Monthly Archives: March 2013

…Moving On, Then.


I feel I should apologize for the… incident on Friday night. The one where I had not just a headache, but a full-blown motherfecking migraine, and I revealed the sad extent to which painkillers affect my brain. If you read it, you can probably guess why I’ve never tried hard drugs.

I don’t need them.

We’ll just leave that where it is and pretend it never happened, hmm? Good.

Now, moving on… ‘Tis the night before (Camp) NaNo! Do you know what that means? Sadly, it does not mean I’m all stocked up on crappuccino; I’ll have to fix that later. No, it means that I know exactly what I’m going to be working on (and I hope finishing) in the month of April, but as I was walking the dog this evening a BRILLIANT, AMAZING, STUPENDOUS IDEA jumped into my head, and it is demanding to jump the line. I’m like, “No, I have to finish this other thing,” and it’s all, “but dude, I start with EASTER, you can’t put that shit off!” Ugh, so pushy.

I can handle it, this happens a lot. I’ll just have to appease it by writing out everything I thought of tonight and telling it that it needs to fester a little longer. Maybe in July, depending on how things do between now and then. I might need a break from my other world by then.

Ooh, but it’s going to be fun! *squeak!*

Migraine WHEEE

I’ve had a migraine all day. It feels like an upset stomach in my head. My brain is going to throw up.

Where would that go? Maybe it already did and there’s nowhere for that stuff to go, and it’s squishing my brain. Why is no one reporting this in medical journals?! Somebody should get on that.

I’m pretty much a zombie. Advil, Tylenol, Aleve. It still hurts. I just don’t care as much. Do painkillers do this to everyone? I’m all wonky.

Actually, a zombie probably wouldn’t feel pain. Or do they? Would I feel better if I were deader? But then my limbs would probably fall off. Kind of a trade-off, I guess.

Know what’s a funny word? Ornery. Sounds like a bird. An Oriole. Or Ornithology. Orville the Ornery Ornithologist should be a thing. Should be a children’s book. I should do that after I finish writing my last brilliant idea:

Blueballs the Eternally Frustrated Pirate and His Crew of Seasick Seamen.



I should not try to work tonight.

Holy crap this teapot has a helm it’s a Game of Thrones teapot. O.o


Know What’s Coming Next Week?

Camp NaNoWriMo, that’s what!

Some of my longer-time (is that a thing?) readers might be familiar with my NaNoWriMo love. I hardly posted here at all in November, because I was spending so much of my time banging out words on Torn. Well, the big event doesn’t roll around again until next November, but they’re running camp sessions in April and July.


Camp’s a lot more laid-back; this year they’re letting you set your own word-count goals, and are encouraging people to write whatever they want: a book of poetry, a screenplay, a bunch of short stories, a guide to the care and feeding of cephalopods, whatever floats your canoe. Write 10,000 words or write 99,000 words, just do it and have fun.

I’ve already got my cabin assignment; I’m with a good group of people, most of them from Hamburg, Germany. I’ve packed my toothbrush and some cozy blankets for those nights when the wind blows cold off of lake NaNo, lots of tea and cookies. I’ll still have my regular responsibilities around here, still have the kids to love and squish and the husband to hang out with and the dog to walk, but other than that, I’m gonna be writing!

I’ll be here, too, just maybe not as much. It works out, though, because I’ve been posting too much lately. I’ll keep posting WIPpet Wednesday snippets when I can (in fact, I’ve already set a few up– this is me tempting fate again), and I’ll send y’all postcards via this blog.

Try not to miss me too much if I get lost in the woods, OK? 😉

Oh, and there’s still time to register (for free!) if you want to join in the fun. If you do and want to keep in touch via camper messages, my user name over there is KittySparkes.

Since We’re Talking About Character Descriptions…

People seem to agree (at least, in the comments on my last post) that less is more in character description, and natural better than forced.

So of course, I had to write the worst character intro description I could, because doing things the wrong way is way more fun than it should be.

Come on, you’d totally keep reading this, right? 😉

(for Jae)

I interrupted the flow of early-story action to study the oil painting of myself I’d just happened to finish the night before, because looking in a mirror is, like, so cliche, amirite? My sapphire blue eyes captivated me from beneath perfectly groomed, raven black eyebrows; my lips were like ruby-red cushions of desire, and my adorable little nose was almost as perky as my breasts. My alabaster skin glowed in the painting as it does in real life, like, all the time, and I sighed excessively over the tiny mole on my upper lip that everyone said lent my appearance a charming hint of imperfection that is so important in a heroine, but that I hated with a passion. Because I’m flawed. Did you catch that?

“Dude,” said my boyfriend, who was ridiculously handsome in ways that I will explain in excessive detail in a few paragraphs, “you are beautiful, and you forgot to mention that your earlobes are small but perfectly formed, but perhaps you could admire your painting and think more about your appearance when there aren’t any zombie capybaras invading your family’s colonial brick mansion, which is lovely but really not defensible in any way?’

I sighed and flipped my long, wavy, ebony locks back over a perfectly formed shoulder. ‘Fine,’ I said, ‘but when we get to the obligatory Zombies in the Mall Scene, I insist on at least twenty minutes in a changeroom with adequate lighting and a 3-way mirror. The People have a right to know how my butt looks in a miniskirt.”

He didn’t answer. A capybara was gnawing on his kneecap. Asshole.

He Looks Like What?!

So here I am, reading “Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight into it” and having a grand old time. I like Eris a lot (maybe partly because she reminds me so much of me), and Michelle Proulx has managed to create a male… well, I don’t know what he is. He’s certainly antagonistic, but something tells me he’s not going to end up being the enemy, so… prantagonist. That’s what he is. Anyway, he might be even less likeable than mine, which pleases me greatly. Why go half-way, right?

The book is a YA sci-fi, which means lots and lots of ALIENS. Obviously an author isn’t going to spend pages describing every detail of every creature we run into; that would be boring, and to my mind unnecessary. If it’s not important to my understanding of the story, I like to be given a few details to sketch a character in my mind, and then be allowed to fill in the rest myself. Tell me a character is deadly attractive and give me a few details; let me decide the rest for myself.

This book is a good example of that approach, but it’s made me consider a question I’ve asked myself before: how do the characters in my mind match up with the ones in the author’s?

This goes for any book. It’s one of the reasons I get nervous when a favourite book is being turned into a movie or TV mini-series (hi there, Under the Dome!); there’s no way all of the actors will look like they do in my head, and it ruins it a bit for me.

I drew a sketch of one of the characters from Imminent Danger, Miguri. He’s described as humanoid, 3 feet tall, brown-skinned, with massive blue eyes and a mop of white hair, plus a huge white, furry tail. He wears a brown, knee-length, belted tunic. Also, Eris thinks he looks like a cross between a monkey and a garden gnome, which kind of tickled me. And this is what came to mind:


I didn’t say it was a GOOD sketch 😉

It’s a great description, isn’t it? But I’d be willing to bet money that Michelle Proulx’s mental image of Miguri is nothing like mine. There were still blanks to be filled in, weren’t there? Ear shape, for one. My mind made them big and pointy, I don’t know why. Face shape is another; I guess what I see in my mind came from the monkey thing. Even the shape of the milky-white gem on his belt and the way that it’s hanging are probably off; I picture a smooth, round gem, but in the author’s mind it could be cut and polished.

I like that. It’s like a collaboration between writer and reader, and something new is created every time a different person reads a story.

I also wonder what people think my characters look like, the ones I’ve created. I tend to lean toward less description; Rowan has auburn hair and grey eyes, fact. I know exactly what she looks like in my mind, but does it really matter if someone else pictures her differently? Not so much. Aren gets a bit more description as Rowan notices things about him, but again the details are up to the reader to fill in. Does it affect the story if I think Rowan has a few freckles? Not unless Aren notices them when it’s his turn to speak. Then it matters… but he generally has other things on his mind.

Likewise for creatures. I don’t have a plethora of aliens to describe, but I have critters and creatures. My horses are rather unusual, so they get a few extra lines of description, but when a dog appears and I say “brown shaggy mutt,” you guys can feel free to give him floppy ears or straight as you see fit. Heck, give him white socks and a black patch over one eye. Have fun with it.

Stephen King says a little about this in On Writing, and if you haven’t read that one, I highly recommend it. He’s an author who tends to give very little physical description of characters unless it’s important to the story (or his POV character is observing it), but I’ve never had trouble picturing his characters in my mind.

One other note, while we’re on the topic: do you guys remember when they revealed the casting for the Hunger Games movie, and there were people who were outraged that Rue was being played by a black girl? Oh, the horror. -_-  How dare they use this beloved character to promote some kind of… Well, I don’t even remember what the arguments were, I tuned them out, they all sounded like assholes. Basically, people thought it was political, and were for some reason upset about racial diversity.

Guess what?

“She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin…”

The Hunger Games, chapter 7, page 98 in my edition. Quoted.

It doesn’t matter how you describe your characters, people are going to see what they want to see in their minds. If I pictured Miguri as a fluffy, pink-haired, horse-faced, 7-foot-tall thing with nifty shoes… that would be really weird, but I doubt the author would lose any sleep over it.

What do you guys think? When you’re reading, do you see characters clearly in your mind? Do you prefer more description, or less? When (and if) you’re writing, how badly do you want your readers to understand your vision of your characters, human or otherwise?

Oh, Autocorrect…

This just made me laugh so hard I had tears rolling down my face. I love you, iPhone.

EDIT: Just wanted to confirm that this ruined any potential emotional impact of the second act. -_-

WIPpet Wednesday the 27th, in Which Chapter 1 Kicks My Ass

So, the twenty-seventh, is it? If chapter 20 would have been too spoiler-loaded, you can imagine why I won’t be sharing anything from chapter 27 today. Boo. I like that one.

But Chapter 1 has, quite frankly, been kicking my ass lately. I’ve laid awake at night for hours, trying to figure out how to properly introduce Rowan. Aren already got his creepy little moment in the prologue (yes, I’ve decided, it’s staying in the story), so chapter one has to pick up from there. Different character, different mood (though not as different as she’d probably like to think), different voice. Going from magic and bad-guy-ness to a far more mundane place and a girl who thinks the only thing unusual about her is the fact that she doesn’t want the perfect life that’s coming to her.

Pfft. Teenagers.

I loved the previous version of this scene, but it lacked excitement, and we all know that stories aren’t allowed a slow build these days. No, I’m not bitter. And this does bring a major plot point to our attention in a much more interesting way. It’s just these first paragraphs that sit there and laugh at me.

Stupid words.

So here’s where we are now, a WIP in the truest sense of the term, though I’m happier with this now than I’ve been in a long time. It’s an unusual start, maybe, but I like it. This picks up right after the prologue ends; I guess that’s all you need to know.

27 lines (according to Scrivener) for the 27th. Enjoy.

(Chapter 1- Rowan)

Another day done.

Another shift at the library, with the smells of the old paper and new ink, with adventure and romance and tragedy. Another volume of fairy tales sneaked out of the restricted section and hidden deep in my bag; another morning of pretending not to listen to Mr Woorswith reminiscing to his cronies about the wonders and horrors he’d seen when he traveled past the mountains when he was a young man.

Another day of pain.

Another day closer to the next phase of my life, to everything I was supposed to be longing for, to the part where my odd little life would finally begin to line up with what it was supposed to be from the start. Still no closer to figuring out why all of those good things sometimes felt so wrong, though.

My boots scuffed over the cobblestoned street, kicking up dust that swirled in the breeze and settled into a thin layer on the bottom of my skirt. My mother would tell me to lift my face to the world, to take pride in myself, and for goodness sakes just smile a little, but she wasn’t there to bother me, and I could hardly be bothered on my own. A bright ray of sunlight broke through the clouds overhead, and the dull headache that had been building all day pressed harder at the back of my skull. The world swam in front of me, and I paused to take a few deep breaths. You’ll be home soon, I told myself. Just get home, make some heartleaf tea, go to bed, everything will be fine. This thing hasn’t killed you yet, it’s not going to happen now.

From somewhere far away, a clattering noise interrupted my thoughts. Hoofbeats on stone, faster than they should have been. I opened my eyes, but the pain made everything slow; by the time I lifted my head and struggled to understand exactly what was happening, they were almost on top of me: four horses with uniformed riders wearing the king’s colours, armed but not armored. What’s the rush, boys? One of them yelled; I tried to step back against the building behind me, but something wasn’t working. Nothing connected. I closed my eyes again.

A hand grabbed my arm and yanked me away, spinning me out of the road as the horses thundered past. It hurt my shoulder, but that hardly mattered when the pain in my head was screaming louder than it had been before, the dull ache roaring to life, growing sharper when my head snapped sideways on my neck. I pressed my hands to my eyes and leaned into my rescuer. My brother. Who else would have bothered?

When I opened my eyes a few seconds later, Ashe was looking down the street where the riders had disappeared. “Didn’t even look back,” he observed.

“Must have been late for something.” I sat on one of the crates that were stacked outside of the grocer’s store.

“Too late to do any good, that’s for sure.” Ashe scratched at the arm of his blue messenger’s uniform and bent to pick up the papers he’d dropped when he pulled me out of the road. “You OK, Ro?”

“Same old thing,” I said, and tried to smile. “Just need to get home to bed.”

He frowned. “I’ll walk with you.” I started to object, but he held up a hand to stop me. “No, I know. It’s not my fault you’re incompetent, but I’d feel sort of bad about it if something happened to you. I just have to post these on the way.” I stuck my tongue out at him. He laughed, then offered me a hand to help me up. “Come on.”

Hmm, where are those soldiers going? Nothing a nice girl would want to get mixed up in, that’s for sure.

As always, thanks to KL Schwengel for hosting WIPpet Wednesday. If you want to join in, or to check out everyone else’s offerings for this very awkward date, head over here for the links.

Thanks for reading!

And hey, look what I found at Walmart. 🙂

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