to defend themselves at all.
            With shocking brutality, Boreas, the vicious winged god of the north wind combined with Kaikos, god of the northeast wind, and the Anemoi-Thuellai tempests, spewing a devouring compilation of storm winds down upon the Iolkosian base camp. Appearing as four, immense, ghost-white mares stampeding across the rough, uneven plain, the wicked Anemoi-Thuellai disintegrated into an invisible fury that wrought swift havoc on the unsuspecting marines and ships.
            The winds churned the earth, howling like rabid wolves, destroying everything in their paths, and tearing blades of grass from the soil.  Men flew in to the air, crashing to the ground like rain. Boreas ripped tents to shreds, leaving them to drift in the air.  The ships were pushed back over the sharp rocks, tearing the hull bottoms. Kaikos crashed the ships together like children’s toys, splinters strewn across the beachhead.  When the display of brute strength ended, nothing stood. Not a tent. Not a ship. Not a man. Nothing.
            And, as quickly as they had appeared, the winds returned from whence they’d come, clearing the night sky.  The stars shone down unhindered upon the devastation.  Selene’s moon begrudgingly illuminated the remains.