Thursday, December 23, 2010

Something to Share!



I just saw this in the library gift store (yes, our library has a gift store...), and thought it would be perfect to send out to family and friends if I ever get my book published!!

Don't you guys all want one? :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crack in the coffee

LOOK!


It's another blog entry less than 24 hours later!  This surely makes up for my month...err 2 month...hiatus, right?  RIGHT?

Anyway, I'm going to take this blog entry to talk about how amazingly stupendously awesome I am!!!

And you.  You can be too.  Sure, why not?

Why the amazing stupendous awesomeness, you ask?  Come on.  Do I really need a reason!?  Okay, fine.  Maybe the crack that they obviously add to their coffee at The Continental Coffeehouse is finally making me delusional, or it's really true: writing a book is an AMAZING thing!  And I'm almost done with mine!  And I know most of you, dear readers, are in the same position, so, KUDOS!

Writing a book is hard, and sometimes you probably ask yourself "Why am I doing this again?" and "Is this really worth it?"  Those are some dark and terrible days, and I've been there for the past couple of weeks.

But today, after my cup of crack coffee, I realized Hey!  I wrote a BOOK! And, do you know what?

That is amazingly stupendously awesome!!! 

So, take a minute to pat yourselves on the back, make some tea, put on your carpel tunnel braces, cover the blisters on your typing fingers, and get back to it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Absolute Worst of the Worst

Fail!  I fail at blogging!

But, I keep telling myself that's okay.  It's not like I want to be a professional blogger when I grow up (haha) so it's alright to fail at it.  I think.

And I don't really have much to write, because I have post-editing mush-brain right now.  So, in the spirit of talking about what I do want to do when I grow up, I'll give you a list of all the things I've ever wanted to be in my life, in as much chronological order as i can muster.

Ages 4-10

  • ballerina
  • professional singer (never mind that I sound like a dying cow when I sing...)
  • aerobics instructor
  • chef
  • movie star
  • bus driver
Ages 11-15
  • writer (still holds!)
  • fashion designer
  • fighter pilot
  • paleontologist 
  • doctor
  • journalist
  • peace corps volunteer (for the rest of my LIFE, man.  I'm savin' the world!)
  • teacher - mostly just because I thought I could do it better than all the ones I had at the time.
Ages 16-20
  • psychiatrist
  • early childhood educator (a nice way to say preschool teacher)
  • stage actress
  • playwrite
  • international relations policy maker (yeah, I didn't get that one either)
I didn't decide I wanted to be a speech pathologist (or even know what that meant!) until I was 21.  Went into the program at 22!

In the earlier ages, i really thought I could be all these things.  I guess I'm still trying, too.  I can't just stick to one career!

Anyway, sorry guys for the off the top of my head, unedited post.  I'm over promising good new posts in the near future!  But, I'll touch back in when I can!

In the meantime, you guys can tell me what you want to be when you grow up! :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa's a big fat nothin' without his elves...



Okay, peeps, before I get down and into it, I think you all are in need of an apology.  Sorry for the absence!  There's a lot of plates spinning over my head, and the Blog one nearly stopped and came crashing down.  And that's not fair!  So, we're up and running again.  I'm not going to promise a schedule of regular entries for the holiday season - I mean, let's be serious - but I'm going to try to get back on the horse for weekly entries.

Whew!  Okay, all that grovelling out of the way, now on to the FUN!



Let's talk about elves and how much more important they are than big ol' Santy.  There's a lot of metaphors I could use, but it IS officially december now, so none are quite as fitting.  There are very few things one can do in this world without help.  I'm thinking going to the bathroom and cleaning lint from your toes are some of the only examples.  Being a speech pathologist or an author (or Santa!) do not make that list.

I heard an inspiring interview with one of my fav singer songwriters, Feist, today.  In it, she was discussing her new film Look at What the Light Did Now about the making of her latest album Reminder.  I haven't seen the film, but from the interview I gathered it won't be your typical rockumentary.  The main focus of the film is showing that Feist is only one piece of a much larger endeavor.  She, amazingly humble as always, discusses how most of her ideas came from creative "conversations" with friends and peers, and she highlights all of the other amazing artists (like photographers, shadow puppeteers, other musicians, visual artists, and film artists) without whom her whole career would not be possible.  At one point, the interviewer asked her if she ever feels guilty that she is in the limelight, while many of the people who've been instrumental in helping her still go largely unrecognized.

I loved her response.  She laughed and said, "Why do you think I'm making this movie!?"  Then, went on to say how she wants to movie to be more about the people around her and the whole creative cooperative process rather than about her.

It made me think a lot about my own creative process with writing.  I mean, we know the obvious helpers like agents, marketers, publishers, editors, etc, but what about the people nearer and dearer to the process?  I mean all of those (incredibly important!) people I just mention usually come into play AFTER the process is almost done.  I don't know about you guys, but I can't write in a vacuum, and when I do, the ideas are much less articulated.  I have a crit partner (Shout out!) who I bounce ideas off of constantly.  Even before writing a section, I might fire off an email saying "does this make sense?" or "what would you say to this?"

And what about people who aren't even in the field?  My boyfriend and I now have two detailed outlines of novels I'll get on after I finish Drowning.  Both came about as a result of long road trips where we got into in depth conversations about outlandish topics.  (The latest formulated itself after a 3 hour conversation on the Theory of Relativity we had while driving across the Mojave Desert)  These ideas never would have been discovered if I didn't share my creativity and my writing process with others.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is not to forget the elves.  Don't shut out others' creativity at the expense of your own, because look at the beauty that can be created by a collaboration!

Who do you guys let in your creative process?  Who are your elves?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Light it on fire

An amazing critter of mine, Laura Hughes, just blogged about this awesome site!  It's a collection of words that the Oxford dictionary has said are pretty much endangered, about to die out.  If you're in any way interested in language - ok, come on, we're writers - you'll love it!

As per Laura's example, I've picked a word:
"Recineration - second time a thing or place is burned down"

As in, "After the recineration of her home, Jenna contemplated quitting sorcery school."

Oxford is right.  Even spellcheck seems to think recineration isn't a word.

Now, since this is a writing blog, I'll offer a quick caution from the mouths (pages?) of Strunk and White:

"Avoid Fancy Words: Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute.  Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready, and able."

So, in closing, maybe you can use clever words like "Mingent" (discharging urine),  "Quaeritate" (to ask), and "Panchymagogue" (medicine purging body fluids from the body) in your conversation, but keep them off the pages of your novel.

So, what words have you found?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The art of whittling down

Smaller is sometimes better.



Maybe not better, but sometimes necessary.  And sometimes helpful.

I've been working on my query letter, 2 sentence pitch, and short synopsis for a couple of months now.  Every time I start, I end up with the same thought right before I give up.  "This is ridiculous!  How can ANYone tell what their book is about in two sentences!?  How is it possible to sum up all the nuance and intrigue of your 100,000 page novel in a one page query!?  It's impossible.  No one can do it."

But they can.  And they do.

It seems that getting a novel published is a lot more than just hammering out 80-100,000 words.  After that easy part is done, then you have to condense those words into something much smaller.  Bite-size even.



I know what you're thinking.  "Yeah, yeah, Amanda.  We all already know this.  Why are you telling us again??"

Because, I wanted to tell you there are people out there who write 2 sentence stories.  Beautiful stories that take only one breath of air to read aloud, but that can haunt you for hours after.  A whole world in 25 words.  What if your whole novel were just the 2 sentence pitch?

Take this one, for example:

L. R. Bonehill
Cull

There had been rumors from the North for months. None of us believed it, until one night we started to kill our children too.

While, yes, this could just be the first sentence of a (kick-ass!) novel, it also gives you everything your brain needs to go on about it for hours. You can picture the people huddled around their TV, seeing news stories about crazed people killing their own children. You can see the disbelief in their faces. Until one night, the husband wakes up and maybe grabs an ax. Or even just a baseball bat. And starts walking down the hall to his daughters' room. ...I won't go on, but you see my point.

This is the idea behind "Hint Fiction," an anthology of extremely short stories compiled by Robert Swartwood. You can find the NPR story here. (Thanks mom!)

Click on over and check it out. Some of the stories are amazing. I never knew how much information you could convey in 2 sentences or less. I have renewed hope for my 2 sentence pitch. My goal for the end of this week is to have a confident and concise answer to the question, "What's your novel about." ...I'll get back to you on that one.

For now, though, I'll just share with you my own 2 sentence story. I guess I'm in a dark mood.

"Justine pressed the razor to her scar-covered arm. This will be the last time. As it reached her artery, she wondered if she should have sent out funeral invitations to the girls at school beforehand."

Okay, so it's more than 25 words, and it's 3 sentences, but you get the gist. :) I told you I was bad at this brevity thing!

Now it's your turn!

In the comments, add your own 2 sentence story or 2 sentence pitch of your novel. If you comment, please link back to this post in your own blog so we can get more stories going! Why not make this an impromptu blogfest?  Go forth!  Share the love! And have fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Put yo' stamp on that bootyshake

Everything I learned about writing, I learned from my hip hop teacher.



No!  Really!  It's true.  He's a wise guy and man, he can get down.  Want proof?  Just look here.  He's the, um, wise looking guy in the front. :)

Anyway, every Wednesday, I go to his "groovin'" class.  Really, that's what it's called.  It's what is considered a "non-choreo" class because we don't run through a bunch of 8 counts and then put it all together at the end.  Pretty much in this class, we just bust a move...and listen to the instructor's inspirational and often hilarious speeches about art and dance and creativity.  It's my Wednesday wind down.

It's amazing how much certain ideas apply across so many of the arts.  Try a few of these on for size:

  • Hip Hop: "You can't memorize my steps and then look all fine their doin' it.  You gotta put your own stamp on it.  Like, show your style through the move.  Show your personality!"
  • Writing: Don't just stick to the 3 act formula hard and fast. Change it up to show your story.  Make it fit what you want.  Otherwise, you're gonna look like a white girl dancing hip hop.  (ie: me)
  • Hip Hop: "You gotta feel this.  Feel the music.  Let it flow through you!  Close your eyes! Hell, come drunk to class if you need to to let loose of your inhibitions!  If you don't feel it, you're gonna look like an idiot."
  • Writing: Remember to feel your writing.  Remember to love it. Remember why you started writing in the first place, not because you want to be rich and famous (I hope...cause the likelihood of that, well...), but because you were driven to do so.  Feel the drive.  Carry on.
  • Hip Hop: "Listen.  I'ma show you this video 'cause I don't think you all see it too much here in Vancouver.  Y'all gotta know what you're trying to do.  I want you to know where all this stuff comes from.  I mean, for some people, this shit is all they have.  They're like...dancin' to stay alive.  Know what I mean?  You gotta watch the greats.  Watch these guys that live for their dancing and then go home and practice.  Practice what they're doing till you think you look as cool as them."
  • Writing: You don't write in a vacuum.  READ!  Read other people's work.  Read in your genre, read in other genres, read the classics.  And then practice your writing.  Look at it (like you would your dancing in a mirror) and then write it again.  Write it again until it's perfect and can sit up there against the other stuff you've read.


I think it's so important to look into other creative genres to see how they get by.  How do they keep their creativity flowing?  How do they continue to improve.  How do they deal with rejection and bad criticism?  There's a book by dancer Twila Tharp all about the creative process.  I've read snippets of my friend's copy, but am looking forward to getting my own because it's sheer brilliance.

Do any of you do other arts?  What have you learned? Do tell!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ack! Who ate my brain!?

If any of you have seen the fabu B-movie Bad Taste, you might know how I feel.  For those of you who aren't squeamish or adversely affected by bad movie effects, you can find an image here that will better help you understand.

Someone ate my brain.  I'm sure of it!  I mean, otherwise where is it?  It's not under my bed; I already looked.

I think some of it might have been poured out over these past two weeks of working.  I've actually been ALMOST keeping up with all of my commitments at work, while even pounding out THREE NEW CHAPTERS on the WIP.

You can tell I'm EXCITED because of the EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPSLOCK.

Okay, sorry, I'll stop.  See, I told you I was braindead!

So, without further ado, I'm going to redirect you to a blog post of someone who is decidedly not brain-missing.  One of my excellent crit partners directed me to this site, where you too can find amazing partners of crit!  It even tells you about the different kinds of critiques you can get/give.

So, go!  read!  I promise, when you come back I will have found my brain again.

...unless someone really did eat it.  That would totally suck.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amanda Moves the Furniture

I think I've discussed my commitment phobia in some detail before on this blog.  There are a lot of negative things about being a commitment-phobic, like spending 45 minutes deciding what to order at the restaurant, or buying a new duvet-cover every week to match your mood.

But, there's a lot of great things about it too!  For example, when I get edits back from my critique partners, I rub my hands together and think "sweet!  Let's get down to it!"  This isn't to say that I hack away at my story with great abandon (not all the time anyway), or that I don't keep the chapters I cut.  What I mean is, I like change.  I like moving paragraphs around, adding new stuff, and taking out other stuff.  It makes things look fresher and cleaner with each change!

And now, because I love pictures and I love  how easy it is to upload them from my fancy google phone, here is a visual example of what I mean.

Once upon a time, Amanda had an office.  It was a good office.  She painted and put furniture in it to make it just the way she liked it at that time.

Now, Amanda has had the office for a year.  One morning, she arrived at work and thought to herself, "No no no...something isn't right."  So, instead of doing the work she was meant to do that day, she set about moving her furniture this way and that.  

MADNESS ENSUED!!!

But, after the dust settled, Amanda sat back in her desk chair in its new position and thought, "This is good."

Maybe next time, she'll get it perfect. :)
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Unexpected erotic moments with sex-switching mutants...umm?

David the Movie Snob has done it again.  He has watched a movie!

Momentous, I know.

Okay, actually it's not that momentous.  We've watched a great many movies since the last DMS review, and that snob David has commented on all of them.  Unfortunately, Madameduck (I speak of myself in the third person here because I dislike accepting blame) has not written about any of them.

But, now I'm in this Starbucks attached to the Chapters, wondering what to do to take my mind off the disgustingly weak coffee and the grating experimental jazz.  I came up with an answer.  Blog, of course.

So, behold, a DMS review of SPLICE!  (warning, there's a few mini-spoilers in here.  I just couldn't help myself)


I had been looking forward to this movie way back when it came out, but for some reason, I hadn't watched it till now.  (I feel like I say that about a lot of movies...)  Anyway, the premise is thus: irreverent hipster scientists Clive and Elsa decide (selfishly) that they want to stretch the moral and legal boundaries of their practices and splice human DNA with a variety of animal DNA.  Apparently, according to headstrong and completely fucked-up Elsa, it's for the good of humanity.  See, if they can do this splicing, they'll be able to save all of the poor saps dying of cancer.  Somehow.  Her pansy-ass boy-toy, Clive, sees nothing a whole lot wrong with this plan, but goes along with it anyway.  Maybe she'll put out if he gives her her mutant baby, right?

Well, actually, he was right.  After tucking in their now adolescent (apparently splicing=accelerated growth) creation one night, things get steamy.  Because, really, if I'd just broken a shitload of laws and created some kind of violent human/animal thing, that'd get my hormones raging too.

The hormones apparently don't stop raging, mutant hormones included, as things spiral quickly, if not predictably, out of control.

What did I think of the film?

Surprise!  I loved this movie.  This kind of disturbo-freak-fest is right up my alley.  I cringed through a lot of the scenes and hated all of the characters (even Adrien Brody's character, despite the fact that he's my celebrity crush!), but for me, that's a sign of a good flick.  I knew right from the moment the flowery Gaumont logo flashed on the screen that this would not be the typical sci-fi that I thought it would be.  French people know how to get twisted.

As soon as the movie ended, I exclaimed, "Eeeee!  I hated it!  Turn it off!" and then I made a bunch of unintelligible sounds as I writhed on the floor.  But then, 2 hours later when I still hadn't fallen asleep, I realized that Splice was one of the best films I'd seen in awhile.  It was haunting, thought provoking, and ....line-crossing.  :)  The tension and disturbiness in this film were along the lines of Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke: not in your face gruesome, but more like something itching underneath your skin.  Like "igh."

What did David the Movie Snob think?

He liked it too.  Sorry, no snarky comments this time. :)

my rating: 7/10
DMS rating: 6/10.  Ever the snob.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Worst thing about Middle School? Chompers.

There has been a lot of talk about bullying lately, in the news media and elsewhere.  It's a big issue, and one that is close to my heart.  I've thought about writing down one of my bully stories as a "blast from the past" entry before, but figured it would be a bit too personal.  However, after reading this post by a great blogger, I decided that writing what you're afraid of isn't such a bad idea.  The writing below isn't great, fyi (a lot of showing instead of telling - it's a memory, after all), but if you feel like reading a bully story, read on!


Not much in life is more difficult than being thirteen.  I mean fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen were pretty bad, but thirteen really stands out to me as one of my worst years.  It was the year I was offically Defriended.

When I was younger, my mum had this book about workplace politics.  I think it was from the seventies or something, because the cover had that swirly seventies font on it and the colours were all faded and retro.  The book simplified workplace politics by using shapes.  It said that each person was a circle of energy.  We all start out the same size, but as we go on, some circles can shrink or grow.  The most common way for circles to grow was to take bites out of other circles.  But, then, where does that leave the circle that was bitten?  Smaller, of course.  And, apparently smaller circles are easier to nibble on, so the smaller someone’s circle gets, the more of a target she becomes.  It went on to talk about more positive ways to grow and yadda yadda, but the main thing that stuck with me was this image of a person’s energy just taking a chomp out of another’s for their own gain.

For me, that’s what being thirteen was all about.  Middleschoolers are chompers.  I’m not going to delve into the why, because there are plenty of people out there now talking about that.  I’m just going to give one example of how, my own.

I moved to North Carolina after grade six.  Most kids in the little town where I went to school had been living there since they were in diapers.  Their mum’s smoked pot together.  They knew each other’s secrets.  They’d dated each other’s brothers.  This was something I just couldn’t relate to, having moved around so much in my younger years.

It was really difficult to break in.

But, by grade 8, I thought I had.  I mean, I’d encountered a chomper here or there through the semesters, but I always felt like I had a relatively close core group of friends that I could turn to.  I’d even landed a boyfriend at one point (even though I dumped him two weeks later because I didn’t like the blue plaid vest he wore to the school dance).  

I was part of the alternative crowd, the kind of grungy artistic misfits.  There was a girl in this group who, I’ll admit, I admired.  We’ll call her Raven, because that (tacky as it is) kind of suits her.  Raven was a no-nonsense kind of chick who always had the greatest school photo because she stared down the camera with a death glare.  Despite all that, her personality was magnetic.  People were drawn to her been-there-done-that confidence.  She was frank, honest, and really good at soccer. :)

Raven and I were both in the drama club in grade eight, when the high school handed us this amazing opportunity.  A select few from our club could go up and be extras in their production of Alice in Wonderland.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven because, in my mind, I was destined for the stage.

During rehearsals, there was a lot of down time.  We were extras, after all.  I still remember the banana coloured tiles that lined the hallway outside the theater in the high school.  We all sat in on the floor, resting our heads on our flannel shirts and listening to the Grateful Dead on our walkmans. (walkmen? lol)

People huddled in pairs or threes, chatting about weekend plans or their latest Alice in Chains cd.  This is when I started to notice the pattern.  The pattern that I was left out of.  I was never in one of those huddles, unless I forced my way in.

I still remember the day I really realized something was off.  There had been hints here and there that I was being excluded - concerts that people “forgot” to invite me to, rides that never showed up, giggles behind my back.  I always managed to explain them away somehow.  My friends wouldn’t exclude me on purpose, would they?  

But this one day, I returned from the bathroom to our little squat on the hallway floor to a series of hushes.  Like a director had been there to orchestrate it, the open spot in the circle was swallowed up and all I was met with were backs.  Chompers, I like I told you.

The feeling defies words.  Your cheeks sting, like someone’s burning the skin from behind.  Then, the needles hit your eyeballs and you have to blink because you know you might cry, even though that’s the last thing you want to do.  A sort of lump rises in your throat.  No, it’s not like that.  It’s more like everything above your abdomen seizes up and twists together into a giant knot.  You can’t breathe, you can’t swallow, your heart is pounding.

The worst part is, in your mind, you just keep playing all of the stupid things you’ve done.  Awkward comments you’ve made, ridiculous questions you’ve asked.  They all hit you like slaps while your brain tells you, “Of course they don’t like you.  Look at yourself.”

I can’t tell you how alone I felt.  I mean, these were my friends.  These were the people I went to when other people chomped on me.  I didn’t realize that your own friends could chomp you too.
I went, with my book, to find another corner in the banana hallway.  Whatever, if they didn’t like me, I didn’t need them anyway.

But I did, of course.  When I got home, the tears came.  My poor mom, always a bit too connected to my emotions, frantically tried to figure out a way to make it right.  Sidenote to the Moms out there: let me just tell you, it’s beyond your control.  Anything you do can make things worse.  She listened, and didn’t call their mums to bitch them out, thank god.

I wanted to know why, though.  I couldn’t just let sleeping dogs lie.  So, the next day, with shaking hands, I picked up the phone and called one of my “friends.”

“Hello?”

“Hey M, it’s Amanda.”

“Oh....”


“What’s up?”


“Um.  Nothing.”


Deep breath.  “Okay, so I’m just going to jump right in.  I noticed that you guys, well - everyone, has been ignoring me lately.  Um...is it my imagination?”  My voice seemed to raise two octaves over those three sentences.


Silence.  Finally, “No...."


“No what?”


“No, it’s not your imagination.  We just...decided not to be your friend anymore.”  Pause.  “I’m really sorry.”


My mouth fell open.  “WHAT!?”  People do that!?  They just decide to de-friend someone, as a GROUP!?  Apparently they do.


“Yeah.  Well, after spring break when you came back with the same haircut as Raven, she called you a poser.  And...well, we all agreed.  So...”


“I got that haircut over Spring Break!  I hadn’t even seen Raven!  How could that make me a poser!?”  


Actually, scratch that.  I didn’t say that.  At the time, I had no spine.  Instead, I said, “Oh.  Okay.  Well, thanks for being my friend till now.”


And then I hung up.


Time to find new friends I guess.


WHEW!  I feel like I just vomited into my blog.  Sorry, guys.  Anyway, do any of you have stories of being bullied?  Come on, share with me your war-tales from the battlefields of junior high.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Courage



This past weekend was a long weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving. A lot of things didn't go as planned. I did a lot - not much of what I'd set out to do, and I learned a lot. Here's a story about one of the unexpected things I did this thanksgiving weekend.

I learned that I have courage, and I don't back down when given a challenge. In fact, if I'm challenged, my courage goes up. Here's what happened:

This Friday, David and I drove up after work to the little town I visit sometimes for my job. My friend (who is the most amazing musician you have evah evah seen) was playing at an open mic up there, and we pretty much just wanted to hang out. Well, after a couple glasses of wine and a couple hours of watching artists get up on stage and do their thing, two ladies from my office who know I'm writing a book added my name to the performance list.

I only found out because the two of them were giggling and pointing so I saw my name up on the whiteboard. Confused (and, I'll admit, a little annoyed), I was like "Um...what would you like me to do?" They said I should read an excerpt or something to promote my book.

"You're an artist! Be artistic!" they said when I told them that I didn't have any of my work with me.

Briefly, I considered erasing my name. But then, it occured to me that I was an artist. So, why the hell not!? I had just registered for the SCBWI conference and critique day, so I figured I'd have to start practicing explaining my book to people at some point. And why not in front of a half empty room of drunk artists. I couldn't have picked a more supportive environment if I'd tried. :)

After waiting through a few more acts, I stepped onto the stage. I couldn't see anyone. The audience was hidden behind the spotlights. I swallowed, organized my thoughts, and adjusted the microphone to buy some time.

"I'm not a performer," I finally said, making eye contact with the faceless shadows. "But, I am an artist."

Everyone cheered. It pushed me to continue.

"How many of you are under twenty?"

A group of about 10 kids in the front row all whooped and clapped. Most of them were boys.

"Alright, alright. Be honest here. How many of you are under twenty and read novels."

The front row was up clapping and cheering again. "Tell us about your book!" they yelled.

By this time, I thought I could stay on stage all day. "Alright, I'll tell you a bit about my book, then I'm gonna tell you a funny story, and then I'll clear off the stage so the real performers can do their thing."

More cheers. Seriously! They were cheering for me!

So, I told a brief synopsis about my book. It probably could have been better, but hell, it was my first time. And then I told this story about when I went to yoga - something the over-twenties could relate to also. And then, as promised, I cleared off the stage...to a full-bodied round of applause. Even people I'd never met came up to me after to say how awesome I did on stage.

And I thought, what an amazing experience to have thrust upon me. I always sit at these open mics and think "Someday people will see my art too." I never thought that I could also get on stage. And I am so thankful that I could confront this arbitrary fear about presenting my book to strangers, to standing on stage and talking about it. After this experience, I feel really confident (if not totally prepared...) to go to the conference in January.

I am an artist. And I can do anything.

Have you guys had to muster up some courage? Tell me about it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dangerous Double DDs

I haven't done one of my alphabet lists in a LONG time!  So, here's a new one for the letter D!

Things I hate that begin with D:

  • Dumb drivers (oo look, that one has TWO d's!)
  • Damp towels
  • Dogs that bark constantly
Things I love that begin with D"
  • Discmans!!
  • Deep water
  • Dolmathes
Wow, it was much easier to come up with the D things that I like. :)  I guess that's a good thing!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bean Curd and Yoga, a winning combination

In an effort to be healthier (and shed this super tense spot between my shoulder blades), I've taken up yoga again.  I did Bikram's for awhile a couple years ago, but since then I haven't really entered into a yoga studio.  Having the instructor yell at me that if it wasn't hurting I was doing it wrong kind of put a bad taste in my mouth for the whole practice.

So...yeah. :)  Anyway, I went to my first class last week (hatha this time, not crazy Bikram), and it was perfect for a returning beginner.  The instructor (Road Tripp, I kid you not) looked like Keith Richards with a mohawk and a bodyful of tattoos.  But he explained everything very well and made me feel super comfortable twisting up like a pretzel.  So, I bought a pass.

This past weekend, I decided to drag David with me.  It wasn't Mr. Tripp teaching this time, but I figured, it's open level Hatha Yoga.  How different could it be?

Well, by halfway through the class, when we still hadn't gotten off of our backs and the instructor said "I only know one asana in yoga and we will do that next," I realized just how different it could be.

I mean, I have nothing against meditation or spirituality (even though I'm not particularly spiritual), but maybe the label on that class should have been Meditation instead of Yoga?  Before you start throwing yoga blocks at me and yelling that I'm an idiot, let me tell you that I know Yoga is more than just postures and a good workout.  But, this is Vancouver, and I think a lot of people here (ME!!!) attend yoga for a little sweat, not to "dedicate our meditations to the suffering people of Lebanon," while we roll around on our backs and chant "Om."

Seriously, half the time this teacher just sat in the front of the class and told us about inspirational movies she's seen or about how engaging our abdominals will activate our fire chakra and help us release the darkness that lies deep within all of us.  I wanted to scream, "oh yeah, lady, you're releasing my darkness, and it's coming for you!"

Generally, I leave yoga feeling refreshed and positive, but something about all of this lady's postulating and chanting just left me with so much negative energy.  David came out and said "well that was a nice nap," while I came out fuming.  "What the frig was that!?" I asked him as soon as we were on the street.

He laughed at me...of course. :)

Fortunately, we went to another class last night by yet another instructor, and I liked that one much better.  Although, I did go dangerously soon after eating a spicy tofu curry.  :)  No major catastrophes though.  David, in all of his wisdom, explained away my fears, "Don't worry.  Lots of yogis are vegetarians.  I'm sure they're used to farts."  mmm. So pleasant.

All in all, week one of the healthy kick is going strong.  I didn't even drink coffee today!  Wonder how long I can keep this up.  I'm sure at least until my coffee break tomorrow! :)

How about you guys?  Do any of you do yoga?  Did you ever have any ridiculous instructors?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Location location location Blogfest!

Thank goodness for people like Serena who provide me with ideas of what to write in the blog!  Otherwise, it'd be another day without an entry.  Also thanks to Jennifer at Unedited for helping me find Serena's awesome blogfest!

In this blogfest, you pick a location from Serena's list and describe it however you want.  You can even draw a picture if that floats your boat. :)

I chose WOODSVILLE.  Here goes:

With a name like Woodsville, you might think my town is nestled into a quiet forest.  And maybe it used to be, back before they came and chopped down all the trees.

But now, Woodsville is nothing but a graveyard.

It's a graveyard of trees, a graveyard of nature, and a graveyard of dreams.  There's only one street in this town, and most of the shops on it are boarded up.  Have been for years.  The rusty marquis on the old movie theater still has enough letters stuck onto it to read "Stanley Kubric's 2001 Space Odyssey OPENING NIGHT!"  There's one cafe, Mama's, but no one goes in there unless they like rubbing elbows with the Hell's Angels who run the place.

Outside of town, the grass stretches brown for as far as the eye can see.  It's not a peaceful flowing carpet, though, like you're thinking.  See, here and there it's dotted with a gravestone.  No, wait, if you'll let your eyes adjust, you'll see that those are stumps from the trees that used to give Woodsville its name.

It's hard to escape this town.  I've been trying for years.  See, there's no jobs here to get any money.  But even if I could get money, how would I get away.  There aren't even any buses that run through this place.  Whoever's here stays here.  Whoever's not here stays the hell away.

~~~

There you have it!  and now, for the real Woodsville!  (No relation to my description!  I hope I don't offend anyone from Woodsville!)

So, skip on over to Serena's blog and have a go!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No, honey, it's table for THREE!!

....a seat for me, you, and of course my Main Character!  We can't leave her out.  She already feels isolated enough!

Writers, how well do you know your characters?

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading this post about getting to know your characters by Scott Tracey, a YA Scifi writer, and found that I totally identified.

Full disclosure here: I spend more time with my characters than I do with my best friends.  When I'm driving to work, I think about them.  When I'm at work, I think about them.  (Don't tell!)  When I'm making and eating dinner, I think about them.  When I'm writing...when I'm showering...when I'm watching stupid TV...when I'm reading...

Honestly, sometimes I wish I could get rid of them!  Not all of us get along so well. :)

But some of them, I have to admit, I even wish they were real.  Of course that's normal.  (please don't say otherwise!)  I mean, if I set out to write a really likeable, wonderful character, of course that character is going to be the most likeable to me.  I made her, so I poured everything that I think makes someone likeable into her.

Really, though, when you spend anywhere from several months to several years with your characters, you're bound to have a relationship with them.  If I spent that much time, even with someone I hated, we would still know quite a bit about each other.

This brings me to one of my favourite quotes about writing:

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing."
— Margaret Chittenden


It's scarily true.  I remember when I first started my book (I'm a pantser, fyi), I went out to dinner with my boyfriend and all I did was complain about what my characters were doing.  While he rolled his eyes, I went on and on, "I mean, I thought F was a GOOD guy, but then he turned around and did that?  Now I'm not so sure!  I can't wait to see how the others will react when they find out.  I hope E isn't too upset about it! ..."

Some people even write great amounts of side story about each character that never actually makes it into the book.  I am one of those people.  I don't do it for every character, but if someone is giving me a rough time, like I don't know how she'd react or why she reacts the way she does, I go back and write her back story and figure out who she is on a level that extends past the scope of the book.  (And, just so I don't feel like I'm wasting time, I tell myself that all of that will be released in a little companion anthology when people read and love my book...right?)

And, since this is a post about characters, I'll fill some of you in on little details about mine that won't make it into the book.  Here's the favourite ice cream flavor of some of my guys:

Elly: Pistachio or Neopolitan
Sam: Ben and Jerry's Half Baked all the way!  Mm gooey goodness
Lauren: chocolate...but I always get frozen yogurt.
Finley: dark chocolate with raspberry swirl
Push: Ice cream!?  I don't eat ice cream.

Do any of you do this?  How well do you know your characters?  Do yours, like mine, follow you around everywhere?  Tell me some little known fact about one of your characters that isn't/won't be in your book!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wow, you've got one huge...

...cowboy hat.

If you're wondering why I've been a bit MIA lately, it's because I'm here for the week:


Yep, it's just me, the cattle, and the tumbleweeds.  This is my little work away from work, home away from home.  Every six weeks I drive over the rockies and work for a week here. Until a couple months ago, I was the only speech path in the whole town!!  This place is small, but not that small.  I'm in high demand.


Anyway, working in a place like this really puts some perspective on things.  Below are just a few tidbits that I never would have experienced if I hadn't come here:


  • On one of my first visits here, I go into the office for an 8 am appointment.  This dad walks in with his child and they're both in camo fatigues and orange hunting hats.  The kid turns to me and says "We huntin'."  The dad continues, "Yeah, we just got back from hunting.  I bagged a moose today.  First one of the season.  Had to send'im home with my friend - otherwise he'd be in the back of my truck out front there."  WHAT!?  You just hunted a MOOSE and then came to my appointment!?  Yeah.  True story.

  • A colleague of mine up here came to the city once for a conference.  I remember her walking around town (this is Vancouver, mind you) saying "This place is HUGE!  Look how tall that building is!  How do you know your way around here without getting lost?"  Also, whenever I get visiting colleagues down in the city, all they want to do is shop!

  • Another early visit, I had a new client whose address wasn't found on google maps. I knew that the mum of this client used to work at the same place I do, so I asked around to see if anyone knew where she lives.  Finally, I got directions that went something like "Take X road far out, past the reservation.  There'll be a canyon appearing on your right.  After about 25-35 minutes, there'll be an unmarked dirt road on your right.  Take that road, then turn off on the second drive, past the barn.  That's the house."  So, I followed those directions out there and pulled up in the drive just about at sundown.  Behind me I heard this crazy noise that I'd never heard before.  I turned, and there was a giant cow leaning over the fence on the edge of the drive mooing her head off.  Then, the sound of hooves echoed up the dirt road and the dad and his kid came into view, on horseback.  Dad had on the biggest cowboy hat I'd ever seen and had his 2 year old clutched under his arm as he galloped up.

  • This town is tiny.  I think the population is less than 8000 and a lot of those people live outside of town.  Yet, I still got lost for the first couple months I was coming up here.  It's because people here CANNOT give directions!  I come from a city.  I use blocks.  I know street names.  There are people who've lived here their whole lives who don't even know the name of the main street!  (It's Voght, fyi)  So, I would get a lot of this: "You know the post office?  It's like kiddie corner across from that."  Or "Turn right just past the subway, but before you get to the building that used to be the old dental office."  or, "Remember where the old general store was?  It's right behind there."  Or my favourite, "Right under the flagpole."  Where the heck is the flagpole!?

Someday, when I retire, maybe I'll start an alpaca farm up here and just knit and write and knit and write all day long. :)

Here are some more photos for your viewing pleasure:

This is the highway I drive over to get here.  I never had to have snow tires before this!


And here's some more shots of town and outskirts:



So, you'd think that in a place with such peaceful beauty, my muse would be working double-time.  Oh well, after 12 hour days of intense work, my muse is nowhere to be found!  Time to turn on the TV...

Amanda

PS: None of these photos are mine!  Sorry. :(  My photos are all on my home computer, so these are "borrowed" from the net.

Do NOT join this contest!!!!

...because I want to win! ;)

This is the most superfab contest I've seen in a long time, and much thanks to my crit partner Laura Hughes for bringing it to my attention!  If you want to join in the mad race to win a THREE MONTH MENTORSHIP and many other prizes of great awesomeness, click here!

Good luck to you all me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nonverbal children help me write

Okay, I know, weird title.  But the other option was "Writing is like making love to a beautiful woman," and I just didn't think that fit my topic. :)  I want to tell you the lessons I've learned in my Real Job that apply to writing a novel as well.


  • You won't know what the problem is right away, just that there definitely IS a problem.  Often, I get referrals for children and when I see them, I know right off the bat that something isn't right.  With something like speech, though, it's often really difficult to know what EXACTLY the problem is.  For example, a three year old who isn't saying any words at all might: have a language delay, autism, a hearing impairment, a speech disorder that makes them not want to talk, pain in their mouth, a cognitive delay, a voice issue, ....I could go on and on.  I can figure out what the problem is with continued assessment and observation, referrals to other professionals, reading through my resource materials, and diagnostic therapy.  In writing (well revising I guess), it's the same.  You can read through your draft and think, "Wow, this isn't right," but you just can't put your finger on why.  Sometimes if you continue to search through your MS, read books about the craft, or get the outside opinion of a crit partner, you can figure it out.
  • Even when you know what you want to do, it won't happen overnight.  So, I saw a child this morning who's been on my caseload regularly for about a month.  I finally figured out that he has a speech sound disorder and expressive language delay, with no other obvious diagnoses (like hearing impairment).  Also, I know I want him to be able to say "m" and "b" sounds in words and I want his expressive vocabulary to increase.  Easy peasy, right?  I mean, GI Joe did tell me that knowing is half the battle.  WRONG!  Because now I actually have to fix it, and that's way more complex than just flicking a switch.  Again, same in writing.  You might know where your story is going or you might see exactly where to fix a problem in your current MS, but it's going to take time to get it exactly right.  You'll have to write and revise and re-revise until it's perfect.  And of course since we're all story tellers and not status seekers, to use the lingo of the "Maasster," perfection is what we seek.
  • Advice from experts is great, but innovation is priceless.  There's a lot of articles in speech pathology.  I'm always learning which treatments are "best" based on these controlled studies.  Like, "using this particular kind of flashcard in this way increased expressive vocabularies in five year olds with selective language impairment.  In the study, they were seen three times a day, five days a week, for 10 minute sessions with these cards.  So, use the cards."  Right, because I can see my kids three times a day all week long.  No, I see my kids for an hour a week, tops.  So, of course I take the advice of experts (not all of their advice is so ridiculous...), but generally I use what works.  Trial and error.  I might have kids who present exactly the same, but while one child might make huge gains with a certain activity, another one gets absolutely nothing out of it.  It's the same with writing.  The advice from experts is GREAT at giving you a starting point and helping you get through the difficult parts, but nothing beats your own innovation and intuition.  If you do a writing activity that doesn't seem to be helping your story grow, it's probably not the one for you.  Even if your best writing friend ended up with a whole best-selling novel from her work on that one activity.  Different strokes for different folks and you can't generalize to everyone.
  • Don't take it home with you.  For the first year of my career, pretty much all I did was talk about work.  It was all, "I have this one kid who..." and "I'm so stressed about this one family because I think...."  It was all I thought about ALL THE TIME!!!  I burned out pretty quickly, as you can imagine.  So, I learned to shut that part of my brain off outside work hours.  (Actually, lately I've been worried that I swung too far in the wrong direction...I think that part of my brain is shut off even during work hours.  oops!)  Anyway, same for writing.  Though it's really helpful to do thought experiments, like having a conversation with your MC on your morning commute (um, others do that, right? hehe), it's also important to not converse with the MC while out to dinner with your boyfriend.  He'll feel left out. :)  AND, you don't want to burn out on your masterpiece, do you?  Or miss out on the awesomeness of life, which, let's be honest, exists solely so we can notice it and file it away for our next book idea! :)  
So, I'm taking life's little lessons and trying to remind myself not to stress so much about finishing my WIP right away, or about why my little guy can't say "m" yet even though we've worked on it for 3 whole sessions!  I'm leaving my chatty MC at home tonight and going to hip hop dance class with Real People in Real Life.  (And if I'm lucky, I'll have in my head ideas for a new bestseller about hip hop dancers who learn to say "m" by the end of the night!)

What have you guys learned about writing from unlikely sources?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How The Dresden Dolls Told Me To Write

Do you believe in "signs?"  You know, like when something happens and you're like "oh that's God/Fate/The Universe/Whatever telling me something."

I don't.  Not really, anyway.  But when coincidences happen, I still take note.  Coincidences like this one:

I started writing my current WIP on December 16, 2009.  But that's not really where the story of my coincidence begins.  Let me back track, because (as my crit partners know) I love frontloading with backstory!

In 2000, I was a freshman at Boston University.  That year, I took up many habits, including always carrying a colourful umbrella, drinking my coffee black, and waking up to the Emerson College radio station as my alarm.  The morning show (I think it was called something like "coffeehouse") on WERS played some of the best music, including, as I discovered one fateful morning, the Dresden Dolls.  I awoke to "Coin Operated Boy" and knew that I had stumbled on something great.  I didn't realize it was something that would change my life 10 years later.  (Okay, it didn't exactly change my life.  But, you'll see.)

So, of course, I bought a DD cd and listened to it all the time.  I blasted my faves mostly, like Half Jack and Girl Anachronism, so I guess I never really listened to the disc from beginning to end without skipping around.

Fastforward to early 2010, where I'm sitting in bed with my headphones and computer.  I break out the old DD disc for some accompaniment since it has a dark and theatrical sound that compliments my WIP perfectly.  David is snoring next to me, but I don't hear it through the earbuds.  I'm so immersed in the scene I'm writing that I don't notice when the disc ends and I'm writing in silence.

I'm just about done with the scene, the one where my protagonist barely makes it out of a violent conflict and is taken to another world when I hear an old haggard voice say "Amanda..."  My heart leaps into my throat.  Before I can realize that the voice came from my headphones and not the middle of my mind, it finishes, "You're telling me a fairytale."

I of course listen to it two more times to make sure it actually IS on the disc and not my crazy imagination.  Then, just to double confirm, I wake David up.  "David, David, you HAVE to listen to this!  Did you hear that!?  Is it real!?"  He wipes the sleep from his eyes and stares at me like I'm mad.  I probably am, but he can't deny it is a crazy coincidence.

If I believed in signs, I'd have thought, "Of course.  I'm a born writer!  That's why fate saved this hidden track from me until now!"  But I don't.  So I didn't.  What I did do was remember that the singer/piano player in the Dresden Dolls shares my first name (Amanda Palmer).  I also remembered how I rarely listened to cds all the way through when I was in college and grad school.  So, it all makes sense really.  Not a sign at all.

Do you guys believe in signs?  In fate?  Has anything like this ever happened to you?

**Sidenote, the Dresden Dolls are doing a reunion tour on the East Coast and I'm painfully sorry that I don't live in Boston anymore!!! :(

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Bathroom Dilemma

Some of you know that I do most of my writing in coffee shops around Vancouver.  This is for a couple reasons.  First off, my job (the real one, speech pathologist) has me running all over town to see all my clients.  By the time I finally did get my office last year, I'd already made a name for myself as a speech path who does home visits, so all of my clients still want to be seen in their homes or at schools.  So, when I get a 3 hour break between clients (my schedule is STOOPID now that school has started up again), I just pop into the nearest cafe, open the lappy, and get working.  The other reason is more complex.  I CANNOT focus at home.  I do not know why.  I've always done my school work, real work, report writing, etc in cafes.  Something about the hustle and bustle around me helps me focus on whatever i'm doing.

Also, I'm addicted to coffee.  I guess that's a third reason. :)

Anyway, there are very few problems with writing in the cafe.  Apart from the occasional glare from a cafe manager who would like to preserve the "cafe culture" and hates seeing people with headphones and laptops all over the place.  I get it I get it, but really, get over it.

The biggest problem I face with my cafe-writing, is the bathroom dilemma.  I mean, after chugging down my large-dark-roast-for-here, I will need to pee.  It is just a fact of nature.  But, I have a whole little set up going on here.  My laptop, phone, and ipod are spread across the table, not to mention my workbag in the chair next to me that houses my wallet, car keys, work papers, and new sunglasses that David got me for my birthday.  Also, my second large-dark-roast-for-here is now sitting on the table too.

So.  How do I leave this to the mercy of the masses and go pee?  Usually, I ask someone nearby who looks trustworthy to watch it, but sometimes there isn't anyone nearby!  And really, how much do I trust my instinct on who's "trustworthy" or not?  Won't my luck in this respect run out eventually?

So, I wonder if readers will be able to tell at which points in my manuscript I was squeezing my legs together, trying to avoid having to pack up my whole operation just to retreat to the loo for 2 minutes.

Do any of you write in cafes?  If so, how do you handle the bathroom dilemma!?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great Contest!

I thought I would let you guys all know about a great contest being put on by C.A. Marshall.  See the entry rules here.  But really, all you have to do is follow her and spread the word about the contest and you're entered!  What do you win, you ask?

A FULL MANUSCRIPT EDIT FROM A REAL FREELANCE EDITOR!


Who is C.A. Marshall?  Well, in her own words, she is a freelance editor (like I said), YA writer, literary agent intern, and tea drinker.  (C'mon, who doesn't love a tea drinker?)

So, go forth and enter the contest!  Wait.  Actually, don't.  Because I want to win and if you all enter, it seriously lowers my odds! ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

writer's wine!

Found this bottle at the local liquor store and had to buy it! It's exactly how I feel about revisions. :)
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.2

Friday, September 10, 2010

graphic unicorn death captured on film

WARNING: The image below may be disturbing to some!!!  View at your own risk.








My friends and I are brutal. all in the name of a birthday! was it worth it? for a twix, hell yes!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't take it personally, but you guys all suck

Did you take it personally?  Yeah, I bet you did.  WHY oh why do people preface mean statements with "I hope I'm not offending you" or "don't take it personally," or my favourite, "Not trying to be harsh but."

Yeah.  That last one I really love, because you wouldn't SAY it if you didn't already KNOW you were being harsh.  It doesn't matter if you're trying to be or not.  You ARE being harsh and you know it.  And you don't care, or you're too lazy to revise what you're saying so it comes off less harsh.

This post is about critiquing.  Have you figured that out yet? :)

I'm not like most writers.  I'll come right out and say that I love putting my stuff out there.  None of my friends will want to read my book when it's done because I keep shoving chapters and revised chapters and better chapters at them every time they come over for dinner.

(Hmm...maybe that's why no one's been over for dinner in awhile.  I thought it was just our dirty kitchen.)

Anyway, I also love getting my stuff critiqued, even when it points out bad things!  Because I can really see how my stuff can be made better by getting another's perspective.  I love getting commets like "This part could use some polishing" or "I don't think this part really fits here" or "This isn't really in character for so'n'so."  Don't get me wrong, I mean, I also love hearing "Wow this part is awesome!" and "I love this character!" too, but if it was all that, I might start to wonder about my crit partners...

What I DON'T like hearing, though, is mean stuff thinly veiled as corrective criticism.  Even if it does point out a part that needs some work, there are always nicer ways to do that than, "Not trying to be harsh but this makes absolutely no sense."  How about, "I'm not quite clear on what character 1 means here.  Maybe clarify?" or, you know, some other non-offensive suggestion.

I mean, I'm TIRED of hearing that writers need thick skins.  Maybe critiquers and editors need nicer words?  Before you all start yelling that I'm a pansy, let me give an example of what I mean.  I think that the critiques given on QueryShark are stellar.  I'm not saying do away with negative comments altogether, because hell, we all wanna get better.  But Query shark actually DOES make people's queries better.  She gives them suggestions for changes.  She points out weak parts but doesn't say "Dear god why on earth would you EVER do that!?"

Well, okay, she does that sometimes, but usually it's when someone repeats a previous mistake or does something that everyone knows bugs her.

Anyway, dear writers and readers and critiquers of whomever, please don't preface any of your crits with "I'm not trying to be harsh."  If you feel the need to use that little disclaimer, take an extra second and think over what you're about to say.  Maybe change it so it ISN'T harsh?

Oh, and speaking of disclaimers:  This post was not about any of my crit partners!  You guys are the best and I don't know where DROWNING would be without you (maybe drowning?). :)  Also, if you ever critted something in a way I didn't like, I'd tell you.  (In an email like this: "Not meaning to be harsh, but your crits really suck.") :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reader Participation Post! Favourite classics

In preparation for a future post, I'd like to know some of your favourite classic novels.  Some of mine include:


  • Jane Eyre
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Mrs. Dalloway
Wow.  I'm very girly.  Girliness is not a requirement in your suggestions!  So please, tell me, what are your favourite classics?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blast from the Past - grade 7ish

I thought, since I'm writing for a young audience, that it might be neat to include some stories of my own younger years on my blog.  Most of these stories, the one below being no exception, will probably involve some huge humiliation of your protagonist (that's me!).  Get out your popcorn and enjoy!

The year is 1995.  My favourite music is Joan Osbourne, the Beatles, and Alice in Chains (I always was eclectic).  My hair's parted in the middle and hangs in great heavy hunks of dark brown past my shoulders on each side.  I'm not ugly, but I'm not one of the big lookers in my school.  At least, I don't think so.  But who does?

Tonight is the night of the school dance.  School dances are big things for me, because I have a crush on just about every guy in the school...except the ones who have crushes on me of course.  B and J are just about the only guys in school who ever ask me to dance.  B is like oatmeal.  He's not ugly, not cute.  He doesn't really have many extracurricular activities that I know about.  He's really nice though.  Like I said, oatmeal - with no cinnamon or brown sugar.  J is the same height as I am...and I'm the shortest girl in my class.  He reads university chemistry books and usually is disqualified from the science fair because his experiments are...strange.  One year he injected chick eggs with food colouring or something and then watched them hatch all different colours.  The judges didn't really know what to make of that.  [editors note: I should tell you that both of these guys ended up pretty hot and awesome in adult life.]

Oh yeah.  My good friend E sometimes asks me to dance too, but that doesn't mean anything.  E, unlike J, must be like two feet taller than me.  He is kinda cute, and really smart and funny too...but we're just friends, really. I might have a little crush on him.  Well, not really.  I'd never tell anyone that anyway.  We sit on the bus together every morning because we're the first two stops on our bus route.

So anyway, I'm getting ready for the dance.  My friends Em and K come over and we spend hours picking out outfits and blasting Ace of Bass.  Finally, I settle on this new dress I bought.  It's a purple floral babydoll dress that I worry doesn't fit right, but Em and K tell me I look fabulous.  They also tell me the giant zit on my chin isn't noticeable, so I'm not sure I can trust them.  I'm pretty sure the astronauts can see my chinzit.  I try to cover it up with the limited makeup I have, all cheap cast-offs from my mum.

Eight o'clock rolls around and we're ready to go.  I'm in the purple babydoll, Em wears some sort of black dress that I think is overly formal, and it hangs off of her super skinny body like it's a curtain.  But I'm still jealous of her super skinny body.  K is in jeans and a cute top, as always.  My mum drives us to the school gym and the whole way we're blabbing about who we're going to dance with.

My list is long, but crowning it is the piece de resistance: Max.  I've had my eye on Max for awhile, and I'm pretty sure I asked him to "go with me" a few times, but he always says he has to think about it.  That's fair enough, right?  I'm not too bothered by his lack of an answer, I mean I can't really decide between my crushes either.  But I do know that my heart races every time I see him on the playground.  We danced once at our last dance, and it was pretty good.  I mean, his arms were at least slightly bent, putting our bodies almost in the scandalous zone.

At the dance, I don't see Max for awhile.  I dance with some other people, E, B, and J for starters.  A few times.  I spend some time on the sidelines chatting with K and Em, trying to look available, but I still haven't caught sight of Max.  When I finally do, I go straight up to him and ask him to dance.  I mean, what else would I do?  Wait around for him to ask me?  That's like, what I've been doing the whole night.  Em and K always marvel at how easily I approach my crushes.  What's there to be afraid of anyway?  So, I ask.  And he says, "Yeah.  Gimme a sec.  I'll find you at the next slow song okay?"

I run back over to Em and K.  "He said he'd find me at the next slow song!  Ah!  I can't wait!"  They're all smiles and cheering me on.

I'm so excited I have to pee, so I run off to the bathroom, hoping that a slow song doesn't happen right then.  Just as I'm finishing, a softer Mariah Carey song comes on and I sprint out of the stall back into the gym.  Right there in front of me is Max, eyes on me, and he's striding towards me like he has a mission.  I smile and wave.  "Hi!" I say in my most bubbly voice.

And then he walks right past me and greets his friend behind me.  Oh.  Oops.  Well, no harm done.

But that's when I look over and see Em and K watching me, mouths hanging open.  Em mouths "underwear!" and gestures right at her butt.  It only takes me a second, but I reach back and, sure enough, the back of my purple babydoll dress is tucked into my underwear.  In front of everyone.

~~~~

So, any fun embarrassing stories for your guys's past?

Bloody Murders are Cool

Alternatively titled: David the Movie Snob takes on KICK ASS

So, before my long and blogless weekend, David and I watched Kick-Ass.  I cannot believe it took me so long to watch this movie.  When I first so the preview so many months (years?) ago, I knew that I HAD to see this, but somehow it faded off my radar until we found it at the video store last week.

Just to briefly synopsize (wow, that's really a word?): Kick-ass is about a dumbass dorky high school student who decides to be a superhero.  He doesn't have a super power, but is later helped out when he gets stabbed by some crooks and then hit by a car, leaving him with damaged nerve endings so he feels no pain.  Ta-da!  He may not have a super power, but he can suddenly take one hell of a beating.  And he does.  Several in fact.  While all that beating is happening, he runs into HitGirl and her father, BigDaddy (haha) who are actually Real superheroes, which apparently means they really kill people.  This is when Dumbass (I mean Kick Ass) realizes he's in way over his head.  In fact, I think the exact moment he realizes that is when he watches 11-year old HitGirl chop off a bad guy's leg.  Nice.

Despite the fact that this movie veered quite dramatically from what I thought it would be, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It takes a bit of suspension of disbelief, but really, it's a movie about a SUPERHERO so I think that's to be expected.  Once I got over the fact that the whole second half of the movie would involve a little girl brutally killing at least 50 people with the help of her father, I really had fun.  Oh, yeah, I also had to get over the fact that Nicolas Cage was in it...can't stand him.

David, though, didn't get over the Nick Cage or the little girl murderer.  He was not impressed.  "If it's going to be a super violent kind of disturbing movie, they should bill it as such.  Also, don't even get me started on the plot holes," was the main gist of his comments, though he went on for about 10 minutes on the subject.  He also didn't like the lame love story that they tried to stick the main character with.  Eh, not such a big deal.  I love love stories, even if they are lame. :)

The breakdown:
DMS rating: 3/10 "But my scale is actually a 5 point scale because I find it better suited to my ratings."  Right, Mr. Snob
my rating: 7/10

Friday, September 3, 2010

A long and blogless weekend

I've written before about the double-edged sword that is the internet.  As a writer, having such a community can really cut through the solitude that goes with the occupation.  However, it can also crowd ones head with a LOT OF NOISE.

And, I don't know about you, but sometimes that kind of noise just causes my mind to shut right down.  Which it has done.  Brain. Dead.  This is bad, because I want to finish my query and rewrite the middle of my story this weekend.  I have 4 days (well...3.5 now and counting down) without work, and I'm planning to use them to get this book mostly underway.

I haven't written anything yet.  I mean, I've written emails, two blog entries, a handful of tweets, comments on others' blogs.  But nothing in my WIP.

Why?  You know why.  The evil internet of course.

So, though I have reviews to write (Kick-ass, Cirque du Soleil) and some posts I want to write (mostly about contemporary writing advice and how it's going to bring down literature as we know it), I'm shutting down the blog for the weekend.

I AM going to get the middle of my book rewritten, come hell or high water, and I AM going to whip my query into some kind of presentable shape.

Starting now.

And, since I won't be around, I leave you all with someone else's blog entry to entertain you in my absence: What are we doing to YA?

AMC

Blog Awards!!!

So, as I posted before, I received two delightful blog awards from one of my favourite bloggers, Tessa Quinn.

There are rules about receiving these awards!  (See below) But they make this even more fun.  BUT, I'm going to have to change some of them to make this more fair.

I have to admit, excluding the professional blogs I read and Tessa's great blog, I don't actually read 15 blogs total.  There are about 13 blogs that I frequent most often, so those are the blogs who will receive my awards.  Because, all the blogs I read deserve awards.  Otherwise I wouldn't read them! :)  So, instead of passing the awards on to 13 lucky bloggers instead of 15.  :)  Sorry guys!

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
  4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.
One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are the seven things about myself:

  1. I was born in the US but live in Canada now.
  2. My boyfriend is from Sweden and I'm trying  to learn Swedish!
  3. I'm fluent in Spanish...at least I used to be after I spent a year studying in Madrid.
  4. I love to travel - as if that hasn't come across yet. :)
  5. In Real Life I'm a speech pathologist. 
  6. My favourite colour is green.
  7. I'm a terrible cook...but fortunately the Swedish boyfriend is a kitchen wizard! :)
And NOW (drumroll please), the 13 best bloggers!!!
  1. Laura Hughs - Not only a great blogger, but also my fabulous crit partner!
  2. The Gartner Gazette - I love when young people write YA fiction.  And I love with boys write YA fiction.  This guy is both! :)
  3. *Fiction Groupie* - Roni is a published author with great insight into revisions, editing, and everything else about the writing process!  
  4. M.B. Writes - Another great blog full of writing advice and inspiration!
  5. Ellie - One of my first followers!  Her blog is full of great writing excerpts and commentary on the life of a writer.
  6. duolit - A great blog about self-publishing with wonderful tips and ideas!
  7. So Sweet Lucidity - The blog of a very inspired writer that I met via Twitter.  She has wonderful ideas about book promotion and marketing.  You can also find her book fanpage on Facebook, where you can read excerpts!
  8. crazy book blog - A blog for all things writing and books.  She does reviews, but also has great links to other blogs and resources that are fabulous for any reader and writer.
  9. Musings from the Slush Pile - Julie is the most reliable blogger I've ever seen!  Somewhere between working on her own writing, teaching her children (homeschool), being amazingly funny on twitter, and having her own time (I hope!) she also manages to pump out an entry almost everyday.  And they're GOOD entries too!  How does she do it?  I know not.
  10. Ramblings of a Drifting Mind - This blog by a literary intern is full of fabulous review, mostly of YA fantasy and scifi.  (She's also a fellow Scott Westerfeld lover!)
  11. Confessions of a Bibliovore - another great blog full of wonderful reviews!
  12. The Writing Room - A great blog of a fellow writer with wonderful ideas for inspiration and motivation!
  13. More Random - One of my very first followers who not only writes in the cutest british accent, but has great humorous stories about life and motherhood.
Whew!  That took forever.  So, enjoy!