Sunday, February 26, 2012

Five Easy Pieces

I normally write these on Tuesdays after class, however, I had two posts on that Monday (#1 and #2) and didn't want to overload my loyal friends and followers with a third one on Tuesday. Also, the teacher didn't return our work from the previous week. Anyway, we did some really interesting in-class writing that I wanted to share with you. The topic was "insight" and how we as writers can express it without sounding pretentious and annoying.

The teacher handed us a photographed page from a book. I'm not sure what book it came from, but the title of the article was "Five Easy Pieces" by Richard Jackson. In it, the author lists five things to use to formulate a scene (poetry or prose). You start with a person (real or imagined) and a place where you might find that person, then follow the steps below. Try this on your own, you might be surprised at the results. Give yourself 15 minutes and then stop. What I came up with follows.

  1. Describe the person's hands.
  2. Describe something he or she is doing with their hands.
  3. Use a metaphor to say something about some exotic place.
  4. Mention what you would want to ask this person in the context of 2 and 3, above.
  5. The person looks up or toward you, notices you there, and gives and answer that suggest he or she only gets part of what you asked.
by M. Andrew Patterson

His hands were smooth
Never having labored over a hot stove in July
The grease burning and searing the skin
The charcoal embedding under your nails.

His pencil twitched a rapid staccato
As his hand moved it smoothly over the page
A ballerina in graphite
Dancing through Elysian fields
A swan over stormy seas.

"What do you think?" I ask it. I dread it
A pause -- A dip
The dancing done.

"Tuesday would be a good time, you think?" 

The next in-class writing assignment was to take an ordinary kitchen appliance or utensil and write about it from a different perspective. We had to write it in 8-9 sentences and we had to avoid describing it to obviously. We had to be creative. We had 10 minutes.

Kitchen Appliance in 8 Sentences
by M. Andrew Patterson

Oh you conveyor of mana. That heavenly nectar that raises us from our slumber. We imbibe on your holy blood. Your divine vessel filled with riches. It stains our lips and tongue. It marks us with its earth-bound scent. Warily we dare not spill it for its kiss will surely burn us. Oh, how we worship you.

'Till next time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Story Soup

My friend, Jamie Dement, has a really interesting blog post titled Compartmentalizing: the Way I Write. In it she talks about how she can work on multiple projects at once. It's really interesting. Learning how people process and think is one of my favorite things to do (I should have been a psychologist!). Anyway, as I was reading her post, I realized that I have a similar process. It's not the same, but the basic concept is the same. So here it goes:

The last time I did a count, I had about 3-4 story ideas floating in the back of my head.  This doesn't include the various short things (short stories and poetry) that I write for my Creative Writing class.  That also doesn't count blog ideas either.

Things just float around back there "percolating" (as I call it). In my comments on Jamie's blog, I referred to it as a soup. When an idea is ready for me to look at it just floats out and I take a look. If I get stuck, I toss it back until it's done "cooking". I can fairly easily jump between ideas as I have as they are in a "fluid state". It does take a second for my brain to reconfigure when an idea decides it is ready, but after that initial 'WTF?' moment, I'm off to the races.  Luckily, I haven't run into any bleed-over between ideas.

So, if you use the 'soup' idea, I guess you could say that all of these ideas are the meat, vegetables, and noodles floating around. If I want to check on them, I just spoon out some soup and take a sniff. If it isn't ready, I can just dump it back in the pot and move onto the next spoonful. If you use the 'coffee' metaphor...well, let's just not think of what those 'chunks' might's better that way.

I do, on occasion, get an intrusive Plot Bunny that will rear its ugly head and take a bite out of my jugular, but luckily they are easy to slay. I just have to take a moment and write what they are telling me. Then I can get back to my regularly scheduled obsession (WIP#1). I expect these to happen more often as I get totally consumed by writing, but at the moment it has only happened once in the last two weeks of writing every day.

Hopefully this explains how my brain works, at least a little bit, without the all the repulsive, icky stuff that will occasional float up.

For the record, I could, if I was in the mood, to work on multiple projects at the same time. However, I don't know if I want to go completely insane just yet, so I'll stick to the way I am.

'Till next time.

INBETWEEN (Kissed by Death #1) Cover Reveal

Hey folks!  You've been waiting for it, so here it is.  The cover reveal for Tara Fuller's paranormal romance, INBETWEEN (Kissed by Death #1), which will be available August 7, 2012


INBETWEEN (Kissed by Death, #1) by Tara Fuller (August 7, 2012)

Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky—and unending—lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn't let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.

Paperback Available for Pre-Order from Amazon:

Add to your Goodreads TBR:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Attack of the Rabid Plot Bunnies

So, I've fallen in with a bad crowd. In addition to convincing me to forsake my responsibilities as husband, father, and a contributing member of society, they have also been really encouraging me to write...every day...This is a new thing for me as I have NEVER written everyday for any length of time. Ever. Even when I was writing my angst filled poetry of my teenage years, I never written every day. So, it was with some trepidation that I signed up with this group.

They weren't a bad sort. I'd met a few in person at a local writer's group started by the beautiful and talented Tessa Gratton and Natalie Parker. About 20 of us descended on quiet bar, in a nice hotel, and hung out for a couple hours.  Names, email addresses, story ideas, and twitter addresses were swapped. Having never "tweeted" before in my life, I decided to try it out. This was my first tweet. I think it was funny.

Anyway, I loaded up my follow list with all of the people that I had met or had attended that first meeting. I started watching and learning (which is the best way to start). I started seeing the hashtag #writemotivation. Two of the people from the writing group seemed to be using it a lot. I checked it out. If you are a writer, so should you. It's a great idea. The idea is that you make goals and then try to keep up with them. Your twitter-friends and such help you, encourage you, and say pithy things to cheer you up. It's a win-win situation in my book.

So, what does this have to do with "rabid plot bunnies"? Well, two of the #writemotivation people (KT Hanna and Becca C.) started encouraging me to write more. I started off slow with a whopping 150 words one night. That was a week and a half ago. Yesterday, I wrote 1600 words. Tonight? Who knows. I hope to finish with Chapter 2 of my Work in Progress #1, but it may end up being tomorrow (I have homework to do for my Creative Writing class that I'm taking).

So, here is where the "plot bunnies" come in. I woke up yesterday and was hit with a really awesome scene that had NOTHING to do with what I had been writing up until that point. Naturally, I freaked. I got on twitter and made a plea for help. Luckily, my friends were there to calm me down and give me this advice: "Take a day and write it down. Then go back to your original story." Over lunch that day, I wrote it, all 600+ words of it. I had slain the evil plot bunny. That night I was able to go back and continue on Chapter 2 of my first WIP. Since my scene was so awesome (to me!), I listed it as my WIP #2.

So, if you are writing an awesome story and something unrelated shows up, don't panic. Write it down or it will bite you with its big, nasty teeth.

'Till next time.

P.S. You can follow me on Twitter. There is also a link somewhere on the right side of the page. Also, check out my link to the #writemotivation movement.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Argument Between Equals

This, impossible, exercise was asked of me as one of my assignments for my writing class. We had to write an argument between equals. The catch? We couldn't use anything but dialog. No descriptions, no "he said's" or "she explained's", just pure dialog. It was "interesting", but ultimately, an impossibility. Why? Because arguments are never between equals. One person will always have the up. If they don't, then eventually, one person will leave or something will interfere and force a resolution. It's human nature. We don't like conflict. However, if you want to see a pure argument between equals, then you should check out the AI vs. AI video. It's funny, and weird.

Anyway, I think I did an "ok" job with mine. The only issue I had was that I kept using "he said" and "he replied" etc.  Oh well, this version won't have it.

“Zachary, time to get ready for bed.”
“I’m just trying to fix this thing.”
“Zachary. You need to stop what you are doing and get ready for bed.”
“I’m just trying to fix this THING!”
“I realize that Zachary, but I TOLD you to get ready for bed.”
“Just a minute, I’m just trying to fix this THING, Dad. You never let me finish.”
“You need to STOP what you are doing and get ready for BED!”
“I don’t care if you hate me. You still have to get READY FOR BED!”
"No! I don't want to!"
"Well, that's just too bad. I'm the dad and I make the rules. Get ready for bed!"
"Well, when I'm the dad, I'm going to make the rules and then you'll have to get ready for bed!"
“That’s nice. Now go brush your teeth.”
“I don’t have my PJs on yet!”
“What?! What have you been doing this whole time?”
“I’ve been trying to finish my Lego thing!”
“I told you to get your PJs on! Not mess around with your Legos!”
“But my Legos keep falling apart, and I it won’t work and I need to get it fixed. Then I can go to bed.”
“I don’t care. I told you to do something. Now DO IT!”
“OW! Did you just bite me?! You get back here right now. Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m leaving this house! I’m going to go somewhere else, ‘cuz I don’t like you! You’re being mean to me and won’t let me fix my Legos.”
“Oh really. Well, it’s dark outside and it’s cold. Where are you going to go?”
“I’m going to Sarah’s house. I’m gonna live there with her and you can’t come and visit me!”
“Zachary, you take your coat and shoes off and go to your room until you can calm down.”
"Don’t…slam the door.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Writing Image Transitions

This is yet another class assignment. The assignment involved transitioning from summary images to detailed images. It was a fun assignment.


Sebastian shaded his eyes from the blinding sun as he stared across the beach. The blazing, white sand was littered with the dark corpses of the unfortunate ship. As he looked out to sea, Sebastian could see the tide bringing more remains to the shore. The cool breeze blowing from offshore brought the familiar scent of brine and seawater. With that familiar and comforting scent, was the smell of smoke and death.

Sebastian gritted his teeth, wiped his salt crusted eyes, and headed back down to the beach. The day had just begun and there was plenty of work to do. The salvage would be floating in for the next couple hours and he needed to gather as much as he could before the tide changed.

He picked his way across the littered beach. He stopped every so often to inspect a piece of wreckage or body, looking for anything of value. The bodies of the unfortunate crew, he drug into a pile. He carefully removed items of value, a belt here, a pair of shoes there. It was a gruesome task, but necessary. They had no need of it anymore. He on the other hand, needed as much as possible if he were to survive.

He worked as fast as he could to move as much of the wreckage up past the tide line, sorting as he went. By the end of the day, the once littered beach was cleared and the random jumble of debris was replaced with piles of wreckage. The middle of the beach was dominated by a large pyre. Sebastian rested under a tree and watched it burn as the sun set.

It had been a long day. Tomorrow would be just as long. Tools needed to be fashioned. His meager shelter needed to be reinforced to weather the storms that plagued the area. Food and adequate water were also a necessity. He didn’t know how long he would be stranded there.

He slowly rose from his perch, his body aching from the exertion. He saluted his former crew-mates and made the short trek to his shelter. The smell of burning permeated the air as he huddled under the shelter he had fashioned from a piece of sail and two trees. It wasn’t much, but it would keep the elements off of him for the night. He took a sparing drink from the water barrel that had saved his life, turned over, and let the exhaustion of the day pull him into sleep.

'Till next time

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Antivirus, a story

This was one of my class assignments that I just turned in. Unlike previous assignments, I had to write something devoid of all images. This is harder than it sounds. My wife suggested that I try writing something stream of conscious. At the time, I couldn't come up with anything that didn't evoke some form of imagery. An hour before class I had a brilliant flash of inspiration. I have a friend to thank for that because the evening before I was working on her virus infected computer. The story is in no way a reflection of the reality that I experienced, but if you've ever been hit with a virus, or had to fix a computer that was infected, you should appreciate this.  This flew out of my head in a record 20 minutes.



Stupid virus! Why can’t you just go away like a good little virus? But no, you want to lurk inside my operating system, insidiously infecting my files until there is nothing left but garbage. Dammit! Now you’ve shut down my antivirus! It’s not like I paid $39.95 for that thing! What waste of money! Couldn’t stop a flea with a head-cold!

Now, let’s see. Google don’t fail me now. How do I get rid of this thing? Come on, give me something good. Penis enlargement!? Not what I was looking for! Ok, let’s try this site. Um, maybe we’ll just close that site down. Yeah, don’t want to look at that image ever again. Why are all my searches taking me to porn? Curse you virus! Now I will NEVER get THAT image out of my head. Thanks a whole freaking lot!

Great, now I can’t search for anything without pulling up sites that I would rather never see again. Ok, virus, maybe this anti-what-sit-callit program will work. Yeah, it works! Damn, never mind. Come on brain, think. What do I have left that this thing can’t kill? There has got to be some Holy Grail, Hail Mary, full of grace program out there. Oh, wait! I can’t search the internet without getting results that could be used against me in a court of law. NEVER MIND!

Ok, calm down. There has to be a solution. Don’t make me wipe the hard-drive. Please! It will take days to reinstall and reconfigure everything. Not to mention I’ll have to find the restoration discs, backup EVERYTHING, and then start from scratch. Arrgh! You insidious bastard!

You know what? Fine. You want to play hard-ball? Well guess what, eat restoration disc sucker! Let’s see, just pop the disc in, reboot the computer and here we go. Yes! Houston, we have lift-off! Ok, now. Yes, I want to reformat the hard-drive and reinstall the operating system. Yes, I’m absolutely sure. Yes, it will delete…wait a minute! Oh crap! I forgot to back up everything! NO! Stop it! Don’t continue! Quit! Quit! Abort! No!


 'Till next time.