Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Tonight, I was completely thrilled to receive the Versatile Blogger award from a blogging buddy, Anassa.  Here are the rules, which I lifted from her post to make sure I did it correctly.


The rules for this award are:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated me.  (You rock, Anassa!)
  • Share seven random facts about myself.
  • Pass the award along to 15 new-found blogging buddies.
  • Contact those buddies to congratulate them.
Okay, so here's the seven random facts:
  • I have a mirror image identical twin.  Our crooked teeth are on opposite sides, as are our cowlicks, she's left-brained, I'm right-brained, and some of her internal organs are actually flip-flopped on the wrong side.
  • I love burned cheese.
  • I'm terrified of the ocean, mascots (also Mickey Mouse), heights, and handsome men.
  • I once shaved a shower curtain.  Don't ask.  It made sense at the time.
  • My great uncle was suspected of being part of the plot to assassinate JFK.  He also was in on the capture of Bonnie and Clyde, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping investigation, trained men for the Bay of Pigs invasion, and coined the family motto:  "We may abuse our women, but we'll never abuse our guns."
  • I'm obsessed with visiting the U.K. someday.
  • Bow ties are cool.  :-)
I don't have quite 15 bloggers, but I've listed my top ten.
  • The Blood-Red Pencil  This blog has several contributors, and it has fantastic advice.
  • Terrible Minds  Chuck Wendig is a fantastic writer with a warped brain.  Beard the f)#% on!
  • Montana for Real  Kari Lynn Dell writes about what it's really like to live on a ranch in Montana.  She's a great resource for writers who want an authentic ranch feel.
  • How Publishing Really Works  Jane Smith, from the U.K., gives fantastic inside advice to writers.
  • Hyperbole and a Half  Allie, a former Montanan, writes and illustrates the most awesome stories.  Be sure to check out her super best friend fish story.  I laughed until I nearly peed my pants.
  • Corrine Jackson  She gives out all sorts of helpful writing tips, and she put me onto a program that has helped my writing so much.
  • Tahereh Mafi  Another delightfully cracked individual.  
  • Mike Shevdon  If the nuts and bolts of writing trouble you, check out Shevdon's advice.
  • Dawn Alexander  Like me, Dawn is working on the whole getting published thing.
  • Books and Such  Another site with multiple contributors that are exceedingly helpful.
Thanks for nominating me, Anassa!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tension: Too High, Too Long



I spent my evening cursing vociferously after my enthusiastic, but ham-fisted, attempt to finish two choral compositions.  When the tirade faded, I had a thought about plot tension.

I loved watching Lost.  Between smoke monsters, fantastic characters, and the altered laws of physics, trying to figure out what the hell was going on was half the fun.  Just when one question was answered, three more popped up, making for some serious, drawn-out tension.  Alas, the shrieks of outrage on Twitter after the last episode showed how many people were disappointed by the ending.

Because I'm cheap as hell and a huge fan of many shows that aren't on cable or network TV, I don't have live TV, just Netflix.  I just got into Bones.  The sexual tension between Booth and Brennan is fantastic.  Two great characters, an interesting premise, and many, many layers of plot make for an engaging, addictive show.  I've been devouring episodes whenever I haven't been writing or wiping my little guy's nose.

Finally, halfway through Season 4, I couldn't take it anymore.  Do they?  Don't they?  I did a little research.  Though I couldn't bear to find out exactly what happens to their relationship in subsequent episodes, I read just enough to suspect I won't be happy with how things turn out.

I think there is a definite risk to creating exceedingly long, drawn out tension.  It's fun to be completely enthralled with a story, but if the tension is too drawn out I think that any resolution will disappoint in some manner.  If one has a large audience, I think it's likely that one can disappoint a shitload of people.

I had been planning on trying to create intense romantic tension in my novel series, but I'm starting to think I should modify the romantic angle somewhat.  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Flare That Won't Go Away

I've been diligently working on new blog posts, but my fibromyalgia is flaring and the symptoms are not passing.  I'm having a very hard time working and concentrating, so I apologize for the delay.

My goal is to have the next installment of the "Author's Guide to Psychopaths" up this week, but if something doesn't change soon, I'm not sure when I'll be able to post again.

Thank you for understanding.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank You, Russian and U.K. Readers!

I keep a close eye on my blog's stats.  I've noticed that I have a large number of readers in Russia, and readers from the U.K. are a very close second.

Thank you for stopping by.  I do appreciate it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

He Got Pain Right

As I lay sleepless due to the throbbing in my joints, I had a very long night to reflect.  My screeching nerves decided that Brandon Sanderson got something very right in his novel, Elantris.

Pain.

Sanderson's protagonist, Prince Raoden, is stricken by the Shaod, a terrible affliction that renders its victims immortal, freakish, and hungry.  He is thrown into Elantris, a decaying city whose wonder can no longer gleam through the filth.  The Shaod leaves them without a heartbeat.  No injury will heal, and the pain of each injury never fades.  Eventually, the cumulative agony from hundreds of small injuries, coupled with an unrelenting hunger, drives them mad.

For me, it started with low back pain, then constant headaches.  Soon my hands were always cold.  Then, I broke a bone in my foot from walking crookedly.  Most of the time I could ignore it, or at least put it to the back of my mind, but even if I wasn't consciously thinking about the pain, its weight was always there.  I grew increasingly anxious, depressed, and despondent.

Doctors told me I had TMJ.  They found spinal deformities and told me that was what caused the back pain.  Somewhere in there was some physical therapy.  More than one doctor thought I was nuts because they couldn't find a diagnosis that explained everything.  I half believed them.  The broken bone in my foot never healed, and I couldn't avoid constant walking in my job.  It was excruciating, day in and day out.

Three surgeries and thousands in medical bills later, I find out it's fibromyalgia.  I have good days and bad.  Many of my injuries, like the one in my calves from aerobics two years ago, never heal.  Though my heart is still beating, the Shaod is the best analog I've ever found for what it's like to have fibromyalgia.

It's cumulative.  It builds up.  Eats your rationality.  Finally, something happens, usually something small, that takes you over the edge and makes you scream for anything that will stop the pain.  Sometimes it stops.  More often, it doesn't.  Today is bad.  Yesterday was worse.

In the book, Prince Raoden makes it his mission to give the residents of Elantris a sense of purpose, a reason for being, and something to do other than go ape-shit crazy.

Thank God for purpose.