Pandora

Of Raining and Pouring

You know that old adage about April showers? Yeah, well, my April is a definite rainmaker.

Started off strong with my 31st birthday. Not a landmark birthday by any means, but definitely happy times. Did dinner with some of my dearest and felt very loved. My daughter even wrote a poem for me, stood on her little step stool and delivered it with all the grace and aplomb of a 5 year old. PS: She lost her second tooth yesterday and was upset that the Tooth Fairy brought money instead of something cool like a coloring book. Yeah, my kid is awesome.

Speaking of, last week she had her first field trip with school. I went along to help herd the cats kids. That was an experience, to say the least. A billion and one field trips at the Science Center that day and all our little charges in red shirts. You'd be proud of me, dear readers, that I did NOT, in fact, tell the teachers that it was never a good idea to put someone on an away mission in a red shirt. See, I can be good. Oh, but I speak too soon. I ended up griping about the school library's lack of organization to the woman who did the initial organization. *headdesk* Come on, the Magic School Bus books (some of my favorites, I might add) are NOT considered Non-Fiction. School buses do not turn into butterflies, therefore, fiction. Done. Don't get me started on one mother's comment that our school (Charter, Montessori) does not need fiction in its library. *shudder*

So, that was last week. Didn't leave much time to blog. "But, Jamie," you say, "that's just 2 days. What else did you do?" Well, as I said, April is pretty crazy for us. This week, a family of four will be coming in from out of town and spending a few days with us. So, I have to prepare my house to take on guests of epic awesomeness. This means cleaning and making sure that kids and cats won't die at some point.

Oh! Dude, speaking of my cats. TyGrr, my escape artist, knows that the door knobs mean "out". Well, yesterday, she decided to evolve. She still doesn't have opposable thumbs, but she was jumping up, gripping the door knob with one paw while batting at the deadbolt with the other. We are so screwed.

But, I digress. Business.

Cleaning, birthday, field trip... last week. This week, guests, a birthday party (for a friend, not me), volunteering at the school's library (*shifty eyes*) and working on that thing I do. You know, writing.

Next week I've got more volunteering, more writing and a bachelorette party. The week after that? Wedding. Two of my favorite people are finally getting hitched and I wouldn't miss it if I was comatose. Also, found out yesterday that I'm in the bridesmaid bullpen. Good times! Also, my best friend in the entire world is coming to visit for a couple of days. I have seen him ONCE in the past 6 years, so I will be relishing my Bri Time. There might even be midnight margaritas. Just sayin'.

Oh, and about the writing. I have 7 projects right now that want my attention. SEVEN. I want to edit/polish the novella I wrote in February now that most of my betas have gotten their feedback to me. I want to outline the next book in my zombie series. I want to take the novel I wrote in 2009 and chop it for parts, then overhaul the whole damn thing so that it isn't made of suck. Plus, there's a slew of short stories I want to write or expand on. And, I have this blog.

Yeah. I'm a busy Bee Girl. That being said...

...I'm going to put the A2A Tuesday flash challenges on indefinite leave. We only had one entry for the Madame Curie lookalike contest, and he was disqualified later.  There were less than a handful of you participating and I haven't taken those challenges myself due to the rest of my work load. So, for now, no more flash challenges from me. There are several out there for you. Go visit Chuck Wendig for a weekly flash fix.

So, I've rambled at you long enough, I think. I do have something to pimp, though. Last week, I had a IV drip of Tab Benoit thanks to Pandora. Seriously, if you've never heard of Tab Benoit, go thou and google him now. The bayou bluesman is phenomenal and his voice is aural dark chocolate. I'd serve him with dirty rice and andouille. (Not to be confused with Alan Cumming whose accent I want to serve over ice cream.)  Go now.  I had to force myself to switch stations today. Today, we're piping in my "Drag Queen" station. What can I say? I'm in a Britney/Xtina/Gaga mood today. Sprocket, my not-so-little-anymore black cat, is curled up on my lap and purring in approval. She's a good helper when it comes to warming my thighs or feet, but a terrible distraction when I want to write. Her mind control powers force my fingers away from the keys and into her soft fur.

Be excellent to each other, y'all.  Until next time....

Advice and Andouille

So one of those age-old writer's chestnuts is "Write what you know". We've all heard it. We've all taken turns balking at it or nodding sagely. We writers--especially those in the sci-fi/fantasy set where we try to beat truth for all its weirdness--know that this rule is actually more of a guideline. I mean, come on, I write about zombies and rampant acts of cannibalism...do you think I'm going to practice these things so I can give you, the reader an exact description of flavors? No thanks.

But, the other day, I found myself using this particular "rule" to beat myself about the head and shoulders. See, I wrote this piece of flash a few weeks ago. Now, because I've been reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels and watching a lot of Discovery Channel's "Sons of Guns", I've had Louisiana on the brain. The accent has been in my ear. The story, I decided, also had a very humid, bayou kinda feel, so I set it in Louisiana. For the past week or two I've been dallying with the idea of expanding that story into something more. Novel? Maybe. There's definitely room to go for a longer short (20k or under). But, as happens when I'm thinking of starting a new project, I started to second-guess myself.

You--born and bred in central Indiana, a transplant to the desert--want to write something with cajun undertones? YOU, one of the whitest women south of Utah, want to write something with that much flavor, spice, heritage and ... seriously? What do you know of it? The closest you've come to Louisiana is watching Steel Magnolias a hundred times.  But this is the thing about "writing what you know"... you can always know MORE. When I wanted to write authentic circus slang, I researched the hell out of it. (I'm a big fan of the circus.) There's this awesome repository of human knowledge that is quite literally at my fingertips. I can exploit the hell out of Google to learn about just about any damn thing under the sun. (Except Masonic teachings. For that, well, I've said too much.) While I'm not a carny, I can sure as shit tell you about them and I (think I) can spin a good circus tale that is all the more engaging because of the research I've done.

"Write what you know" isn't so much telling you that if you're a waitress, you have to write about waitresses. It's a reminder to us that while we as writers craft fiction, we should always strive to be truthful. Be honest. Our stories have to come from a real place within humanity, not necessarily a place found on any map or in our galaxy. For all your pretty words and well-paced plots, your story will fall flat if it doesn't ring true. You can tell when a musician is playing without soul or when an actor is just going through the motions. Writers, we can give ourselves away just as easily.

So, to that voice in my head that says just because I've never been to Louisiana, I can't write about a cajun...I say back off. It is within my power to learn more and craft something that is true to its roots. If the story is there and wants/needs to be told, I'm here to tell it.

Today, I've been listening to bayou blues and zydeco music.

I think there's a story that wants to be told and it comes from a humid, sticky place that smells like spicy shrimp and dirty rice.

I'm listening.

Spice - It Flows

Wow, I've gotten bad about updating this thing. Please accept my humblest mea culpas, intrepid readers. Life around ye olde homestead has been interesting lately. The Tooth Fairy visited our house for the first time last week. That's right, my daughter lost her first tooth. The second isn't far behind.What else, what else... ?Oh, I'm surrounded by awesomeness. Good friends are expecting babies, getting married, changing jobs (for the better) and life continues its awesomeness. I'm excited for the babies, I gotta tell you, because while my biological clock ran out of batteries, I have been wanting to snuggle a newborn for the past couple of months. I don't want another one of my own--several reasons for that, and it's a whole other post!--but I miss babies. And strangers get kinda weird when you just try to randomly take their infant from the shopping cart and snuggle. Sorry, Guy-at-Target. It won't happen again. Life here is pretty sweet.

In writerly type goodness, the Wahine--that's me, for you newcomers--started a new project. I had to put the zombie sequel aside. I need some perspective, and I've been angsty/obsessive over it, so into the proverbial drawer it goes for a bit. Well, one of the other projects I had on the side was a short from the point of view of one of my side characters from the first book. It's her origin story. Well, I started writing it and like the Spice, it felt it a moral imperative that I fill many kilobytes of computer space with a quickness. The story took different shapes than I originally expected, darker twists than I could have hoped. And to top it all off, I fucking love it. In its unfinished, raw and rough form, I'm incredibly proud of it. It's longer than anticipated as well. (That's what she said.) I don't intend for it to be another novel, but it will probably top out around the 35-40k mark on the wordcount.

Also, I've begun a torrid love affair with Pandora internet radio. Yes, I know, I'm late to the party, but for a while I just didn't get it. Why do the Pandora thing when I've got iTunes? Oh, silly rabbit. I freaking love Pandora. Yesterday, it provided the perfect mix of sweaty, bitter, angry-sex music to act as a backdrop for the scene I was writing. Plus, I've tried to stump Pandora. Give me a station with Daft Punk and Bollywood. You did it! Alright, Gogol Bordello and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" by the Beatles. Fucking awesome. And somehow, Shivaree ends up on every station I make. Go figure. The new music I'm getting is just fueling this feeling of inspiration.

Spring is coming and the cold winter finally recedes.

Let's make something awesome.

PS: If you're not already reading the hilarity over at #publishingmyths on Twitter, you should. It's priceless.