Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!


Wishing the journey you take in the year of 2012 will be awe-inspiring and that you will navigate victoriously through obstacles in your path to fulfill your hopes and dreams for the year.


Be happy!

From all of us at the salon,
R. J., Marsha, Melanie, Ella, Marilyn, And Elizabeth

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you love, laughter and a heavy dose of golden fairy dust this Christmas.


From the Scouts at the Speculative Salon,
R.J., Marsha, Ella, Melanie, Marilyn and Elizabeth

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Something to wrap the last presents to....



On the longest night of the year, it's a good time to pull the hidden things down from the top shelves, and--since the others have sugar plums dancing for a slightly longer time tonight in their heads--get out the good egg nog and enjoy the delight of wrapping the gifts.

I worked Bloomingdale's--in the mailroom, in the booth, and on the floor. I discovered my facility with wrapping and my delight in making other people happy with that skill of manipulating paper and tape and ribbon. I am still known for my inability to wrap a package badly. I keep trying, but my artistic nature insists on emerging. To my chagrin and delight, I must say.

What is it that insists on amazing you? Do you, like me, have a natural talent that insists on emerging no matter what you do to step on it?

Have a happy holiday and enjoy yourself, no matter what tries to interfere. And for those of you traveling.... be safe. Come back and tell us of your adventures.

m

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Strategies For a Productive Holiday

Very happy holiday blessings to everyone! I can hardly believe that 2011 is almost over, but at least it’s been a most wonderful year to look back on. One of the greatest joys was definitely teaming up with the Scouts to start this blog, and meeting so many wonderful guests, bloggers, writers, and readers along with it. It’s been a whirlwind social media journey, and I’m happy to say that I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.

So, Hubs and I are hitting the road on Thursday for a six day tour along the east coast to visit relatives. We love road trips, and I’m really excited to see everyone since we don’t get out there very often these days. I also can’t stand the thought of breaking my writing routine, so I’ve come up with a few ideas for getting in as much typing/scribbling as I can while still enjoying the company. Here’s the plan:

- Write in the car – Not when it’s my turn to drive, LOL, but I can bust out the laptop while Hubs is at the wheel.

- Write late at night – I stay up later than my rellies, so it should be an easy one.

- Write while everyone is napping – As long as I don’t stuff myself into a coma as well.

- When everyone is watching TV

- Write while Hubs is unpacking or repacking our stuff – He’ll love that one.

Well, I’ll squeeze in whatever I can between all the feasting and games. Have a super-duper, fun, safe, and inspiring holiday everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Secret Santas Paying It Forward


The Gift of the Magi by Lisbeth Zwerger
Finally good news on the news!  Secret Santas have invaded Kmart with their Christmas spirit showing it’s all about the giving.  Anonymous donors have been closing out layaway accounts of families with small children.  These secret Santas have singled out families who use Kmart’s layaway plans to pay for toys for Christmas.  Toys they might not be able to get without the layaway plan.  This makes my heart sing out "Merry Christmas."
The news story reminded me of a fictional Christmas story, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.  (use the link for a free download for Kindle or PC)  Without giving away too much of the story, it’s about a young couple who don’t have any money for presents so they each sell a treasured possession to buy their love one a gift .  It’s a beautiful and heartwarming story. 
Next to this story at Christmas, I also love “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Scrooge,” [the old b&w] and “White Christmas.” What are your favorites?
Till next time,
Elizabeth  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finessing the Festivities

Finally making an appearance. This is one of my favorite songs, when the pairing is right. Hope it makes your holiday preparations festive more than frantic.




See you next week... unless I am buried under the baking :-)

m

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 Paranormal Indie Book List

It’s year’s end and time to look back on some of the favorite book releases of 2011. Considering all the fantastic small press and digital titles in the market right now, it's high time to give proper dues. I’ve made a list of some indie paranormal/urban fantasies that I thoroughly enjoyed this year, hopefully you all will too.

These are in no particular order, and this certainly does not cover nearly all of the wonderful new indie titles out there (we’ve had a few authors here in the Salon too, so check out our Guest page for more).

Ghouls Night Out (Larue Donavan Series) by Rose Pressey

Death’s Hand by S.M. Reine

Dragon Blues by Edie Ramer

Touch by Jus Accardo

No Hero by Jonathan Wood

A Modern Witch by Debora Geary

Trinity: A Brethren Novel by Deena Remiel

Airborne by Constance Sharper

Under the Moon by Natalie J. Damschroder

Coexist: Keegan’s Chronicles by Julia Crane

Piper’s Fury by Rachel Firasek

Moon Dance by J.R. Rain

If you have a small press title out this year (of any genre), or if you have more recommendations, please give a shout in the comments. Happy Holidays Indies!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Magic of the Big-Top Circus



My latest release, Le Cirque De Magie, is an historical fantasy short story set in Sarasota, Florida during the spring of 1925. The circus has its winter home in the seaside resort community, much like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. That company made the city its winter quarters until 1960, when it moved twenty-five miles south to Venice.

I live south of Tampa and often visit Sarasota, an easy forty-five minute drive. When we first moved to the area three years ago, we toured the Ringling Museum—a fascinating trip back into the magic of the circus. The spirit of the circus pervades the community, adding to the local cultural heritage. I was enthralled by the local history, which inspired me to write this story.


At Ringling, magic is everywhere. On the grounds, exotic epiphytic roots of banyon trees, imported from India, swing down from branches in search of the ground.



If those weren’t wondrous enough, statues of gnomes, dwarfs, and fairytale beings play among the wild aerial roots. Easy to imagine them coming to life when the museum closes.











Several buildings house various circus or Ringling-related collections. Some contained train cars used by Ringling himself as well as ornate circus wagons, designed to parade wild animals through the big-top.








My favorite building housed a miniature replica of the famed circus in its heyday. The attention to detail initially left me awestruck, but then the circus came to life…unloading the animals, people, tents, and supplies from the train. Teams of horses powered the set-up, working fast to be ready for showtime.




I hope you enjoyed this pictorial visit to the Ringling Museum which filled me with child-like wonder and inspired my story, Le Cirque De Magie.

My ebook story, Le Cirque De Magie, is available FREE at Smashwords.




~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available March, 2012. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, Le Cirque De Magie.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little Holiday Cheer

Thinking of you...


However you celebrate the holidays, I wish you love and laughter during and after the season.  Plus, a golden sprinkling of luck for the new year.

Elizabeth

Friday, December 9, 2011

Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Christmas Lights

On my weekly random search of YouTube, I found this great video of Wizards in Winter by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra synced to Christmas lights at a in Frisco, Texas from 2005. I'm amazed anyone would take the time to set up lights and time it to music by the use of a machine. But apparently, it isn't new.

Enjoy the display and may it help you think outside the box for your own writing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Special Gifts For Speculative Fans

Transitioning from NaNoWriMo into the Christmas season is a little overwhelming. I seriously think there should be a required spa day somewhere in between the two events, or at least a nice long, relaxing bubble bath. Aromatherapy anyone?

One thing that helps me get through the holidays in one piece is my obsession with extensive planning. The same deeply ingrained impulses that make me a staunch plotter also manifest in my need for lists, time management, and general organization. Over the weekend I made my game plan, including what to get everyone, when to mail things, and our travel itinerary. Yeah, I’ve been called a bit of a control freak, but it helps me keep the stress in check.

I found myself nodding knowingly while reading RJ’s post yesterday, because I, too, never know what to ask Santa for besides books. So I decided to list a few gift options for those who might want to go beyond another Barnes & Noble gift certificate and want something special for the speculative fan in their life.

Art prints – There are a lot of great fantasy artists out there, and a framed print makes a beautiful present.

Doctor Who TARDIS USB hub

LOTR Pez gift set - Hubs and I stumbled upon this gem in Ye Olde Target last week and I just had to mention it here.

Vampire and Werewolf Mask Earrings - These are a little pricey, but they are really cool and unique.

Vampire Art Now - OK, it's a book, but it's guaranteed to be a pleasant surprise for any vampire fan.

Calendars - From witches to astrology to the new speculative movies, you can find a calendar for pretty much anyone these days.

Electric Lunar Explorer Lamp - Great for steampunk and sci-fi fans, this is just one of the many amazing offerings to be found on Etsy.com. Explore the website and you will certainly find something incredible and one-of-a-kind.

Make something! I've done collages, wreaths, even personalized photo albums. It doesn't have to be complicated, just thoughtful. One of the best gifts we ever received was a handmade "fairy house" from our young nieces. It's basically a few bits of nature glued together, but it looks cute hanging on the wall and even smells good.

I'd love to hear about some of the best gifts you've ever gotten and why you loved them. Any other suggestions for speculative goodies? 

Happy shopping!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Dreaded Christmas List...

Now that NaNo is officially over (thank goodness) and I've managed to win three years in a row, I can start to focus on other aspects of my life - like Christmas.  I know a lot of writers put themselves through a "Revision Hell" for the month of December, but for me, I can't even think about doing revisions.  Last year, I attempted to revise my NaNo novel, but I was in the process of moving and it just made more stressed.  I also found that I skipped past the fun parts of Christmas, like the shopping, the baking and the giving because I was so determined to complete my goal.

This year, I've shelved my NaNo novel and will start fresh with it January 1st.  I worked hard all November and managed to not only win, but put up over 60,000 words.  That is a huge accomplishment for me and I am proud of it.  I think that it earned me a month off. :)

Now that Christmas is 20 days away (19 shopping days), I am feeling more pressure.  My mother, my sister-in-law and even my husband constantly bombarding me with the dreaded question - "what do you want for Christmas"?   My answer (as it with every special occasion) - books.  I have two huge bookshelves full of books and a Kobo half-filled.  I hear the dreaded sigh, "What do you need more books for?  Don't you have enough?"  And with a smile, I reply "Never".  While a lot of women love getting jewellery, I'd much rather get books or a book certificate.  I find books useful, another ring or necklace not so much.

Last year, I received (in my opinion), the ultimate gift for the writer - a Mac computer, which I treat like a family member and downloaded Scrivener which has helped to keep me sane.

So what's everyone asking Santa for Christmas?

RJ :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time to Replenish your Creative Juices!


After a month long drive to complete NaNo it’s time to replenish those creative juices.  It’s time to set your mind to relax, read and watch movies. Or whatever way that let’s your mind run free without any constrictions.  Spend some time in the great outdoors and push yourself away from the computer.  Yup!  It’s time to regenerate.  Give yourself some space to regroup and let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.  No, you’re not wasting time!  You’ll actually be increasing your productive time if you let yourself relax.  Even if it’s just for a few days you will reap the rewards of a surge of creative flow. 

Here’s 29 ways to stay creative:




I’m spending the next few weeks to catch up on my reading list and movies I missed.  What’s your way of rejuvenating?
Till next time,
Elizabeth

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lessons Learned By Winning NaNoWriMo

Reposted from my blog due to overloaded brain from NaNo.



November was a long month. I didn’t make my original goal of 100k or my revised goal of 75k. After winning last year, I didn’t think there was anything else to learn but I did.

1st Lesson Learned: Life during NaNo cannot be on hold. While I was able to put off most things last year, this year I couldn’t. Thus, the drop in my word count but I somehow made it work out to reach 50k.

2nd Lesson Learned: Only the desire to move forward and finish the novel will keep you writing when you are not feeling well. For a few days, I suffered pain in my wrists. I wrote lightly for those days in hopes the pain will go away. That did not happen. Since I couldn’t continue writing with my wrists like they were, I went to the store purchased two braces to help me. Now I cannot write without them and my wrists don’t hurt any more.

3rd Lesson Learned: Without focus, you will only get so far. In order to be focus enough to write, you need to sleep enough, eat right, maybe take vitamins, and anything that helps you keep your mind on the prize. Once I did all those things together, I sat down and wrote my butt off during the last three days of NaNo.

4th Lesson Learned: When you need to bump up your word count, insert sex scenes into your novel. While that statement was true last year for me, this year’s insert was internal monologue. Writing sex scenes didn’t help me to understand my characters anymore than before. The internal monologue helped me pin down my characters’ past and how it affects them in their current situation. Most of it will be cut during editing but it is a great piece to keep for my character sheets.

Final Lesson Learned: Enjoy everything that happens to you during NaNo. The experience is one of kind for most of us and changes every time.

Next NaNoWriMo, I hope to be writing on the second book of my fantasy series. I will take what I learned from the past two NaNo to write again with pressure looming over my head and learn new things about myself as a writer.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Dolls for the Fantasy Lover to Make

There are only a few holiday movies I really must see each year, The Grinch, since Dr. Seuss has been one of my heroes since I was five…and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I adore Burton’s taste for the unusual. Both are fantasy-lovers’ dream worlds.

One of my hobbies is knitting and crocheting. I’ve done needle projects for decades and constantly look for interesting patterns and yarns. This year, I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon patterns for crocheted dolls of the main characters of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I really need to squeeze out some time to make these. I can’t decide which I like best or will make first.

Zero by Lizville


He is too cute! The pattern is available directly on Lizville’s website.

Jack Skellington by Sunshyne Leland
I like how Jack can be made poseable by inserting pipe cleaners into his I-cord legs and arms. After all, Jack doesn’t just hang around—he’s always up to something! This is the easiest pattern, and good thing since as the main character you may end up needing to make more than one for friends and family.
This pattern is available for free as a download through the Ravelry website—a free online community of needle crafters. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/jack-skellington

Patch Doll Amigurumi Pattern by Irene Strange
I love the detailing of her dress! This pattern is available as a free download on Irene Strange’s website.
Description from her site:
She’s a rather tall girl, a whopping 12 inches in her tiny green shoes and socks when made with 4-ply wool and 2.5mm hook. But if you use a bigger hook size she can get even taller!
This pattern uses tables for all parts, with added diagrams and pictures to help along the way. There are also step by step photos detailing how to begin crochet, assemble the parts and finish the embroidery. You will mostly need basic stitches - although the embroidery and assembly may take a bit of time, it won’t take longer than a couple of evenings to do.

Which of these is your favorite? Now if I could only find a pattern to make a good Grinch. Can’t find one I like. Anyone have ideas?

[Cross-posted at my personal blog, Illusions of Intimacy.] 

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available early 2012.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Finish Line



On the 16th of the month, I came down with something nasty. Pneumonia.  It stopped me for five days.  But, after the initial feverish days I got back into the wip for NaNo.  Still coughing and feeling like well, you know.  I finished NaNo.  Now, I don’t think a months of sleep isn’t going to be enough to get over the exhaustion I feel.  But, I also feel exhilarated by the experience.    You see, for me it was more than getting a certain word count; it was about making a commitment and following through.  And woohoo I did it.  Now, since I still have pneumonia I’m going to go and have a long lay down. 
Till next time,
Elizabeth 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Yipppee! Yahoo!

I have no idea what I am so excited about.

No, really. I just used that as a title because that's how I feel in the moment. It's the day before the day we choose to define what we find gratitude for and I am immensely grateful.

I am grateful, mostly, for the power that imagination has in my life.

Seriously. We think, sometimes, that we are just making stuff up to entertain ourselves and an occasional other. The reality is that we are also making up our own lives. We are--when we imagine what we would like our lives to be, approve the experiences that confirm what we imagined, and reinforce our selection with re-imagining the outcomes--performing a kind of magic. Psychologists would disagree, but we spec-fic peeps know that psych types are just shamans and magicians with "real world" degrees, understand the truth.

I am writing a story that has found real world correspondences without my indulging in research.

I am using the tools of fiction to ground the changes in my real life so that I don't suffer the chaos of major life transition without some kind of treasure at the end. (OK. That last is wishful thinking. There will be a monster or two of my own design but that is the point. I know I created it.)

The point is, I am creating my life in such a way that I can take responsibility for the outcome. And because I can do that, I am also grateful-- thankful if you will --for all the experiences that have come before. I am thankful for all my life experiences that have given me something from which to write what I know.

Bless the present. Consider all the experiences that have brought you all the things you treasure about this moment, this snapshot of your life. Even if you have to dig deeply to find something to celebrate, do that. You are wonderful. I am thankful for you in my life.
m

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Unconventional Thanksgiving

Looks like it’s just going to be me and the old man for Thanksgiving this year. An advantage of being pre-kids is that long weekends are basically like mini vacations, especially when we don’t have any engagements or responsibilities to worry about. Obviously, I’ll miss spending time with family, who we won’t get to visit until Christmas, but I can still be thankful

Now, I love to cook, but I’m not about to put myself through a complicated traditional meal for just the two of us. Instead, we’ve decided to make a simple, one pot frogmore stew (also called low country boil). I’ve seen several variations on the recipe, but you basically throw a bunch of shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn into a seasoned broth and let the magic happen. I’m adding crab legs to mine with some buttery cornbread on the side (yum!). I know it’s not the norm, but I’m dying to dig into a big pile of messy seafood goodness.

We’ll also be Skyping with the rellies, catching up on all the recent superhero movies, and probably playing a few rounds of golf if the weather’s acceptable. Last, but definitely not least, I’ll be writing (of course). It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo, and as much as I’m looking forward to a little grown-up fun time, I’ve still got work to do if I’m going to make that 50k goal.

Any special or unusual plans for Thanksgiving out there? Who’s planning to write their hearts out between turkey binges? No matter the situation, have a fantastic holiday weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How's your hair?

Are you pulling your hair out over NaNo yet?  Last year at this time I was stressed beyond belief and driving my very patient and sympathetic husband crazy.  Every evening I would sit in front of the computer and “force” myself to write 1667 words a day to ensure that at the end of the month I had record 50,000 words.  You can imagine how  fun living with me was last November.  :)

On the eve of November 30th, I had managed to “win” at NaNo, but at what cost?  My sanity?  My poor husband’s sanity?  Then I jumped into a month of hardcore revision hell that didn’t help my frustration. 

This year when I started to struggle with the words because of the pressure that I put on myself to achieve those 1667 words, I stopped and moved far away from my computer and focused on another task. I stopped fearing those 1667 words and instead when I sat down for “my” writing time, I didn’t look at a clock or at the number of words that I had currently typed.  I just focused on finding my inner muse and allowing my characters to inspire me. 

The second week of NaNo had hit me hard as once again I found myself tapped, but I didn’t stress.  Instead, I took a few days off to focus on other things going on in my life and then when I felt like it, I returned to writing.  On the first day after the break, I wrote for three hours and chocked up 4700 words.  Day Two was great again with 3450 words. 

Through trial and error, I’ve learned that for me to get through NaNo, I had to throw away the calculation word count and just write from my heart.  There are some days that I just don’t feel like writing, so I take them off and I am even hungrier to get back to my story the next day.

Good luck to you all!  However you are feeling or doing, just remember nine more days and normal life can begin again!

RJ :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Keep Going!


After last year’s win in November, I thought this year would be a piece of cake. But of course, after two days, I was on a course to fail NaNoWriMo. Between felling unwell and the pain in my wrists, I didn’t write much. Even the braces I brought for my wrists didn’t help.

Yet, the last two days have been a breeze. In four days, I will be back on track for 50k. If I keep up my daily goal, I will reach 75k by the end of the month which is 25k less than my original goal of 100k. It doesn’t bother me, since I can make it up during the first week in December.

For those of you behind, never give up! Keep writing until the last day in November. After so many attempts this year to finish this novel, I’m on track to have first draft done in 3 weeks. Push through those times you don’t want to write. There is still time to reach 50k or 75k. Heck, even 100k is possible.

Join sprints on Twitter, AIM, or go to a write-in. Their motivation will ignite your own writing. Remember you are never alone, no matter what time of the year it is. And that will always push you to keep going.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What a lovely place to spend time...




I wandered over to the Tor website and for some reason I followed a banner link to the website for Sailor Twain. I think it was because the image was of a steamboat and the steamboat figures in my nanonovel, somewhere. I didn't know the link was to a web comic.

I have nothing against web comics. Or rather, nothing that I don't also have against paper ones. I just don't follow them well, anymore. Or don't care about the story. Or want to invest the time and attention in a series even when I love the concept and story.

Until now.

I don't know what it is exactly about the Sailor Twain comic. It's a combination of all the elements that go into the site, the pages, the story. Then, I discovered that the author and artist is also an editorial director at :01 First Second Books. I originally heard of the company when I picked up Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, a textbook for creating graphic novels and other combinations of words and pictures.

I have been reading the book from the beginning, taking occasional dips below the fold into the posts and comments.
I'm behind writing my nano novel, but I reward myself by spending time aboard the Lorelei, immersed in the rich blacks and sparkling whites, and moody grays of Siegel's charcoal.

Yes. He draws the comic and "colors" it in charcoal. It's real Art. OK, I think of anything drawn in charcoal as being "real Art" since I have been avoiding charcoal all my drawing career.

But, there is another aspect to seeing this as Art.

Since beginning the book, I've been seeing the world differently. Especially how noses might be drawn. I know that's a strange bit of focus and it's not the only thing, but it's an important bit for me. I had recently heard somewhere that Art changes how you see the world. This Art is simplifying how I process the world visually. I'm also thinking of how to write stories differently, or how to visualize things like costume and setting.

Mostly, given the month of November and our multitudinous manifestations of monstrous something-that-should-begin-with-m, the big thing I'm getting from the web comic? Trust simplicity.

NOTE:  I've just come back visiting the blog post and discovered that the images I'd linked to are gone. Not sure how that works, but it might have something to do with the comic now being published in French.  I'm going to try posting a link to one of the images again. It's wonderful to be able to see the images out of context, to appreciate the beauty of a single panel and the work that produced it.
m 4April12


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing or Kittens?

I’m not sure at this point if NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt, or if I’m kicking its. Either way, the journey continues with another week of sprinting challenges and hair pulling, all for the love of writing. Honestly, I’m having a great time, and I hope you all are too.

I have an added challenge now that we have officially claimed the feral kitten from the back yard. She was captured and brought to the vet on Friday, received a clean bill of health, and is now adjusting in the only room we could logically isolate her – my study. So on top of everything else, I have to try and work with a stinky litter box in the corner and this at my feet:

video

And you thought you had it bad. Her name is Clementine, by the way, and she is the world's cutest distraction. Wish me luck.

Happy writing all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

For several years, I’ve weighed the advantages and disadvantages of participating in NaNoWriMo.


When I first learned about the program, I was lured by the commitment which gives new writers a means to develop the discipline of regular writing—not an easy task for many reasons.

Admittedly, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. The year I discovered it, when the buzz filled the writing world air, I didn’t have enough time to prepare. Year two, embroiled in another writing project, I watched cautiously as a friend participated. Weeks went by and she became much less friendly. I wondered how her family managed to remain understanding of her personal need during Thanksgiving. But, she survived and even seemed to grow as a writer, which piqued my interest.

Last year, I faced a situation where I needed to finish a manuscript fast. Making an appointment to pitch an unfinished novel forced me to write at the same speed required during NaNoWriMo. I learned how to let the words flow without deliberation. I’m truly thankful to know the free feeling of that type of writing and often use the skill just to relax into my story and enjoy the characters. Now, that immediate flow is a treat I look forward to and a skill I employ from my bag of writing techniques.

Unfortunately, that endeavor took me up to the third week of October and prevented me from preparing for NaNoWriMo 2010. I don’t think I would have held up to two months at that pace with only a week between.
This year, NaNoWriMo 2011 wasn’t even a consideration since I’m faced with being the primary family care-giver for my mother who suffers from severe dementia. Without question, that comes first, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, not faced with a personal debate of whether or not to do NaNo, I was left with time to consider another aspect of the process.

Last week, I read a fascinating post by Dan Goodwin on his blog A Big Creative Yes, entitled BeautifulWhite Space and the Demise of Expectation. The topic was about the need for white space—having blocks of time in your life specifically for doing nothing pre-planned. He compared the use of white space for a writer to a food-taster needing to cleanse his/her palate between dishes. If you don’t stop to enjoy the visual aesthetic of the presentation, smell the aromas, chew properly, or savor each mouthful—with your only goal to get to that next dish—how can you appreciate any of the flavors?

What might you discover if you allowed time for subtle tastes to echo on your taste buds? 

Embracing the white space during the writing process is the same, allowing your mind to engage the nuances of the characters, plot, and language. Writing at the pace expected for NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow time for such reflection, unless you have few other responsibilities in your life. 

Those of you who are at the midpoint of NaNoWriMo, are you able to embrace any white space? Or do you feel crunched, as though you need time to let ideas settle in your mind? Is white space important to your creative process?

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available early 2012.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still going...


Here are my stats for NaNo as of Friday night: total word count 27014.   Also, I have a lump on my forehead from the contact sport of banging head to laptop.  Replacing my chocolate frenzy are grapes.  I like the sensation of popping them in my mouth one after the other.  LOL.  I’m drinking so much herbal tea and water, I’m spending a lot of time in the bathroom.  That was more information, I’m sure, you wanted to hear. 

Hit a few bumps in the road, when my characters got out and decide they were going in another direction.  Man, I was pissed at them.  I mean, I had their path paved out for them.  How dare they choose for themselves?   So, I had to input a new direction for my GPS system.  Usually, I find it exciting when characters know where they want to go, but it’s a little nerve wrecking when you’re under the time constraints of NaNo.  So, that’s the latest update.

Here's a quick chuckle for you about spoonerisms.  Huh?  Spoonerisms are accidental verbal errors. 

Later,
Elizabeth


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Boy was that a heavy rock

The thing about being a Scorpio is all those transformational opportunities. Which have been bludgeoning my sense of time. Hence, no posts for the last few Wednesdays on Wednesday.

So, how 'bout those fairy tale characters? Anyone actually watching ABC's Once Upon a Time? I tried, I really tried. They lost me at the prologue. OK let me be more fair and start from the beginning, as I was supposed to.

What do you know about happy endings? What if you never had one? What if someone decided that the only happy endings would be theirs?

This seems to be the premise of the new series, Once Upon a Time.

The premiere sets up the story of a little boy who is looking for his birth mother. The story unfolds bridging the worlds of fairy tales with the world we know. Who is the little boy, Henry? We find out who his birth mother is and we learn through him, who his adopted mother is and how the world of the show came to be. Storybrook is the landscape of the fairy tale inhabitants that have been trapped in our world.

The premise of fairytale characters being trapped in our world is familiar but from The Sister's Grimm book series for kids, which put me off a little. I had to watch the episode a few times to be truly interested in the series, at all. It could be that having been captivated by the print series, I found the television series slow. It started with a prologue rather than action. Took us into the fairy tale of Snow White with her happy ending. The idea of taking happy endings away is an interesting one. Adding the child to the layers made it syrupy for me.

I did watch the second episode, but only to see if there was something I was missing. I wasn't missing anything. Well, special effects and more unsisterly and unwomanly behavior. It dissolved into feeling like a soap opera with effects and too many sets.

To see if I was missing something, I watched the first episode of Grimm. Evidently, I want action in my fairy tales and not the princessy happy ever after that Once Upon a Time seems to promise.

Not for me, thanks.
Now back to our normally scheduled writing marathon.
m

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Write On! And Don't Forget to Vote

Week two of NaNoWriMo is upon us, and I just want to congratulate everyone on their progress. For some, the second stretch can be difficult to manage after a grueling first week, but it's also when a story really grows its own legs and we begin to find our rhythm for the month.

Hang in there, WriMo's! Remember to pace yourselves and acknowledge your successes, even the small ones.


Today is also the day to vote in local elections across the country, so cheers to all who took the time to do so. As you all know, I move around quite a bit, so this was my first time voting in my current precinct - call me a political dweeb, but it's always fun getting acquainted with a new voting den, LOL. Anyway, no matter what your positions are, just be sure to make your voices heard!

Happy writing (and voting) everyone!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo - a bucket of surprises

Tomorrow marks a full week of NaNo and for me, it has been full of surprises.  I spent the month of October planning and re-planning; plotting and re-plotting my Work in Progress, entitled “Dark Healing”.  Now I have been working on this WIP for two years and I just keep getting stuck.  I love characters, especially my hot hero Quinn Kamdyn, but it just doesn’t feel right to keep writing it.  I have started and finished this particular WIP three times with brand new twists and turns.

I had been excited to finish the outline on Halloween, but then when it came to start writing on November 1st, I was blocked.  No words came from my fingertips and I couldn’t seem to formulate a sentence in my brain.  Frustrated, I put on some music, but it still didn’t open anything up for me.  I keep a soundtrack on iTunes for each of the stories that I’m working on.  It helps me get into character as I listen to music that I feel that my character would like or that he would identify with. 

The song “Broken” by Lifehouse came on and it was the song that I pegged to describe one of my old characters, Charlie Maranzano.  Charlie is an Italian boy that was raised in the slums and saves the lives of one of the mafia heads’ children, befriends the son and falls in love with the daughter. Through a tough childhood, Charlie rises with the help of his friends to become that mafia head.  It’s not the Godfather as it is heavily a romance.  It’s kind of a Charlie’s Angels meets the Godfather, if I needed to nail it down to a particular mini blurb.

I had been writing it three years ago, when one of my instructors told me to stop wasting my time because there was no market for it. I listened and turned my writing focus to another of my loves, paranormal, but every now and then, I long to return to good ol’ Charlie.

Just for an experiment, I opened a new document of Scrivener and tried to write.  Well the words just flowed and I couldn’t stop.  Three thousand words later, I realized that I needed to write Charlie’s story.  Quinn’s can wait. 

I went back into my files and discovered my original outline for my mafia romance.  It needed some major work as I have learned so much in the last three years, but whenever I seem to touch the keyboard for “NaNo time”, I just type away the morning.  I flew through the first 10,000 words and while I still have a lot to go, I feel confident that I can finish.

Good luck to all of you that are doing NaNo.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

RJ :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo Status

As of Friday night, my word count is 9577 and maybe I’m a few pounds heavier.  LOL. 

I thought I’d share this video of writer/artist Beatrice Coron who doesn’t merely write stories, but cuts them out of paper.  Gee, all we do is sit in front of a laptop and pluck away at the keyboard.  This is a long video, but may give you some ideas for your story.  If you can at least watch the beginning when she walks on stage wearing a lace-like flowing robe made of paper.  This you have to see.

 And if you need a chuckle here’s a silly one for you. 

How’s your progress going?  Don’t give up and don’t worry that it’s not as perfect as you may want it.  Just get it down.  Later you can fuss with it. 
Later,
Elizabeth

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ready… Set… Sprint!

The day has finally arrived and NaNoWriMo 2011 has begun!

There’s been a lot of great advice from my fellow scouts this last month, and I hope every writer taking the challenge is prepped and ready to rock. I can’t stress enough how important it is to seek out support for this endeavor, from both our families and peers.

Obviously, there are connections to be made on the Nano website, but you can also find friends on Twitter using the #NaNoWriMo or #Nano hashtags. Writing sprints are also a great way to reach your goals while in the virtual company of other writers, and Savvy Authors is the place to be. Savvy has a Water Cooler room used for group sprints all year round, but this November they have created a space specifically for those participating in the Novel in a Month Event.

Part of my strategy this year is to start with a bang, so I’m shooting for a whopping 5k today. This means I’m locking the door to my study tonight and only coming out for short breathers or to make another pot of coffee. I’ve got my synopsis, notes, and a rough outline on Scrivener to guide me. Crank the music and let the typing commence!

I’d love to hear how your first day is going, so feel free to brag or vent in the comments. Good luck to all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

GRIMM - Pilot Episode Review

Here is the Wikipedia blurb:

Set in present-day Portland, the series puts a new twist on the stories of the Brothers Grimm in which a homicide detective learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters known as "Grimms", who fight to keep humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. Upon learning of his destiny and that he is the last of his kind, he has to protect every living soul from the sinister storybook characters that have infiltrated the real world.

When I first heard about this show, I thought the premise had huge potential. The pilot story is basically Little Red Riding Hood framed in a fairly standard police procedural. The main character, Nick Burkhardt, is an exceedingly normal guy (even the screen saver on his phone is generic) who suddenly gains the ability to see monsters underneath their human disguises. I found the set-up to be kind of clunky, and I was left with a lot of questions about the wider supernatural world. However, judging by the series preview at the end, there is a lot more mythology to be discovered. Nothing came across as glaringly unbelievable, so there’s that.

The setting and atmosphere are spot on, and I love that it is actually filmed in beautiful, yet eerie Portland. The trees alone are spectacular. I especially enjoyed the German cottage feel of the evil wolf’s house, complete with embroidered pillows and shelves of figurines. And I couldn’t help but notice all the VW’s thrown into the mix - bonus points. The make-up and effects are well done and somewhat reminiscent of Buffy and Angel (probably due to the influence of David Greenwalt, a top producer from those shows). Some have said that the show is too dark, but I think the problem is more that it does take itself a little too seriously.

But so far, most of the cast seems pretty blah, with the exception of the very entertaining Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe. He was the only thing that lightened the mood and the scenes between him and Nick were the most successful. I didn’t have high hopes for the lead actor, David Giuntoli, after I read that he started his career after doing some reality shows on MTV. The biggest problem is still the entirely vanilla nature of the character (did I mention the screen saver?). I truly hope the writers reveal some interesting stuff about Nick’s personality, and quickly. The inevitable conflict brewing with his girlfriend and his partner as he delves into his new role as a Grimm is just not going to be enough to attract viewers.

It’s interesting to note that the pilot is also airing on Syfy channel Tuesday night. I don’t know if that’s going to be a regular thing or not, but considering NBC doesn’t have a stellar history with speculative programming (I’m looking at you, The Event), it can’t hurt. It’s going to be difficult for Grimm to catch on in its current day and time slot – directly opposite both Fringe and Supernatural, which already have an established fan base. Expectations are generally low on Friday nights anyway, so it might buy the show some time to improve on a so-so beginning.

I’m willing to give it another shot for at least one more episode, even if I have to watch it On Demand. Grimm airs at 9pm EST Fridays on NBC.

Have a super Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

FRINGE


“How far would you be willing to go to save everyone you care about?  In 1985, one father’s choice to save his son, no matter the cost, started an inadvertent pattern of destruction.  Now Fringe Division, a special unit of the FBI, has been tasked with finding a way to stop the damage.  Their investigations into cases of science run amok have uncovered connections not only to their own past but to an alternate universe just slightly different than our own that threatens our very future.”  That’s the official blurb for the TV series the Fringe on Fox.

I watched this show when it first came out loving the characters and the intelligent forethought that had been put into the show.  Since I have pulled the plug on my TV viewing, I haven’t watched the program which is now in its 4th season.  I viewed this season’s premiere at Barnes & Noble, my home away from home.
 I was amazed that one of the main characters, Peter Bishop, son of Water Bishop, well actually Walternate Bishop of the Other Side disappeared at the end of last season or was erased from time. 
“Yet, traces of him bleed through,” said the Observer. 
Because he was erased from time no one remembers him, but Walter see his image in the mirror, on the TV or computer screen, which shakes his already unstable mind.  
With Peter hanging between reality and never-land, FBI special Agent Olivia Dunham takes center stage, along with her counterpart, Bolivia from the Other Side.  It’s great seeing these two women, although the same actress playing both parts, taking the lead because of their strength and their own unique vulnerability of a life filled with past pain.  And with both in love with the same man, Peter, who is out there somewhere, can lead into a bit more friction between the two.  
I recommend this series for it’s acting, the story line and especially if you’re into science, technology and the possibilities.
Later,
Elizabeth

  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Terra Nova


In the year 2149, due to pollution and overpopulation, the earth is nearing extinction.  Scientists discover a rift leading to an alternative timeline during the late Cretaceous era.  Believing this will be their salvation; humans travel through the time rift and create a colony, Terra Nova, as their new beginning.

During the 10th pilgrimage to the new world, we join the Shannon family; Jim and Elisabeth and their three children. After their arrival to Terra Nova, they find themselves adjusting to new surrounding filled with dangerous dinosaurs, a rebel group and secrets. Will each day bring closer to utopia or their second death sentence?   

The balance of drama and action during the premiere had me waiting impatiently for the week. For a moment, I thought it was a movie and not a TV series. The acting and set designs were great. The characters aren’t unique, but fit the world well with their personalities and the actions they take. The fast pace held me down to my seat (Well, actually, my bed.) If they stuck to the same level for the rest of the series, the fangirl in me would scream for another season.

After the first couple of episodes, the fast pace slowed down. I find myself wanting more of the immediate action and not the subplot unrelated to it even if it did setup the next episode. As the action starts to peak my radar of danger, we are moved away to somewhere else. My mind wanders during this time. I find myself believing I watched 6 episodes already, when it fact I only watched 4 of them. And I haven’t watched this week’s ep yet.

My last concern is the limited number of episodes. The first season will only have 13. They have less time to convey the world to the audience. How much will they reveal? Will they become another Lost telling us very little and a lot less at the end of the series? I cannot help asking myself these questions.

I will watch the rest of the season but later in the week from my DVR. I’m hoping my dislike will fade to the background as Fox airs the rest of season. Every show has a bump and they have until the end to overcome it.

If you’re interested in more information, visit the OfficialSite for Terra Nova.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Secret Circle—A Plethora of Witches and Demons

The first six episodes of this new show have been filled with an intriguing array of witchcraft and action. It is based upon the fictional novel series of the same name, created by L. J. Smith.

Set in a quaint, misty Pacific Northwest coastal town, this show is about a group of students involved with everyday high school life. Okay, that sounds like Twilight, but the comparison stops there. In the opening, five young witches, two males and three females, stumble together, learning their craft as they use a family book of spells belonging to one of the girls. They each have lost one or both parents, in some tragedy rumored to have involved witchcraft. The sons and daughters of the deceased learned of their own rare powers by accident and formed an association to support each other. They fear history will repeat and use of witchcraft will take them to the face the fates of their parents. Their only hope is a directive in the book, telling them to bind the circle of six witches in their generation. In that way, they all must be present to cast a spell…kind of a safety in numbers idea in case something goes wrong. The only problem—they are missing one member. The sixth and final member, Cassie Blake, who is the main character, moves to town, forced to live with her grandmother after her mother dies in a fire. In disbelief, she fights her true identity as a witch, but ultimately joins the group and they bind the circle.

Binding the circle enhances their collective strength. This allows both wonderful and dangerous things. In one lovely scene, Cassie and Adam are drawn together by romantic destiny. They hold hands deep in a forest and make water from leaves float upward, like reverse rain. However, power encourages greed and longing from a host of demons, witch hunters, and other witches. The six become targets. Plot twists keep the adolescents scrambling to stay one step ahead, learning how to use their abilities to avert serious dangers.

An interesting interplay of good versus evil is also present. Their remaining parents secretly seek to bolster their faded powers using the children’s collective strength. Their grandparents, the elders, possess crystals which allow yet another magical system of power enhancement. The previous generations fight each other with different goals, using the kids’ or protecting them.

The negative aspects are the mundane high school setting, which lacks realism. Few classes are depicted. Most in-school scenes take place in the hallways. Afterschool, they have a couple hangouts. One is frequented by students in general, and a second is an abandoned house used by the circle for their witchcraft studies. The dress of the young witches is generally darker and pricier than expected, the girls’ makeup too professional. The action primarily happens after dark. Personalities of the six are stereotypical, their social interactions and growth predictable. After teaching high school for seventeen years, I usually tend to stay well away from settings like this. The lack of realism bothers me too much.

However, I can actually forgive this series for its bland high-schoolness because the magical systems hold my attention. The writers have put much thought into details discovered by the young witches. Learning more about how their magic works pulls me eagerly back to the next episode. Each show reveals a new layer, new clues, new puzzle pieces. Wisely, the viewer is allowed to learn along with them. That is the true magic of the show.

The Secret Circle, on the CW channel at 9 PM, will present its extra scary Halloween episode tonight—Masked.

Learn more about the show at this website: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/the-secret-circle

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available early 2012.
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