Dragon Con 2014

We went to Dragon Con again this year. It was fun, even more than last year. There were still a lot of people, but it was not as overwhelming for me. I didn’t try to be there all the time; when I was tired I went home. I also did a much better job of scheduling my time, making sure to go to the sessions that were most important to me.

I went to several professional development sessions in the writers’ track and listened to some of my favorite writers talk about the creative and business side of being an author. This was the first time I have gone out of my way to talk to other writers one-on-one and get their advice. I realize networking is important to my career and it is something I need to get better at. However, walking up and talking to someone has never been my strong suit; in fact I find it quite rude and aggressive. I feel like I am assaulting people with my words and presence when I come up without permission. I mostly practiced it on writers who said it was something you have to do in the sessions, because I took that as them clearly giving permission. I ordered great business cards since then, so that will help in the future.

I also did real cosplay this year, as opposed to last year with general anime and general goth. I dressed up as the Flame Princess from Adventure Time and helped Puck be Simon and Lori be Marcelline. I loved being recognized. Several people even took my picture. Cosplay is something I definitely want to do again. I would like to do the Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time next year, but that will be pretty difficult. Maybe something from Avatar. I should decide soon and get to work.

Dragon Con 2014 - 2SimonLoriThis was the first year I have gone to the Walk of Fame and talked to a few celebrities this year. I was nervous and I babbled a bit. Sandeep is one of the cutest people, and one of my few celebrity crushes. I think I might have made him uncomfortable as I make all people I think are cute uncomfortable. He seemed to like Puck, who is for some reason way less creepy than I am. (Future post about how creepy other people find me and dating forthcoming).Sandeep

Richard Howland from “Lost Girl” reminded me of my paw-paw.Talking to people I have seen on TV is weird, it is like they are people and not people at the same time.

I’d like to start going to a few other conventions once I get a job or start making a bit of writing income. I enjoy being around people with common interests in a structured environment.

Trick

Oddly, Dragon Con might become something like New Years to me. I have felt so inspired to work since then. In the last few weeks I have worked harder at my writing than I have in months. This blog post is proof of that. I have also written and submitted a dieselpunk story. This week I am going to try to find five markets to submit to, write 600 words a day, and at least try to edit my novel. This weekend I plan to attend the Georgia Romance Writers’ monthly meeting. I hope I can keep this ball rolling; being around other people who are in the same business will help

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Rabbit Pays a Debt

This story is for Trifecta’s April Fool’s day prompt:

rain (transitive verb)
1: to pour down
2: to give or administer abundantly
3: to take a lot of money in bill form and toss it up in the air. This is most effectively done at a strip club for the effect of raining one dollar bills on the dancers (and it makes them feel so pretty), or to snub a hater by throwing money into their face that then falls to the floor like rain (use this when paying a debt to a punk bitch who keeps asking for their money to the point that they are ruining your friendship or when dumping someone who has been bankrolling you for a while now that you’re making money).

It was also inspired by the carrots which are coming up both in the rabbit pot I painted as well as the garden beds. I love carrots! Carrots make me think of rabbits. They are strongly linked culturally, though my friends who keep rabbits tell me they don’t actually eat that many carrots. Rabbits are perfect for April Fool’s Day because like Coyote and Anasi,Rabbit is a great trickster. SAM_1729

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When you do mischief like Rabbit, you get in trouble. Money, everyone knows, gets you out of trouble. Stealing a carrot can land a body in jail, but a rich man can steal a whole farm, if he has money to buy police.

Rabbit borrowed money from everyone, a little from each, hoping they’d forget. Times being hard none forgot. They all looked for Rabbit when they had need of their money. But one thing Rabbit can do is hide.

Rabbit was resting in a briar eating fresh blackberries, when he heard voices.

“Have’ya seen Rabbit?” asked Possum

“I’ve not seen him since I let him a few dollars” said Fox

“I sore need the money I gave him” Said Possum

“Have’ya talked ta Bear? He gave me what Rabbit owed, sayin’ he’d get it back from Rabbit along with what’s owed him” said Fox

“I’ll go see him now” said Possum, hurrying away.

Rabbit was afraid. Bear had a long memory and was mighty fierce. Rabbit added up what he borrowed all together. It was enough money to fight over.Rabbit made a plan.

He told Chicken, a known gossip, about a beautiful lady at the hoochie-coochie show on the edge of town.

That night Bear came to the show. The girl came out, hiding behind two fans. She danced ‘round the stage, everyone hottin’ and hollerin’. Bear didn’t see too good, but he knew this must be the lady he’d heard of. To impress her he made it rain, emptyin’ his wallet. Later Bear tried to find her, but she was gone.

Next day Rabbit found Bear sighing in his cave.

“Why do you sigh?” Rabbit asked

“I lost all my money, to impress a lady. Now I have no money or lady” Bear said
“Good news! I’ve come to pay you back. Lucky I waited or you might have lost this too” Said Rabbit, giving Bear almost as much money as he had thrown at the mysterious lady.

Chlorophyllic Inspirations and Daffodil

While working on editing my novel, I have begun to miss the joy of writing.  Short stories are so satisfying; the delicious snack food of prose. Short, packed with flavor, and then you walk away.  A novel is like preparing a five course dinner party. There is joy in the making, joy in the little tastes here and there, and a big pay off of an amazing product at the end.  But you don’t do that every time you are hungry; sometimes you open the freezer and stand in the kitchen eating ice cream straight out of the box.  I need more snack writing.

Writing prompts, the more vague the better, help me write short stories.  So I have decided to write a collection of story around the theme of plants in my yard.   I should have one up every few days.  They will not have a single genre, theme, tone, or perspective.  They could be realist, sci-fi, horror, humor, or fantasy.  Or something else all together.  Maybe even a poem if I am feeling fancy one day.   I will post a picture of my inspiration.

Here is the first story:

Daffodil

Daffodil

This is the flower that says “spring is coming” to me.  A happy yellow sun climbing up through the dead leaves from autumn or the snow of winter.   The odd thing about the daffodil is it starts to bloom and then like clockwork a few days later we get the coldest weather of the year.  The daffodil is hope in the midst of strife, a bright flame in the darkest hours before dawn.

 

The days and weeks had merged; forming a single dark night since the heavy wooden door had slammed shut, locking Niamh in.  As an enemy to his Majesty she could rot in this hole for all the jailers cared.  Sometimes they brought her food; stale bread, moldy cheese and meats a dog would not eat.  Niamh ate it all, at first. She ate the horrible food and drank the dirty fowl smelling water.  She dreamed of family and freedom.

But as the night wore on she dreamed less of home.  She had no way to know day from night and over time lost the ability to tell dream from reality.  Sleep or waking she was trapped in a nightmare.  The pains of hunger, followed by the pain of bad food.  The smell of vomit, shit and the moldy dankness of the cell followed her into dreams, she forgot the smell of flowers and her mother’s cooking.   In the nearly total darkness she forgot the faces of her sisters and the rolling green hills beyond the pale.   The bites of lice, fleas and sometimes even rats would wake her nigh she had fallen asleep.

In the beginning every time light blossomed around the door she rejoiced.  When the door opened and her cell filled with the flickering greasy light of the guard’s torch she felt a surge of hope.  This could be them letting her go, sending her home.  Later she hoped it would be them coming take her to execution.  Now, when the light came she felt nothing.  She no longer cried when they left, or hurried to the food.  She just sat in the corner that was the least revolting.

In the first day she found a few small rocks on the floor.  Whether part of the dirt floor or chips pieces of the large stones of the keep she did not care.  They were tools, her only assets.  At first she used them to try to dig a hole under the wall, but the floor was too hard and the rocks to small.  The place had an underground feeling; maybe the floor was lower than the surrounding ground.

She tried not to think about being entirely underground, an as yet unrealized corpse in a filthy shroud that had been a lovely dress.

Once she gave up on the floor she used the rocks to chip at the mortar between the stones.  She had more success with that, it being so damp in the cell, and the keep being old.  Each little piece she removed, each groove she deepened was a victory then.  But now, she just chipped at the same place over and over, out of habit not expectation.  The light tap, tap, tap near her ear was something like comfort.  The rock was to short, a long thin bone had taken its place.

She sat there tapping, staring into the darkness where food had been left some time ago.  She could smell it mingling with the pervasive stink.  Her mouth watered, her stomach ached in longing and clenched in disgust.  But she did not move to retrieve it.  Eating just prolonged her confinement; best to stay where she was and wait for sleep to come.  Maybe the final sleep and the only freedom she could hope for.

Tap, tap, tap.  Her fingers played out a rhythm, maybe of a song she once knew, now forgotten like everything else.  Sometimes when the beat was resting she would wipe away the mortar dust that build up on the bottom.   She used to run her finger down the whole groove, but she could not longer do that.  In order to touch the back she had to put down the bone and make her hand thin.  When she last cared enough to check it her hand went in the grove almost up to her thumb before she touched the back.

Tap, tap, tap. She thought about getting the food again and decided not to.

Tap, tap, tap.  The rhythm beguiled her, teasing at a melody and music .

Tap, tap, tap. Pain seared her eyes.

She cried out, dropping the bone, covering both eyes with her hands.  Her face wet with tears. She curled up in a ball crying from shock and pain.  Eventually she opened her eyes to find that she could see her fingers pressed against her face, each one outlines in red.

Niamh slowly parted her fingers, looking towards the light.  From the groove in the wall shined yellow light.  It cut through the darkness, a beam from heaven.  Tiny angles danced in the light.

Eyes still burning Naimh reached her hands into the stream.  Even with the dirt and dried blood her skin glowed where the light touched it, bright yellow in the center of the beam, lighter radiating out.  Soon her hands felt so warm in the light, warm for the first time in a lifetime of darkness.

She crawled back to her corner, and looked out between the stones.  The opening was not far above the intensely green ground, less than two feet.  The grove was less than two fingers wide, but half as high as her arm.  Face pressed against it she could see the ground, buildings in the distance and the sky.  She could smell fresh air, the hint of flowers and baking bread.  She might have been able to smell the ocean, or maybe she just remembered how to remember it, because she thought of home and was taken back there on a road paved in sunlight and memory.

Neimh was free again, at least in part.  She stayed there against the stone, face divided by sunlight breathing in her freedom.

She pulled herself away when she realized that if a guard opened the door and saw the light that they would take everything away from her again.  She ripped a piece off over her dress. Using the mortar dust, dirt and a bit of water she made a plug to hide the light if she heard someone coming.

Famished she got the food from in front of the door.

With as much of her body in the light as possible Neimh ate her mother’s fresh baked bread, to the crash of waves and the cry of gulls.

Writing Inspiration – The Places I Go

There are lots of different ways you can be inspired.  Sometimes I get ideas from dreams, books I read, movies I watch, conversations with friends, art, gardening, or watching strangers in public places.  Inspiration can come from just about any place, so you have to be open to it all the time.  Keep a notebook handy and write ideas down, or take a picture of things that you might need to look at later.

Today I want to talk about travel.   As you might know from reading my blog or if you know me in person, I am an introvert with some social anxiety and a fear of leaving my house.  There are days when it is so bad I can’t even work in my gardens.  I sometimes don’t leave my house for weeks.  Given this, the fact that I love to travel might seem a bit of a contradiction.  And I guess it is.  When I am traveling I am at a higher level of anxiety than at home, and sometimes I have to hide someplace quiet and take deep breaths.  While traveling I call my housesitter often (normally Jeff, one of my best friends) and make him send me pictures of my cats.

Traveling is hard for me.  Very hard.  I cry when I leave the house and have all sorts of horrible thoughts.  I sometimes will be in a wonderful place and be wishing I was in my cluttered office like I am now.  But all the same, I try to travel some place new every year, because the value of travel is worth the price of being a little scared and homesick.  My husband travels a lot with his job, so I normally just go to a city he will be working in so I have a place to stay without spending money, because this being a writer thing does not pay well.  He works and I get to have adventures on my own.  Exploring a new place alone is my favorite way to do it, because I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s timetable or interests.  I once sat in the beaver room at the Biodome in Montreal for nearly an hour because it was what I wanted to do at the time; with another person that could not have happened.   I also like cemeteries, old ones.  There are not many people who are good companions in a cemetery.

I like seeing some places with other people too.  There are some experiences that are best shared, some best alone.  So if there are other people who want to do stuff with me I try to find a balance, spending time with them doing something, alone for others.

The value of travel is many faceted.  Seeing new places, trying new foods, smelling different air, and meeting new people are all part of the package.  When traveling to a new place, even just a state away, you can see the world in a different wayand learn skills you might not have learned at home.  One of the most important things for me is the inspiration, the ideas that can be sparked when you see or experience something new. Those images and sensations get filed away until sometime I am writing and all of a sudden a place comes back to me and it is the perfect place. It is where this story has to happen.

There are two scenes in my novel “Lost in Reflection” that are based on real places I have been.  Places that I would not have been able to see or experience if I was home.

SAM_0790

One of them is Muir Woods near San Francisco.  I had seen pictures of redwoods, and I knew the general idea of a rain forest.  But understanding and experiencing are two very different things.  The smell of this place is something so hard to describe, as well as the how wet and cold the air was.  Being from the south I know hot air is humid, and cold air is dry; that is just the way it is.  But this place was as wet as the hottest Georgia day, but so very cold.  When writing the book I remembered this place and it was perfect.

Here are some excerpts from “Lost in Reflection”.  Keep in mind that this is still in the editing phase, so it could change a lot.

“Once my eyes adjusted to the light I found that I was in a forest, old growth from the look of it.  There were some big evergreens, sort of like pictures I had seen from the Pacific Northwest, not like the spindly pines of home. The ground was a spongy bed of brown and green needles and the air was wet and heavy with the pleasing smells of clean dirt and fresh compost, mixed with the less pleasant odors of mold and rot.”

“It only took a few minutes for me to find a good game trail, cutting through the ferns and emerald green moss that covered everything .  It was sure to lead to water eventually, and it might not just be a trail used by animals. It was old and wide, not as wide as a road, but it looked easier to follow than the paths through the woods around my grandparents’ house that I walked every time I visited them.”

“At some points the trees were so thick that I couldn’t see the sun, just light glowing around the leaves.   This place would have been peaceful in another situation.  I loved being in the woods; the sounds, the smells, and the fresh new feeling of the air.  The place we used to live had a lot of woods around it, but not like these.   At home, even in the woods, the air was still normal and dry.  Here the air was very wet, and I don’t mean humid, at least not the hot southeast humid I was used to.  I mean the air was actually wet.  So wet that in few places it was raining without clouds, little drops of water falling from the trees.  Each drop catching the sunlight and turning to molten gold.”

SAM_0783Another place that shows up in the novel is a hallway from the hotel I stayed in while I was writing a large part of the book — just the hallway, not the hotel itself.   I am not going to put in any excerpts from that part in because it would be hard to do so without giving anything away, and I have not edited it at all yet.  But when you read the book you can come back here and see a picture of the place I wrote about.  Mirrors are creepy, that is all I am saying.

Traveling and seeing these places in real life makes the stories more real for me, and hopefully helps me write them in a way that is more real for you.   There are lots of places I would love to go that I likely never will, because travel is so expensive.  But maybe someday I will get lucky and have the chance to see China, Romania, or England.  I bet there is a story idea waiting around every corner and behind every door in all of those places.

I went to Hawaii a few months ago (lots of kindness got me there), which was an amazing experience, and will show up in my stories for years to come.  I have been meaning to post some pictures and tell you about it. I will do that soon.