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Showing posts from October, 2013

Free Skate

I've had a lot of random musings over the month, which I'll document here, so bear with me.

I signed up for Twitter this month. I put a little Twitter thingy over there on the left. I'm under @JAEllis6. Follow me if you dare.

I decided that I'm going to publish as J. A. Ellis, once I stop talking about publishing and actually get around to doing it.

I decided this month that I wanted to write a western. I don't think I've ever actually read a western in my life, and I can count the number of western movies I've seen on one hand, if Blazing Saddles counts as a western, and more than 1 and fewer than 10 episodes of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman count as a movie. Is there a formula to it, like romance and mysteries, or does it just have to take place west of the Mississippi?

I found out this month that in some parts of England cats are called moggies. This is the most squee-tastic thing I've ever learned.

One of the most awesomest things I've seen on YouTube:
I've watched it 10 times already
 
And just in case you had any productivity left, Procatinator will help you get rid of that.
 


Sunday (-ish) Short

I met Death on the road today.

There was no confusion as to his true nature. At once an old man, and a young one, tall and short, fat and thin, none of it covered the skull that shown from beneath his hood.

He pointed with a long, thin/short, stubby/bony finger down the road I was traveling and asked me if that was the path I had chosen.

I nodded.

He asked me if I knew what awaited me there.

I shook my head no, though I had an idea of lay at the end of the road.

He gazed at me through his empty, black eye sockets - the only part he made no attempt to disguise - and seemed to ponder.

The wind blew and rattled the bare branches that curved over us like the roof of a great cathedral. There was a chill in the that wind, much colder than the ambient air temperature, and on the breeze, there was the scent of rot and decay.

Death asked me if I desired company on my journey.

It was my turn to ponder. Everywhere I went so too did Death. He had been following me for quite some time; I thought it best not to let him get ahead of me.

I shrugged, letting that be my answer. Death offered his hand, to shake on the deal. I looked at that pale appendage, and turned away. He couldn't touch me on his own accord. I had to initiate contact, and that wasn't going to happen. At least not anytime soon.

I continued on, Death fell in beside me. We walked together, Death and I. The next village was just around the bend.

Team Discovery!

I don’t like the terms Pantser and Plotter. Pantser sounds like someone who runs around yanking people’s trousers down, and Plotter just sounds like someone who’s up to no good.
 
Artist's conception of a Plotter
This comes up because NaNoWriMo is around the corner, and a lot of people are going gaga for outlines right now.

(I'm not participating in NaNo. I'm using the time to work on my Camp NaNo MS that I thought was a piece of junk until I started reading it the other night. Amazing what a couple of months rest can do for a WIP.)

I was watching this series of lectures by Brandon Sanderson (h/t to Brandon Axe for the links), and in one of the lectures Mr. Sanderson tackles the ever present question of Pantser - v - Plotter. He gave some alternative terms to use: Gardner/Discovery writers, and Architect/Outline writers.
 
But Gardner is a misnomer. It gives the idea that gardening is some sort of willy-nilly, throw some seeds on the ground and watch it grow type of process. Gardening is so much more than that (says the woman who either over-waters or under-waters every plant she has ever had). Gardening has a lot more in common with architecture than not.
 
Now Discovery. That’s a great way of describing it. Sitting down with the idea that you’re going to write, and then discovering the story as you go along. That’s how it feels to me. So going forward, I will no longer describe myself as a Pantser. I am a Discovery writer.
 For you Plotter/Architect/Outliners, you'll just have to find your own cool name. Although I guess Architect is a pretty good name.

Inspiration Monday: Seasons

I love the change of seasons. My favorite times of the year are Fall and Winter. There’s something about those seasons that get me all giddy and writerly.
 
I live in Kentucky, just far enough north to get snow in the winter, but far enough south for people to freak out about it. To say the least, winter around here is just dull and gray with a day or two of snow (it’s the Snowpocalypse if there’s more than an inch). We do have a fall, and the leaves do change colors, but they’re not as bright and spectacular as the gold and scarlet foliage that I used to see in Michigan.
 
I found this picture a couple of weeks ago while Googling around for autumn foliage, and it immediately struck me:
 
 
First the colors got my attention, and then the arch. I wondered what was a freestanding stone arch doing in the middle of the woods? (It may not actually be the middle of the woods. I don’t have any point of reference for this, it might just be someone’s back yard)
 
I read somewhere recently that in the Northeast, particularly in New England, there are areas that used to be farmland, but after Industrialization the farms were abandoned, and the forests moved in to reclaim the land. You can walk through the woods and come across sections of old stone walls that used to mark the boundaries between fields. Is this what remains of an old house, or a barn? Or, (being me) is there something more magical at work here?
 
What do you think?
 
Every time I go looking for pictures of snow this picture comes up:
 
It always seems to me that the bench is waiting for someone to come and sit on it. Who will be the next person to rest there? Why would they choose to stop, brush the snow drifts away and sit, as the icy flakes drift down around them?

Book Review: NOS4A2

This month's review is for NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.


When someone asked me what this book was like, I said "It's like reading Stephen King without all the nonsense." That is the only comparison I will be making between King and Hill. (For those of you who may not know, Joe Hill is Stephen King's son.)

A really shortened blurb from Amazon:
Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding lost things. When she rides her bicycle over an old covered bridge near her home she always emerges in the places she needs to be.

Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his antique car. He and his young guests can slip out of the everyday world and into place he calls Christmasland.

One day Vic goes looking for trouble and finds her way to Charlie Manx. Now the only child to ever escape from Manx is all grown up, but Charles never stopped thinking about Vic. Now he's back on the road with a new passenger: Vic's own son

I was a little unsure about picking this one up. I had tried to read Heart Shaped Box a couple of years ago, and I just couldn't get into it. It might have just been me, but that one didn't seem to be very well put together.

But NOS4A2 blows Heart Shaped Box away. It's a great story, and the characters are wonderfully created. Vic McQueen is a flawed and sometimes unlikeable character, but still a character that I felt an affinity for. Her talent has broken her and she spends much of her adult life self-destructing, but once Charlie Manx kidnaps her son she goes full-on mama bear. It's great to read.

There's not a huge amount of gore, but plenty of unsettling images, and (to a parent) ideas. Horror that makes you think about your own life is so much worse than blood and dismembered body parts, so Joe Hill does a great job there.

My only real criticism is that it's a little long, but for the most part it's quick reading. So maybe it's not a real criticism. Usually with overlong books I find myself skimming sections, but I didn't do that here.

So 4 out of 5 kittens for this one.


IWSG: October

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Go here for full list of participants.

I cannot believe that it's October already. This year has just flown by me.

The other day I posted about my decision to turn to self publishing. I was all set to start querying, but something didn't seem right. I had my query all polished up, both a one and a two page synopsis ready, and a list of agents to harass (not harass, you know what I mean), and I had every intention of going for it. But in the end I decided that the traditional route isn't for me.

The main deterrent: People who know me think that I'm a patient person, but I'm really not. I have no problem taking the time to do something myself, but waiting for someone to do their thing before I can get back on the road? No. There's also the creative control. I don't want to have anyone, but me having final say in what stays and what goes.

That's not to say I won't get editing help. I really need to have a good copy edit done on my manuscript before I can move any further. I doubt I'll be anywhere near ready until after the new year.

I don't expect to get rich doing this. Money was not a deciding factor in my decision. I wouldn't expect to get rich on the traditional front either. All I really want is to put my writing out there for the wider world, and if I make enough money to recoup my costs, I'd be a happy camper.

So that's it really. No real insecurities today. I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about in the coming months as I stumble down this road.