Friday, March 30, 2012

Taking a Week. . .

I got it in on time!  My last assignment was due by the end of March, and, while I know I'm pushing it, I turned it in this afternoon.  (Thank you nap time.)

It's a story about a woman who catches her husband cheating and leaves him.  She is so distraught over his infidelity, that she goes to a busy bar and combines alcohol with an overdose of sleeping pills in an attempt to relieve herself of her pain.  Permanently.

Before she passes out, however, she meets a handsome young man who seems interested in her.  He sticks with her throughout her ordeal, and they become friends.

It's a ridiculously all's-well-with-the-world-meet-my-hero-and-best-friend happy ending.  I'm not always a fan of happy endings as I think they are a bit over-done and cliche, but that's what readers want.  Most readers, anyway.

On another note, I'm going to be taking next week off.  I might be able to get a post in on Easter Monday, but I'm not making any promises.  Have a great week.  See you after the holiday.

Monday, March 26, 2012

E-Readers. . .

How do you feel about e-readers?  You know the ones. . .Kindle, Nook, and the e-reader apps available for iPads and tablets.  

I will be honest.  I wasn't on board at first.  I didn't even look into them until Barnes & Nobel came out with their Nook color.  I love the feel of a book in my hands, the roughness of the paper as a page is turned, the sound of that page as it lifts and pivots on its edge to reveal the print on the other side.  There is something about sitting in the corner of my sectional sofa, snuggled in a blanket, a book on my lap.  The cost was and issue, too.  A few hundred dollars just for the equipment, then you had to buy the books.  And the thought of another screen to stare at in order to enjoy a story was a big deterrent.

Then I got my Mac.  And, while browsing the free apps available, I found one for Kindle.  The reviews were mixed.  But it came with a few of the classics already downloaded.  I also found out that there are lots of free or inexpensive ebooks.  I was sold.  No out-of-pocket cost, and I could trash it if I didn't like it.  

So I downloaded the free app for my Windows phone, too.  This is the one I use the most.  When my 2 year old needs Mommy to stay in his room while he falls asleep at night, I hide under the blanket on my bed and read on my phone.  (And I am reminded of the aversion to staring at a screen for reading every time.)

Now I am noticing epublishing getting more and more attention in the industry blogs and articles I read.  In particular, Writer's Digest has been sharing articles and blogs on its Facebook page.

A big topic is the issue of illegal files and copyright infringement.  This was a concern of mine when I first looked into this portion of the industry.  Now, it seems that there are new programs being released that offer better protection for authors and publishers.

It is also painfully obvious that this is not a market to overlook or underestimate.  Many new authors are finding their first books published electronically.  Those looking to self-publish (which is another topic entirely) also turn to epublishing.  

I don't think e-readers and apps will replace physical books--not anytime soon, anyway--but I am coming to terms with the facts that, if I ever get published, I may not get to experience that glorious feeling of holding a copy of my book in my hands, displaying it on my bookshelf at home.  However, published is published, and I'd be happy with that.  Ecstatic.

How do you feel about e-readers?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nightmarish Inspiration. . .

I recently read a quote from Stephen King:
"So where do the ideas—the salable ideas—come from? They come from my nightmares. Not the night-time variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious."  —Quotes by Stephen King, “The Horror Writer Market and the Ten Bears,” November 1973 Writers Digest
When talking horror--suspense, thriller, or mystery for that matter--nightmares and your worst fears can really drive a story.  Maybe it's human nature, but I often find myself "fantasizing" about horrible things happening.  Not because I want them to, but because I'm terrified that they will.

The other night I had a dream.  I know, we all have dreams.  But this one wasn't a good dream, and it wasn't a nightmare, exactly.  It was fantastically vivid, with details that are still burned my visual cortex, earning this dream a place--if somewhat temporary--in my memory banks.  

There are the makings of an incredible story, short or long, if you happen to like apocalyptic, zombie-type stuff.  Now, let me reassure all of you who are anti-zombie, this doesn't involve zombies like you've ever seen before.  Like watching the remake of Dawn of the Dead, with Ving Rhames, where the zombies actually run--and fast!--this story would have you second-guessing everything you know about zombies.  

The zombie epidemic is caused by some sort of virus, but it's airborne. No body fluid contact necessary, here. The good thing about this is that, at this point, humans seem to be immune. The virus affects only predatory animals, canines and felines playing a large role as the pictures played in my sleeping brain. The bad side to that. . .your beloved pet cats and dogs are no longer safe to have around. Eventually they will all morph into slavering beast that just want to eat humans.
Now, since humans are physically unaffected by the virus, we are able to rebuild as a species, but slowly.  And in very tight-nit, self-sustaining communities.  Only a small percentage of people survived the initial outbreak because the world was uncertain of how it spread.  In fact, the odd behaviors of these predators was unexplainable at the outset, and thousands of people died at the teeth of their own pets or wild predators that lived in their corner of the world.

Crazy, right?  You can imagine how it felt to be "living" in this world as a survivor.  Or maybe you can't.  As a lover of "all creatures, great and small," it was difficult to pull the trigger on a massive double-barrel aimed at the head of a Doberman--three times.  But it was me or the dog, and I was fighting for my family, too.  It's amazing what you can do--or what your mind thinks or subconsciously knows you can do--when your life and the life of those you love most is on  the line.

There was also the fact that, during this "end of the world as we know it" situation my husband told me that he was done with us.  If I wanted to go to another community I'd found, I could go without him, but either way, we were over with.  That was the worst part of the dream.  I knew we had to leave, for the safety of our kids, but he would go.  And he didn't want me either way.  So I packed my things, and I packed my son's things.  And nobody helped me because they saw it as me abandoning him.

I left out crucial details that help this story stand apart from every other zombie/killer beast story out there to protect my sub conscience's idea.  (Not that I think any of my readers would steal it, but there are those out there who would.)

What do you think about this type of story?  Do you like Zombies?   Do you like "end of the world" tales?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Flashbacks. . .

"Is your name Jamie?" 

Surprised, I turned toward the voice.  A woman in a maroon cowl-neck walked out of the school's office, extra pens in hand.  Her chin-length blond hair and roundish face triggered the synapses in my brain. 


It's been about fifteen years since last I saw my childhood summer-camp friend.  It was probably five years before that when our beloved camp was taken under new ownership and re-invented, ending any dreams we had of being counselors, ourselves.

There was a group of us horse crazy girls that came to camp every year for the same two-week session.  Some of us even came back for the single-week session later in the summer.  We all started as "maidens" in the middle of three age groups, and we all stayed to the sad end as "squaws."  We had lots of adventures together, and we became good enough friends to see each other randomly in the off-season.  

After seeing Bonnie, I spent the next couple nights in nostalgic remembrance of those time spent in the cabins and woods along the coast of the Elk River in North East, Maryland.  The songs, canoeing and sailing on the river, chapel on the bluff, cookout night with Sandy Hill Stew, and the horses.  Always the horses.

I can honestly say that my memories from Camp Sandy Hill are some of the best I have from my youth.  And to add to the esteem of this rustic reminisce, my older cousins went to this camp, and my mom and aunt went to the one down the road when boys and girls were separated.  So it was a family thing, and I miss this part of my past.  My son will never have the chance to experience the joy that was being a camper at such a wholesome place.

A while ago I thought up a middle-grade series about a group of girls at a horsey summer camp.  The idea is based on my own experience as a camper at Sandy Hill.  It follows a group of young girls through their adventures while at summer camp.  Their experiences will pull the girls together to form bonds that, even over long lapses of time (like fifteen to twenty years), will hold true.  (Mind, there will be no time skips like those of my own.  This is strictly a middle-grade series, and as such must have it's characters at that same age.)

I already have a few different scenarios that would make great middle-grade novels for those girls that are now so like I was at their age--horse crazy.  Maybe this little encounter with my long-ago camp friend is what I need to get the ideas onto "paper."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cheese & Whine. . .

Well, once again, no words were written in any of my projects due to complete and utter chaos engulfing my world.  I know I have been chock full of excuses lately, but the end of last week and through the weekend have drained me thoroughly.  

As I write this, an empty wine glass perfumes the air with the dregs of the raspberry wine I used to help soothe my frayed nerves while Shrek the Third plays on the TV.  (I previously sat through bit and pieces of the first and second installments of the series.  And here is my shameless plug for my much-loved wine: Berrywine Plantations & Linganore Winecellars.  I love my Maryland wines.)  The cheese and crackers are gone, and I'm beginning to feel those magical effects of the wine that promise to send me off to a deep state of either dreams or nothingness.  Either one is welcome at this point.

All last week, Bug was up early.  And I mean before 7 am.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Now, don't get me wrong, I can handle getting up early.  In fact, I enjoy watching the sky lighten as the sun rises.  There is a certain peacefulness at that time that you can't find at any other hour.  But I digress.  

The problem was not the early rising.  The problem was a 2 1/2 year old boy going through an obvious growth spurt.  Tantrums, unexplained emotional break downs, signs of bipolar disorder. . . and my symptoms were nothing compared to the roller coaster my little man was riding.

So, all things considered, I think I'm just lucky to have survived the weekend with some semblance of my sanity in tact.  Hopefully, I'll have some more new writing to share with you soon.  Until then, I thank you for sticking with me and riding out the dips and curves.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Excuses, excuses. . .

Writer's block has woven its icy tentacles through my brain, and, although that isn't a good excuse for my slacking on blog entries, it's not the only thing taking over my thoughts right now.  Dreams of my garden and those future plans also abound.  The terrors--and conversely, the excitement--of finding a preschool for Bug are taking their fair share as well.  And then there's the BIG family vacation coming up, and all the intricate detail planning that involves.

But, on the bright side, I did have two new ideas for stories.  Both have the potential to be novel length, but I think the second idea--a romance--is better suited to short story length.  The first one could be a short story, too.  I just haven't played with either of them too much to make a final decision.  I'm trying to get the current projects finished first.

So, I apologize to my readers for missing Monday.  And I'm sorry this entry is coming so late in the morning.  Better late than never, though.  Right?

Have a great weekend.  I'll be back Monday.