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Friday, May 6, 2011

Follow Friday and some amusing links

Let's take care of business, then we'll check out some amusing and informative links from this week.  Because I live to be amusing!

This week's question is:
What moment has validated you and made you feel like a writer? If it hasn't happened yet, what do you think it will be?

Please join me in welcoming VK Tremain with this weeks answer.

There were a few things that combined made me feel like a writer; however, it all started when I sat down at the computer and wrote the first words of GIFT OF BLOOD. The act in itself was so fulfilling and addictive that I began to identify as a writer. As my story continued to develop, my character's world followed suit, and their voices in my head urged me to write on.My addiction grew with each word I typed. The nail in the coffin was when I started my VK Tremain Facebook page, blog, and Twitter account. By that point I already acknowledged myself as a writer, but through social media I put myself out there. The public would see me as a writer, and I risked rejection and disinterest. To my delight, the opposite happened. I was encouraged! For that, I have to thank the members in the HP Writers Group, who are awesome and wonderfully supportive, as well as the incredible feedback through blog comments and my Twitter and Facebook friends. After so many years of searching, I had finally found my path in my life.I am content even if I never reach celebrity status or get offered a publishing deal. I am a writer because, quite simply, I write. Some of my earliest memories consist of me curled up, lost in a paperback. My dream is that one-day I will have the honor to pay it forward and give that feeling to other readers. Whether I ever get paid or not doesn’t matter. I write for the love of my characters and for the world that I have created. I write for self-expression, and I write to entertain. Hopefully, one day, I will get that big paycheck that everyone thinks writers receive. I will live in luxury, sipping martinis in my beachfront property as I tap away on my laptop. Hey a girl can dream, right? But in the mean time all I want is to share my love, passion and creativity.I can't imagine not writing now; it’s a part of who I am.
Julee here.  What moment validated me and made me feel like a writer?  I honestly don't know--I've written since grade school and written novel-length romance on and off since 1991.  I think it was the judge from Romance Writers of America (back when they did such things) who gave me her agent's name and address.  Now, if I'd only followed up on it.  But, like V.K., it's a part of who I am and I want to share my stories. 

So, would you like to join the Blog Hop?  Here are
The rules
  1. Follow this blog.
  2. Follow Elizabeth Sharp, the originator of this hop
  3. Follow the featured author of the week, VK Tremain
  4. Go to Sharp words and copy the image code found there and paste it in your blog. Add your name to the link at the bottom of the post while you are there.
  5. Copy and paste the rules in your blog, as well as this week’s question.
  6. Answer the question
  7. Follow, follow, follow. This is about networking, people, making connections with people in your community. So talk to us. We don't bite!
  8. If someone stops by, says hi and follows you, the polite thing to do is follow back.
  9. Comment here and introduce yourself and you just might find a new follower or two.
It's fun and I've met some great folks!

Now, the first link is to an essay on the Writers Beware! site by Victoria Strauss for those authors lucky enough to get invited to sign a contract with an agent. 
Even more information is included in the amazing Kris Rusch site:
Here's the link for the equally amazing Neil Gaiman's recent trials with a Wisconsin legislator who doesn't understand the concept of a speaker's fee:
and the link for the New York Times article on the sort of apology.  *sigh*
Finally, happy Mother's Day for all of you out there.  I am only a mama cat and my mama, Clara Maude, passed in March of 2004, but I'll fix something for my mother-in-law, because she's a great lady.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Attack of the triffids and an apology

First off, I want to let you know why I haven't done any writing the past 24 hours.   Yesterday evening, I was going to put some of the new and used books we'd gotten recently in a storage bin, so I grabbed a handful off the shelf.  Only to discover a bazillion ants behind.  I panicked and did what I did when I discovered The World's Largest Spider in our apartment 23 years ago.  I replaced them and went back into the office (the furthest away) to wait until my husband got home.  I did some prep work, getting the step stool and a half-dozen very large zipper seal plastic bags in place.  I also got some advice from folks on Facebook (thanks all!) and got some corn meal, ant traps and baking soda out too. 

But, I'm not proud of the way I reacted.  I'm usually pretty fierce in handling stuff like this.  It's not like they were spiders.  So, when Chris got home, he got the ant spray, I started loading books in the sealed bags (freak!freak!freak!) and the great ant massacre began.  Turned out the infestation affected both bookcases on either side of the window in the dining room, about four shelves down.  Chris had a little bit of a tantrum, because neither of us had done what we should have done and cleaned and reorganized what was essentially a storage room.  I agreed and tried to put a positive spin on matters that at least the nasty critters hadn't invaded the cat food or the kitchen. 

Last year, the ants invaded the warmth of the cable box, which is right in front of a window.  The year before, they invaded my flatbed scanner, which was, you guessed it, right in front of a window.  This time, we don't have a clue what they were going after.  Doesn't matter, just that the cats forgave me for shutting them in the bedroom upstairs until we could get everything cleaned up and dry.  I'll heal pretty quickly, I'm sure.  But, we both were feeling things crawling on us all night and Chris is sure he'll get Parkinson's from all the bug spray he's inhaled.  Ugh!  I'm leaving the bags sealed for about two weeks, then we'll get things organized.  I did get my writing notes out of the dining room and in the office.  They'll go into the bookcase with my notebooks and reference books tonight or tomorrow.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that I posted here and on FB, as well as many others, a quote I didn't attribute correctly.  My friend, Brenda, gave me the link for the article explaining the mistake and it seems I'm in good company, but still, my apologies.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Placing our characters in the real world

For Christmas 1967, my parents and I went down to see my oldest brother and his wife in Florida. 
Yeah, that's a picture of my butt.  I was thrilled I could walk the dog in shorts, but I was easily amused at that age.  Joe graduated from the Naval Academy earlier that year and was serving as a trainer for the pilots going over to Viet Nam.  I was pretty young at the time, but I remember being kind of freaked out that he said he felt he should be over there, should be with his classmates, instead of being safe at home. 

He never got that opportunity.  He and his student were killed in January of 1969 and he's buried in Arlington, right down from The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

As I was writing the first book in what will eventually be a series, I think I channeled Joe in designing my primary hero.  Scanning the boxes of pictures onto various disks and flash drives, I found almost a dozen of him with various ladies.  Mom and Dad bought him his own tuxedo in 1963, because he'd been invited to like six different proms in the area.  Mom said about her oldest, beloved son, "I don't think Joe was a very nice young man."  She never told me what she meant by that.  I just got an email from a family friend who mentioned Joe begged her to send letters to him at the Academy, because they were competing who would get the longest, the most, etc.  All these things I've blended into my stories.  You can say it sounds weird, but it is like I'm hearing Joe feeding me lines of dialog, trying to win over his heroine.  Of course, the letters became emails and he redeems himself in the end, though we all love the bad boy. 

Will, my hero, is a medically retired Marine sharpshooter, who was injured in Afghanistan.  We meet three others from his unit in this book and upcoming ones.  I've done a great deal of research on veterans, current military officers and their family members.  Through it all (I started writing again in August of 2006), I heard Joe egging me on, giving me some of his best pick up lines and bringing people to me who wanted to talk about their experiences. 

So, when President Obama announced the Navy Seal team had captured and killed Osama bin Laden, I literally felt it through his eyes and the eyes of my characters.  Will knew something was up from a vague comment he'd gotten from a buddy, but felt he was the one who should have been there pulling the trigger.  Harry (who's a petite redhead and fiercer than any of the guys) felt a flash of resentment at all those brothers and sisters they'd lost and @#$% they'd had to endure while bin Laden was enjoying a cool beverage by the pool.  Tristan remembered sitting with his parents, watching the news stories on 9/11 and sheds a tear his dad died a couple of months before and his mama's in an Alzheimer's unit.  Dessie smashes an entire set of glasses into a fireplace, welcoming the blood as a piece of shrapnel cut her leg. 

Will I put this into what will become chronologically the third novel in my series?  Maybe not, as I've always been told it's wrong to time stamp, unless it's a historical.  But, I know it's there.  I know we'll have to deal with our mentally and physically injured veterans and the social and financial problems left behind with their military families.  And if I can give a voice to them and to Joe, I'll have done my job. 

While I've shared some of my characters' blood lust the past twenty-four hours (as Lizzy says to Will, "The only thing you should have felt when you killed an insurgent was your rifle's recoil."), I'd like to share two things I found on Facebook today. 

·         "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."--Martin Luther King, Jr.
·       Now I lay me down to sleep, one less terrorist this world does keep. With all my heart I give my thanks, to those in uniform regardless of ranks. You serve our country and serve it well, with humble hearts your stories tell. So as I rest my weary eyes, while freedom rings our flag still flies. You give your all, do what you must...with God we live and God we trust
Thank you for listening and joining me in thinking about these things.  God bless.