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#IWSG Deadlines

  • Posted on March 4, 2015 at 9:51 am

IWSG badge

Good morning! For those of you who don’t know, ISWG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh , who saw that there was a group of writers who needed a community, support, and the occasional pick me up! This wonderful idea had helped me innumerably since it was introduced to me by my friend Chris Votey, and I’m more than happy to contribute to it this time as well.

You see, I’m having some issues with a proposed deadline. Writers always do this, we give ourselves a deadline, and when we do, suddenly, it’s okay to procrastinate, because honestly, we’ve got ALL THAT TIME, right? Wrong. My particular issue is that I have set a self-imposed deadline for July as the publication month of my first story, which will be part of my Kurylian Saga.

The only issue is, while I’m on the third draft, I’m still having issues with the plot, and it’s THREE MONTHS until the deadline! Not only that, but an issue with my past due rent has come up, and I may have to take a second job! As everyone knows, work takes away time from writing. Which is what I’m worried about.

How can I possibly balance life and work, the demands of all of my friends (who are more like family, to me) and the demands of my writerly career as well? It’s all well and good to tell friends to hush up during NaNoWriMo once a year, but this? They might decide that I’m not worth the trouble, that I’m not around enough, and that means I could lose friends. I…I don’t deal well with losing those I care about.

And on top of all of this that is causing me insecurity, I’m considering switching the protagonist of my book from one character to another, which, this late in the game, is pretty much guaranteed to make me late for my deadline. But what else can I do, when I’m finding it impossible to write one character, while the other is screaming at me inside my mind to tell their story? The only issue is, I don’t want to tell that story so straight out, I don’t want to give him his limelight yet, because it’ll be so much more dramatic if I stick with the way I’ve planned it!

But this book, this first book, is SO. BORING. I don’t know what to do. As you can see, I am a very insecure writer indeed. ^.^; But the bright side, I think, is that I’m at least still working on it. I’ve adopted the ‘write even if it’s a sentence’ method of writing, which has helped a little bit, as anyone who’s been keeping up with my Weekly Writing Update series can see.

Any advice would be more than welcome, or even if it’s just commiserating about deadlines and uncooperative family/friends/life in general.

Halloween Blog Hop

  • Posted on October 31, 2014 at 10:54 am

For my Halloween post, I invite you to enjoy this post. I found it tucked away in a corner of my high-school binder. I don’t recognize the writing as any of my friend’s, and it certainly isn’t mine, so I thought perhaps I could share it. If you remember writing something like this, please, send me a message. I’d love to give you credit.

*~*~*~*~*~*

It started with a smell. A noxious, poignant stench that you could almost taste on the edge of your tongue. Whenever one walked by the old oaken door to the basement, the bog-like odor would rise up and greet you anew like an old friend. I hated that smell. Always had, since we first bought the house when I was five. I remember whining to my mother about how it would stick to my clothes. She didn’t even turn from her computer when she told me not to go near the door then.

I’ve lived with the stench for years, so much so that I almost forgot it even existed. The only one I’ve seen go down there is Dad in his old coveralls splattered with paint the same color as the garage walls. The sounds of hammers and breaking rock come up after him, and I never had the courage to ask him how he could stand the smell. It followed him out of the basement sometimes, as obnoxious as the tan-orange of the paint.

I never was home alone, not really. When my mother and father went out of town, they always had my uncle or my aunts babysit me, even into my early teens. The aunts never complained about the smell. My uncle did, though. All the time, he bellyached about it, and would often take me out to dinner because he said he couldn’t stand the stench a second longer. My aunts hovered around the basement door, whispering to each other. But whenever I would come in, they would hush and ask if my homework was done, in that creepy way twins do.

Around when I turned fifteen, the smell seemed to get worse. Nauseating to the point that I developed a habit of opening windows every time I passed through a room. When asked about staying with my uncle and his wife, my mother, again not looking up from her swagbucks and online wordpuzzles, told me to bear with it for just a bit longer. Before I knew it, Dad had torn her away from her computer, and bundled her into the car, and with a note to me on the counter when I got home, they went on a ‘vacation’.

I was home alone for the first time. They’d even left me a key on the counter, next to the fifty dollars for food over the weekend. The first thing I did was open all of the windows, which only relieved the smell a little. However, it made for odd sounds. The curtains rustling in rooms I wasn’t in. The soft hush of breezes through the leaves outside, almost like someone whispering things. I started to note things a little more. Windows that I opened would sometimes slide down to half closed just as I left the room. It was odd, but I could only assume they were loose in their moorings. Maybe Dad could fix them when he got home and I let him know.

The second day of their trip, I went down into the kitchen to get some milk. The old greyish wood of the basement door was misplaced. The basement door, which was closed constantly, unless my father’s hand was on the handle, was open. Just an inch. Just barely enough to see the black behind it, the yawning space which lead to what I assumed were stairs. The stench was warmer now, thicker, like something had rolled in it, and was now heaving itself under my nose. I covered my mouth, abandoning the idea of milk, and shoved the door closed, with a heavy thud.

I tried not to think about it. I watched movies. I played videogames. I played mmos with my friends from school. I avoided going down to the kitchen by ordering pizza, and having it delivered up the stairs. Pizza deliverers are surprisingly tacit when offered a large tip. It was nice not having to get out of bed for food. The day slowly turned into night, and I only paused my game to go to the bathroom.

One such unpausing revealed more of the strange sussurus that I had thought was the wind in the leaves. But I could clearly see the old maple tree outside, and the leaves were still in the night air. The sound ebbed and flowed like the ocean that I had once had the fortune of feeling on my skin, cold and salty and fresh.  It was such an odd thing that I didn’t notice the scent from the kitchen had wafted up into my bedroom.

I followed the sound, oddly curious, temptation rising in me. The soft whisper of it touched my ears and made my skin prickle with goosebumps. I shivered, rubbing at the skin on my arms, as my chucks maneuvred the carpet-covered stairs. I followed it, as it got louder, and louder, into the kitchen. The door the basement was open again, the bright red of the pizza-warmer laying just in front of it. Wider this time, a large yawning foot of black so deep and dark that it looked like it was moving. An illusion, my eyes screamed, and I rubbed at them, to try and clear it. But closing my eyes only made the sound that much louder.

Whispers, yes, but not of something against something, or of wind through leaves, oh no. These were words. Words in a language I didn’t understand, couldn’t understand. It sounded almost as if whoever was speaking had three voices, no, twelve, no, one. I couldn’t make it out. I knew if I went closer to the stairs, just a touch, just a step, I could make out what it was saying.

Before I knew it, that one step had turned into two, five, twelve. The darkness rose up around me, and I couldn’t see. It moved, not illusion not smoke, but real and heavy and black and dark. Whispy tendrils of blackness felt like the touch of ice across my cheeks, my hands, the backs of my calves. Come, it said, come down, and see us, and know us, and when had I begun to learn the language that this spoke?

I stumbled, the end of the stairs a surprise. I didn’t feel cement beneath my feet. It was unsteady, crumbling like some kind of sand, or maybe dirt. My chucks shifted and something hissed. I stopped, stock still. Something different was down here. There was no smell, there was no sight, there was nothing but darkness and the whispers. Whispers asking me to stay, to love, to be loved, whispers that wanted me to just say I would stay, oh please.

My breath echoed in this place. My heart raced. I tried to think. I tried to answer. My lips seemed frozen. I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or closed. Time felt like a twisted ribbon. Something was wrong. I could see something, something moving. It didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense. Weightless. Broken. Put back together. Dashed on rocks so sharp they were knives now. I screamed and rocks flew from my lips like spittle.

Time passed.

Time.

I.

I woke up.

The smell… The smell was gone. I couldn’t smell anything. There was dirt under me. Dirt with small chunks of rubble like cement. The smell of dirt was unwelcome and heavy. I didn’t understand. Where had the scent gone? The marker coming from the basement, where had it gone? I opened my eyes.

A hole before me, filled with mannequins. No. Not mannequins. People. Hands, and arms, and heads, and feet. People, chopped up and decomposing, and some looked as if they had been for years decomposing. But what caught me… was the smell.

The scent… It smelled so good.

Like nothing I could name. Warm, and thick, and heady, and absolutely amazing. It reminded of me of the darkness like broken rocks on a shoreline where no stars shone. When my dad came home, I asked him if he could smell it. He nodded, and asked if I’d like to help him. The smell, the scent of that death, that decay, so sweet and warm and welcome, prompted me to agree.

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Six

  • Posted on September 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Welcome to part six of Breaking Down Nemesis! Part Five ended at the end of Miss Marple’s first day of her tour, gifted by the dead Mr. Rafiel. She’d been vaguely introduced to fourteen people who would be sharing space with her, and confirmed another part of our Agatha Christie Code.  For those of you just joining us, Part One explains the Agatha Christie Code, and what we’re looking for to confirm it.

I’ve finally figured out what has been bothering me with the last few chapters. And to be honest, it’s what we’re looking for in the first place, so I’m not sure WHY I didn’t notice it before! You see, Homestuck had this same situation. The beginning was so boring, and lifeless, that I almost quit that too! In fact, I did, for several years! And then, I came back, reread it all, and got past the parts I thought were boring, and managed to delve into the meat of the story! I’m glad I did reread it too, because it had a lot of content that made future bits make more sense!

Now, often people compare Homestuck and Agatha Christie novels, because people believe that Homestuck follows the Agatha Christie Code. So, I stuck it out, and kept reading Nemesis. And it turns out that Nemesis is following the same key! The intro is long, descriptive, and can sometimes be considered boring, but is full of rich information that one needs in order to understand the later plot.

In fact, in this chapter, we begin to learn more about those around us, which is going to come in handy later, I’m sure. The chapter begins in a Queen Anne Manor House. For those who don’t know what those are, Queen Anne Manor Houses, are a type of architecture popular during Queen Anne’s reign in Britain (1702-1714). It’s a type of Baroque architecture,  noted for it’s grand, yet simple designs.

A Queen Anne Manor House

A Queen Anne Manor House

In fact, one of the guests on Miss Marple’s tour, Mr. Richard Jameson, is an architect who happens to be in love with the style. In fact, he’s hijacked the entire tour in order to go on and on about it, pointing out things like special moulding on fireplaces, and historical references similar to the ones I just gave you.

The tour-guide gets a little tired of it, and declares that in the next room, the White Parlour, was where they found the body. However, before you think that this is the murder that Miss Marple is to put to rights, he is quick to inform you that it was in the 1700s, and begins to tell the tale.

A young man, with a dagger through the heart, right on the hearthrug. The Lady Moffat of the day, had a lover, and when he came through a small side door and down a steep staircase, Sir Richard Moffat, her husband, caught them together.

Mrs. Butler, the american woman, declares it absolutely romantic, and her husband begins to inform everyone that she’s ‘sensitive to atmospheres’. I take this to be old-timey speak for psychic. Miss Marple, along with a few others, quickly make their escape, before Mrs. Butler and her husband can swindle them all out of their pocket cash.

Miss Cooke and Miss Barrow have followed her, and Miss Marple manages to explain that an old friend of hers had a nerve-racking experience with a dead body on her library floor one morning. While discussing it, Miss Marple recounts that the dead body had been a young woman in an evening dress. In fact, she’d dyed her hair as well.

And this triggers the memory of having met Miss Cooke! I knew that name was familiar! See? It pays to keep attention on previous bits. Now Miss Cooke has in fact dyed her hair! It was dark, but now she’s blonde! Maybe she did it because blondes have more fun? However, Miss Marple doesn’t bring it up. She doesn’t have time.

Mrs. Riseley-Porter interrupts, declaring she can’t go up or down any more stairs, and decides that everyone is going to take a tour around the garden instead. Since she was an authoritative old lady, she got her way, and Miss Marple, Miss Cooke, Miss Barrow, and Colonel Walker all headed to the garden, where Miss Marple took a seat.

Miss Elizabeth Temple followed her, and the two old ladies bond over how boring the lecture in the house was. Which of course, leads into a discussion about the tragedy of when people die young. Miss Marple argues that it is a tragedy, and that they miss so much. Miss Temple argues instead, that they miss nothing, for they are dead.

“What did T. S. Eliot say: The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew tree are of equal duration.”

I greatly like this quote, and I feel it would be something that people were forced to learn in school. It makes a very good argument towards Miss Temple’s side of things, of course. Which is, perhaps, the reason Miss Agatha chose it!

An awkward conversation leads to Miss Temple asking Miss Marple to guess why she is here. We discover that Miss Temple is on a self-imposed pilgrimage Whatever that means to her, of course. Luckily, this leads to a conversation about Mr. Rafiel, and we find out another interesting tidbit!

Miss Temple was acquainted with a girl who DATED Mr. Rafiel’s son! Again, I’m relatively sure that Miss Marple needs to find out what happened to Mr. Rafiel’s son. Also, I wish I had another name to call him besides Mr. Rafiel’s son, because that gets very tiresome. Anyway, it turns out that the girl was engaged to Mr. Rafiel’s son, but didn’t marry him.

She died. Of course she died, and it turns out she died of… Get this. LOVE. That’s all Miss Temple will say on the matter, too! How mysterious? Who was the girl, and why did she die? And what did Mr. Rafiel Jr. have to do with it? Oh. That’s it. I’m calling him Junior from now on. Anyway, what did Junior have to do with her death? Was this the reason he was considered taboo? And what is Miss Cooke doing? Why did she dye her hair?

As you can see, Miss Agatha has clearly mastered the art of leaving us with more questions than she answered! Not only that, but we’re getting even more insight into the other characters, as well. We now know Mrs. Butler, who’s nickname is Mamie, by the way, is ‘sensitive’. Why is she ‘sensitive’? What point was there in knowing that, other than to make that character mildly interesting for a few moments?

The lesson here? Leave more questions than answers. Especially at this early stage in the book. We are, after all, only six chapters into a twenty two chapter book! So, ladies and gents, tell me: How do you intend to leave your readers guessing? Leave a comment with some explanations, or maybe an excerpt or two!

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Three

  • Posted on August 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Hello again, all! Time for Part Three of the Breaking Down Nemesis Series, in which we break down “Miss Marple Takes Action”. For those of you just joining us, the previous two posts can be found by clicking the above posts, or these links right here: Part One and Part Two.

At the last we left off, Miss Marple had just finished reading a letter from the deceased Mr. Rafiel, who provided her with a code-word– “Nemesis”- and instructions to solve a crime. But what crime? Now, Miss Marple must take action, as the chapter title so endearingly states, and we begin to see how the lovable elderly lady whom Murder She Wrote was based upon works!

This gif says everything.

Like us, Miss Marple is startled over the amount of information she received. Or rather, the sheer lack of information. Dismissing the idea of Mr. Broadribb providing her any more information, Jane quickly decides that it was intriguing. And that, perhaps, Mr. Rafiel had meant it to be.

She then goes on to describe it as a crossword puzzle with no clues given. Considering for a moment, that he might have meant her to take a plane or boat to the West Indies or to South America, she decides that if that’s what he meant, he’s insane. Which, I agree. After all, he couldn’t expect her to find something to solve there that had anything to do with him? No, instead, Miss Marple would have to find something from her own stores of knowledge.

Three days later, Miss Marple writes a letter to Mr. Broadribb, letting him know she’s accepted the proposal (and wants that 25000. See Part Two for a visual representation of the money.) and that she really was expecting more information. She asks him questions about Mr. Rafiel’s relationships and connections, and whether or not he’d had a relative that might have fallen on an unjust situation.

Again, we are treated to Mr. Broadribb and Mr. Schuster talking. They seem to have no idea what to tell her either. Now, in this section, Mr. Schuster said something that I find rather offensive.

“-I don’t see the least chance that some old pussy from the country can interpret a dead man’s brain and know what fantasy was plaguing him.-”

-Mr. Schuster

Now, I realize that it was true to the times, as this is exactly how a man of that day and age might talk if he were uncultured swine, and I think it was used exactly to show that this man was boorish and rude. More and more I find myself disliking this man. I hope he ends up getting kicked by a horse or something. He also brings up the idea that Mr. Rafiel might be trying to take Miss Marple down a peg, ‘teach her a lesson’ so to speak, by sending her on a fool’s errand.

Mr. Broadribb, however, doesn’t. He seems to think that something was worrying Mr. Rafiel, and that he was dead serious about all this. Since neither can fathom what Mr. Rafiel might have been thinking, they decide to wait for some development. Meanwhile, Miss Marple waited for something to turn up as well. In fact, she ends up getting yelled at by Cherry for taking walks too much.

Apparently, her doctor has said that she wasn’t to exercise too much. Which honestly sounds odd to me, because exercise has good affects on the health. But well, it was back in old times, so. Cherry, done telling Miss Marple off, goes and has dinner with her husband, Chinese food, specifically, which set me off to craving Chinese too.

During after-dinner tea, she and Miss Marple talk about the house at the end of the village, which has been repainted, done up and someone called Miss Hastings moved in. If you remember from Part One, Miss Hastings is the employer of Miss Bartlett, whom Miss Marple talked about gardens with briefly. Miss Marple decides just then to write a letter. Specifically, to another friend from this previous adventure we still know nothing about, a Miss Prescott, who is sister to Canon Prescott, a clergyman.  She feels much better after sending the letter, because at least she’s done something.

Joan replies quickly, informing her of Mrs. Walter’s location. Apparently, Mrs. Walters DID remarry, and she’s now Mrs. Alderson or Anderson now. Miss Prescott provides her address, and Miss Marple sleeps on whether or not she should contact her by surprise, or write her first. And that night, she has a dream: MissMarpleDreamQuote

“I had a curious dream,…I was talking to someone, not anyone I knew very well. Just talking. Then when I looked, I saw it wasn’t that person at all I was talking to. It was somebody else. Very odd.”

This is the most brilliant bit of foreshadowing I’ve ever seen. Who does it refer to? Is Mrs. A not going to turn out to be who Miss Marple remembers? Perhaps Joan Prescott was not who she seemed? Or maybe something else entirely! I can’t wait to find out. What a lovely shiver from it, it seems so important!

Decided now, Miss Marple asks Cherry to help her set up a sting operation. Cherry is to call Mrs. A, and ask if she’s to be home today. If she answers or if she is going to come to the phone, she’s to say that Cherry is Mr. Broadribb’s secretary and ask if she can meet with him later that week. If she is to be home that day, then Cherry is to find out when she comes back.

Turns out Mrs. A is going to be in all day, and Miss Marple sets off in a cab towards her next clue!

I’ve noticed a trend, as I began breaking down these chapters. They’re quite short, for the most part. Easy to digest in a bus ride or over a lunch break. I find it easy enough to read a chapter, but not so easy to stop. With things picking up the pace, I can definitely begin to see why some have called Miss Agatha’s work addictive. I didn’t go into much detail about it, but even the cab-company gets some expanding on, information that Miss Marple remembers.

The descriptions in the beginning ARE very lengthy and quite detailed, which is definitely a point towards out Agatha Christie Code theory. But what drew me in the most in this chapter is how seamlessly Miss Marple went from having no idea what to do next, to thinking through, logically, onto what she should do next, her next point of contact. It was, again, very organic. It was what I had been thinking about in chapter two, just after I read the letter. Contacting Mrs. A is her best bet, and the logic of it gives the reader a sense of accomplishment, because they thought of it too.

In the comments section, please tell me your opinion on this. Is it a good thing to allow the reader to guess what is going to happen before hand? Or does it ruin the mystery of the story? When was the last time you read something so compelling that it felt as if you were deducing it yourself before the character?

The Day Robin Williams Died

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Today, I found out grave news. Robin Williams is dead. A comedian, an actor, a legend, and he died. To be completely honest, it felt like the passage of some great age. It reminded me that anyone, at any time can die. It reminded me that death is the only certain thing in this world. And it reminded me of immortality, and all the ways we can acheive it.

Robin Williams touched millions of lives. More than he ever knew. And the man, that poor, poor man, was suffering silently inside, maybe for years. Who knows how long he fought off the demons of his mind, telling him it was better to end it now. To get out. To be done. I know how hard it is, to have those demons whispering in your ear. Depression is a serious illness. One that doesn’t have a cure. One that stays with you forever. Robin Williams was bipolar, and part of bipolar is depression.

Thinking about how he died, thinking about what he must have gone through… Makes me wonder, just a little, what I’m doing all of this for. What I want to be a writer for. What I want from life. It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, my goal is selfish. My goal has always been to be a household name. I want to be immortal, in the only way humans can achieve.

But if someone like Robin Williams can feel that that isn’t enough… What is it that I will find, once my goal is achieved? Once I have the recognition I crave, once my books are on the english highschool reading list, or on Oprah’s reading list, or whatever it takes, what will I have? Hearing Mister William’s story, reminds me of one of his quotes.

I am lucky. Because I have friends who love me. I have family that cares. I am lucky, and I hope, forever, that I am lucky, and do not fall to the same temptation and fear that Robin did. He was a great man, and it is so, so sad, that he suffered as he did. I hope, sincerely, to ever be able to touch as many hearts as he did. And I hope, that like him, I use it for good. To make others laugh. To make them smile. To help them learn. Rest in peace, Mr. Williams. You will always be in our hearts.

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