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kimmiepoppins July 31 2014, 04:16

Art Stimulates Art: Dancing with my Writer Sistahs

Originally published at Kimberly Sabatini. You can comment here or there.

Things I did besides finishing my packing for SCBWI LA…

-I got my hair done.

-Made homemade soup and zucchini crabbiless crab cakes for dinner.

-Read to the boys for an hour.

-And of course I caught up on the latest episode of SYTYCD where I saw an epic ton of dances that I’m over the moon about. But this one in particular reminded me of all my writer sistahs.

Whether it’s my critique partners, my SCBWI friends or the Binders–there always seems to be someone there for the highs and the lows. It’s a beautiful thing that rarely ceases to escape me. That dance illustrated the supportive group of women I’ve chosen to have in my life. It feels as if we are more invested in picking each other up than we are in stepping on one another. I love that. We aren’t perfect, but I always sense the desire to be more–be our best.



Knowing I get to see some of these amazing sistahs (and my guy buds too) has me super excited to head to LA TODAY!!!!! I’ll be tweeting about the conference, so if you want to be an arm chair attendee–follow along using the hashtag #LA14SCBWI  And of course I’ll start my usual conference recaps after I get back and un-fry my brain. LOL! I get so inspired after attending the event. Stay tuned more to come…

wookiemonster July 30 2014, 16:02

My tweets

carriejones July 30 2014, 00:32

Darn you, Jennifer Maimone!

So, I have a lot of author friends who are super cool and amazing writers. They are pretty much across the board awesome. I read their books. I read strangers' books. I pretty much love books.

But every once in awhile, I come across a book that makes me sick.

It doesn't make me sick because it's bad or naughty or full of death. Books that make me sick are the kind of books that are such freaking page turners that I do one of two things:

1. I skip to the ending. When I do this, I imagine my mom (who is dead) yelling at me and basically appearing in ghostly form to tell me that I am now going straight to hell because you should never-ever read a book's ending no matter how badly you want to know what happens.

2. I stay up all night reading, resisting the urge to read the ending, and avoiding my mother's ghost. (I only avoid her ghost when it is cranky).

Anyways, when I take option #2, the staying up all night option, I tend to get sick because I am a person who needs sleep to function. You know a book is pretty freaking spellbinding if I sacrifice my health for it.

Yet, I occasionally do.

And I totally did with Jen Maimone's first book in her Alpha Wolf Series, Demon's Prize.

THIS IS THE COVER! Sorry, that isn't the best image of the cover. But it looks amazing in real life. I don't have a kindle because I just, um, don't. But the in-your-hands-book looks super good. Also, it does not smell like a kindle. It smells like a book.

This is from the website:

The Alpha Wolf Series is a work of paranormal fiction that is centered around a group of paranormal beings who are either trying to find acceptance among their people, peace from their tormented thoughts, or trying to cope with the murders they had committed in the past.  There is magick, history, horror, love and betrayal.

There are werewolves, witches, vampires and demons (oh my!), all of whom are connected to Doctor Brent Carson, a person who is more than he seems to be.

The series is expected to range between 5-7 books.

This book is sexy and funny and awesome. It worries you. It cracks you up. It is way too much fun in a scary/good way. Plus, it has cats in it. Cats are cool. So, if you want to read it there are a bunch of options listed below, but be warned. If you need sleep? You should NOT read this book. Unless you can skip to the end because your mom isn't as tough as mine and isn't a ghost.

Book Website: www.alphawolfseries.com

Etsy Merchandise page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/alphawolfseries

Amazon Kindle and Softcover: http://www.amazon.com/Alpha-Wolf-Series-Demons-Prize-ebook/dp/B00KVUK6I0

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22043864-alpha-wolf-series

kellyrfineman July 29 2014, 23:19

Tuesday evening

I have (yet again) been surprised to learn the power of lists.

On Sunday, I spent about an hour assessing what I wanted to get done, and I made up two to-do lists for the week. The first is all about writing and writing-related business (they aren't the same thing, but are related). The second list is about everything else in life -- shopping, cleaning, etc.

Yesterday, I operated off of those two lists. Sort of. I have one writing goal that involves me writing two poems (minimum) every day, and another writing-related goal that involves reading poetry every day. They can't really get crossed-off the weekly list unless and until I manage to accomplish both of them by the end of the week. Nevertheless, I managed to get a couple of things done - progress on several multi-part goals, so I could put a little check mark there, but couldn't cross things out.

Did I mention how much I like crossing things out? Hell, I've been known to add something I just did to a list just so I could put a line through it.

Last night, as a result, I spent a little bit of time trying to figure out what tasks on my weekly list belonged on today's list, and made a separate list just for today. Even if it includes a subset of something on the list, it means once I'm done, I can line it through. I am SO much happier than yesterday, since I can go ahead and do that. And also, I got through nearly the entire list, motivated by my desire to draw lines through things.

That's the power of a good list. You have to write it. You have to plan ahead. And then you have to consult it. If you do, you end up getting a lot of tasks done. Talk about a sense of personal satisfaction.

One more task to finish this evening, and then I get to write out tomorrow's list. I'm hoping there will be more success tomorrow.

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wookiemonster July 29 2014, 16:01

My tweets

  • Tue, 03:52: RT @SarcasticRover: Hope you guys like pictures of dirt and rocks and utter abysmal unending and infinite loneliness! Also rocks. Did I me…
  • Tue, 03:54: RT @SarcasticRover: Woke up to find a parking ticket stuck to my face - so if there are aliens on Mars, they're total wang-holes.
  • Tue, 03:55: RT @GailSimone: Here's a little-known fact about Star Wars. All the pockets on Han Solo's vest are filled with M&M's.
  • Tue, 12:01: You Asked For It And You Got It! Hulu Is Bringing Back Circuit City http://t.co/SvG3yyaCZu via @clickhole
megancrewe July 29 2014, 13:26

Cover coming soon!

Oh patient readers, I am very excited to tell you that the cover for Earth & Sky, my new novel that’s arriving in just three more months, will be revealed over at YA Books Central this Thursday! And there will be an awesome giveaway to go along with it. So you (and I) have just two more days to wait before I can share it’s loveliness. :)

I’ll make a new post when the reveal and giveaway are live, but if you keep an eye on their blog, you’ll probably spot it first!

I’ll also be revealing the Earth & Sky trilogy section of my website that afternoon, with more info about the book, an excerpt, the unofficial soundtrack, and more. Can’t wait to share this new story with you all.

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

cynthialord July 29 2014, 11:42

Summer Glorious

My husband took this photo a couple weeks ago on his way to Rangeley, Maine. "I didn't even juice up the colors," he told me. "I just waited and it happened."

And last week, I met my friend author Tamra Wight at 5:00 am for a sunrise kayak paddle. She took these amazing photos of a bald eagle that we saw.

This summer has been especially beautiful in Maine. Or maybe I'm just noticing it more because we waited so long for it. A flash of brilliance, quickly gone. In A Handful of Stars, the book I just turned in for copyediting, it says about summer:

            At the beginning of summer it always feels like there’s so much time ahead: whole empty calendar pages of sunshine, warm sea breezes, midnight thunderstorms, and running barefoot in the grass. Enough afternoons to do every single thing you wanted to do and even some days left over to do nothing at all.
           But somehow summer fills up and flies by.

So this morning when I woke up early, I drove to the water to watch the sun come up on this new day.

kimmiepoppins July 29 2014, 06:00

Sneaking up on Your Characters

Originally published at Kimberly Sabatini. You can comment here or there.

I promised you I’d be back today after my vacation and my blogcation. It was a good thing I took the blogaction (small break from posting) because the internet where we were staying could be a bit “moody” at times.

First off, it was a great vacation–lots of fun and sun and relaxation and roller coasters and yummy dinners and ice cream. And of course while I was away, I took some pictures. Not too many because I’ve started to learn it’s just as important to be IN the moment as it is to try and capture it, but I did take a couple. On our way home–driving for hours and reliving the vacation highlights, my husband gave me a great compliment. <3 He said he loved how I had started to learn how to sneak up on my subjects when I’m taking a picture. How I’m learning to capture the moment without interrupting everyone all the time. Of course I blushed and grinned and when I got home, I went to take a look at my pictures and tried to see what he was talking about. I tried to find you some of my favorite moments of photographic espionage to illustrate what he was taking about…









*sigh* I have to admit that most of MY favorites are his favorites too. But don’t fret, there is still a time and place for a posed picture from time. Just ask the crew at Table 15 at a wedding I recently attended. *grin*

photo 11


See–posing CAN be fun and funny. But even so,  I imagine you’re thinking…”that’s lovely Kim, but what the heck does this have to do with writing?”

A lot!!!!! I swear. I’ve been thinking about that relationship (you know I always do *wink*) And what I’ve come to realize is that at the same time I’ve been learning to sneak up on my pictures, I’ve also learned to come at my characters in a more subtle way. Let’s give you an example of what I mean. In my earlier writing I was inclined to describe a character like this…

Amelia had blue eyes that sparkled every time she smiled and because she was so petite, it always looked like her eyes took up half of her face. Whenever she made eye contact with a boy, which was often, she ran her delicate fingers through her mop of blonde curls. She was such a flirt and it made me sick.

That’s not a bad description. For better or worse, it hits all the typical things like eye color, hair and height. The description is based on a lot of telling, not showing. It’s a posed portrait of a character.

Now let’s try coming at a character like Amelia from a more indirect route. Let’s sneak up on her and the narrator a little…

When the bell tinkled on the door to the school bookstore, Amelia tucked a curl of hair behind her ear. Then she smoothed down her already ironed skirt in anticipation. All of that preening occurring before she even saw who had stepped into the shop. The shop where she’d carefully stationed herself during back to school week at the university. When Amelia took in the college sweatshirt that the jock-of-the-month was wearing, she really threw it into high gear, batting her voluminous lashes like an exotic bird in the middle of a complicated mating ritual. After seeing that, I slunk down to the pet aisle to throw up a hair ball.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement here (I just met Amelia and the mysterious narrator 15 minutes ago) but I’ve come to love the second description so much more than the first. In just the amount of time it took me to craft the second one, I started to get a real sense of who these characters were and I developed a desire to see what else they were going to do–what they were about. I think that’s because I snuck up on them and really took a deeper look as I was describing what I saw from the shadows. I’m hoping you agree with me on this one. Yes?

Anyway, whether you’re taking pictures or developing with words, give the indirect approach a little bit of your consideration. Sneaking up on your subjects is a quiet, but powerful way to capture a moment or tell a deeper story.

Do you agree with me? What characters, books or authors do you think do this really well? Have you ever pictured a character one way only to find out that what you thought was never actually in the description?


slayground July 29 2014, 00:55

Hope: Holly Schindler

A tiny ray of hope appears inside me, the same way a little stream of light pours from the hallway through my bedroom door's keyhole at night.

- from the novel The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler

For similar ponderings, please check out Definitions of Hope, a series of hopeful musings from various authors and other artists.

aprilhenry July 28 2014, 22:47

Why research when you can do?

machine gun

I’m on a board for people whose write about murder and theft, poisons and fires. In addition to writers, there are a lot of professionals on the board - people who are or have been cops, paramedics, FBI agents, firefighters, PIs, and more.

A writer recently posted a question about what kind of gun her character should get.  She said she knew nothing about guns, and she wanted to know what her equally ignorant character would experience if she went to a gun shop and asked for help.

At which point I (and several other writers) chimed in. Why not just go into a gun store and explain what she was working on and ask their advice?  This was one real-life situation (unlike questions about, say, the best undetectable poison) where it would be easy to experience it.

And experience will give a writer so MUCH more than reading about it ever would.  She’ll be able to describe the shop without trying to google images of “gun shop.”  She’ll know the heft of a gun, and the feeling of the grip, learn it’s surprisingly heavy even though parts of it appear to be made out of plastic.  There may be smells and even tastes she would not expect.  Since her character and the writer herself are both coming from the same place (not knowing much about guns) she’ll be able to ask the questions her character would and hear the answers her character would as well.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.50.05 PMI have found that almost everyone likes to talk about themselves and what they do to an interested person.  I have interviewed teens, death investigators, DNA experts, and curators.  In some cases, I have gone in cold (as I would in the gun situation above).  In others, I have done the professional the courtesy of learning as much as I could before I went to them.  With Dr. Dan Crane, the DNA expert, for example, it would be a waste of his precious time to sit down and say, “What’s DNA?”  Instead I learned a lot on my own and asked about Y-STR and familial DNA testing.

When I was working on the end to The Body in the Woods, I knew it took place in Forest Park.  And I knew my bad character would be armed, and my good characters wouldn’t be.  They needed something they could use as a weapon.  But what?  I took the same walk they would have to get into the park, past nice homes, and I photographed everything I thought they might consider for use as a weapon. Real life thought of many more alternatives that I did.

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robinellen July 28 2014, 22:08

Weekend Roundup...

...I had the house to myself this weekend -- it was wonderful :)

...I read, drank milkshakes, did a little writing, cleaned the refrigerator and the laundry room (my only concessions to a 'to do' list), watched 'Chopped' and 'Law & Order' (while reading and writing -- and cleaning), slept, and read some more.

...yeah, it was awesome!

...DH and the kiddos spent the weekend at his mom's house and basically enjoyed it -- well enough, at least.

Last week of July...I might be in mourning. *sigh*
kellyrfineman July 28 2014, 15:17

ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD: World War I in Poetry and Comics

Today is the centennial anniversary of the start of World War I, once known as "the war to end all wars." (If only.) It was 100 years ago today that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. As noted in this recent article in The New York Times, World War I may not have ended all wars, but it did change how they were fought. For one thing, it introduced the world to the use of chemical weapons; for another, it involved an enormous amount of soldiers from many countries. More than 8.5 million people died during the war, and another 20 million or so were injured.

First Second Books will be issuing on September 23rd a spectacularly good (and horrifyingly awful, in the best sense of the phrase, meaning that it both horrifies and inspires a kind of negative awe) anthology pairing songs, a bit of prose, and the work of a number of war poets with the art of various comics contributors. The book is entitled ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD: world war I in poetry and comics, and it is edited by Chris Duffy. The title is drawn from the final phrase in Wilfrid Wilson Gibson's poem, "The Dancers".

The anthology includes the works of Rupert Brooke, Wilfrid Owen, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and more. My only quibbles are (a) that it didn't include any of the work of Canadian war poet, John McCrae, who wrote what is arguably the best-known of the war poems ever, "In Flanders Fields", and (b) that it left out Rupert Brooke's most famous war poem, "The Soldier", a sonnet which begins, "If I should die, think only this of me/That there's some corner of a foreign field/That is for ever England." But I suppose one can't have everything, though I do strongly believe that McCrae deserved a place in the collection, though Duffy seems to have limited the book to British and Irish poets.

Here is a page from "Therefore is the Name of it Called Babel" by Osbert Sitwell, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg:

The full text of the poem can be seen here in the journal Wheels, wherein it was first published in 1916: Page one of poem, page two of poem.

And here's a photo I took of the page featuring Hunt Emerson's adaptation of a soldiers' song entitled "I Don't Want to be a Soldier" (sorry for the quality, but it's pretty hilarious if you can read it):

For an excellent "tour" of the book, with good looks at the cover art on the jacket and on the book itself as well as excerpts from inside, I highly recommend Gina Gagliano's post for First Second. Definitely a book/comic to be on the lookout for come September!

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