Monday, October 26, 2009

Kreativ Blogger award!

Wow! On Saturday Miriam over at Dancing With Dragons Is Hard On Your Shoes won a Kreativ Blogger award AND SHE PASSED IT ON TO ME! That's right! My blog! Won an award! And as you can tell, I'm really excited about it. (giggles, blushes)

I would have done something about it on Saturday except that I have been stricken by some sort of respiratory crap--no, not the Heiney Flu (get it? h1n1=hini=heiney? which is funny?), because I'm pretty sure I've had it, and because I don't have a fever, just exhaustion and lots of snot.

Wow. I think I need to lay off the cold meds. Anyway, without further ado, the Kreative Blogger award:

The directions to this award are as follows...Recipients-You are charged with completing certain guidelines once receiving this award.

  1. Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog.
  2. Thank the person that gave it to you and link to their blog. (Thank you Miriam!!!)
  3. Write 7 things about yourself we don't know.
  4. Choose 7 other bloggers you would like to pass the award to.
  5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
  6. Notify your 7 bloggers.
So here are 7 things you don't know about me: I have never learned to drive; I earned a blue belt in karate when I was 12; I once corrected my high school history teacher in class (hey, I read a lot of historical romance novels. Of course I knew Geoffrey was John and Richard's *illegitimate* brother!); I cried at the end of "Revenge of the Sith"; I was once a legal secretary; I can throw pizza dough (because I once worked as a pizza cook); I had my first gray hair at age 12 (I don't think it was linked to the blue belt).

Here the other meritorious bloggers! Now, because I'm sick, I'm giving myself a little lee-way. While I do read quite a few blogs, many have already won this award. Errgggh. So I'm going to pare down the list a bit. Hey, I'm sick!
1. Erin over at Snarke. She's the lady who introduced me to blogging, and she is awesomely funny.
2. Kristina at the Ten Minute Missive. She's a mama blogger, and she's my sister. She got all the funny genes, too.
3. Jacki at JackiKane's Blog. The lady who reinvented what it meant to be funny in Portland.
4. Elspeth at It's A Mystery. She always spins my mind in new, thoughtful directions.
5. Heather at Writings Of Randomness. She's new to blogging and could use some encouragement--plus, she's another zombie fan.
6. Lance, over at The Adventures of Writing Dad. He's a dad! He's a horror writer! He's funny!

Get out there and read some blogs, gang!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Murder By the Book

If you've never been to Murder by the Book, a mystery-focused bookstore at 3210 SE Hawthorne Blvd, here in Portland, you are missing out. It's not large, but the space is cozily (and cunningly) divided into themed nooks devoted to different categories of books. Like classic police investigations? They've got a nook for it. High-tech forensics and medical science? Yep. Fantasy or paranormal specialists? Sure thing. There's even a kids' section for your little Encyclopedia Brown. They also have a small section of horror/thriller and even foreign language mysteries. Wow!

I went to Murder by the Book today because one of my favorite Twitter/blogging buddies, LJ Sellers, was visiting to promote her latest book. I haven't read LJ's novels yet (although I've had her first book on hold at the library for about 4 weeks ... somebody PLEASE return that book!), but I picked them both up for some light reading. I also got a new anthology about zombie animals to review, and one of Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mysteries. I almost never buy books, so I'm feeling euphoric from the shopping rush.

Now that I know I can get books in my own genres (fantasy, horror), I expect I will be stopping by Murder By The Book a lot more frequently. It's close to my house and the people who work there are incredibly nice. I can't recommend it enough!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nanowrimo Prep!

Just a quick pre-Nanowrimo tip: once you get started writing in November, all those beautiful threads and ideas are going to knot up into a jumbly mess. It's fun and dandy during the caffeine-crazed 30 days of November, but come December, it looks a little overwhelming. My last two Nanos are still lurking in a drawer, suffering from too much confusion.

This year is going to be different. This year, darn it, I'm starting with a structure.

I've never really been an outliner, but this year I'm following a design program espoused by screenwriters; I read a lot of sceenwriting books this summer and decided the structuring tools they discussed might serve me well. And then one of my favorite bloggers (and another awesome horror author!), Alexandra Sokoloff, decided to run a month-long blog workshop on building story structure. Hooray! Needless to say, I've been directing every writer-type I know to her blog, The Dark Salon.

Anyway, I'm off to do some editing and create some index cards. And maybe some housecleaning, since my adorable baby (you know, 22-year-old) brother is coming to visit today!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Rant!

People who "don't celebrate Halloween" freak me out. In my universe, that's like saying "I don't celebrate Friday," or "I don't believe in gravity." Halloween happens, man. You don't get to choose whether or not there is a Halloween. The sky becomes dark. Crows grow their winter feathers, fresh and black, a color beyond the limits of our visual experience. Cold seeps into our bones. You don't have to dress up or carve a pumpkin--all of that dark, cold stuff is going to happen to you whether you like it or not. That dark, cold stuff is what Halloween is.

To deny Halloween is like denying winter and death and darkness. You can deny it as much as you like, but you will still be cold, winter will still kill your garden, the sun will set and you will die. Nothing can change that.

You don't have to party on Halloween, although it is a basic human instinct to make merry in the face of hardship, and to reject that instinct is often indicative of a sprained sense of fun. Many people keep the season in a somber, respectful tone. I suppose that's not truly celebrating Halloween. But it is honoring the day. It is surviving it. It is reflecting on the meaning of the moment.

Halloween is a time to look into the darkness of the world around us and take its measure. It is a time to think about fear, to embrace it, to make a joke of it. Halloween is a time to reach out to death and walk in its footsteps. To do these things enrichens our human perspective; doing them validates our choices that bring good into the world and strengthen our appreciation of the bright and the beautiful. We are lucky our culture has created a special day just for those activities. We are lucky that all around us, our fellow Americans are partaking in them, turning their gaze into the dim night and facing it readily.

On Halloween, the shapes in the darkness are just children with an appetite for sweets. Some of the costumes are scary. Some are cute. But if you don't look, you'll miss out on the good ones.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts from a reformed procrastinator

So far the week has been awesomely productive. I've gotten all caught up with the Horror-Web work I meant to do last Friday. I sent a story out on a submission. I worked on the museum's Halloween e-card. Yeah, actually ... looking pretty good. I just need to pull ahead on the edit a little more and start next week's article about the Paris catacombs. Wow. I'm planning ahead!

It's hard to believe that I have become the kind of person who gets work done in advance. It wasn't that long ago that I was a world-class procrastinator. I was such a procrastinator that the night before my senior thesis was due, I not only hadn't finished, but I wasn't even half-way through. And then I went and saw the midnight opening of The Phantom Menace before getting down to work.

It helps that nowadays, I choose my work. Those articles, short stories and novels aren't assigned by some dictatorial professor--I decided to do them. If I don't do them, it's not something nebulous like a grade on the line, either. It's my professional and friendly relationship with my editor on the line when I don't come through with those book reviews. It's my whole future career if I never finish this book.

Of course, it also helps that I am a grown-up. I'm a parent. If there's something you learn as a working mother, it's how to multi-task and prioritize. It's pretty easy to organize the fun stuff, like writing, after taking care of the cumbersome duties of clean tights and enough snacks to make it through school and dance class.

Oh! And Headshot Heather: I'm so glad you like the t-shirt. It is on Cafe Press for the consumption of the masses. Shop it up, baby!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday already?

Friday is usually my big day to catch up on writing and my internet work, but today didn't go as planned. I spent *3* hours trying to get to my sister's house (who lives about 12 miles from my own home). I spent 2 hours updating my webpage to include the new t-shirt design ... not to mention the untold amount of time actually getting the shirt set up. I don't even want to go into the details of how a basic business card order can turn into designing t-shirts. Suffice to say that when it comes to procrastination, no task is too large or too ridiculous to keep me from putting off editing my novel!

That's right, I did not get a word edited since Monday. I actually feel like a giant loser. But now I'm a loser who can wear her own self-designed t-shirt to Orycon!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Blog recommendation

On top of being a writing, zombie-hating (loving? It's a complicated relationship!) nerd, I am also a total animal geek. Today I was introduced to a touching blog called Your Black Cat. The page is devoted to black cats--who happen to be the least-adopted pet in US animal shelters. If it wasn't for my darn landlord, I'd rush out and adopt 2 or 3! I love anything with hard-luck story.

Also, the writer of Your Black Cat is going to have a story published in the same upcoming "2012 AD" anthology as me! Now I can't wait for December to read hers.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bwah-hah-ha, writer's block!!

The last week was not a very productive one at Chez Winnie. I had the gloomies and a cold, and every time I sat down at the computer I stared at my WIP and just pushed the keys dejectedly. Then I would go downstairs and whimper to Sweetie-Pie: "I can't do anything. I'm just too stupid to write." Then I would blubber a little.

Well, this week could not continue in such a vein, so I decided to take an advanced psychologically sneaktastic trick to get me started again. (It's the kind of thing you come up with when you parent a 6-year-old. You get good at psychological warfare.) I told myself Monday night that I could only write for 15 minutes. Not that I only had to write for 15 minutes. That I was only allowed to write that long. And then I made myself stop. I did it again the next day, too, even though by that time my brain was roiling with great ideas and I was very ready to plunge into the editing work. Then last night I allowed myself free reign. I slashed, and revised, and worked up a new scene. I felt like a champ. As if I was sneaking cookies from the cookie jar without my mama noticing.

Tonight I've got a long list of projects to catch up on. And I'm hopped up on caffeine and raring to go. Now that I'm allowed to write, I'm going to enjoy every second of it.