Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Okay, I didn't think it could happen, but I have recently become that woman who only talks about "my wedding this, my wedding that, my wedding blah blah blah blah blah." OMG. It never stops. My kid has sprained her eyeballs rolling them about my wedding prattle. I am a marriage monster!

I can't really state anything in my defense, although I guess I understand how it happens. There are all these details about arranging this giant party, a party where everybody is going to be looking AT ME, wondering how my butt got so big. (Really. It's been a while since I saw Kaz's family, and I was a lot skinnier then.) That's actually kind of stressful!

And when I say there are a lot of details, I mean, there are a lot of details. Like, who knew these dresses required all these special undergarments? I didn't even buy a crazy foofy fancy one, but I'm still investing about a jillion dollars in Spanx. (Okay, the Target knock-off line. Jeez. I can't fool you guys for a second.) Apparently regular underwear makes a girl look "lumpy." I thought lumpy was just my natural look. But in order to minimize in-law mockery, I'm willing to go for the lycra.

As if restraining my bulges wasn't enough, there's restraining my house. My future in-laws plan to be in the Pacific Northwest for 9 days. Do you know how many family dinners that will mean? Do you know how clean my house will need to be? I can barely bring my kitchen up to safety standards, let alone Impress Your Mother-in-Law standards. Luckily, my mom and dad are short on time, so I don't think they'll make it over for any meals. My mom would eyeball the ceiling and push the food around on her plate, as if suspicious the over-looked cobwebs might have somehow contaminated it.

I might, perhaps, exaggerate slightly.

My family members are all wonderful, kind-hearted people. They won't judge or condemn me for spending more time noodling around on the internet and making up dirty fiction than cleaning my house and working out. They will have fun and help me have fun at my wedding.

Yeah ... still gonna invest in the lycra.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Housecleaning and stuff


I spent the afternoon working on moving my main webpage over to a Wordpress design. The old set-up was really irritating, and since I wanted to rebuild my bibliography page, this seemed like perfect timing. I also got my POP settings fixed so I can finally receive business email (wendy at winniewoohoo.com)!

I feel like a smart techno-girl tonight!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hear the Evil

The other day good chance brought me to an interesting blog post about sound, something that made me think about how we write about sounds.

As Rob points out in the post, we spend a great deal of energy getting rid of unimportant sounds in our world. Our brain is hard-wired for this task, and because of its hard work, the sounds that actually trickle into our conscious minds are highlighted for our attention. A sound might be attention-worthy because it's new and unusual, or at least something we haven't heard for a while. It might be attention-worthy because it's something we've learned is important. We've all had the experience of riding the bus and hearing someone else's phone ring--it's not worth getting worked up about unless the person has your same ring tone. You have habituated yourself to a quick response when you hear that sound, and your ears can pick it up even over the annoying chit-chat of fellow bus riders.

This has two effects on our perceptions of sound cues in fiction. For one, we automatically assume that a sound cue is meaningful. People don't reference sounds unless they really affect the narrative. If a character makes a noise, the reader will work hard to try to figure out how that noise changes the scene. As readers, we know that every sense reference is important, but because of our superior aural filtering systems (I think most people have very adept noise filtering powers, much stronger than our visual "ignoring" powers), sounds really pop for us.

Also, sounds stand out as more threatening. I'm not crazy here; we're hard-wired to be skittish about noise. Humans have weak night vision, and so night, our most vulnerable time, is also the time we have to most attune ourselves to our hearing. In the dark, every sound elicits a leery response. Every noise is analyzed for its threat quotient. When we force our readers to rely on auditory sense cues, we make them turn to their internal danger diagnostic and mull over their peril.

I think this is one reason why hearing is such an under-used sense in most fiction genres. Writers often limit themselves to auditory references that are linked solely with communication: sighs, grunts, purrs, groans. It's a method certain to keep readers in their comfort zones.

But what about writers who are eager to get their readers out of their comfort zones?

There is one genre that relies heavily on sound cues, and that's horror. There's a reason why haunted house stories are famous for their clanking chains and creaking floors: in real life, those sounds are actually scary. Writing them into our stories is one way to tap into simple, natural terror.

One way to take your creaks and groans and other eerie noises and give them a little extra mileage is to tinker with their placement in the text. Position your auditory references where your readers can't ignore them. Here's an example--a passage written with the same sentences, just reorganized.

I walked out to the front porch and realized night had fallen without my notice. The wind nudged the old swing, making it creak. Over the lawn, fireflies twinkled.

I could almost believe Mama wasn't dead.


I walked out to the front porch and realized night had fallen without my notice. Over the lawn, fireflies twinkled. The wind nudged the old swing, making it creak.

I could almost believe Mama wasn't dead.

There's not much difference in the two passages, but I personally feel as if the sound cue--the cliched creaking!--is played up by its placement at the end of the paragraph in the second variant. The first version of the exercise feels more tender; the second, a little more spooky. Maybe Mom's a ghost!

Of course, it's easy to think about silence and spookiness right now. I just spent four nights in the Quinault Rainforest, a place heady with dark clouds and darker forests. And I might be thinking a little extra about writing because I was on a retreat with a number of incredibly talented writers.

I can't say enough about the beauty of the last weekend, but I can say: it was a great place to start writing a ghost story. :D

(Picture stolen from John Remy.)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Neglecting my blog!

If you're curious what exciting things have kept me away from the blog lately, brace yourself for excitement. My world has been rocking lately. Here goes:

Shopping for wedding stuff. Like corduroy pants--for Sweetie-Pie--and kraft paper. Plus, the top secret wedding favor shopping that involved a 45 mile drive and trips to 8 separate thrift stores. Including a Goodwill with a bins, where I thought we might be rendered for our parts by vicious shoppers.

Shopping for underwear. You wouldn't think this would be difficult, but you obviously don't live in my world. See, Sweetie-Pie remembered that his employer had a deal with Target that gave their employees 10% off purchases made on Target.com. So we thought we would make our annual bulk sock-underwear-tights purchase on the website and save a little scratch. Brilliant, right?

Apparently not! Target.com was out of children's underwear. They didn't carry the kind of undies my Sweetie likes. They not only didn't offer cotton briefs as an option in the women's department, but in response to a search for women's briefs (yeah, yeah, I know they're granny panties, but I like 'em!), the first item on their list were these Booty Pop Enhancing Panties.

Okay, I've seen myself in the mirror. My booty is popped. I don't need any more padding than I've grown myself--what I need are booty-shrinking panties. Or at least booty-restraining panties. But a search for that product brought up only the suggestion to check my typing. *sigh*

Eventually, we caved and went to a brick-and-mortar Target and bought underwear in person. Too bad I didn't check the package before Sweetie-pie washed them all. Turns out my 6-pack of undies was mislabeled, and when I started folding laundry, I was dismayed to find panties that could double as t-shirts in my laundry basket. They're only *4* sized too big!

Selling a story. In good news, I did sell a story to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a really beautiful online fantasy magazine. The piece took a good chunk of re-writing, and I can't thank the editor, Scott Andrews, enough for his amazing advice, skills and patience. He might just be my new editorial hero.

I mean, editorial hero #2. Because obviously my boss is my hero. I'm not sure I ever want to put together anthologies or run a magazine, but if I find myself doing either, I want to do them just the way he does.

Which is why I'm pleased as punch to announce the re-launch of Fantasy Magazine! It's looks incredibly awesome!

Oh yeah. That kept me pretty busy, too.

But mostly, I've just been getting ready for the Rainforest Writers Retreat. If I was any more excited, I'd probably need adult diapers.

Which might be easier to shop for than cotton briefs...