Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Snapshot

I got nothin' people. It's been a very busy week and I haven't done any writing at all. So I'm giving you an actual snapshot of my dog looking out the window. What do you think he's saying to himself?

Perhaps, "It's January. Where's the snow?"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Highlighting Tips

"They" say that writers shouldn't blog about writing all the time because it's boring, so today I'm going to blog about hair. I do my own highlights at home with a kit from the grocery store, and a lot of women say to me, "How can you do that? It's so hard."

It's actually very simple and today I'm going to show you how.

Disclaimer: Follow all of the rules on the package. ALL of them, including the annoying allergy test. If your scalp turns green and your hair falls out, don't blame me. Ahem.

Step 1: Put the plastic cap on your head and poke your scalp dozens of times with a metal crochet hook, pulling the hair through until you look like an orc. If you don't have a triple mirror or eight arms, get a friend to help with this or just do highlights around your face. It does get easier with practice.

Note: If you're having trouble pulling the hair through, poke the hair-puller through the hole in the cap with the hook facing down, twist it halfway, then pull out. If you pull out too much hair, you can slide your finger under the cap to smooth it down and back underneath. You want small strands, not huge clumps, or you'll look like a tabby cat afterwards.

That's what my grandmother said once when I used one of those paint-on kits: "You look like a tabby cat." I laughed. She was right.

Step 2: Put on the plastic gloves, mix the coloring paste together and cover the orc hair with it until you look like Strawberry Shortcake's evil twin, Saccharine Cupcake.

Wait half an hour or so, depending on the color result you want. Your hair will look much lighter  than it will after it's washed and dried. If it looks as yellow and brassy as Rumplestiltskin's straw spun into gold, don't panic! It's supposed to be like that. It will look great, I promise.

Most of all, don't leave it on longer than the maximum recommended time. Your hair will be very dry and brittle, and possibly break off, leaving unsightly tufts. You definitely don't want that.

Step 3: Rinse, shampoo, condition well and style as usual. Enjoy your new, subtly brighter look!

Son: "Mom, why are you taking pictures of yourself in the bathroom?"
Me: "I'm blogging. Get ready for bed."
Son: "I can't. You're in the bathroom."
Me: "Okay, okay, I'm done. Think of all the great stories you can tell when I'm rich and famous."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Snapshot: Zyla, the Gargoyle Cat

People have been asking me about the gargoyle cat, who appears in Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey and is the heroine of my very first published work of fiction. I haven't put anything up yet from her story, so today's Sunday Snapshot features Zyla.

   An airplane churned the gray, humid air over the sleeping neighborhood, crickets chirped coded messages, and fireflies blinked above the grass. Not a breath of wind stirred the curtains of Gracie’s room.

       Zyla, the gargoyle cat, peered down from the top of the bookshelf, wings folded along her back like Japanese fans and front paws hooked over the edge of the shelf. Her fur had been etched in thin strokes by some unknown artist thousands of gargoyles ago, when the first cat was sculpted in clay and cast for a resin mold. The same artist had pressed his thumb and forefinger together to smooth the tapering triangles of her ears , flattened the bridge of her nose just so, and left the points of her claws extended so she appeared to grab the shelf with them just like a real cat. Her green glass eyes caught the faint glow from the night light.

       Gracie’s hair trailed in a dark, seaweed tangle over the pillow as she slept. Her fingers curled against her forehead as if she were deep in thought. Zyla longed to cuddle next to her. If she were a real cat, Gracie would stroke her fur.

       Something flickered near the foot of the bed, a darker line among the shadows. Zyla blinked, then leapt from bookshelf to bureau to floor, spreading her wings to break the air as she landed on silent paws. 

To find out what Zyla does next, get a copy of the eclectic anthology published by my friends at the South Jersey Writer's Group by clicking on the photo on the sidebar. It features memoirs, poems, flash fiction and short stories in a variety of genres. Mine is the only middle grade selection, by the way. The rest are adult fiction.

This piece was inspired by a statue I saw in a museum shop that looked like it could come to life. What little things spark your imagination?

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Fairy in My Fireplace

I caught a glimpse of a fire fairy dancing in my fireplace. Or is it something else? What do you think?

If you're a writer, what would your characters think this is? A fairy, a demon, an alien, a magical messenger... Do tell me.

As far as my own characters go...

Marenya would think it a fire sprite.
Faldur would assume it was no more than a curious flame shaped by the wind.
Ginger would think she was hallucinating due to the drugs Roger is clearly slipping her to make her believe in 'magic.'
Batya would think the spirit of the baby dragon had returned to keep her company.
Chris would figure whatever it was, as long as it didn't bother him he wouldn't bother it.
Raynor would try to catch it and find out.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sunday Snapshot: After the Dance

I've started rewriting The Golden Gryphon. I was just going to edit it, but it's turning into a rewrite. I'm on page 27 of 371, so a long way to go but it's all good. I'm finding that more emotion flows onto the page now that I know the characters better.

So, here's my Sunday Snapshot. What are you working on? Will you share a sample with me?

As the crowd dispersed from the betrothal announcement, Faldur took her hand as naturally as if he were accustomed to doing so and guided her to a seat in the entry, which was cooled by air pouring through the open doors. It felt lovely after the crush of bodies inside. He moved stiffly.

“Are you well, Faldur?”

“Just a bit sore. It is nothing.”

Worry hitched in her chest. “That looks like Durken’s jacket.”

“It is. Would you like something to eat?”

“Sit and rest. I’ll get some for both of us.”

He huffed out a breath. “I am perfectly well. Allow me, this once, to do my duty toward you.”

She opened her mouth to protest.


There was such earnestness and pained dignity in his weathered face that she acquiesced.“Very well.”

She watched his lean figure merge into the throng heading towards the newly refreshed tables. He wasn’t limping, but he was clearly hurting. Why would he not tell her anything? Her father had hidden nothing from her, or at least she believed he hadn’t. She had been sixteen when he died, barely more than a child. Faldur had helped her and her mother move out of the captain’s cabin at the ranger post to make room for the next family and seen that they had all they needed until Lord and Lady Tarnbel invited them to stay. Faldur had been like an older brother to her all these years, though in her heart something more tender took root and grew unnoticed by him. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lucky 2013

I am declaring this year "Lucky 2013."

This is the year that I am going to get my novel published. This is the year I'm going to define myself as an author and a person.

I'm finally remembering who I am. That may sound funny but it's been so long since I just focused on myself that I wasn't sure any more. So, let's see, who am I? You'd probably like to know too.

I am a Hungarian/English/German mix of stubbornness, logic and idealism. You really don't want to get into an argument with me.

I am a creative soul that lives in rich worlds of imagination. Sometimes I have a hard time focusing on this world. I truly wonder if those people and places don't exist somewhere outside this current realm and we are just channeling them.

I am a statistician. Yes, I am. I count things, estimate them, and think about distributions, underlying assumptions, p-values and so on. It may seem counter-intuitive that a writer is also an analyst, but... Okay I have no explanation for it.

I love the outdoors but the outdoors does not love me. My soul wants to climb mountains, cross prairies and dive into deep, hidden waters. My allergies, sensitive skin and weakling body protest.

I love food. I will try anything, even octopus.

I also love wine and beer, but my tolerance is extremely low.

I am an extravert who wants everyone to read everything I've written as soon as I draft it. This tendency has resulted in quite a few embarrassing expositions of really awful writing, but has also created quite a few fans of my less awful work.

I don't have an abundance of ideas as a writer, but I take the ideas I do have and develop them into sagas worthy of Michener or Rowling. Well, okay, not necessarily that great but they are surprisingly complex.

I like simple things around me: primitive American or colonial decor, for example. I adore handmade pottery, and Celtic designs on jewelry.

I want to live in a log cabin someday. Actually, I want to live in a cabin in Alaska and hunt my own food like that guy on PBS. Not permanently, but for six months or so. I'd have to learn how to shoot first, I imagine.

Most of all, I want to be free to be myself. I want to love and laugh and stop worrying all the time. I don't care what people think; I never really have. People, in general, are caught up in so many things that they need someone to point the way out. I've been caught up for a very, very long time but I'm slashing at the web and almost out. God, it's a good feeling.

Life is a lot of trouble, but we make so much extra trouble for ourselves. There are so many things we can't control. I want to do my utmost to take care of the things I can control, pray faithfully for God to work on those I can't, and then lay it all down and enjoy my life. This philosophy is radically different from the first half of my life, where I felt I owed everyone my soul, including God. If I didn't work hard enough, I wasn't living up to my potential. I was letting everyone down.

You know what? This IS my potential. Yes, we need to work hard. But we also need to live.

Let 2013 be the Year of Living.