Sunday, August 31, 2008

His Pillow

His pillow, rumpled beside me
I breathe in his cologne
Wishing he didn't have to
Work so early
My pent up energy
Waking within
Musk, sweat, the

Scent of last night
His head impression dimpled
In the fluffy cotton
I reach for my teddy
Barely absent, the bed still warm
The next long, eight hours...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lions, Tigers, Revision, Oh My!

Over Labor Day weekend, I'm attempting to focus my energy on the act of revision. In speaking with another writer friend, perhaps the creative edge to rip apart a chapter or two and then reconstruct will emerge within me. Perhaps I'll disable my Internet for a few hours or go to a place without wireless to click clack on my keyboard for a few hours. Maybe I should lock myself out of solitaire and minesweeper as well. I don't know how to prohibit my machine from these games, but there has got to be a way!

The creative juices are flowing again. I was helping with a critique for someone else earlier in the morning. Some of the comments that I wrote on the other writer's story caused me to pause and think about some of the details within my own work. Creativity begets more creativity and revision hopefully will beget more revision!

Having; In This Millennium by Jennifer Bluekissed

a mortgage, car to drive, designer clothes
payments; a ball and chain to compete
with the Joneses
glittering jewelry and the latest gadgets
All charged on credit cards
freedom to have things
and working long days of servitude for
Plastic dreams of gold.

My husband, whom I adore. Daily exclamations
he receives from me, “I’m so glad
I get the keep you!” He, in
turn, depending on his mood, replies, “Me
Too!” or “I’m so glad I have to
keep you!” The distinct mischief in
his eyes during the reply.
My life mate. I won’t let go.

the distinguished college degree
and the mountains upon mountains of molehills of debt
all following me like my invisible friend’s shadow
always behind me and attached to my heel. It is
the bondage of seeking work that pays
at least enough…more than mere survival in
this cell phone, potato chip, easy credit world. I’m
thirsting to do more with my life than
answer the phone
my employment; the call center; scribbling poetry.

Health insurance, as privilege, of a few
that which is no longer a right, to find
the cause of a cough.
contractors, consultants, freelancers, part-timers
and so many others. Their last prayer at night,
“Please keep my family healthy.” An emergency appendectomy
would kill us financially.
Nevermind cancer. This malignancy so grotesque,
even the insured can’t pay for treatment after a
year, but it touches us all. We all know someone inflicted.

pesticide dripping vegetables and antibiotic cows,
cloned beef so like real meat, there’s no need for
labels. Factories so prosperous there are jobs to
go around. At least in China I hear there are jobs. Where
Communist laws govern the air, water, and wages.
Back home, the service sector provides six
dollar an hour jobs to all the seekers
Before taxes.

family hugs, story-time, moments for a nap
fortune on my side. The luck of my birth in
this country where food awaits on my table.
No government thugs extort my free thought
and my water is still crystal clear clean,
fluoride enhanced, and drinkable.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Silly Mood Today

I'm in a silly mood today. This is the story I wrote just to be goofy. I had no other reason than to chuckle a bit.

Mr. Caveman hunted a mammoth and brought home lots of meat for his family. Mrs. Cavewoman diligently prepared mammoth stew for supper that evening. Mr. Caveman loved the stew, but complained that he needed something with which to eat the feast. He wasn't very suave about how he said this. What he meant was, "I wish somebody would invent a spoon and fork so that we could partake of your wonderful feast, honey." What he actually said was, "Why'd you make that for supper?"

After sleeping on the rock-couch that night, Mr. Caveman decided to keep a journal so that he could learn from his mistakes with his wife. His advice to himself was very limited, however, because he didn't yet have many tools. Number two on his list of things to pass on to his son was, "Don't tell your wife you're keeping a journal of things not to say to her. She'll think you need to invent paper because these stone tablets won't hold all of the things there are to learn about women."

Mr. Caveman was eaten by the brother of the mammoth that he killed for supper the previous night.

Many centuries later, archaeologists discover the oldest writing on record. They think it is some sort of picture writing. The only part of the drawing they are able to decipher is a man sleeping on a rock by himself. "Man began as a very antisocial being," one young grad student named Charlie deciphered.

Charlie, being an overly ambitious grad student, decided to bring the picture writing home to further study it. He placed the slab of rock on the kitchen table before he entered his bedroom to change out of his luxurious grad school clothes. Meanwhile, his wife came home and saw the slab of rock on the table. She yelled to her husband through a few walls, "You better not expect me to cook mammoth stew for dinner tonight, Charlie."

What Charlie heard through the walls was, "You better expect me to give you mammoth nookie tonight, Charlie."

Charlie came dashing through the living room with his pants around his ankles, eager to make sure he heard correctly. When he saw his wife's hands on her hips, he realized he must have misunderstood. The saddened man said to his wife, "What are we having for dinner tonight, honey?"

She replied, "I don't know. What do YOU plan on cooking?"

Charlie thought for a moment before saying, "Well, I wasn't planning on cooking anything. Isn't that your job?"

As Charlie slept on the sofa that evening, the meaning of the cave drawing suddenly occurred to him.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Revision from Killer Nashville

While I attended Killer Nashville, one of the professional writers there critiqued the first ten pages of my manuscript. She was really nice about it, but basically said that I have a lot to learn. Since the conference, I have looked at those ten pages and realized that she was very correct. So, my story has been ripped apart in an attempt to revamp it.

Fighting with my ego to take the constructive criticism was a little difficult. I went in to the conference thinking that those pages were very polished. It was nice, though, for me to have someone else look at the pages with fresh eyes. After I've been staring at the ink on paper for months on end, I've found that it's difficult for me to be objective about what I've written.

Now, my scene is entirely different. Hopefully, my rewrite has made it better. Now, I just need to do the same for the remaining twenty some chapters! I'm fighting the urge to start writing the rough draft of the other book I have in my head and continue on the rough draft of the other a third book I was writing before I found out about the upcoming Killer Nashville conference. Writing something from scratch is much, much easier than revision. So far, I'm winning the battle against those urges. Hopefully, I will continue to win that battle rather than shelving this manuscript again.

Ever since I started back up at my day job, I've also discovered that I am more productive with my writing time when I'm working. Having ALL day to stare at the computer screen in my office prompted lots of time for solitaire,, and other random time consumers. Now, when I can only devote an hour or two per day to writing, I actually write. What a concept!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Killer Nashville Arson

Some of the most valuable things I learned from the arson presentation was the pattern a fire creates. One of the things that the TBI gentleman said was that many times people think that if they start a fire that all of the evidence of a crime will be destroyed. He said many times that there is always evidence. The fire never ruins the crime. There will always be something left. Also mentioned were that if someone is in his/her bed and there is something like lighter fluid or gasoline involved, many times the arson is motivated by love/sex/marriage relationships.

I see many, many possible plot twists that could be used from this new piece of information. One other thing that was mentioned was that it is not illegal to burn down one's own home in the state of Tennessee as long as no third party is involved in the aftermath of the fire. So, if there are no mortgage consequences, deaths, insurance involvement etc., someone is free to burn his or her house down in this state.

Also, apparently, it is not illegal to burn your own meth lab down as long as there is no third party involvement in the aftermath/consequences of the fire!

There are all plot twists I hadn't considered. Now I'm wondering if those same two things are legal in Iowa. How do I go about finding the answer to this question. Any time I try to research such things, people think I'm out to get somebody. Fiction can be more fun than reality. In the case of fire, that is my opinion.

The day after I attended the arson presentation, there was a local news story in the Nashville area in which a lady had a house fire. She had sprayed some bug spray on an insect on her wall. The bug was near an electrical outlet, causing a fire. Of all the things! I think if I were to put something like that in fiction, it wouldn't be believable. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Killer Nashville, Explosives

One of the first sessions I attended during Killer Nashville covered the basics of explosives. My humbling began in earnest. I thought I had a basic understanding of how explosives work, but I entertained many misconceptions for years. It had never occurred to me that pressure is what causes a lot of the damage from explosives. The pressure alone, specifically positive pressure, can stop a beating heart and bend signs that are miles away from the blast. I had always assumed that most damage from explosives results from flying debris.

We saw footage from different sizes and types of blasts during the session as well. I jumped more than once during the presentation! The folks from TBI that deal with explosives sure are knowledgeable! I have a new level of respect for those who put themselves in harm's way to protect the public.

So many new ideas popped into my head for things I could put into a story at some point. As a private citizen, explosives are scary. As an author, explosives hold a lot of potential. Seeing the world through the eyes of a writer is a hoot! Which reminds me of a conversation I recently had with a relative.

I asked several people I know to ask their physician's how much of a certain household item it would take to kill someone if force fed. I got the same reaction over and over again. "I can't ask Dr. So and So that! He'll think I want to kill myself or someone else!" That line of research doesn't work to well right now! Oh well. There's always the Internet and MY doctor to ask.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Killer Nashville High

Before I write about individual workshops I attended and the wealth of knowledge I learned at the conference, I want to devote this blog post to my overall impressions of the conference. Would I recommend an aspiring writer attend a writing conference, even if he or she doesn't have a polished manuscript? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Did I say yes yet? Yes.

Before attending, I was incredibly nervous. Would I be able to meet people? Would I be way out of my league? Would I feel like an utter fool for sitting in the same room with other people who have actually achieved the written word in published format from New York Publishing Houses? My stomach was in knots the entire night before.

I was embraced by fellow writers. I saw a plethora of personalities. I witnessed incredible presentations. Most importantly, I felt affirmed that writing is a process. A journey, not an inaccessible mountain. Was I bored, even for a moment? No. Between the speakers, networking, having some books signed, and the panels, I was utterly engaged.

Damn! Tomorrow I have to reenter the world of non-writers again and start a new 40 hour per week job day job. It's a good thing they can't drug test for this type of high.

What is your best conference experience?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Killer Nashville Days One and Two

Killer Nashville has been amazing so far! There are so many things I have learned that I don't know where to start. All of the speakers so far have been incredible. I'll probably write separate blog posts for several days with one per workshop because the information has been fantastic and the speakers so charismatic. My biggest high so far in the conference was my pitch session. One of the people I pitched to said her publishing house didn't take erotica, but that my plot sounds like something she would buy as a reader!

Also, I have learned that I have some drastic rewriting to do, which I expected on at least some level. There is definitely a big learning curve in my case. I have felt like such a newbie all weekend, but I'm okay with that.

Networking is also very interesting. I would consider myself shy by nature, as I suspect many writers are. Everyone I've met so far has been very supportive and told me that attending conferences is a great tool to learn about the profession.

I've also gained a lot of respect for TBI and law enforcement in general. Wow! I'll write more after the conference is over with specifics.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Organization before Killer Nashville

Tomorrow is the first day of the Killer Nashville writing conference. I find myself needing to get organized and make some decisions! So, I'm compiling a list of things that I think need to be accomplished before tomorrow. Hopefully, I'm not overlooking anything important!

  • Figure out what I'm going to wear the next few days. How formal should my dress be?
  • Revise my synopsis and make copies of it.
  • Decide whether I want to lug my entire manuscript with me throughout the conference. Perhaps I'll keep a copy in the car in case I need it.
  • Write my one page and one line.
  • Decide exactly what I'll say during my two pitch sessions.
  • Print out the schedule of events with meeting room assignments.
  • Charge my cell phone!
  • Decide whether I want to take my laptop or a notepad for taking notes during the workshops. Darn! Where's that extra laptop battery when I need it? Oh yeah, I decided not to buy one!
  • Make sure I have extra pens, preferably ones that work!
  • Pack some extra tissues, cough drops, and other random things!
  • Mapquest the hotel in Franklin where the conference is being held.

I'm sure there are other things that I need to do before arriving at the hotel tomorrow. Right now, I'm trying to harness my excitement in having the opportunity to attend. All of my nervous energy in anticipation of of the pitches and critique is starting to cause worry about whether I'll sleep well tonight. Probably not! I've been reading different blogs regarding conference prep information on networking, pitches, etc. I can't wait to experience it all for the first time!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ideas for Novels

I often wonder how other writers find ideas to write their novels. When does the idea for a novel or character form for many writers? I've read that for some people, a lot of plotting and research happenes before any prose is written. For others, perhaps mad brainstorming sessions occur.

For me, the ideas almost always keep me awake at night. Usually, the next day something really important is going to take place. A good night's sleep is essential to whatever I will be doing the next day. The idea eats at me for hours while I try to sleep. I fight off the urge to rise out of bed to write the my ideas. I'm always afraid that if I walk up the stairs to me office from my bedroom, that the hope of falling back asleep will be futile after tackling the stairs.

Last night was one such night. I lay down at nine thirty, right at women's gymnastics in was to begin on TV for the Olympics. By twelve thirty, I fell victim to my ideas knocking on my imagination's door. So, I finally wrote down the entire plot to novel. There were no subplots, but the basic plot is now sitting in my email box for later use. I'm sure the idea will change and morph before I actually write that story, but for now I have an idea!

If you are a writer or other artistic type, how do you create? Do you set aside creative time on a regular basis for your craft? Are you simply struck with an idea at random times? I would love to hear how creativity affects you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Killer Nashville Prep

Killer Nashville begins on Friday and I find myself excited. Finally, I live in a city big enough to host a writer's conference! I just moved to the Nashville area from Iowa. Now, every time I introduce myself as a writer, people ask if I went to the Iowa Writer's Workshop. It's sure a bummer that I haven't had the opportunity to do that yet. Perhaps one day I'll return to the Iowa City area and do the workshop.

The synopsis of Her Almost Ex-Husband: An Erotic Tale of Murder is working into shape. I also can't wait to meet other writers at the conference and mingle.

Everything worked out well with my job. I don't begin my continued insurance research at my new job in the Nashville area until after the conference begins. Murder and insurance are so fascinating!