Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Part Eight

As you might remember, I'm basing the characters in this story on my pets and, well, I have a lot of them. I hope all the names aren't running together. We've already met quite a few characters, and I am introducing more tonight. I'm just dying to draw up a character map for you guys, but that would give some fun stuff away.

Maybe I can just refresh your memory a bit. Rudy has many associates and so far we've seen an unflappable madame, a weasely informer, a bull of a heavy, a slick bartender, and a coniving dancer. Who else could be working for Rudy? Stay tuned, there's more fun next week!

(It is probably very telling that most of my cat's personalities lend themselves too well to being baddies. Where did I go wrong in raising them?) :D

Part Eight: Heels in the Marketplace

The good thing about having a reputation like Rudy’s is that he didn’t actually have to do anything. People, things, and events just fell into place around him; if something didn’t fall exactly where he wanted it to, all he had to do was snap his fingers and his associates would make sure the offending person or object never stepped out of line again. It was the perk Rudy enjoyed the most.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spatulans meet up

Last week, Fantastic Spatula's online friendships became a little less virtual and a little more affectionate. Lucy and I met the lovely Léna Roy, whose blog we've followed for over a year and who we're happy joins us at Fantastic Spatula. 

 Léna did a writing workshop and reading at Fountain Bookstore in my town, Richmond, VA. Léna started off the writing exercise by asking us to reach into our bags or pockets and pull out one object. That required some bravery, because the last time I reached into my purse, I could have lost a hand. 

My hand came out with all my digits and my tape measure. That tape measure, along with an hour of exercises and writing, inspired a short story about a rebellious tween and a place of one's own. (I definitely channelled a little Thoreau and a little Virginia Woolf when pondering these exercises.) After I've worked on the short story for a while, I'd love to share it with Fantastic Spatula. 

And I'd love to see what results you turn out. 
Pull out an object from your bag. Write about where you got it, how it made you feel, etc. 
Then pick a pair of shoes and imagine a person who would wear them (not yourself). 
Close your eyes and visualize a place. What emotion do you feel associated with the place? Describe that place and convey the emotion through telling detail. 
Bring it all together. Put your character in your setting. Give him a desire. What are the obstacles to his desire? Incorporate your object into the story. 

A big thank you to Léna Roy and Lucy Wiggins and everybody else at the signing and dinner for a great evening of discussion, laughter, and hugs. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chapter 1: The House with Blue Roses

This is the first half of  Chapter 1 in our tale of how many ways I can abuse my characters. I'm dangling a Cadbury egg in front of my computer screen so I'll have a small reward for getting this entry written. Chocolate works for me every time. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1:The House with Blue Roses

As usual, something was on fire and I was catching the blame. The mechanics classroom of my school was ablaze. The first day and already I've messed something up. How was I to know that a combustion engine could... combust? Still, it wasn't entirely my fault. Sam was the real one at fault. After all, best friends for fourteen years he ought to know better than to dare me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time Flies

I swear it was 6:30 a minute ago. And now it is nearly ten. How is that time passes so quickly when you don't want it to? Hm, I suppose I shouldn't have been watching David Bowie videos on YouTube...

Oh well, at least I finished tonight's installment before the siren call of my warm, comfy bed got to me. And now, if you will excuse me, I need some sleep.

Part Seven: Tulip or Turnip

Mickey was astounded by how much could happen in one instant.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chapter 4: Parrish The Thought (Part II)

[Happy International Irish Awareness Day, everyone! I hope you all got a little bit Irish tonight in whatever way you deem appropriate. Me? Corned beef, cabbage, carrots, taters, and Irish soda bread with the mum! Not to shabby. ;)

Here's the second half of the chapter I promised from last week. Which rounds us out and brings us up to speed to where we began at Chapter 5! Now, if only I can figure out what I want to say in Chapter 1...]

Things were not turning out according to plan.

No Merle to be seen or sensed. No windows to crawl out of, and the one door out was locked from the opposite side. I find myself pondering the age old question, "What Would Houdini Do?" when I hear a polite cough and shuffle from behind. A 180 spin on the heel and I am standing across from a gentleman propping up the corner wall.

He's tall, incredibly lanky, slight dark circles cradling wicked green eyes with a tossle of brown-black hair. He's devilishly good looking if I do say so myself. Which I am, because, well, he's me.

The thing you have to know about time traveling is that you aren't allowed to go back into time. I tend to forget this rule, especially if I find myself in a bind.

"Alrighty. How far back did I have to travel to safe my arse this time?" I have never talked to myself quite so literally before. Or for that matter, heard myself answer my own question.
"About fifteen minutes. I came back to make sure I didn't fudge up. I barely made it out last time." I, well the me standing in the corner, ruffled my (his) hair and scuffed the floor with his (my) shoe. Noticing your own quirks gets a bit trippy after a while.

"Fine, fine. Merle's going to hate me for this."
"Ne'er mind the old man, we got to get me out of this mess."
"I'm not disagreeing. How did I get out of here fifteen minutes ago?"
"The same way I got in. Use the damned watch."
"Ugh. You know that always makes me sick."
"Obviously. Now hurry it up a bit there, Houdini."
"Got it, got it."

Yes, time travelers keep watches. How do you think we kept ourselves sane? Our watches are only set to one time, however. And aren't to be used unless we find ourselves in the moment of life and death. I'm pretty sure if I broke the rule, came back to have a conversation with myself, and then used the watch it's safe to say things are somewhat serious.

Flicking the minute hand forward exactly fifteen minutes I hold my breath and count backwards from ten. This isn't where the magic happens, it just keeps me from tossing my cookies. Going forward through time is different for everyone. For me it's like being laced in a spider web then tossed on a roller coaster, rocketing through the night sky and landing face down. Why always face down? Not a clue. Then there's the smell of citrus everywhere and I'm fancy-pants dandy again.

This is exactly what happens. Only this time I have to jump up straight away and haul arse. On this occasion it's because I'm being chased by dogs. Fantastic.

I make for the woods, knowing all the paths from having played there as a child. Or at least, I thought I still knew them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In which I ramble for a bit...

I'm not sure, but this segment feels a bit rushed. But I have good reason for it to be. You see, I was trying to get this week's post out of the way in time to watch a very interesting show.

You guys may not know, but I am a historian.  More specifically, I am a classical historian. And I just found out that researchers may have found Atlantis. How cool is that? Okay, I admit, the likelihood of it actually being Atlantis is slim, but just imagine... a whole new city just waiting to be uncovered. So I was racing to finish my story, which I admit is a bad way to go about it, but I was dead set on watching this show.

And I'm not merely interested because of the historical significance, but finding out that in this over crowded, modern world there are still ancient places that haven't been found... my word but that is just plain exciting. It makes the mind race with possibilities. It sets the imagination ablaze and gives it fuel. And after watching that show, I'm feeling creative. I haven't felt this inspired since I drove through a thick fog in Louisiana and found my beloved François.

But enough rambling. You came to see what was happening to Mickey, didn't you?  

Part Six: Maraschino

It is safe to say that no one’s plan came to fruition that night.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A break from our regularly scheduled programming

Tonight I planned to post the first installment of my paranormal romance spoof, but the voice is still not right. It seemed fine earlier, but a final proof read showed the flaw. Isn't it exasperating how that happens? Instead of subjecting all you kind and understanding readers to it now, I'll wrestle with the angel of fantasy a little longer and see if I can earn a blessing. I should get that blessing, I'm already limping. And I'm pretty sure that angel is a shapeshifter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chapter 4: Parrish the Thought

Here's the first half of Chapter 4 of our series in How to Abuse Your Characters You Love So Much.  Why only the first half? Because I'm tired after ransacking the house for chocolate. (The Sweet Tooth is a genetic thing. I'm looking at YOU, Dad! ;) )

Chapter 4: Parrish the Thought

I'm pretty sure it was the vodka that did it. How else could I explain waking up locked in the cellar of the house I grew up in before I was even born? Obviously, I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Excuse the Title

Well, things are moving a little more slowly than I wanted, but at least we get to spend more time getting to know the main characters. With all these wily, villanous sorts around, how on earth is Mickey going to get out of this with his pretty face and wardrobe intact?

Part Five: Jackass in the Tea

Mickey, despite the glares and suspicious eyes that followed him, was rather enjoying himself. He sat with Pearl, the girl he would probably marry, at a small table tucked into a secluded corner and watched the various floor shows and singers through a mist of cigar fumes and candle smoke. The star of the cabaret seemed to be a lissome girl with sleek auburn hair and large, dark eyes. Mickey couldn’t be sure, but he had the distinct impression that the leggy dancer was focusing her intense gaze on him during her routines. He didn’t usually like shows like this or girls like her, but those endlessly deep eyes piqued his interest.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stranger than Fiction

Engraving of James Smithson as an adult, Smithsonian collection 

Stranger than fiction–it's a cliche for a reason. Tonight I take a break from fiction to share a bit of truth that came together like magic and has me geeking out. I set out to research a 16th-century earl with an intriguing moniker for my WIP. Not a fan of 'write what you know,' I'm telling a story far from my ol' Virginia home, or so I thought.

The more I researched, the more details pointed to a British colony with a queen's nickname. Along the way, I found the website for the earl's family home in England. Yes, the same family lives there over 400 years later, but that isn't the strange part. The strange part is the latest arrow pointing its way back to VA. A man who married into the family had an illegitimate son, a son named Smithson who made a strange bequest. Though he'd never been to the United States, his estate was to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” 

The bequest and a few tidbits from Smithson's bio made elements of the WIP snap into place and added possibilities better than fiction I could dream on my own. It's like the time I randomly picked a college for a character's mom to attend and said the mom assisted with an exhibition of Georgia O'Keefe's works while there. After the rough draft was done, I figured the years the mom would have been in college based on her age in the story and started to research. Yep, the randomly picked college has an art museum. And then, much to my disbelief, in the year my subconscious said, there was an exhibition of Georgia O'Keefe's works. I knew almost nothing about the school, let alone enough to make such a leap. It passed from nifty coincidence to magic. 

What magic have you experienced in your art? To paraphrase Madeleine L'Engle, when has the work known more than you? 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chapter 3: Taylor Swift & Time Travel

Here is another chapter in our tale of "101 Ways to Abuse Your Characters". Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 3: Taylor Swift & Time Travel.

Taylor Swift. She's Bob Dylan in feminine form, (only much easier on the eyes), and a song of hers was blaring loudly from a salon next door to the bar. Merle had worked his magic on my poor banged up nose.  He prescribed ice packs every hour and a punchbowl full of vodka. I wasn't sure which was helping more, but by the time we retired for the evening I was feeling pretty good.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tonight's installment of my odd little story is the final meet-and-greet for all the main characters. Next week will bring them all together. Let's hope Mickey keeps his wits about him; he's got the entire mob after him now!

Part Four: The Suspicion of Warm Lettuce

The McGhee brothers didn’t get where they were today by taking the easy route; all one had to do was take a gander at them to see that. Behind the tailored suits and the imported cigars, Rudy and his brother were the roughest looking individuals to ever walk the city streets. They had been in more bar room brawls than all the dockside sailors and they wore each scar as a trophy to their prowess.