Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (Oct. 23)

And...  One more week of Six Sentence Sunday.  I'm getting into the habit, although it's still a challenge to PICK the six sentences I share.  I'm trying to keep linearity (is that even a word?) and continuity so that you "get" into the story, but at the same time I want to share the most interesting bits or the ones that I'm tweaking in order to get your feedback.  *Sigh*.  Choices, choices.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Handwritten Challenge #2

The second prompt of the Handwritten-Letter Adventure challenge I received from Michelle at Writer In Transit was thus:
"Write a piece of prose based on the prompt: 'Life is like an hourglass.  Eventually, everything hits the bottom.  And all you have to do is wait it out until someone comes along and turns it around."
This story was not what I originally had in mind.  It simply refused to bend to my will, and here's the result:


How had it happened, this falling apart?  Life had been good.  Why was she curled on the sofa staring out at the patio, gnawing her lip?

The Handwritten Challenge #1

The letter I received from my friend Writer In Transit contained two challenges.  I'm pretty sure she meant to offer me a choice, but since I'm an overachiever (and I'm procrastinating on the editing I have to do for the WIP) I decided to do both.  

The first one:
"Write a short dialogue based on these words: 'When you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done.'  It should be dramatic, filled with mystery and suspense."
I'm pretty sure this was not the result Writer In Transit was looking for, and I apologize--my romantic and darkish side got away with me.

~ * ~ * ~


Dave looks so confused.  My heart twitches, but I raise my chin.

"I don’t want to hurt you," I say.  It sounds ridiculous, here among my packed suitcases.  "I need to be on my own.  For a while."

"Where will you go?  What will you do?"  

It’s not concern that makes him ask.  He’s questioning my ability to grasp life without him, and he’s right.  I can’t.  But I have to try.

The Beauty of Handwritten Letters

How long has it been since you wrote or received a handwritten letter?

When I was in my early twenties I had one of those annihilating love affairs one summer--the kind that change your life forever because they change YOU, much like (to borrow and paraphrase from "Like Water For Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel) dough is irreversibly and intrinsically changed through contact with heat.  And much of that affair happened via handwritten letters--he happened to live across the continent from me.  This was the early nineties, so no email yet.  The phone bills were humongous, too.

For around four months we wrote letters to each other every day, this super-sexy and romantic lover (he quoted poetry to me--POETRY) and I.  Sometimes more than one a day.  The letters were delivered in stacks of three, four, sometimes more.  And each was read and re-read again and again throughout the years until I finally lost them.

Yes, I think of handwritten letters most fondly.  So when an amazing blogger friend at Writer In Transit started a handwritten-letter adventure, you can imagine I jumped at the chance.  How does it work?  We exchange letters and include a writing challenge or two (or three) that the recipient must complete.  A few days ago I received her first letter with two awesome writing challenges: challenge #1 and challenge #2.

There's nothing quite so exciting, for people of my generation at least, as to receive a handwritten letter.  I look forward to many many more!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Killer Character Blogfest -- Challenge #3: Antagonist

El Amor En Los Tiempos Del Colera (Love In Times of Cholera, or Love In The Time of Cholera)

Florentino Ariza met Fermina Daza one slow afternoon when she raised her head from a book and met his eyes, "and that look was the origin of a cataclysm of love that half a century later hadn’t yet finished." [My translation]

For fifty-one years, nine months and four days, Florentino and Fermina would not speak privately.  Love arose through letters and chaperoned walks in a park, a love of expected vibrancy given their youth.  But Fermina would soon realize that she’d fallen in love with Love itself, that Florentino was not anything she’d thought he was, and she’d dismiss him from her life to marry a man more in line with her station.

But Florentino did not give up.  He waited patiently, with a debauchery that never threatened the purity of his love for Fermina, for half a century.  The opportunity finally comes, but…  They’re too old, Fermina says.  Florentino’s patience isn’t exhausted and soon, in spite of her disparaging protests, she begins to admit there might still be time for love.  Love, after all, is love regardless of the time or the age.  But it becomes denser the closer one is to death.

Time is the antagonist.  Time is what threatens: Florentino must outlive Fermina’s husband.  Age—evidence of Time’s passage—threatens to make everything pointless.  In the end Florentino thinks he wins: Time, so long against him, is now his ally--not just because proximity to death has intensified everything, but also because the half-century interlude flew them over the trials of love turned routine.  And now…  Now they need only each other.  But Time won't stop, not even on that drifting riverboat with a cholera flag raised.  We're left with the sensation that, however well-lived, their days together will not be many.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Killer Character Blogfest -- Challenge #2: The All-Important Protag

Being a protagonist is hard.  Everything hinges on you: story, action, conflict—to top it off, there’s no privacy.  All your foibles, your deepest fears, desires, stuff you’ve barely found out for yourself—right there on the page for any reader to see.

The Odd Thomas Series, by Dean Koontz
As enthralled as I am by stories, I always feel a pang of voyeurism-sparked shame at invading foreign lives like that.  Nowhere was that most evident than when I met Odd Thomas.

He’s such a delightful and sensitive kid, that Odd.  So polite, so—normal, in every way but one.  He sees the "lingering dead", and although they don’t speak (not as far as he knows), they do communicate in some way to ask for justice.  Now, another kind of person would ignore them, turn their back, scream and run (sometimes these dead show up with the gore and mess that killed them), or perhaps simply go mad.  But not Odd.  He doesn’t like it, but he accepts that this is his lot with an equanimity that leaves no place for the melodrama of "why me?".  And I love him for that.

Odd touches my heart.  He’s a good, good man—but he doesn’t know it, doesn’t believe it.  Odd Thomas’s humanity jumps out of the page, weaknesses on his sleeve.  He seems almost apologetic for telling his story, for making any claim of importance.

But he is important.  His qualities are in extreme danger of extinction.

Read the other Killer Character 'Fest-ers choices for Killer Protagonists here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Killer Character Blogfest -- Challenge #1: Supporting Character

Welcome to the Killer Character Blogfest!  Everyone is postulating for their favorite supporting character today--visit this link to take a look at the other entries.

The supporting character I present to you today is, quite literally, a killer.  At least in intention, though not in fact.  He’s been my favorite supporting character since the first time I came across him--over twenty five years ago!

He’s not an obscure character, so I'll give you a chance to guess.  His untimely death gave him eternal youth in our minds, but he’s only slightly younger than Dracula.  He’s unique and timeless, but not undead.  He’s irreverent—a fun-loving joker.  He talks of dreams, he has unpredictable swings.

I believe he knew, at some level, that he would die young.  He’s the embodiment of "carpe diem", in high contrast to the protagonist he supports so ably (a romantic given to writing poetry inspired in platonic love), and I believe the thirst of life of our character is driven by foreknowledge, at a subconscious level perhaps, that he would not live long.

His monologue is famous—pure magic of youth tinged with a fatality that grips the reader (or listener, for it was written to be spoken)—, as is his loyalty: unable to understand why his best friend will not fight the man who has insulted him, he draws his own sword against the threatener and dies.  That thrust of sword under the arm of his best friend sets off the events that culminate in one of the literary world’s most poignant tragedies—so easily avoidable, had pride been less entrenched.

Did you guess Mercutio?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Talk of Dreams...

For twenty five years (or more) this monologue has haunted me...  I know a few passages from Shakespeare, but this one I can recite without hesitation any day (notwithstanding the amount of wine or other spirits imbibed):

True, I talk of dreams;
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy;
Which is as thin of substance as the air,
And more inconstant than the wind, who woos
Even now the frozen bosom of the North
And, being angered, puffs away from thence,
Turning his side to the dew-dropping South.

Such hopelessness in the words, such aching desire for life and its mystery...  As if Mercutio knew that life, for him, would only remain a dream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam -- Week 12

I'm back to the Bluebell Books Short Story Slam for this week--finally!  This is a blogger share-fair that I really missed, because the other participants are wonderful people that I love connecting with, and because the talent on this "slam" is breathtaking.  Please take a stroll over to the Bluebell Books site and check out the other participating blogs.  I promise you'll love them!

The prompt for this week is the photo on the right.

As heartwarming as it is, my dark side refused to take it at face value.  Here's the result; your comments and feedback are most genuinely appreciated.

You scare the hell out of me.  The innocence of your skin, the curl of your tiny fingers.  The abandon with which your back heaves in breath.  The texture of your hair—no, I haven’t touched it, and I won’t.  But it looks so soft, so—fragile.  Everything about you is fragile, and that’s what scares me.  Because it demands that I be everything, things I’m not sure I want.  Things I’m not sure I can.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rescheduling Life and The Carpe Diem Lesson

"Carpe Diem" by Claudia Alves | RedBubble

It's funny how synchronicity works.  Angela Guillaume is also blogging on this topic today.  If you haven't visited her blog recently, you're missing out.  She's a fantastic writer with great insights.

I rearranged my schedule.  Drastically.

I've mentioned it in passing, but perhaps this is something that deserves a post of its own.  I quit my day job on September 30th and I'm now officially unemployed. Why (oh why oh why) did I do this, you ask?  The great majority of people I know think I went crazy, had a burn-out or something, lost it.  Even those who congratulate me and give a little sigh of something that could--just might--be envy, think what I'm doing is nothing short of bizarre.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday (Oct. 16)

So...  I'm back for Six Sunday.  Sorry for the hiatus.  I had a busy September...  Quit my day job (yes, to write...  How incredibly immature, right?), got a bout of bad bronchitis that I'm still recovering from, and basically rearranged my life.  But I feel good.  The novel is in its final stages of editing, so I hope to start querying before the end of the year.  Any feedback--comments, likes, dislikes, suggestions--is heartily welcomed and eagerly sought.

This week I'm sharing six sentences from the chapter following the last six sentences I posted.  The novel explores stretching cultural boundaries through a story of love and loss.  I hope you enjoy!

“I promise I’ll behave.  Didn’t I behave last night?”

He had.  Hand-holding wasn’t a crime, regardless of how guilty I felt about it.  It wasn’t about him behaving, though.  I might not be able to put it into words, but I knew I had to limit my exposure to Michael—things would happen otherwise, things I didn’t want to think about.

Please remember to visit the other Six Sunday-ers -- some awesome writers and stories in there!  I look forward to reading your work, and thanks for the visit.  Have an outstanding Sunday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 (For Dummies)

I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2011.  Crazy and disjointed?  Sure, but hey--why not?  This is the year when I decided to take writing seriously, hone my skills, really get into the whole experience of being a writer.  Well then, NaNoWriMo it is.

Yeah, it took me a while to figure out exactly what NaNoWriMo is.  I heard people mention it, read it here and there, and was mystified.  Then somewhere I found the definition: NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth.  Ah!  Eureka, huh?  So a bunch of people get together and have a month-long celebration of... writing novels?  Wow.  Exciting.  Oh, but I was so wrong.

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