Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Got This Thing About Sharing...

Just thought I'd share a few newer pieces from my current WIP (work in progress). Keep in mind that they're experimental styles:


   Outside, the wind stirred. All was silent. In the house, the girl was lying on the sofa, one foot resting on the arm, the other flat on the floor. Her eyes were closed. But she was still dead.
   Still dead.
   She was young. She was special. She was rare. A “trainer”, they would have called her. Hers was a soul that could rival others. Hers was a soul that would have ferried others into the afterlife. Psychopomp. There could be only one. But, now, it belonged to him.
   Her last breath had asked for death. Death because she was ridiculed, outcast from society – they’d said she was “weird”. In exchange for her soul, she wished to be eternally consumed.
   No one would find her. He would make her body disappear in a lake or a forest. His hands had been stained with earth and blood before.
   A pool of blood. Wide staring eyes. No, that was his death – the death of his body.
   He flitted around the room, trying to decide his next move. A light flickered. His pulse leapt. He touched the light switch; nothing happened.
   And yet, another soul.
   No! He wouldn’t! Not again! Not anymore!
   But that glimpse of a forgotten energy... The feeling of so much power coursing through him. He would add her soul to the ones he’d inherited already. Countless. Never-ending.
   It was bittersweet. He wept. But the wondrous power overwhelmed him. Her screams would never subside. He would hear them always in his dreams.
   Her soul was sweet. It sustained him for hours. And when hunger was satisfied, he retired to his loneliness. What had become of him? What he had been before, he was again.
   A wraith.

*      *      *

   The thought nestled tightly in the gray matter of his brain. There would be more. If he didn’t want more, the other inside him would take.
   And the other inside him was whispering again. Gentle, soft strokes of a voice kissed the inside of his soul. It warned him. It hated him. It was a part of him.
   He sat in darkness. Waited. Drinking the black ink of eternity as though it would dampen the sensation of loss and greed. Greed. Powerful greed was more appetizing than safe logic. Logic didn’t exist in his brain any longer. Logic was dead like his body. Dead again.
   A memory burst forth on the horizon like the dawning sun. Warm love. The distance of the feeling ached in his core, but the inviting emotion strengthened his resolve. In moments such as this, he thought he could beat the other inside him.
   Because she made him strong. No. Not her. The memory of her made him strong. She was different than the others. Pure soul – yes. But the soul was not what drew him. Was it? 
   The memory took a turn. The other inside him was consuming it. No! He would not allow it to happen. He pulled the thought of her to the front of his brain. She was his. No one else was allowed to have her. The Siren.
   Her song made him weak even in memory. That weakness allowed the other to devour the thought, feeling, emotion. It was too late. The memory faded with the descent of the sun. The grubby window reflected a slanted ray of light; falling over him like a judgment. He wanted no more. The other didn’t agree.
   The old Éire. Another wraith. He wanted souls. Their consciousness mingled, tore apart, became two, then three, then one. The two fought; the one demanded. The demand was strong. Her soul would be his.
   The Siren would die.

*     *      *

   Something was wrong again. The morning had been fine. He had woken up to the singing of birds and the smell of fresh brewing coffee. His head had been clear, conscious, no sign of the other inside him. A good day, he would have said.
   But the girl was there. She was new. No rare soul. Normal.
   He had been seeing her a few nights a week. Young, slender, beautiful. She failed to see his underlying struggle whenever they were together. And he refused to see her whenever the other took control. It had been happening more and more often.
   The girl came into his room bearing a cup of coffee. She looked worried when she sat next to him in bed. The sheets tangled around him, trapping him in place. Reaching out a blind arm, he swiped the mug from her. Burned his mouth. A curse flared. The girl shrank back.
   He felt around for her. The softness of her thigh beneath his weary fingers. It melted into his memories. The pull of that warm love he’d once felt. The Siren again. She haunted his conscious. She was the only one he’d known. The other inside him would not have her; could not have her. He refused. The old Éire awakened. Enraged.
   Hot greed and anger ripped through each muscle fiber, shredding his nerves and endurance. Without them, there was no control. Without control, there was only hate.
   Choked shrieks. What had he done? The girl. He’d forgotten about her. Her slender neck was gripped between his powerful hands. She clawed at him. Nails ripped into his flesh, dragging the torn skin down to the muscle. Blood stained her fingers; dripped onto the carpet.
   The fight dwindled. Her grip loosened. The body fell limp in his arms. Raw pain stung in his hands. They bled. He wept again.
   Not her soul. This time, a life without purpose.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What's doin', Katie Bunny?

So, I hired an editor for my current sub MSS The Death of Me. And I've gotten some slack and some support for it, too. Slack, you say? Yes, freaking slack. Someone who shall remain nameless seems to think that hiring an editor when I'm only just starting out will make agents think I can't do it myself. 

To this person, I say that the editor will simply polish the prose and make sure no major issues are peeking through. I mean, after reading the darn thing a million and one times, there's bound to be some small grammatical errors that these 'ole blinders have overlooked. 

On the flip side, the support has been great! Several individuals encouraged me that hiring an editor to make sure the MSS is the best it can be will ensure the chances of my being picked up. I mean, when you're scouring the internet for agents, the majority of them stipulate on their submission requirements that your MS should be the best it can be. How to achieve this? Professional editing.

On to the more mundane! I have a sample from The Death of Me below:

...He turned the volume up on a recap of American Idol. It was a good episode. Several of my favorite songs were performed that night. A contestant I admired was blowing out strains of Unchained Melody. It was such a beautiful song, I found myself humming it. 
When it was over, I turned the volume down. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about something,” I said. When Martin didn’t answer, I turned my attention toward him. 
        For some weird reason, he’d stopped eating and was just staring at the television. I waved a hand in front of his face and got no reaction. 
       “Hello?” I asked. “What’s thinkin’, Pal O’ Mine?”
       “Where did that come from?” he wondered. It sounded as though he’d just awoken.
       “Huh?”
       “That song... It was like...pretty...”
       “Yeah, she’s a good singer,” I replied. “But I wanted to ask you some stuff.” He remained motionless. “Martin!”
“What?!” he asked, finally turning to look at me. ...

Katie has a new catch phrase. She borrows something from The Exorcist (which she read and loved, by the way), and she now asks, "What's doin'?" or "What's thinkin'?" 

But since the change, now I have to go back through novel #2 and add some pieces. 

So! My stupid writer's brain made me start another novel this weekend. For now, I'm calling it Test because I'm not sure where it's going to fit in. I started it as another in the A Cure Series, but I doubt it'll make the cut as it's just another way for me to wipe the slate clean...again. Yes, again. I've already done it once, and I think once is enough. I'm not sure where this one's going to go, but my brain seems to think it could be good. It may just turn out to be a short "What if...?"

Oh, and T-minus eleven days and counting until the first in said series appears on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and in print. Watch out for it! A Cure for the Condition is coming out on June 1! And in three months, when I'm sittin' on a cruise ship, enjoying the crisp Alaskan air and watching those glaciers roll by, I will be thinking of my readers. 

Yes, there will be a laptop. Damn it all! Writing doesn't take a vacation! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Couldjya help an old altah-boy, Fadda? I'm a Cat'lic."

Such a great film. I know, I have to talk about it again. I just watched The Exorcist (Director's Cut) last night. I'm only halfway through the book, so it was cool seeing how much of the dialogue translated directly into the film. Most of it did.

Some of my favorite pieces of the movie include when Chris MacNeil wakes up close to five in the morning with a phone call. Ellen Busrtyn did such an amazing job waking up groggily and looking tired (kinda like how John  Hurt does at the beginning of Alien). She made me feel sleepy! I digress... There's a scene where she goes into the attic to check the rat traps her housekeeper put out. And as she's up there, Friedkin (the director) has this ten second shot of Regan in her mom's bed just lying there, one eye staring at the camera. Not moving. Not blinking. Creepy.

And the part where Damien Karras (Father Karras, to you) talks to Regan for the first time. The demon inside Regan says, "Your mother's in here with us, Karras..."

To this, Karras says, "If you are the devil, then you'd know my mother's maiden name... What is it?"

Of course, the demon doesn't answer.

Later, when Karras sits down to try and figure out if the Church will approve an exorcism, the drawer on the night table opens by itself. Karras asks, "Did you do that?"

The demon replies, "Uhh-huhh..."

Karras leans over, shuts the drawer slowly, and looks back at Regan. "Do it again."

"In time."

"No, do it now."

"In time..."

It's just plain great. I love it, because it gives a sense of realism to the weird goings on. You start to think that maybe Regan is just doing it for attention...

Now, on to more important things. Today, in "The Few, The Proud, The 238", we discussed rules vs. cliches.

Cliches can be a lot of things. For instance, phrases such as "everyday life", "this day and age", and "a fit of laughter" are so overused, that when a reader scans over them, their eyes roll so far back into their head that they become stuck.

Now, rules are very different. I've encountered people in the writing world that say, "Don't start the book with a girl in her bedroom; don't start your book with a description of the weather; don't start your book with a prologue, and don't end with an epilogue."

So, naturally, I thought, "Rules, schmules. Imma do it anyway."

Because rules are meant to be broken.

What does this have to do with The Exorcist, you ask? Whell... I shall enlighten you. The Exorcist by William P. Blatty is a brilliant piece of fiction that was loved so intensely, that a film was made about it in the seventies. And it was such a great film with genius cinematography and deep characters, that people STILL talk about how it scared them. Hell, I saw it for the first time a year ago, and the damn movie gives me nightmares. 

My point is, The Exorcist was a first draft. Yes, you heard me. The book was published as a draft by Blatty. He recently released a new version which he added scenes and probably cleaned up the one word sentences a bit, but I haven't read it. Why? Because the beauty of the novel is the short, disjointed sentences that give the reader a sense of foreboding. It makes you feel uncomfortable. 

See? Who needs rules? Blatty threw the damn rule book out the window just like Dr. House does all the time. And look what came of it! 

And so, if you are an aspiring writer and people are giving you this twenty-five pound stack of papers telling you what you can and can't do, punch them. Or, conversely, you can just ignore them. It's your choice. I'll take the nonviolent route and verbally punch them in the face. When they read my book. Because it's gonna be one long prologue, end in an epilogue, and open with a girl dreaming about waking up to a beautiful day. 

Because, I can do what I want, that's why!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Write, Therefore I Am (Obsessive and Compulsive)...


     "Outside, the wind stirred. All was silent. In the house, the girl was lying on the sofa, one foot resting on the arm, the other flat on the floor. Her eyes were closed. But she was still dead. 
   Still dead. 
   She was young. She was special. She was rare. A “trainer”, they would have called her. Hers was a soul that could rival others. Hers was a soul that would have ferried others into the afterlife. Psychopomp. There could be only one. But, now, it belonged to him. 
   Her last breath had asked for death. Death because she was ridiculed, outcast from society – they’d said she was “weird”. In exchange for her soul, she wished to be eternally consumed.
   No one would find her. He would make her body disappear in a lake or a forest. His hands had been stained with earth and blood before.
   A pool of blood. Wide staring eyes. No, that was his death – the death of his body.
   He flitted around the room, trying to decide his next move. A light flickered. His pulse leapt. He touched the light switch; nothing happened. 
   And yet, another soul.
   No! He wouldn’t! Not again! Not anymore!
   But that glimpse of a forgotten energy... The feeling of so much power coursing through him. He would add her soul to the ones he’d inherited already. Countless. Never-ending.  
   It was bittersweet. He wept. But the wondrous power overwhelmed him. Her screams would never subside. He would hear them always in his dreams.  
   Her soul was sweet. It sustained him for hours. And when hunger was satisfied, he retired to his loneliness. What had become of him? What he had been before, he was again.
   A wraith."

That was the opening to my most recent project. I'm trying something new; a new style to dredge up the old. I personally think it's worth a gander, don't you?

Now, on to more important things. 

I am a writer. When I tell people this, they say, "Oh, cool! A writer! Wow!"

Of course, I don't have the heart to tell them that writing isn't all fun and games. On a good day, I still sit in front of the computer for upwards of four hours without any human contact except the occasional quip from my husband about how I'm "spending too much damn time on that laptop".  

Yes, I love writing. I love coming up with ideas, dialogue, characters that break and warm my heart. But this isn't something I merely want to do. I have to do it. 

What comes to mind is a line from The Godfather. "This is the business we have chosen!" 

Yeah, I chose it, and it makes me want to pull out my hair sometimes. I spend months and months writing, researching, and editing a book. Then, I spend several more months writing, tailoring, and editing a query. Then, I spend a year sending that query to agents, only to obtain "Dear Author" rejection letters from agents who are too busy to bother with another Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy. Puh.

Well, in the words of my Facebook friend, Jason Duke, "I can't wait for the day when a publisher makes me an offer I can't refuse."



Monday, May 14, 2012

Blargh: I Am Dead

For some reason, I am reminded of a line from the film Dr. Doolittle (no, unfortunately, not the original with Rex "okay girls, time for a big sigh" Harrison). Remember the one with Eddie Murphy? Yeah, that one. I liked it!

The line was said from the mouth of a tiger (voiced by A. Brooks -- who you may remember as a clown fish searching for his son in one of my favorite Disney flicks), and it went something like this: 

"Every moment you're gone, I'm one minute closer to death! I might just hang myself by my underpants...! I can get underpants... Not really..."

Not sure why, but my friends and I used to repeat this line over and over and just laugh and laugh. It must have been the poor tiger's voice when he said the words, "not really..." He was so upset that he had no way out and couldn't even get some darn underwear!

Well, I still chortle so when I hear the line, but, now it means something else to me. It is no longer just a way to pass into nostalgia comfortably and remember fun times as a child. Now, it also confirms to me that sometimes, the most insignificant things can elude us.

Over-dramatic? Perhaps.

Anyway, I'm in the midst of reading The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Oh, you've seen the movie? Fantastic. Great, great movie. Dialogue was spot on (even the "Beautiful horse, Mom. Oh, he was graaayyyy..." You don't say?), cinematography was..."beautiful," and the directing was borderline genius. It just gave a feeling of uneasiness and dread.

The book does, too.

Blatty writes in disjointed, misstructured (I just invented a word!) sentences that make the reader feel uncomfortable. For instance: "She moved into the kitchen. Dark. Knobby legs. A corset on the floor." It's not an exact quote, but it's close. It's a great book that I highly recommend.

Although Blatty can be a bit dramatic with his sentences -- for example when he describes two headlights of a train as a "guide for hopelessness" -- but, if you ask me, the man has some freaking talent!

Pick it up. It's great. Then finish it. After, pick up mine. Read it. Love it.

(See, makes you feel ookie, huh?)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Am I Afraid Of?

The answer: everything. 

Spiders (okay, that's a given; everyone's afraid of spiders), disease, dying, being alone. But what I'm really afraid of is not being recognized for what I love and my dreams being crushed. 

As a newbie writer (only been truly at it for two years, now), every rejection that comes my way is soul-crushing. I need to develop a thicker skin when it comes to this, but that takes time. Time is not on my side. 

So, I'm afraid of not being recognized, not being published traditionally, not being good enough. As a dream, it may only be in my head. 

Last night, someone told me, "You may never get published."

And it killed me. Because she was right. I may never be published the way I want. I have a book coming out in a few weeks with an indie publisher, but that wasn't enough. I want an agent. I want someone to tell me I'm good enough. Even if it's only one book; I WANT IT. I want it so bad that I'd be willing to sacrifice everything I have, shut myself into a room for years, and finish writing. My life has become this. 

After all, it's hard to believe in yourself when, (1) All three of your full requests were rejected in five days time, (2) The only queries getting attention are those without sample chapters, (3) your request rate is only 2%, and (4) your inbox has been completely silent for days -- waiting for the other 60+ rejections to come in. 

Maybe I'm not good enough? I don't know. I guess it's possible. Everyone tells me I should just write for myself. Well, I do. I do write for myself. But I want to be recognized for being at least halfway decent at it. Maybe I am spoiled. Maybe it's bad that I want things other people have. Maybe it's bad that I expect some recognition for something I may not even be all that great at. 

Last night, I finished reading Dying to Get Her Man, the last in a series of novels by Judy Fitzwater. The novels center around thirty-something Jennifer Marsh, an amateur writer who's spent the better part of ten years trying to get published. Jennifer gets into all kinds of trouble, and somehow always find a murder close by her -- her being involved. And Jennifer, stubborn as she is, always has to figure it out. 

In the first book, Jennifer meets Sam Culpepper. Oh, how I love Sam. Everyone loves Sam. How could they not? That slick dark hair, those deep blue eyes, his downright Vulcan logic was all it took for Jen to say yes to a first date. 

Now, five books later, Sam calls her with the "We need to talk" line. They'd been dating a while and Jennifer was expecting it. But she's scared. She's scared of planning ahead because she's lived her life a certain way for years. So, instead of listening to what Sam wants to tell her, she prattles on the entire night about a woman who supposedly killed herself on the grave of her lover the night before. Jennifer seems to think that this woman didn't commit suicide. 

By far this is my favorite in the series. I'd been waiting five books for Jennifer and Sam to finally say those three words to each other because I know they know it. Scared or not, Jennifer needed to suck it up, because the next morning, she finds out that one of Sam's ex-girlfriends is back in town, and Belle seems to think she can get him back...or at least that's the way it looks to Jennifer.

In the end, Jennifer and Sam have their talk. It was one of the best moments I'd had in a long time when reading a book. Sam tells her, "The first time is hard, but after that, it just rolls of your tongue. Try it." He takes her face in his hands, looks deep into her eyes, and says, "I love you, Jennifer Marsh."

Yeah, I went fan-girl "squee" all over this. Pathetic, right? Blah, blah, blah. We knew it all along, but hearing those words makes things a little more solid, don't you think?

Just like me hearing "Yes" would be just about the best thing to happen. Will it ever happen? Maybe. If I work hard enough? Perhaps. In the meantime, I've just got to focus on other things. 

I'm just too impatient.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In Alpha Order: Brendon, Jack, Julian, Kevin, Malcolm, and Martin

Taking a point from one of my fellow 238'ers, I have decided to fill all of you in on each male main character from my books. Of course, they all vied for the top spot (even though I TOLD them it was in alphabetical order), and surprisingly enough, the top spot goes to the one guy who's too modest to admit he's great.
  1. Brendon James: Forty-three-year-old car mechanic who never finished high school. Life was normal for Brendon until the outbreak of a mutated rabies virus turned the world's people into rabid, flesh biting monsters. I love Brendon because he's so humble. One of Brendon's best lines:
    • "My best friend and boss always told me I was perfect candidate to be a model, but I’d never trade engine grease and hard work for makeup and magazine covers; that’s just not me."
    • Appeared in RVE025 (horror/science fiction).
  2. Jack Hess: writer extraordinaire. Jack's first marriage crumbled when his "promiscuous" activities at book signings got him in trouble. But when he met Lisa -- fifteen years his junior -- all that stopped. Jack is a recluse; he doesn't like crowds, hates the dark, and is prone to horrible migraine headaches. One of Jack's best lines:
    • He searched around, fumbling on the wall for the light switch. When he located it, he flicked it on, but nothing happened. He teased the switch a few times, but to no avail. “What is this, a horror movie?”
    • Appeared in Under the Glass Dome (paranormal/suspense).
  3. Julian (no last name): How do I describe Julian? Ah, yes. Julian is millions of years old. Normally, he floats around between dimensions, ferrying people into the afterlife. Well, he's more of a taxi driver, really -- exchanging energy for GPS coordinates. When Julian does have a body, he enjoys food, banter, and rhetoric. One of his best lines:
    • “How I would love to take you with me. You wouldn’t believe how uninspiring dead souls are.”
    • Appeared in The Death of My First Assignment (YA Paranormal).
  4. Kevin Carter: Kevin is a six hundred-year-old wraith in a forty-year-old human body. He used to haunt humans, taking their souls in exchange for bogus offers. But when an assignment went awry, he ended up staying human, liking it much better than stealing souls and consuming bodies. But Kevin's secrets go far deeper in the sequel to The Death of Me. One of his best lines:
    • “Okay, guys, what I want you to do is just make a quick film about the book. It could be anything from a ten minute scene off the pages to a completely separate idea. I don’t care what you do, as long as you’re within guidelines and type the damn thing up. If I get a hand-written assignment one more time, I’ll have to kill all of you.” (which is, consequently, his first line).
    • Appeared in The Death of Me (YA Paranormal).
  5. Malcolm Holmes: My personal favorite male character and the one who I personally wished to get the top spot. Alas, he is number five in the alphabetical mix. Malcolm is the epitome of English -- with his gravelly thick voice and premature silver hair. Woman from countries away flock to his charm. Unfortunately, Catherine has decided against sanity and fallen in love with him. One cannot fall in requited love with Malcolm. It takes several books for the two to actually "click". One of his best lines:
    • He whistled lewdly at her. “You’re still a knockout, Love.”
    • “Oh, please.”
    • “A perfect ten.”
    • “You can stop now.” 
    • “What if I don’t want to stop?”
    • Appeared in A Cure Series (six books of varying genres)
  6. Martin Krane: My Martin. I do love Martin almost as much as I love Malcolm. Martin is three-hundred years old, perpetually stuck in the body of a eighteen-year-old. Martin is sweet and kind, but loves to tease. When he loves, he loves with his whole heart. But watch out, the kid is full of trouble. One of his best lines:
    • “You’re just so damn cute in the morning it’s hard not to be motivated.”
    • Appeared in The Death of Me (YA Paranormal)
Any questions? I didn't think so. Which one is your favorite?