Monday, November 30, 2009
Dear Bratty Friends,
No, I was not a winner this year in NaNoWriMo. I probably wrote 15,000 words, a good 35,000 shy of the goal. But I can't say that I'm disappointed in my effort, I merely attempted to use the wrong measuring stick to mark my progress. I used the month of November to try to reconnect with some of my writing that's been languishing since I changed out computers back in May or so, and became the only reporter at the WBJ. Losing half my work when my Win98 hard drive crashed was hard, but the increased workload at work - with the addition of the new Web site just after that - didn't help feed my muse AT ALL.
I've also been a little bit distracted by life it seems. Ah well. Such is life!
But, getting back to work on some moldy oldie stories has been good since I'm seeing them with fresh/old eyes and perhaps a bit more distance than before when I was actually writing them. I'm starting to consider how my protagonists and antagonists need to have not only a desire/goal but also a clear decision arc that drives the story. And let me tell you, that's really damn difficult to do! Writing fiction is in a word....mind boggling!
Yes, mind boggling!
There, I've said it.
That said, I will try to do a new project here on the blog, a "flash" if you will, daily. That will be my goal for December. Maybe in playing around more I can come up with new ways to put two and four together to make five. Oh the nonsense of fiction!
Anyway, congrats to all those who finished NaNo this year. Good job!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
"These changes - inflicted on the protagonist or a group of characters - alter their fortunes, choices and beliefs.
Typically the story presents these important changes:
- From lost to found
- From problem to solution
- From mystery to meaning
- From question to answer
- From conflict to resolution
- From danger to safety
- From secret to revelation
- From confusion to order
- From dilemma to decision
- From ignorance to understanding
- From unresolved to closure"
The big events, twists and turns in the story.
Some bigger, some smaller than others. "But all must introduce change."
80,000-85,000 work requires @ 6 plot points
- "Introduce a threatening change
- always have consequences
- shoot events/drama off in a new direction
- can be revelations that allow the reader to see things in a new light
- result in things never being the same afterward
- ratchet up tension and suspense"
- "Act 1 establishes the everyday world of your story and shows what your character has to lose.
- The first major plot point occurs in Act 1 and typically ends the act.
- This major event creates a point of no return, exposes the protagonist, and deepens the conflict.
- Act 2 is all about complicating the original problem.
- At the end of Act 2 another major plot point or twist occurs that is usually a major setback, disaster or threat. This nadir is often when the protagonist's plan has failed, he's been betrayed, he's backed into a corner, or he experiences a terrible loss.
- In Act 3 the climax and conflict resolution is the final plot point. It is often a showdown and the high point of drama and emotion since the reader witnesses how the protagonist has changed."
See you soon,
Friday, November 27, 2009
Book 2 in the Tales of Dunham
©2009 Moriah Jovan
Long Novel: 332 pages/120,000 words
DIGITAL (978-0-9817696-2-2): $5.99
ZIP file containing 7 formats: HTML, EPUB, IMP, LIT, MOBI, PDB (eReader), PDF
PAPERBACK (978-0-9817696-3-9): $15.99
Free shipping to US addresses.
At 12, Vanessa Whittaker defied her family to save 17-year-old bad boy Eric Cipriani from wrongful imprisonment and, possibly, death. She’d hoped for a “thank you” from him, a kiss on the cheek, but before she could grow up and grow curves, he left town.
Fourteen years later, Vanessa is a celebrity chef at the five-star Ozarks resort she built. Eric is the new Chouteau County prosecutor on his way to the White House.
Four hours apart and each tied to their own careers, their worlds have no reason to intersect until a funeral brings Vanessa back to Chouteau County, back to face the man for whom she’d risked so much, the only man she ever wanted—
—the only man she can’t have.
I just happened to pick up the book and start reading it in a section with a lot of bio-evoluntionary data. Always a fascinating subject to me, I thought I'd post a bit of food for thought:
Dumanoski writes, "In Pott's [Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution in Wash. DC] view, the signifigance of our own species' later move out of Africa some 200,000 years ago is commonly misunderstood. While the global spread of humans may represent an untethering from the physical place of our origins, it is not a release from the environment. Rather it is a long-term inconstancy." (108)
Well said, I say! Bravo! And I would hasten to point out that the caveman diet or caveman metabolism is still with us today, so no, we have not "outgrown" or even "outsmarted" the finite ecosystem that is planet Earth. We have merely adapted to a whole lot easier way of life. (Not all over the globe is that true, of course.) Take for the example the ready availability of meat/protein sources and fat and salt - without which the body cannot survive. Just ask the Franklin expedition! The super fast - genetically speaking - advent of food availability has caused its own set of problems, mind you. Though this is quote from Wikipedia, I have heard this argument before:
Over years of surviving off the hunt, the metabolism of Plains Indians developed to allow them to survive for longer on less food. This was in response to sometimes long intervals between hunts. In times of plentiful food, Plains Indians took on a lot of extra weight to prepare for times without food. This adaptation saved tribes from starvation, but when Plains Indian reservations/reserves were introduced, the adaptation of carrying weight became a threat to their health.
Thank heavens we learned how to make fire and cook though, or we might not have made it to the evolutionary stage where the 3-trips-to-McDonalds-a-day diet and death by cardiac arrest became a very real possibility. And of course nutrient availability also affects that one very important organ, the brain. Dumanoski writes:
"The practice of cooking food allowed humans to transcend this energy constraint [the energy needs of the large brain]. Heating food has several benefits: It kills dangerous bacteria and parasites, breaks down poisons in plants, and predigests protein. Thus, cooking not only increases safety and the variety of food, it makes digestion far easier, and with less energy required for digestion, more became available for maintaining the brain.
In humans, the brain represents only 2 percent of body weight, but it commands roughly 20 percent of the body's energy. In the period between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago, when hearths and fire pits appear in the archaeological record, human brain size increased by 24 percent." (109)
Thus, a good argument against carbohydrate restricted diets, unless you plan to become stupid and thin at the same time. But we won't go into that argument here.
The thing to remember about food + brains is that they are linked in a very Buddhist way. The harder is it to get food/attain Nirvana, the harder the brain has to work. And the harder the brain works, the better it works, and the more intelligent the creature. AND it behooves us to remember that one of the very BASIC things that affect food availability is environment. Here's one example:
"In Evolving Brains, a sweeping survey of brains from bacteria to humans, Allman asks an even more fundamental question: Why did brains evolve? 'In the broadest sense,' he concludes, 'brains are buffers against environmental variability.'One can see this principle at work in two closely related species of New World monkey, the fruit-eating spider monkey and the leaf-eating howler monkey. Although the monkeys are roughly the same size, the spider monkey's brain is almost twice as large, because feeding on fruit, which is widely dispersed and available at different times, is far more challenging than dining on leaves, which are always within easy reach." (109)
So from that one could argue that humans have not become more intelligent though their cell phones, plasma TV's, satellite stations and improved medicine make it seem so. They've actually gotten a whole lot dumber - at basic survival. Which, again, is very Buddhist or at least I can relate it to a Buddhist teaching as I can a lot of different concepts.
The scenario is this: One is taught to meditate on the in-breath and the out-breath. So one day, the master asks the student who thinks he is oh-so-smart and good at mediation just what he thinks he will meditate on when he is no longer breathing. Hmmmm?
The same with food. When the store shelves are empty (think worse than Russia as a "doomer" would) and the public water supply and electricity are no longer functional, where do you think you are going to get your next meal?
Better hope you have a pretty big brain, eh?
And speaking of brains and environment and survival, Dumanoski adds this:
"Similarly, the two major expansions in the human brain, first 2 million years ago and then beginning 500,000 years ago, are linked to the challenges posed by periods of extreme habitat variability." (110)
The message here - and yes I COULD link this to the 4 Noble Truths, but I just will NOT do so - is that suffering is good for the soul, perhaps because or even if only because it is inevitable that SHIT HAPPENS.
Dumanoski's book The End of the Long Summer makes the case that "Over the past 11,000 years, humans have enjoyed the climactic blessings of the long summer, an interglacial period that has been extraordinarily tranquil. This rare interlude in climate history...has allowed humans over millennia to construct a global civilization." (248)
Which, she is saying, is about to go straight down the tank!
Hope you enjoyed this fascinating essay on brains, food and climate/environment. Stay tuned next week for the not-so-obvious but nevertheless terribly important connection between gall bladders, knitting, and extraterrestrial contact!
BTW I didn't care for much of the rest of the book. Too much author intrusion for my tastes. But that's just me. (Some of us have to avoid that!)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It's time to turn the Huston Smith book back in to the library. It's um...cough...overdue.
So here for your browsing pleasure are 11 quotes that I took away from the book for my own personal reasons. Yours of course may be different. It all depends on what strikes your fancy.
Quotes from Huston Smith, “Tales of Wonder, Adventures in Chasing the Divine” ISBN 9780061154263
- …”I shall name the real religion of Dzang Zok. In any textbook you read that Confucianism and Taoism were the main faiths of
, but the true religion of Dzang Zok was folk religion. Lanes never ran straight but winding, because evil spirits have trouble turning corners. Bottle protrude from houses with their neck facing outward so that demons, whose eyesight is not good, would mistake them for cannons and flee. Such notions, if you do not understand their psychological symbolism, sound superstitious, but my definition of superstitious is: what you yourself do not happen to believe.” (24). China
- “We live in two kinds of time or perspective simultaneously. The horizontal and the vertical are at once quite distinct and entirely overlapping, and to experience their incongruity and confluence is what it means to be human.” (41).
- “The curtain is now rising, he [Gerald Heard] argued, on a new era of evolutionary consciousness. In the post individualistic era, science and spirituality will become allies, and human beings will realize a vast potentiality now only dimly felt. A new way of understanding and living will begin.” (44).
- “I had not come to admire the cherry trees in springtime or be served sake by geishas. With satori in mind, I had gone to
to meet that stranger, my own mind.” (127). Japan
- “William Blake said that each person must free himself from prison – the prison of being a limited, corporeal, dying self. Primal religions, entheogens, and an enhanced sense of reality are each keys for unlocking the prison door.” (157).
- “He said to me, ‘We are going into the longhouse, but you cannot. Huston, we know you’re on our side, but an outsider’s presence would profane it.’ Instead of feeling insulted, I was elated. Hooray! – there are still truths too precious to broadcast to just any and everyone.” (158).
- “Ancient wisdom and postmodern science make unlikely bedfellows, and yet they often say, in quite different dialects, similar things.” (163).
- On taking LSD with Timothy Leary: “I watched the clear, unbroken light as it fractured and condensed into things around me. I nearly laughed aloud: if the ancient Indian rishis and mystical philosophers like Plotinus had had experiences like mine – and probably they had – they were not speculative geniuses; they were hack reporters.” (173).
- “Supposedly no person can look directly into the face of God and live.” (174).
- “The Sufis say there are three ways to know fire – by hearing it described, by seeing it, or by being burned... But one must not be consumed but bring the fire – or whatever name we give our experience of ultimate reality – back home, to warm our hands and live by.” (174).
- “As Ram Dass told me, ‘After you get the message, hang up.’” (175).
Let me know if you like them, hate them or think I"m nuts.
(Yes, I know I am, thank you very much!)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I mean it. GACK! Besides, I wasn't even doing it right anyway. You are supposed to get crackin' on a brand new work and instead I was trying to finish or rewrite the ones I already had.
In addition, I just realized I haven't done a review on this site since July. JULY? Yikes. But I have read since then. Maybe I better get caught up.
So, to heck with NaNoWriMo. Onward ho!
*hops plane to Juneau, Alaska and drinks tequila gimlets in the bar with Tony*
A mushy Sunday poem!
Today the sun came out
After a long hiatus
Leaving blue eyes and cheeks in its wake
Spreading light to areas too long steeped in darkness
Causing rumbles of earth underfoot
And quickening of the heart
Like a galloping horse
Today the sun came out
Trailing kisses down my spine
I felt its warm touch promise re-union
And avow a completion that’s only natural
Truth be told
Then I watched it travel away
And missed its presence
But I bear the mark of its essence on my heart
Friday, November 20, 2009
Well, no fiction anyways. I spent all day yesterday standing in the rain taking photos of a crane! Last night I finished watching this film:
And I'm afraid that I can't recommend it. It's very, well, melodramatic, especially the final fight scene. Very, um, emotional. Makes my toenails curl.
Tonight I watched this:
Being a long-time Trekkie, I have to tell you that the first 28 minutes of this film just left me smirking and giggling. And through the rest of it I repeatedly snarked, "nuh uh!" or "no way!" or "not possible!" You know how it is. Being unable to suspend belief that a black hole opens that close to you and there's no issue with it. And the steamy stuff between Spock and Uhura - well, unlike many who reviewed it or Tweeted about it, I just didn't find it hot. Definitely un-sexy. Why? Well, maybe it's cause a pimply faced Spock just doesn't do it for me.
Or maybe the whole movie was so unbelievable it just made me laugh!
Whew. Gonna have to go back to watching Deadliest Catch Season 1 or Connections with James Burke.
Although to tell you the truth, I am about crab fished out after making it through Season 1, disc 1. Gack!
I hate to admit it, but melon-head there fascinates me more. But then, my first love was science and I like mad-scientist hair.
Did I happen to mention my hang-up on Wallace Shawn?
But then who couldn't love a man that played the Grand Nagus on DS9? I mean really.
Screw Kirk and 'lil Spock! I say, go for the melon heads!
More nonsense later,
Bratty / 011000100111001001100001011101000111010001111001
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Gods, I'm soooo distracted from writing these days. It used to be I could kick out a fair amount of words without thinking too much about them. These days, no. And I seem to have become good at finding other things to do!
Word count: 734
My NaNo is not gonna make it I don't think! Oh well!
There's always next month!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Word count: 924.
Bratty is not happy! Grrrrr....
CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED?
Instructor: Susan Meier
Dates: December 1 -15, 2009
Registration Opens: November 17, 2009
Registration Deadline: November 30, 2009
Fee: $15 Non-Chapter members. RWAOL Chapter #136 members; free.
Payment method: PAYPAL is recommended!
It’s safe and fast! Check and money orders also accepted.
NOTE: -Use your real First and Last Name & Choose Pay Option.
ONLY Chapter #136 members choose the Chapter Member option button.
For more information: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Can This Manuscript Be Saved? Rejected? Can’t get an agent? Can’t sell, even though your critique partners LOVE your work? Susan Meier reviews the seven most common rejection catch phrases and explains why you and even your critique partners can't spot them, then shows how determining whether your book's trouble is a story, scene or word problem is the first step on the road to recovery.
Following the assignments at the end of each lesson, attendees will learn how to "skim-read" their manuscripts quickly, marking specific problems with post-its. Susan also demonstrates how to use a storyboard, a list of twenty and a one-paragraph blurb to create a plan of attack for fixing your book's trouble.
Susan can't revise or rewrite your manuscript for you, but with her tricks you'll not only see how to revise the book of your heart; you'll also see how published authors are able to write four, five and even six books a year without breaking a sweat!
BIO: Susan Meier is the author of over 40 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, The Kindness of Strangers. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards, More than Magic contest, Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards.
Her latest book, THE MATIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS was a November, 2009 release for the Harlequin Romance Line. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases.
Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Plot Points, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article, “How To Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan has also given workshops on earthlycharms.com and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters.
Visit her online at http://www.susanmeier.com/.
FORMAT: Course is conducted via online discussion (bulletin) board on the RWA® Online website. Non-chapter members MUST complete both the workshop registration AND the discussion board login registration for access. Instructions for login are presented after the registration pages (or to return to the login instructions, go to http://www.rwaonline...istrationTY.htm . The workshop is available for up to one week after the end date and a downloadable archive of the workshop will be available the week following the workshop.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
In the last 24 hours I've gone from angels to vampires to a yoga teacher. But at least I'm racking up the wordcount!
Word count day 15: 2,488
Now to bed! To bed! Before the sun rises again and I've got to actually go to work! =P
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Newport Oregon. I think these are the same sea lions that were lazing about the last time I was there! Hey you! Why don't you get a real job! heh heh
Word count: I dunno. A few hundred maybe.
I wrote about a half an hour, then came home and studied, flowcharted, and examined GMC's and structure. It seems I'm always re-reading this advice on Writing the Perfect Scene by Randy Ingermanson. Good stuff, really. Not always applicable to romance type stuff 100% of the time, I don't think, or there'd be no HEA. But definitely applicable to adding tension to every page, ala Donald Maass.
BTW don't miss these upcoming events:
Nov. 17th - the Leonids are here!
Nov. 17th - Rocky Reach Dam is featured on Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel.
Nov. 17th - the new Star Trek movie is released in stores
Nov. 18th - Business After Hours at Banner Bank
Nov. 19th - the Write on the River writer's get together at Caffe Mela
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
But you gotta cut me some slack here. I was at WOW! and that cut into my writing time tonight. What's WOW? You would ask! It's a women's social networking group. We all get together and well....gab and drink and eat! And usually have a lot of fun. Since I was in charge tonight I couldn't exactly opt out....
Now I gotta sleep. Me's tired. More later.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
And here's a sample....sorry, it's not a sexy scene!
Black and grey and all shades of smoke in between clogged the dance floor, shutting off all but the brightest of the laser lights that continued to swirl about it in their preprogrammed senseless patterns. All else was fog and smoke. And silence.
And then the pitiful screams started.
As he peeled himself off the ramp Aaron didn’t stop to consider whether or not he could cry a real tear as he really didn’t give a good God damn right that second. And his concern wasn’t on what was behind the door. His eyes stung with sorrow and his throat lumped into a ball of coal as his mind resounded with only one word: Milena.
Despite the pain of bones having collided with wrought iron railing and cement floor, he righted himself and hauled ass over the edge. He landed hard. Too hard. Where there should have been a floor there was none. He’d fallen through to the basement level, landing flat on his back on the old concrete block foundation. His head beat him up with pain as he cracked open both eyes, but it was too dark to see much.
At the same time alarms pealed, and his ears ached from the ringing. It was useless to lift both hands to cover his ears but he did anyway as he struggled upright. Half his body must have been broken, or at least felt like it. It felt like it had died a second time, or moved on to another plane of existence and not given him the proper thirty days notice. He stumbled upright for the second time that night and paused. A form came towards him in the dim light. A dark, bent, contorted form that exuded anger and hatred and blind obsession.
Monday, November 9, 2009
And paying to get my car fixed!
Sigh...maybe tomorrow I will get my 5k!
And now, here's something we hope you'll really like: an Earthship!
Some day I will have one of those!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Does it really matter? At least I'm writing! :)
And I am capable of over 5k per day, I already know that. So if I did 5k per day all week this week - that's 5,000 x 7 = 35,000! And I'd own NaNo's arse! Wah ha ha ha ha ha! (evil laugh)
Day Eight total:4,012
NaNo, eat my shorts! :)
And to celebrate, and just 'cause I was wishing I was in Newport, Oregon today, here is a shot of the Newport Aquarium for ya:
Saturday, November 7, 2009
See what I mean?
I don't think she's gonna want a cuppa coffee. Nope. This muse is comin' for words, and it's words I better give her.
So, back to finishing the Vampire Romance novel before she beats the crap outta me....
Day 7 word count: around 1,300
P.S. I recently watched King Arthur. Guess who was in it? No, it wasn't Wallace Shawn, though he will always be a favorite, but another actor that I think feeds my muse - well, me anyway, the mood my muse is in she'd eat him for lunch! - quite well: Mads Mikkelson. I first saw him in Casino Royale and I remember thinking he'd make quite a decent Hitler. Isn't that true? I mean, just look at him:
Quite different from what he looked like in King Arthur as Tristan (the one with the pet hawk):
Finally, here's a regular shot of him. See what you think.
Why is it that when I was younger I preferred the tall dark and English tubercular look (ala Richard E Grant, etc.) and now that I'm older I'm leaning towards the Norwegians? Hmm....could it be my Swedish coming out?
Hey, who let ABBA in here anyway? Sheesh! They are soooo junior high!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I can feel the muse stirring however. It's saying to me: kill the lovely scenes. Delete them. Start over. Write the story as though it has a GD plot and you are working it and pushing to the edge.
Perhaps I will do that Thursday, Friday or Saturday. But not tonight.
Zzzzz. I am pooped!
P.S. Seriously? Bratty and Bluhm Real Estate?? You mean that such a thing actually exists?
P.S. And there's really a Chinese/Korean show called My Bratty Princess? Wow! Who knew?
And I just thought I'd throw this in the mix although it is not bratty related:
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Dear Bratty Friends,
On NaNo day #2 I didn't write a dang thing. I downloaded a writing program called Dramatica and worked on plotting/characterization/etc. That took till 8:00 or so, after which my brain was dull so I went to bed and took a nap!
On NaNo day #3 I again didn't write a dang thing fiction-wise. (I did turn in a news article today however! Check it out! On the third of the month even!) Heck and by golly. Not that I haven't been turning the story over in my mind, 'cause I have. I guess I'm just waiting for the Goddess of brutal re-writing to bite me in the face so I can get down to it. If I keep this up, by the weekend I'll be 10,000 words in the hole! Yay!
If you don't know this about me already, I work well under pressure. In fact, I thrive on it when I've got a mind to.
Challenge is good for bringing out my tenacity. And I like the tenacious part of myself. It means success to me. Success in all my endeavors. And that includes reaching Nirvana.
Do lazy people really ever reach Nirvana? I sure hope so!
'Cause I could certainly think of things I'd like to do more than meditate.