Monday questions

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sorry this is so late. I was wiped out last night (went to bed at 9pm, crazy early for me) and my internet was down today until around dinner time. Here are answers to Emily's questions. I'm going to save Joshua's and DL's questions for the next couple Mondays.

Emily asked: What's the weirdest food you've ever eaten?

Hmm, this is hard. Possibly starfruit and kumquats. Starfruit for the taste and kumquats just because they're like itty bitty oranges that you eat whole. I've had quite a bit of international foods, but I'm not sure I'd classify any of them as weird. Though I'm sure some people might think of tadig that way. It's rice that's been deliberately cooked into a crunchy crust.

If I could be any of my characters, which one would I be?

Another toughie. I love many of them. But possibly I'd go with Captain Daira or Jana. They're from the same story and balance each other's weaknesses.

--Captain Daira is tough and disciplined with a mind for strategic planning. She's loyal to her country and fights for justice and honor, even when others think she has none. Right now she's trying to maintain her ideals but she's no longer quite the noble leader she'd hoped to be. She's fixated on proving herself innocent of the false charges which has made her a little bitter and tarnished her ideals. Managing an assorted lot of men doesn't help her focus when some of them are actual criminals.
--Jana is a kind-hearted artisan who gets brought into Daira's camp after her father is hung as a traitor and has to learn all sorts of things about the wider world she'd never dealt with before. She'd been sheltered, but she will be learning how to be a leader even though she won't be the same sort as Daira. Instead she has a willingness to listen, generosity, and encouragement to draw people to her. Jana never sees herself as a leader, but Daira and her men come to recognize those quieter leadership traits.

This whole leadership difference is a major theme. Daira's the obvious sort of societal leader. She commands a group of people with her dominant and confident personality, and they do what she tells them. (Mostly) But then there's a more subtle sort of leadership, leading by example. Jana's kindness and willingness to help others revives Daira's ideals and inspires better actions from most of the men in camp. She becomes as much of a leader as Daira, though each with different strengths. Daira is the sword; Jana is the heart. Together they are a powerful force.

I've always wanted to be a dynamic leader like Daira, but I've come to know that not all leaders have to lead in the same way. Jana is a reflection of my ideal self in the lead-by-example manner. This story is probably dearest to my heart of all of them. I work on it, feel incapable of expressing it, work on other projects, learn more, come back and work on it. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I won't give up on their story. This is the one especially for the girl I was many years ago and all other girls like her.

Saturday Question

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just a quick morning post, since I didn't get anything posted yesterday. (Sorry, I had something, but it sounded like I was trying too hard for the voice. Still working on it.) I'm trying to think of post ideas for the next couple months. Other than getting in some more book reviews and my periodic ROW 80 check-ins, I'd like suggestions for topics to write about. They just have to relate to spec fic in some way.

Also, do you have anything you'd like to know about me? Several of you have recently joined me here in the dragon library, and this seems like a good time for some questions. They can be wacky or serious. You can even submit more than one. I'll start answering questions on Monday. Have fun thinking up ponderables.

And have a great weekend!

Stubble It! And other vulgar phrases of 1811

Monday, August 22, 2011

If you wish your writing to be in fine trim when using language of the 1800's and not sound like a puzzle-text, check out The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence. I am not tweaking your nose when I say this book can help you add some flavor to your riff raff. Just be careful that your writing cronies don't nip the book from your possession. Make them get their own copy. If necessary, you can find it on Project Guttenberg.

So roll the bones and take a chance to have some fun with vulgar language. Put your characters in a pickle with some rogues. You'll discover naming jokes authors have used such as Fflewddur Fflam's name in the Prydain Chronicles. (Flam is a lie or sham story.) And some words may surprise you with their familiarity. I used a few in this post, can you find them all?

(Puzzle-text - an ignorant blundering parson)

ROW 80: Check-In 8/14/11

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This week hasn't been too bad for working. Though I haven't written as much as I'd hoped to, I've made progress. Part of the time spent was on Behind the Name. The MC now has a new name. It took me long enough, but first I had to let myself get pulled deep enough to be more open to names that suited the mood, setting, and her personality. After narrowing it down to two names, I took the one that sounded prettier and tried it out. It fits really well and adds to the flavor of the setting better than I thought.

The new beginning is moving along. I'm still not sure how I'm going to mesh it with what I already have, but I'm not quite up to that point yet. I just hope that my crit group will think it makes sense. They're looking forward to reading it, which is always a nice feeling.

I've also started researching where to send this piece when I get it polished up. Not in depth with that part yet, since I'm only in round 2 of the draft. (Round 3 is my crit group.) But just to start getting ideas and see if there's any deadlines I may want to keep in mind.

My goal for the week: finish the new beginning and connect up to the previous beginning. It'll take a bit of rewriting, since I made a few setting and story changes, but I hope it'll be even stronger.

Friday video: Panic at the Disco

Friday, August 12, 2011

My husband stumbled onto this group while checking out The League of Steam. I'm not sure if the video was linked to their site or if it was just the steampunk connection. However it happened, this video rocks. The song is modern pop yet a bit alternative, and the video is all about the steampunk. Panic at the Disco has a few albums out. The Ballad of Mona Lisa is on Vices and Virtues.

For those not sure what is going on in the video. The rules that they show are part of a funeral tradition. (I don't know which one, only what my husband explained to me.) The spirit is thought to hang out near the body until after the viewing and funeral. In this case the lead singer is playing double roles for the vid; he's both a singer at the funeral and the spirit of the murdered man. No one can sense him until the end when the little girl finally understands his message and shares it. He's still very freaky looking, but the video was so cool with the steampunk costumes and setting.

ROW 80: Check-In 8/7/11

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goal: to begin working on the revision for RRH story. Check. I'm not very far, but I started. I got far enough that I decided I needed to do a bit of research. First was to work on renaming the characters to better fit the feel I was going for. I still haven't settled on the MC's name, but her dead bethrothed has had his name tweaked. The two other named characters haven't been renamed yet, but since their names don't come up much, not a big deal. I'll probably come back to theirs after the current revision round is over. Second bit of research: to read a bunch of other fairy tale type stories for a look at the pacing, language, and tension use. So I cracked open my copy of Happily Ever After, an anthology of fairy tale retellings. I'm about two thirds of the way through it and getting some ideas to keep me on track with my story goals.

Goal: to spend an hour every day on the writing. Err, not great. Sunday I gave myself a break of excitement for finishing the story. M, T, F, and Sat have word counts. I did think about the story on Wed and Thurs, but I spent those days doing a bunch of things with my son, like the weekly trip to the library. So, that was cool. Better than I thought. Today, I haven't done any writing yet, but I'm still reading through my book. I intend to sit down and do a bit of writing later but at least I've decided where I'm going with the first scene.

I've read some great books this week. One of my favorites was Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensics Questions for Mystery Writers. I posted a review on Tuesday, so if you didn't catch it, I hope you'll check it out. Fantastic book, and not just for mystery writers either. It's for pretty much any genre; the questions simply came from mystery writers. If anyone wants to check out what I read, visit my shelves on Goodreads.

Have a great week on your goals!

Murder and Mayhem (for writers)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The full title of today's featured book is Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers. D.P. Lyle M.D. compiled the top questions from his The Doctor Is In column for a couple newsletters for the Mystery Writers of America. I discovered this book at my library while looking for Howdunit Forensics, another book he wrote.

The questions are organized into three major sections: Doctors, Hospitals, Illnesses, and Injuries; Methods of Murder and Mayhem; and Tracking the Perp. These are further subdivided into chapters such as Traumatic Injuries and Their Treatment, Medical Murder, and The Police and the Crime Scene. Each question is headed by its simplified form, followed by the scenario and questions given by the submitter.

His answers are clear, even when he uses the medical jargon, because he explains what the technical parts mean. His light touch of humor glimmers in some of his responses. One writer asked whether drinking brandy while waiting for help to get out of a half frozen lake would enable the character to survive, if it would act like antifreeze. The brief answer, "Sorry, but your character is doomed, and his actions would only hasten his demise." Then Dr. Lyle went on to explain why and what would happen instead.

My favorite question is in the Odds and Ends, Mostly Odds chapter at the end. The writer had a teenaged girl whose father was having an affair with a young mom. The girl wanted to punish them both, so she was going to tamper with the diaphragm (contraceptive device) the woman was using by putting some sort of "hot" substance on it but wanted something that wouldn't be readily detected. The writer wanted to know what the girl could use. The answer began with "Tabasco. No contest." He gave a short explanation of why and what would happen, including how a spermicidal jelly would affect the onset of the burning, then finished with "What a totally diabolical question." It sure is, and I hope I get the chance to use it in a story sometime. Is that bad of me? ;D

Even though I'm not a mystery writer and have no plans to be one specifically, this is an awesome reference. He even stated that this is for all genres to keep from rehashing info from books and tv or using wrong or misleading info from the internet. It's going to my to-buy list, and I highly recommend that you read it at least once. None of us need any blunders that will cause our credibility to plummet.