Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction - The Road Not Taken

NaBloPoMo Post #30

Prompt: The Road Not Taken

The road not taken leads me into trouble. Again.  And this time, literally. What can I say, my curiosity overpowers my reasonable side. Time and time again. So instead of taking the sunny bright path to find my runaway cat, I of course chose to take the creepy dark road overgrown with strange plants and sinister old trees.

“Buffy, where the hell are you?” Yes, my cat is named Buffy. The vampire-hunting, butt-kicking Buffy. Because I think that if my cat turned into a person, she would totally be a kick-ass chick.

A few pairs of glowing eyes stare at me from both sides of the path. 

“You better not have eaten Buffy,” I say to them, my voice bolder than what I feel. They just blink and keep staring.
I keep walking until I reach a dark lake. Mist is rising above it in spades. Very dramatic. Even more dramatic is the mermaid sitting on a large boulder in the middle. She flaps her green scaly tail at me and giggles. The mermaids here have the brain power of twelve a year-old. 

I’m about to pass her because I have no interest in mindless talk just now, but I pause to ask her if she saw Buffy.

“Oooo, a kitty. They are so cute,” the bubble head mermaid says. “You know, kitties don’t like water.” 
Great, she’s a fountain of useless, and unsolicited, knowledge. 

I’m about to walk away when the mist lifts a bit and I see Buffy curled up on her lap.

“Can I have my cat back please,” I ask her, my words dripping with honey. 

“Come and get her,” the mermaid says and giggles again. 

Ugh, great. She wants to play. Now I have to get wet.  I slowly proceed to step into the water. It’s weirdly warm and I plunge in. My head deeps below the inky depth and I feel water entering my nose.

I start coughing and open my eyes. I’m in my bed. Buffy is sitting on top of my chest and persistently licks my nose.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

NaBloPoMo Post #29

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2 senetnces from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author
"He rubbed his eyes and looked at me, and there was relief in his voice. 'No offense meant, Mercy. Your memories of the woman's death are very different from mine."

p. 275

Blood Bound. Book 2 in The Mercy Thompson Collection by Patricia Briggs (e- version)

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Suspension of Disbelief

NaBloPoMo Post #28

Suspension of Disbelief is defined by Wikipedia as “a formula for justifying the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literary works of fiction. It was put forth in English by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleride who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.”
It is often up to the reader to “suspend disbelief” so they can immerse themselves into a story and overlook certain fantastical aspects.

However, is is also up to the writer to help the reader to be able to do that. The writer has to wrap her story, no matter how fantastic, in something realistic and believable in order for the reader to accept it as possible. If there are aspects in the story that the reader can identify with from his own life and surroundings, it will be easier to accept that something somewhat different and unusual might in fact take place within that more common surrounding.

There are many aspects of TV shows and movies that ask the viewer to suspend disbelief, even in stories that are not fantasy or sci-fi in nature. Sometimes it’s small things, like the fact that a pregnancy test does not turn positive within 3 seconds of peeing on it (like it did on Walking Dead) or the fact that medical or forensic results are not available within hours of the test being done or crime being comitted. But there’s limited amount of time and content to be fit into a show or a movie, and so things like that are necessary to move the plot along without making a movie last hours or days.

In fiction, it is up to the writer to make the reader believe that something is possible that doesn’t seem plausible. The way to do that is to place the reader into a familiar surrounding, include details that are familiar and that will immerse the reader into the world. Then the writer presents a fantastical aspect by either saying outright that this is not a regular occurance in that world or by letting the reader discover that himself.
One of the most important aspects for the writer to remember here is to be consistent about her world and the details. If there’s inconsistencies throughout the story, it will instantly put the reader on alert and he will treat the rest of the story with a sense of caution or suspicion, and possible disbelief.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pictures From Pennsylvania Weekend With Family

NaBloPoMo Post #27

I can't talk enough about how inspirational it is to be around beautiful nature for a few days. Here are a few pictures from the weekend spent in Pennsylvania with my husband and family.

Back in the city now, but the few days of relaxation was really helpful and I hope to keep the momentum going. One day I would love to be able to get away for a few weeks (or maybe even months) and just write and go for walks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Nice Family Thanksgiving Weekend

NaBloPoMo Post #26

I'm not posting an official  once blog post today because I'm away with my husband and my family in Pensylvania. It's so nice to get away once in awhile from the hustle and butle of a busy city and into a more country environment. It's beautiful up here in the mountains, in the midst of a forest. I can imagine myself staying here for a few months, talking long walks, breathing fresh air, and then sitting in front of the fireplace to write and read.

I will post a few pictures from here tomorrow.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend everyone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Art & History Feature - Johannes Vermeer

NaBloPoMo #25

I'm proud to announce that today's post is written by my multi-talented niece Rebecca. Rebecca is a sophmore in an art program in her high school. She is also a brown belt in shotokan karate. I would like to thank  you Rebecca for introducing us to Johannes Vermeer.

Johannes Vermeer
 Johannes Vermeer. That’s probably not the first name that comes to mind when the Dutch Golden Age is mentioned. And wrongfully so. Johannes Vermeer was one of the greater 17th century Dutch painters, with a style that was unique and-dare I say it-superior to other Dutch masters such as Rembrandt or Frans Hals.

The Girl With a Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer was born in 1632 in the city of Delft, in the Netherlands. He was born to middle class innkeepers and prominent silk weavers. His father was a member of the St. Luke’s Guild, and this is from where Vermeer would acquire his knowledge of art.
Vermeer married Catherine Bolnes, a wealthy Catholic woman. She modeled for him in a number of paintings. He was inspired, due to his marriage to a Catholic, by great Italian artists like Caravaggio. Some of his paintings show Catholic influence through biblical and classical mythological themes. These paintings also show inspiration from the Italian Baroque style. 

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Vermeer’s painting style was heavily reflective by his being a realist painter, showing mastery of techniques such as chiaroscuro. Vermeer created a majority of his paintings in the 1660’s. This was a period of financial struggle for him, and it comes through in his work, being very intense. Some of his masterpieces during this period took up to three years to complete. During this period, Vermeer experimented with a number of unique and complex techniques of composition.

Young Woman With a Water Pitcher

One especially noted technique that he developed was the use of the camera obscura. The camera obscura was a primitive form of a camera, which captured an image and projected it upside down, and though it had been around for a while, not many artists took advantage of it and furthered their work with this tool as Johannes did. Vermeer would take the image, and trace over it with incredible accuracy. This sort of perspective was very unusual in Vermeer’s time, but he appeared to have mastered it, even blurring out certain objects, just as you would see in a photograph. He took delight in the use of various lenses and contraptions to find new ways of capturing light. Though this is a bit like cheating, Vermeer added so much to the photographs-you have to remember that they weren’t the fantastically precise digital images of today, instead, being grainy and black and white. His use of color was bold and innovative.

The Astronomer
The Geographer
The 1670’s were a fantastic move forward in his works, developing new methods and using light and shadow to define space. Sadly, his death cut his excelling career short in 1675, when he died of a stroke.
It is quite odd to hear that during his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer was not very famous or revered. Although his works were beautifully made, it is believed that he only produced about 74 works, although today only 37 are accounted for. He gained modest celebrity, but was soon forgotten after his death. Vermeer lay forgotten for nearly two centuries. In the 19th century, however, his work was rediscovered, and since then his reputation has grown so much so that he is now considered one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. And rightfully so.

The Milkmaid

As a true artistic revolutionary of the Baroque era, his works made even the most ordinary household experiences into beautifully, intensely composed masterpieces.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In Honor of Thanksgiving - All That I'm Grateful for

NaBloPoMo #24

One of the most important things I believe everyone should occasionally take stock of is the things that they are grateful for.  It’s incredible how much better you feel when you go through such a list.

In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a list of things that I’m very grateful for in my life:
  1. My amazing, supportive and unbelievably understanding, and all-around wonderful husband, Tommy. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in life. He’s my best friend, my co-adventurer and I’m grateful for him Every Single day. 
  2.   My family. They are the best support system I could ever have. They’re always there for me, no matter what’s going on in my life. They are not just my family, they are my best friends and I have the best time hanging out with them, especially my adventurer parents, my brother, my sister-in-law (who’s more like a sister), my two very intelligent and fun nieces and my grandparents. My family taught me to love, laugh and live every day with an open heart and mind (with a good dose of being a realist, nevertheless). I also have to give credit to my parents and my grandparents for encouraging me to read very early on and to develop my sense of curiosity. In other words, among other things, they are directly responsible for my love of reading, and as a consequence – writing! 
  3.  My multi-talented, wise beyond her years, co-writer and dearest friend Tina Moss. Without her support and encouragement, I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today. Thank you for sharing with me our karate adventure, and, most of all, for encouraging me (and occasionally kicking my butt) in my writing. And thank you for being my friend through all the ups and downs life delivered in the years we’ve known each other.
  4. All of my friends, really special and wonderful people, especially Melissa C. and Susan F.
  5. This year, I have one more thing to be grateful for – my literary agents Jenn Mishler and Fran Black.  Tina (my co-writer on the Keys project) are so happy to have their representation!
  6. The writing community is consistently giving me support and motivation that I need to write. I especially want to thank Heather McCorkle and #WriterRoad group – remarkable group of writers in all stages of the writing career.
  7. Karate and our dojo (karate school). Karate has given me my second family, amazing friends in my dojo brothers and sisters. It gave me discipline to finish what I start. And it gave me my great women's class to teach.   
  8.  The last surviving cat that my husband and I love to pieces, Bones. He’s the last of the Mohicans, the last of the three. Unfortunately, we lost two in a matter of a year last year – they will always be in our hearts. I’m so grateful for Tiger, my parents’ dog, who was also my dog the last few years I lived with my parents 10 years ago. He’s the most loving, adorable and kind dog you’ll ever meet. And his looks have caused much discussion                                                               
  9. Bones
  10. The World Wide Web for bringing me closer to the writing community and for letting me experience exciting and helpful websites and blogs. 
  11.  I'm grateful for the world of books. For romance, and urban fantasy, and paranormal, and historical fiction, and, and, and... That is the world I love, the world that gives me my getaway, excites my passions, stirs my fantasies. The world that I always want to be a part of.
  12. And finally, last (but definitely not least, as you can guess) I'm so grateful to be able to even try to call myself a writer. Writing has always been my passion, and the last couple of years really made me realize that this is something I want to be doing. All the time. All my life.
There are many more things that I’m grateful for but I’ll leave it at that.

What are you grateful for this year?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction - The Tiger

NaBloPoMo #23

The Tiger

The tiger stalked through the jungle, body low to the ground, ears perked up. Its massive body glistened in the interspersing light and shadow. He was the king here. The ultimate predator. His pale green eyes sighted the prey, slithering its way along the rough earth covered with foliage and above-ground roots of an olden giant of a tree. The tiger pounced and a short fight ensued. The snake twisted and thrashed wildly but the beast had it by its neck and the fight was over quick. The snake stopped moving and hung limply in the tiger’s jaw, its long body shimmering like a wet watercolor.  

This snake won’t attack any more people in the village, the tiger thought with satisfaction. The people have a protector now.

Yes, I’m the king now, the tiger thought, laying down in the shade after a good meal. Why would I ever want to go give up this power, this strength? Why would I ever want to go back to being a weak human that I was?

For only a month ago, he was bitten by a tiger and survived to find that he could transform into the beast whenever he wished. The problem was he didn’t wish to transform back into a human. Or was it a problem?...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

NaBloPoMo Post #22

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2 senetnces from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"My Rebecka case was Harriet. In this instance we don't even know how she died. We can't even prove that a murder was committed. But I have never been able to let it go."

p. 214

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Favorite Writing and Writer Blogs - Part II

NaBloPoMo Post #21

Writing oriented and writer/author blogs can be a great source for learning about the writing craft, fun ideas and much inspiration.

Here's more of my favorites (see My Favorite Writing and Writer Blogs - Part I post as well)

The Bookshelf Muse already had many great articles and resources, but recently they came out with perhaps one of the most useful tools for a writer. It speaks to the concept of "show, don't tell" that many writers often struggle with. Meet the EMOTION THESAURUS! An amazingly extensive collection of various physical actions and reactions for each emotion a character can experience. What a great tool; it now resides on my browser favorites bar. Very Highly Suggested!

A. Victoria Mixon, Editor - Many interesting articles on writing craft, writer tips and editorial  advice

Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased - The Bumps and Bruises of an Animal Trainer and Young Adult Writer - A fun blog from a YA writer and animal trainer. Posts and articles include stories from the side of the animal trainer, as well as writing discussions and carft advice

Christine Dodd's Writing Tips - Tips for writers from the author of contemporary and paranormal romance

Kriss Brady - Keeping the Passion for Writing Alive - informative fun writing articles and tips

Watch for My Favorite Writing and Writer Blogs - Part III sometime next month

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Half Way Through NaBloPoMo - update

NaBloPoMo Post #20

Well, it's half way through the NaBloPoMo challengee, and I'm happy to say that I have been able to hang in there so far and post every single day, no matter how busy I get, or how sick I feel. I feel great satisfaction knowing that I have been making an effort to write more every day, not just for the blog but for the WIPs. I meant November to be a challenging writing month for me, even though I decided not officially commit to NaNoWriMo this year. This month is giving me the opportunity to see how I can adjust my schedule and what I have to do every day in order to accomplish this goal.

Next month, the holidays will be a great chance to write more during the break at my day job. I'm organizing my thoughts and ideas presently on my WIP (the individual one, vs. the 2nd book we're working on with my co-writer Tina Moss).

The whole argument of the pantster writer vs. plotter has always been very interesting to me. I consider myself very much a mix of the two, but probably a bit more on the pantster side. That is a topic that I will approach in another post.

Running to write now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pictures That Inspire Me - Part II

NaBloPoMo Post #19

I give you more pictures that inspire me.

Watch for more goregous inspiring pictures in future posts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Art & History Feature - The Cult of Isis

NabloPoMo Post #18

Isis - the mysterious Egyptian goddess with origins in ancient Greece whose influence lasted well into the Roman era and further. Who is she and what has made the cult of Isis so enduring?

 In the Egyptian mythology, Isis, was the daughter of Geb, the god of the Earth and Nut, the goddess of Sky. She was the mother of god Horus, and the sister and wife of Osiris. Her love and devotion for her husband was such that she risked her own life to bring him back to life when he was killed by Set. The legend is that after Set (also a brother to her and Osiris) murdered Osiris, he scattered his body parts so that he couldn't be brought back. However, Isis found all the pieces but one - the phallus, which was swallowed by a fish - and was able to put Osiris back together and made him a new phallus with magic.This is one of the original stories of the magical resurrection. Magic played a large role in the story, as Isis needed to learn magic in order to resurrect her husband. The myth tells of Ra having the necessary magic but refusing to teach it to Isis until she tricks him into revealing his secret name (she makes a snake bite him while she's the only one who can give him the cure for the bite). This is only one version of the Isis legend. She was later also associated with the god Ra and the god Hathor.

It is interesting to note that the concept of learning a deity's name, or "secret name", giving one power over the said deity, goes through many religions, including Judaism.

When Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great of Greece and later by the Roman Empire, the cult of Isis spread like wildfire through Greco-Roman region.

With the advance of the early Christianity, the worship of Isis did not disappear  completely. In fact, it was incorporated in many places into the Christian worship, as not plausible as that may sound. Many early statues of Mary, mother of Jesus were very similar to the status of Isis.

Isis was known by many names and was the patron goddess of mothers and wives, as well as the goddess of nature and magic. In the Book of the Dead, she is known as “she who gives birth to heaven and earth, knows the orphan, knows the widow, and seeks justice for the poor and shelter for the weak” (Wikipedia: Isis)

What is it that makes Isis so important and endearing to so many peoples and centuries? Her story is the story of spousal and maternal love - themes that are as enduring as time itself. Being the patron of women and nature, she was the one women turned to for protection and understanding of their needs. The role that was later carried on by Mary. Her story appeals to romantics, adventurers and magic legend seekers the world over. It is also appealing to those who enjoy reading about strong women characters who do what needs to be done rather than sit passively by and let things happen to them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The "ME" Time In Karate Classes And In Writing

NaBloPoMo Post #17
Some of the girls in Women's Karate class that I teach
I get an immense joy and satisfaction from teaching the women's program in our dojo (karate school). It's especially true when students come up to me after class to tell me that they had fun and loved learning the lesson. Better yet, the satisfaction comes when women tell me how they were exhausted, overwhelmed with work or upset about something in their personal life and almost didn't come in for class that night. But they made an effort to come and were all the more happy that they did.

That hour or two of karate training is the personal time each person in the class deserves, the "me" time that nobody can interfere with. We often advice that students leave their life problems off the mat and concentrate fully on what they're doing. The problems will be there still when they leave the mat, but for the time of the class, it's only about them. It's amazing how many people leave a little happier.

Writing should take much the same form. It should be the "me" time of the writer that nobody can take away. For that time that you're writing, whether it's half an hour, an hour or half a day, you should not be thinking about anything else. Easier said than done, but all the more satisfying when accomplished.

In our dojo during a class. That's me in front, and my co-writer and dojo sister Tina Moss on the right. I think we were still brown belts at the time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writer Wednesday Flashfiction

NaBloPoMo #16

Ok, I give up. I got pulled into trying to write flash fiction. I'm fascinated by it and need to try my hand at it.
So I'm adding one more scheduled feature to the blog called Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction. Sometimes I will use word or picture prompts, sometimes I won't. Let's see what comes of this. Please critique away because it will help me to hone my flash fiction writing.

Here's my first try. It was inspired by watching a professional tango couple dance. The picture is random.

Their bodies intertwined in an intimate embrace. Only tango existed in this starlit night . The music, rich and darkly sensuous, invaded their minds and slithered its way down into their hearts. She didn’t know his name, didn’t need him to know hers. For one night only they would disappear from the world and exist only within the tango.
Tonight belonged to anonymity, to mysterious secrets to be imagined but never revealed.
Her fiery red dress reminded her of blood spilled a long time ago. But she would not think of it now. Blood was her existence but she would not give it her soul.
The beats of tango intensified in a rising crescendo. She put her head on his shoulder, one leg wrapped around his torso. He was beautiful and she didn’t want it to stop.
But blood sang its own melody and she couldn’t resist its rhythms. She would take this beautiful man with her and they will dance tango every night.
She sighed, a whisper of air in the warm breeze, and quietly sank her fangs into his neck as the last notes of the tango faded.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

NaBloPoMo Post #15

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2 senetnces from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

Not long ago, she discovered Dmitri had once had a wife he had loved. Now she realized he might have had an archangelic lover. "Bad breakup?" Jelousy turned her words razor sharp.

p. 204 (Nook version)

Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Music That Inspires My Writing

NaBloPoMo Post #14

 I've seen a lot of conversations on author blogs and chats about what music inspires them when they write, do they listen to music while writing and so on. So I though I'd share my musical inspirations.

Generally, I do not listen to music while writing (although I often have TV playing in the background). However, when I'm on the move, I usually have headphones in my ears. Music has always been a huge part of my day and my inspiration. Whatever mood I'm in, it either makes me feel stronger, uplifts me or just keeps me company.

My musical tastes are fairly eclectic. I listen to all kinds of music. Some artists I love to the point where I will buy everything I can find by them. Others, I will only love one or two songs and will not rush to buy the rest of their wok. I'm ruled by moods when it comes to what I listen to.

Here's a sampler of what music I love.

Depeche Mode
Did you ever have a music group/band that went through many years with you and you feel like almost every song applied to some point of your life? Well, Depeche Mode is that group for me. I have been listening to them since I was 11 or 12 and I have all of their albums, including remixes, on my ipod.

Here's the list of some of the other groups that have special spots in my heart and on my ipod

And One
Beborn Beton
Black Lab
Blue Stone
Breaking Benjamin
Celtic Woman
Conjure One
Dream Theater
In The Nursery
Theatre of Tragedy
Within Temptation

This is just a sample of my playlists. Yes, as you can see...very eclectic.

I'm continuing to build my music collection constantly, so if you have any suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them.
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