Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Kathleen Duey should get a Courageous Author award for writing a novel on Twitter. "What? How can a novel be written in 140-character bursts?" you may well exclaim. But, trust me, it's a grand and wonderful experiment that works.
Duey's written more than 70 books and been a National Book Award finalist, so this is no newbie gimmick. But she can be unconventional, and she chose to tell SKIN HUNGER and SACRED SCARS, the first two books in The Resurrection of Magic trilogy in alternating POVs with the characters centuries apart--one in first person, the other in third. These dark, cryptic tales enthrall me.
But it's what she's doing on Twitter that has knocked my socks off and sent them into the stratosphere. How many of us would commit to writing a novel in tweeted lines, real time, unrevised for all the world to see? Yikes.
Duey has said she did it after speaking at a conference and realizing she wanted a challenge that scared her, gave her a jolt of raw fear. She also realized she had a Twitter account she barely used. Putting the two together propelled her to a place few of us would dare tread. She says of her main character: He talks. I type.
I began reading RUSSET: ONE WING out of curiosity, nothing more. I didn't expect anything of real depth or cohesion. Boy, was I wrong. There was enough scene-setting and character development to settle me in and then I became increasing riveted by the story and concerned for Russet. The possibilities still ahead in this unfinished story are fascinating to imagine.
Duey begins by having Russet tell us he can't ever go back but first he has to find a blanket.
Right away, we know the kid is in trouble, alone and cold. By the fourth tweet, someone is following him. By the eighth entry, he mentions a mysterious letter, unopened, in his pocket, and by the ninth tweet, we know it's from his equally-mysterious missing father.
As a guest blogger on Cynthia Leitich Smith's site, Duey explains the steps that brought her to write Russet: One Wing, establishing its own blog. She's made chapter headings on the blog for the collection of already-written tweets. The story is ongoing on Twitter here. For more about Duey and the process, check her blog.
So how about you? Would you write a novel on Twitter? Would you read it? How far are you willing to push your writing comfort zone?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Hi! *waves happily at blogging friends* Bug kite, how cute is that?
I just need to grin at kites and try to let the last few days float away, let the breezes carry them into the heavens. You probably didn't notice but after I survived the Property Management Horror Show of my last post, I lost my internet for two days. Harumph. But the Lovely Mr. Phone Fix-it Man figured out it was just the power adapter for the modem and now, knock-knock-knock on wood, it's all better.
And, after I float for a bit, I will turn my thoughts back to my WIP, which has been sinfully neglected, and also come up with something more substantial for my blog. But isn't it fun to just reach for the sky now and then?
Friday, August 21, 2009
I've been gone two days, which I will describe in most hideous detail, but for now I get to say "Thank you, guys, for making my homecoming bright!" Yes, more awards have been bestowed upon this fledgling blog. They are oddly familiar since I received both previously. However, this time they came in a virtual shower!
BJW at I,uh, think I killed my muse
Monday, August 17, 2009
fate 1: the principle or determining cause or will by which things in general are supposed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do: destiny 2: whatever is destined or decreed 3: final outcome 4: the three goddesses of classical mythology who determine the course of human life - Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
This painting, "The Three Fates," by contemporary artist Katrin Wiese hangs in my living room. Wiese paints in narrative, often inventing characters and strange worlds. Here, she interpreted mythology. I bought it for its power and the whimsy of Clotho's hair made into a sail and her hands held in the energy flow of yoga mudras as she spins the thread of life. Note the bounty of a bowl of berries at Lachesis' elbow and her hand on the tiller. And the way Atropos, shrinks behind with her shears, prepared to cut the thread of some poor soul. But even so, flowers float on the water and there is a sense of beauty and purpose in the ebb-and-flow of life.
I plan to spotlight artworks on this blog from time-to-time, and at this moment I'm drawn to the Fates. I suddenly remembered a fairytale I started to write sometime ago about a girl who is destined to fall again and again from high places. The princess goes to find the Fates and ask why this is her lot, beginning with a power-hungry uncle who tossed her from the top of a tower. Unfortunately for him, she survived with just a scratch.
She finds the Fates on a mountaintop. They are surrounded by skeins of yarn in every color imaginable. Great tapestries billow in the wind, swirling with images.
"Why is my lot to fall?" The Princess sees no point in mincing words.
Clothos, her hair glittering with sunlight, barely glances from her spinning. "Into every life rain must fall."
"Without rain, no growth." Lachesis measures the lengths of yarn.
"Fine. It must rain, but I don't see why it must be a cyclone or a flood. And what's that got to do with me falling?"
"We came on the day of your birth and foresaw what your uncle would do. It may have been the early end of you, but you burned with such courage and resilience, it seemed to us you should bounce instead of break. And so it is." Atropos squinted out of rheumy eyes and pointed a gnarled finger at the Princess.
"I spend a lot of time falling." The Princess tapped her foot with impatience.
"Every gift has its price."
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The original 5-7-5 line count is unique to the Japanese language. English haiku usually is short-long-short up to 17 syllables. The important points are that it is nature oriented and a single heightened moment happening in present time. Senryu is the form depicting human nature.
Each word is carefully selected and is not a run-on sentence, nor padded for syllable count.
Anyone really interested may want to read Modern Haiku, Simply Haiku and Shadow Poetry. I'm no expert, just a fan.
Ms. Harr was a haiku author and editor who promoted the Japanese artform, founding the Western World Haiku Society. She passed away March 3, 2006 at 93.
The first time I sent a submission to her Dragonfly Quarterly she sent back guidelines, which listed the "isn'ts" of haiku. It isn't a prose sentence divided in 5-7-5 syllables or padded with modifiers. It isn't an intellectual statement, a pretty picture, a moral judgment. But it is heightened awareness, Zen-like being in the moment.
Ms. Harr not only reached out to every submitter with this list, she wrote personal notes. She showed me how I had written "quickly the fog came" in Western-style, while in haiku it would be "a sudden fog."
I shall forever be grateful for her helping hand and the further understanding and love she gave me for haiku.
Here are a few haiku of mine she published in Dragonfly:
A gust of wind:
the recently beaded branch
and now the parchment flaking
of the manzanita.
A sudden fog
covers the fading moon
And I was pleased to be a runner-up in one of her contests with this:
New Year's morning:
ice in the bucket...wedge of geese
breaking the silence.
Any writer can benefit from being in the moment, by putting into words a small slice of life. Did another writer help you see more clearly, reach out a helping hand in an unforgettable way?
Saturday, August 8, 2009
A friend asked me to water her garden whilst she camps at a seaside park, wandering the shore, watching for dolphins and breathing in the salty, moisture-heavy air. We live in an arid zone where plants would turn brown and crisp quickly without a hose gushing into pots and trickling into the ground. It's a pleasure for me since I am currently garden-less. I love green. I adore trees. I am a nut about fruits and vegetables bursting forth.
As a bonus I got to eat a handful of those little tomato gems, which surely have been touched by the Flavor Fairy's wand. They do not seem to be from the same planet as supermarket tomatoes. There is a sci-fi story in there somewhere.
All of which leads me to writing. I was bummed to miss the SCBWI conference in LA this weekend but have come to realize I have an abundance of inspiration around me--from the mini-world of a garden to the enormous reach of the internet.
Lady Glamis has been posting a superb series on mapping your novel. I am not a outline whiz and fall straight to sleep if faced with making a list that involves Roman numerals. I like to write as if possessed by a story, to let the characters lead me on a merry dance, to submerge myself deep in the enchantment.
I must do a weird tangent thingie here and thrust in one of my favorite anecdotes from Neil Gaiman. He said in a blog post that he was traveling with his daughter after the death of his father and when the plane landed, she interrupted his writing to tell him it was time to get off. He said: 'But I want to find out what happens next.' If that isn't going deep, what is?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
This is the sort of contest you can sink your teeth into, really rip into it and decimate the competition. Or you could go for an odd juxtaposition of plum blossoms and rotting flesh. I'm just saying this throws the door of opportunity off its hinges.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
“Lady Celia,” the king said without taking his stone-gray eyes from Fiona, “it has not escaped me that your young charge has unusual occurrences around her, whether it’s the way she can calm the most wild-eyed horse or whether it’s the more mysterious issue of what she has done with her little songs.”
Neither Fiona nor her great-aunt moved or spoke. Fiona’s heart pounded so violently she thought the whole room must hear it.
“Did you think I would not notice a slip of a child standing alone on a freezing morning singing to the bare cherry trees? Did you think I was blind to pink blossoms bursting on the barren limbs, or deaf to people running out of the castle, exclaiming that spring had come early? But the flowers turned to ice, and you grabbed Fiona’s arm, scolding. Some may have thought it a miracle or aberration. I believe it was the girl.”
Lady Celia stirred, a jerky movement, and her voice came out cracked, “Sire, her silly singing at inappropriate times and places has long plagued me. It is a nuisance for which she has been punished.” Her voice gathered more of its usual assurance as she added, “I regret if it has caused you any disturbance. I can send her to a friend in the country until she learns her manners.”
The king laughed, but it was not a pleasant sound. “I’m not talking about manners, Lady Celia. The girl has magic, and no one may do magic without my command.”