Monday, November 29, 2010

Tell me a ghost story

I had a strange experience at work yesterday. I was sitting in the box office, facing my friend and chatting, when I felt someone lay their hand on the back of my head. I could just see a shadow from the corner of my eye, so I turned around to see who was touching me ... and no one was there. I immediately broke out in cold goosebumps.

Oddly, I've never thought the museum was a creepy place, even though many other co-workers (especially folks who've had to stay in the museum at night time) swear there's something eerie about the building. Some have seen strange men who vanished on 2nd glance; others have experienced strange noises or mysterious cold spots. To me, the place is just a mid-century building with an extensive building.

Although I've had a few paranormal-y experiences that I still haven't properly solved, I'm the first person to look for a scientific explanation for these things. Despite my fascination (okay, obsession) with all things creepy, ghoulish and undead, I have yet to be convinced that any of it is real.

And yet, I was immediately freaked out by this phantom touch, which could easily have been the result of some kind of pressure change. Maybe someone opened a door in the building and the resultant breeze ruffled my hair in a way I've never experienced.

I'd like to say that when it comes to ghosts, I'm a tabula rasa. I don't believe in them, but if anyone could come up with a convincing explanation for them, I would probably accept them. But to be honest, ghosts are my very favorite topic. I love reading about them. And writing about them. (Living with them, however, is another story. Eek!)

But what about you guys? Any experiences that might sway me either way? Or scientific tidbits that might help clarify my thoughts?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No-well, no-well...

Ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you something?

This year has been a year with a big word count--about a dozen new (completed) stories, 40+ story headers (brief introductions), a couple of author spotlights over at Lightspeed, novel revisions with my editor, and then a 1st draft & a re-write of a novel. With the exception of about four days off after I finished the first draft of Novel #4, I've been writing 6 or 7 days a week all year long.

But last week, I finished polishing Novel #4 and I just ran out of words. My word-well went completely dry. I thought I'd start work on my Secret Santa story and drew a blank. It was ... creepy.

I thought I'd push through the emptiness, but so far, I've had zero success. And the wisdom of the universe is encouraging a break. Friday, the wonderful Sandra Wickham posted a great post about recharging your batteries on our Inkpunks blog. And then yesterday, a trip to the SFWA page gave me a blog post from Jeff Vandermeer about the importance of rejuvenating the imagination. Is somebody trying to tell me something?

If so, it's not anything I like to hear. My imagination has always been my constant companion. Daydreaming and storytelling are my fall-back entertainments, the happiest moments of my day. And writing has become my stress-reducer, feel-alive, depression-fighting past-time/drug of choice.

Not writing creeps me out.

I had a hunch I needed a break after September's writing explosion. I felt worn out, the words tired and dry. But digging into the novel revision helped. There was so much great energy packed into the book that it just pulled me out of my funk. When I reached the end, I realized I'd burned through all my energy and then all my reserves. The pretty lights and colors in my mind had gone dark.

Now that I've accepted the fact I can't just stir up new ideas out of nothing, I'm kind of excited. I took a trip to the kids' section of the library, loading up on fairy tales and spooky stories. Brain food. I can't think of a better time to step away from the computer and get down to nibbling.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Secret Santa

My friends--the good folks over at the Inkpunks blog--are doing a really fun Secret Santa project this year. We all drew names (our organizing genius, Morgan Dempsey, drew for me since I wasn't at World Fantasy) and now we'll write stories for each other. We each created a story prompt so we get a story that is uniquely tailored to our interests.

This is a fun challenge. It's easy to blow off writing a story for a theme anthology when it's not a topic that you'd normally choose--it's impossible to blow off a Secret Santa request. I mean, how could I let one of my friends down? These aren't just ordinary nice people. They're people that will crochet you a scarf when they've met you once. And send you chocolates when they've never even laid eyes on you. And beta-read your query letters. These are the kind of friends you don't let down!

So even though the prompt I got is a pretty big stretch for me, I'm eager to get started on it. I'm not sure if I'll wind up with an awesome story. But if I don't, luckily, all my friends like chocolate. I can at least sweeten them up before they read the darn thing!

In slightly related news, it feels great to say I'm excited to write a new short story! The book is done! My brain is in full recovery mode! I'm beginning to feel like a human again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Touching bases

Oh yeah, I went to a con. And I just got a short story acceptance, but the details are too convoluted to share right now. And I've got, like, 7 pages left on this draft.


Still alive!

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Hunger Games, FTW

This weekend, after blitzing through the trilogy as fast as I could convince anyone to lend me the books, I finished Mockingjay. They're action-packed fun reads. For me, that makes them enjoyable lit-candy. But if I was a thirteen year-old girl today, these books would resonate in a powerful way.

You see, the protagonist of the series, Katniss, is under scrutiny almost all the time. In several sections of the books, she's being filmed and broadcast across her country, and she knows all too well that any wrong move will doom her death. For kids growing up in the Facebook-reality TV-instant messenger world we live in, they must really identify with this girl.

We're warned every day that what we post on our social networking sites can derail our abilities to find & keep a job. Google Buzz is being sued for privacy invasion. A college kid used Twitter to share videos of his roommate having sex--and the roommate posted his suicide note on Facebook before jumping off the George Washington bridge.

If you were a teenager hearing all of this, you'd be a little scared. For those of us who grew up in the 70s & 80s, TV is about entertainment. The Internet is a great way to find information and catch up with friends. But to us, they're still virtual. Their power is removed from us, kept an arm's length away by the security of the screen.

Today's kids see the Internet and the real world as extensions of each other. To them, the screen is perfectly permeable.

While I read The Hunger Games trilogy, I thought about how unfair it was that Katniss's actions in a ridiculous TV game show should be held against her, her family and her nation. When my daughter reads it, it will make perfect sense.

Isn't that terrifying?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Babes on wheels

The coolest thing that has come out of revising this novel is all the research I've done on regular life as a wheelchair user. I can't believe all the amazing stories I've read and wonderful online resources I've discovered!

My book is about two families, and one of the families is modeled after a wonderful couple I've gotten to know over the last three years. The mom is a veteran with a foot injury, and the dad is a cool stay-at-home dad. My fictional version of my foot-injured friend is a wheelchair-bound (paraplegic) mom.

She started as a very minor character, but in the revision, she became a vital force of the book, and provides the second point-of-view. She does a great deal of sleuthing in this piece, and luckily, she has full use of her arms. She drives (a specially modified soccer mom van), she's a good shot and she is also incredibly hot.

Here's what she was working on today:

I found this awesome video on the blog Climbing Stairs in a Wheelchair.

When I first set out to learn what Ellen's life would be like, I had no idea how much research I'd pour into her, but I was inspired by the great parents who come into the Museum and play with their kids. I feel so lucky getting to see these folks in action!

Monday, November 01, 2010

November already???

After the magic of October, I'm not sure I'm ready for the grindstone of November. But sometimes a girl just has to knuckle down and get shit done! I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but I am wrapping up the 2nd draft of the book and then? NaQueWriMo! Let the queries begin. :D