Monday, December 31, 2012

Musing About 2012, Looking Ahead to 2013

As this year ends and a new one begins, it's an opportunity to simultaneously look back and look forward. That's no small task, as a year holds immense possibility.  The way I see it, 2012 had 366 days, which means there were at least 366 opportunities to do something life changing.  In the year 2013, there will be 365 more opportunities.  If I look at the coming year in this way, I may be proactive in the way I need to be.

I started blogging on January 9th of 2012, and since then I've gone from a virtual no one to having nearly 200 followers.I can't wait to reach that milestone!  I've written just a tad over 300 posts.  This is my 301st post, in fact.  All in all, I don't think that's too shabby.

I'm also rounding out this year with a brand new blog, which is appropriate for the start to a new year.  Thanks to Tara Tyler for designing it for me, and thanks to David Powers King for hosting the blog fest that allowed me to win such a great prize!

I started writing flash fiction in May, and since then, it's become a weekly thing. I post new flash fiction each Friday, and now I also post Five Sentence Fiction on a weekly basis as well. Doing these things forces me to write even when I don't feel like it.  And it's crucial to be able to push past those slow days if you want to be a successful writer.  At least, that's what I hear.  A lot of my fiction has actually been serialized and shared, with the world in flash fiction length snippets.  Through doing this, I've learned a lot about pacing, plotting, and the necessity of letting the story take you where it wants to go.

Of course, when you set goals for yourself, there's always the possibility of setbacks.  I set the goal of self-publishing a book in 2012, but I still haven't done it.  Don't get me wrong.  I have plenty of it ready to go.  I simply underestimated the demands of life at home.  Oh well.  I still intend to achieve this goal.  It'll have to happen in 2013.  The only time you fail is when you give up entirely.  I refuse to quit.

I know that the calendar is largely arbitrary.  Yes, we make our calendar years equal to the amount of time it takes to go around the sun, and that's a smart system to use.  Yet, we could have kept the year the same length and decided the new year began in July.  It would be all the same in that sense.  And similarly, there's no real reason to decide the beginning of the new year is a chance for a fresh start.  That's a meaning we attach to the new year.  As human beings, we're great at filling things with meaning.  We celebrate holidays and anniversaries because we attach meaning to them.

Even so, as a writer, I attach significance to fictional events in a similar way.  In a way, filling things with meaning is what I do.  So, in that respect, I am more than allowed to be retrospective at this particular time.

For now, my goals for the coming year are simple.  I hope to keep up with my blogging, accomplish the goals I didn't complete in 2012, spend time with my family, and keep writing!  I hope my muse sticks with me for another year.

What do you hope to do in 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are You Participating in the No Kiss Blogfest?

I just heard about the No Kiss Blogfest.  You can visit Frankie Diane Mallis for further details and sign up if the premise sounds appealing.

Image courtesy of Idea go
You know that moment.  The music swells, the mood is just right, and the two characters you know are perfect for one another are finally about to realize it too.  Your heart jumps, and you hold your breath in anticipation as they lean in for the kiss they were too busy to realize they both wanted.  Then, just as they're about to meet in the middle . . . something happens.  

Image courtesy of TACLUDA
Maybe the world explodes (though let's hope not, because we actually want to see more of the story) or maybe a close friend or an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend walks in. There are hundreds of distractions to choose from, and they all trigger that heated sense of frustration.  Why did the distraction have to come at that exact moment? Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

On Wednesday, January 2nd (also the next posting for IWSG, by the way, so I'll be having a double post day!) you need only post about an almost kiss.  It can be one from a movie, book, WIP, or you can write a little scene that shows an interrupted kiss.  If this sounds good to you, click the link at the beginning of this post to read the rest of the rules and put your name in.  I hope to see you there!

Blogspiration 32: Drunk on Writing

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

In the course of this week's reading, I stumbled across a quote that stood up and slapped me in the face.  The words fit perfectly with the way I feel about writing, so I had to share them with you.

Background Image courtesy of digitalart
If I need to tackle a difficult issue, to make sense of something that seems utterly nonsensical, I write it.  Sometimes it feels like my brain would explode if I wasn't "drunk on writing."  Placed in the fictional world, my worst fears are just distant enough for me to get a good look at them.  Spilled onto the page, I can manage that fear and use it to my advantage, not my detriment.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #17

It's time for another Friday foray to a post-apocalyptic city.  For those who haven't read the prior installments, you can read the entire story on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #17

After a long moment, RC’s heart seemed to migrate from her throat and back to her chest where it belonged.  Should we even try to figure out what that was, or should we just run? she wondered.

Even as that question entered her mind, she began to edge forward, and Alyx was right there beside her.  Another yelp of pain met their ears, but it sounded much weaker than the initial cry.  This spurred RC to move faster.  As she approached the brick fence that ran around the park’s perimeter, she was able to distinguish more voices.  Some gleeful, some vicious.

Alyx placed a wavering hand on her back.  RC leaned back slightly, feeling reassured by the connection.  She gathered her courage and peeked over the top of the fence.

The sight was nothing short of appalling.

A human figure hung by its feet from the monkey bars, held in place by plenty of rope and a generous wad of duct tape.  Blood pooled on the ground underneath, all of which flowed freely from a variety of lacerations.  Angry red and purple welts made it impossible to distinguish whether the victim was male or female.  All RC felt sure of was that this poor person didn’t have long to live.  Injuries that severe required treatments well beyond her capabilities.

Standing in a circle around the scene were eight teenagers, each wielding a deadly instrument.  One held a heavy wooden club with long nails poking through its surface.  The tips of those nails were tinged red with flecks of white, the white undoubtedly representing shreds of flesh that had been torn away.  Another held a large red gas can.

“This has gone on long enough,” the boy with the gas can declared.  “Let’s finish this.”

“He still didn’t tell us where they are!” a girl holding a hatchet protested.

Gas Can Boy kicked the hanging body.  No sound came out.  RC squinted to get a better look, and it seemed like the throat had been cut.  That injury must have accompanied the last cry she heard.

“I don’t think we’re getting anything out of him now.  We’ll find them though.  Don’t you worry.”

Who are they looking for?  Why?  And why resort to such brutality? RC had so many questions, but she didn’t dare voice these questions aloud, much as she wanted to.  At least Alyx was there, and as she focused on this thought, he squeezed her hand.  His grip threatened to cut off the circulation to her fingers, but she didn’t care about that.  Instead, she squeezed back as she willed the horrific images to go away.

Hatchet Girl dutifully stepped forward and, with a couple of hard swings, cut the body loose.  It landed with a dull thud on the frozen ground.  Gas Can doused the motionless limbs with accelerant.  When he seemed satisfied with his work, he waved to the others to step back.  Then, brandishing a match, he lit it with a single skillful swipe and let it go.

RC had to hide her face as the flames swelled over the inert form.  The snowflakes, growing in size and frequency with each passing minute, dissipated the moment they hit the hot air.  The smoke wafted toward them, but RC covered her nose.  She didn't want to smell it.  She could tolerate a lot, but not this.

Alyx leaned over, so close his breath tickled her ear as he whispered, “We have to get out of here before someone sees us.”

She couldn’t have agreed more.  Surely this group wouldn’t hesitate to lash out at anyone if it suited them.  RC ducked down behind the wall again, the playground now mercifully obscured from view.  “Let’s move,” she whispered back.

They shuffled along the wall, heads low to avoid drawing attention from those on the other side.  If they could stay low and carefully make a break toward the shelter of one of the neighboring houses, they’d have a chance.

Unfortunately, their huddled position also left them blind.  When Hatchet Girl rounded the corner ahead of them, they all froze.  Hatchet Girl looked pale, even green in the face. 

Does she regret what she helped her friends do?  Did the act of killing get to her? RC wondered.  If so, she might let us go . . . 

Before RC could think beyond that, Gas Can Boy rounded the corner.  He didn’t hesitate.  “Hey guys!  We have more fodder here!”

Several sets of footsteps followed that call, and RC feared the worst.  How could they possibly get out of this one?

Spiked Club Boy hopped the wall, landing just in front of them.  He smiled.  “Well good.  Maybe they can get us what we need.”

“What do you need?” Alyx asked.  He put a protective arm out in front of RC, trying to keep her as far from danger as he could. 

It was certainly a sweet gesture, but RC knew Alyx couldn’t possibly fight off all of these people.  If either of them stood any kind of chance, they’d need to think their way out.

“We work for our overlords,” Spiked Club replied.  “We need to know where all the strays are hiding.  Too many of them out and about represent a security threat.”

“You’re killing on their command?” RC shook her head.  “That doesn’t make sense.  Why kill perfectly good breeding stock?”

“If you bring too many rebellious types into the breeding facility, it could sow the seeds of unrest” gas can boy replied.  “Can’t have that either.  It’s best to eliminate you, and the overlords selected us for that task.  We have a certain something that the patrols don’t."

In one swift move, Spiked Club seized RC’s arm and forced her to the ground.  Alyx dove forward, but someone seized him from behind and pressed a pocket knife to his throat.

“If you move an inch, you die now,” Gas Can announced with a grin.  “Help us and you might live.”

Go to Entry #18

Thursday, December 27, 2012

FSF: Another Link Forged

If you'd like to participate in Five Sentence Fiction, check out Lillie McFerrin's site to get the details!

The prompt for this week is ENDING.

Here's my contribution for the week.  If you'd like to read the story from start to finish, go to this PAGE.

Chapter 12: Another Link Forged

Ylana once again sat in the cockpit of Nara’s ship, twirling the necklace that held the little purple stone against her bare skin.  The flashes of vision came suddenly and at random times, always catching her off guard with their intensity. 

A woman cloaked in shadow, her mouth permanently molded by a blood-curdling scream as she met her brutal end, a partial view of a star strewn sky.

Image courtesy of cooldesign
This death, though not her own, was nonetheless part of Ylana now as she owned the task of discerning the how and why of this murder, using only the details lifted from these unwelcome images.

“Orton forged another link in a chain I thought I’d broken,” Ylana whispered to Nara as they flew beyond the boundary of the Nevarian solar system. 

Go to A Barren World

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A One Word Summary of 2012

For this, the last edition of Wordly Wednesday for 2012, I thought I'd take the time to look back on the year and try to summarize it in one word.  I may have been inspired by the one word game from the Doctor Who Christmas Special I saw last night, but I don't think that's a bad thing.  Trying to sum up 365 days (or in the case of 2012, 366 days) in one word makes you really consider the heart of the most important things that happened to you.  

Here is my word to summarize 2012, at least as far as my personal life is concerned.  Summarizing the year for the world as a whole is a much bigger project.

And though it may defeat the purpose of keeping my summary to one word, I will still list the reasons I have for choosing this word.

It is an active word.  It indicates the state of being imaginative, and that is what I wished to embody over this past year.  To be a writer, one must embrace imagination.  I would rather be imaginative than have been recognized as having done something imaginatively.  One holds more promise than the other.

This is the year I stayed home with my kids.  Little kids exhibit more imagination than most adults, and they can bring forth a wealth of inspiration.

This is the year I started blogging.  Blogging has forced me to keep thinking, to keep producing more work.  Instead of becoming a chore, this need to keep writing made the process of writing easier.  I could think more freely.  Rather than the well running dry, the well became more efficient.

In the interest of keeping this brief, I'll leave you with this.  What is your word for 2012?  What do you hope your word for 2013 will be?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas . . . Or Whatever Holiday You Celebrate!

Now that I have kids, I love Christmas more than ever!  They're so excited for Santa to come, and they're also happy that their daddy has time off work.  I thought I'd take the time to share a little of that Christmas happiness with you. I'm not a religious person.  That, however, does not diminish my enjoyment of this holiday.  I love the spirit of giving and peace.  I revel in the way people make an extra effort to be kind to one another this time of year. 

In the spirit of this time of year, I don't think we should be all that concerned with whether someone tells you Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.  For me, it's about the fact that a complete stranger wished me well.  If only the world saw more of this kindness all year round.  I think we'd all be better off.

So, I'll say Merry Christmas now and finish this post!
Whatever you celebrate, I hope you make the most
of this time with your friends and family.
May your holiday be all you hoped it could be!

And, of course, I'll also leave you with another of my favorite Christmas songs.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Muse Takes a Break

My muse won't be doing a lot of work over the next couple of days.  The Christmas holiday takes precedence over everything else for now.  We have family celebrations to attend, and other fun things to do.  My kids are so excited for Santa it's insane.  We've been keeping track of Santa through NORAD, which has turned into a fun family activity in and of itself.

Being the procrastinator that I am, I still haven't decided what to make for our Christmas Day meal.  I know, I know, most of the stores are closed, and the rest of the grocery stores are closing early.  Pleiades, if you're going to help me with anything this week, show up and give me a meal inspiration!

My husband is off work this week, so we'll have plenty of family time.  And once Christmas is over, I may be able to squeeze in some writing time.  My husband loves video games, so when he inevitably escapes to that fantasy world, I'll slip into my world of fiction.  I have a post scheduled for tomorrow to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, though I probably won't be anywhere near my computer for a majority of tomorrow.

I also wanted to mention that I was selected as a winner for David Powers King's Build Me a Blog Hop.  Thanks!  I'm excited to see my vision come to life, and I'm confident that Tara Tyler will do a fantastic job!  Congratulations to the other winners!  You all had great entries.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blogspiration 31: Nothing Happened

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

So, the world didn't end.  This fact in no way surprised me, though I'm sure a number of people were shocked by this.  I often wonder, why do people listen when someone claims to know when the apocalypse will happen?  So many people have been  wrong before.  It just seems like a bad bet to make.  Here's a piece of advice.  If someone bets you that the world will end on a certain date, you bet against them.  No matter how certain they are, bet that the world will continue on as it always has.  If they're right and everyone dies, they can't collect their winnings.  And if you're right and you go about your daily business, you'll do so with a little extra something in your pocket.  This is the best bet you can ever make.

Anyway, since I've been thinking along these lines all weekend, this quote seemed appropriate.

Background Image courtesy of Idea go
This is exactly how it felt as December 21st passed into the early hours of December 22nd without incident.  I'm sure I'll see this happen a few more times in my life.  After all, there's a lot of money to be made in the apocalypse business.  People have books to sell, gimmicks to peddle.  I see the motivation of the profiteers.  It makes sense, even if it isn't entirely honest.  What I don't understand is the people who honestly want the world to end.  Some people genuinely want to speed along the end of mankind.  They want to see it, to actually be there for it.  Apocalyptic movies are fun to watch and all, but I like knowing I get to go home to my kids afterwards.  I like waking up the next morning to a new day.

Oh well.  They can be disappointed, and I'll try to make the best of the fact that the world is still spinning with nearly 7 billion inhabitants clinging to its surface.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest

It's always nice to know when the apocalypse is going down.  I  hate surprise doomsday scenarios that wait to jump out at you when your pants are around your ankles.  I mean, seriously, have you ever tried to run for your life like that?

Thanks to Shannon @ The Warrior Muse and Chuck at Apocalypse Now for hosting the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest! What better way is there to celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar?  

1. Choose your apocalypse.
2. Sign up!
3. Tell us how you prepared for your survival amongst everyone else's demise.
4. Describe your apocalypse and how it's going down.
5. Make sure the badge is displayed on your blog.
6. Visit your fellow survivors and see how their world ended.

I'm writing mine as an article posted in a less-than-reputable publication.  You know the kind I mean.

Do You Want to Survive Armageddon?

For those of you out there who haven’t been gifted with my ability to see the future, I want to reassure you.  The world as we know it will certainly end this December 21st, but it won’t end for everyone.  Those of you who heed my advice can look forward to greater things as a member of a significantly smaller human race.

There are a number of theories about how the world will end on this date, but only I know the truth.  I am sure many of you have heard the story about how the rogue planet Nibiru will swing around our local neighborhood and crash into Earth.  I can tell you unequivocally that this isn’t the case.  Nibiru will come, but it won’t hit us.  It’s simply going to tow Earth out of its orbit.
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick

See, Nibiru is the cosmic equivalent of a tow truck, and it’s no coincidence that it’s heading our way.  Composed out of super dense matter, Nibiru has a sizable gravitational pull, and it’s strong enough to pull even a small star.  Nibiru is being driven through the universe by a spaceship filled with aliens called the Zyntar.  The Zyntar landed on Earth long ago, and they worked with the Mayan people to write their calendar.  It was intended as a countdown to their return, when they intended to relocate our world for their own purposes.

There is nothing we can do to stop them, and unfortunately for our species, being tugged into deep space will mean leaving our sun behind.  The world will freeze rather quickly after that.  Your only chance is to follow my instructions.  Send all of your worldly possessions to me, and I’ll seal them safely in an underground vault so the deep cold and cosmic radiation won’t damage them.  Once this is done, I’ll personally fit you with a tracking device.  The Zyntar promised to bring the believers who wear this device to live on their spaceship.  Once Earth has been parked in orbit around a new sun, you will be allowed to retrieve your items.

See how easy that is?  Call me at 1-800-438-2368 to sign up and schedule a time to drop off your valuables.  I’ll see you soon!

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #16

It's Friday, so that means it's also time for some flash fiction.  For those of you who haven't read the previous chapters in this story, you can read all of it on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #16

“How high do you think his temperature is?”

RC shrugged.  When she placed her palm on Ollie’s forehead, the abnormal warmth told her only that he would be down for days.  Sweat beaded on his skin, and he shifted restlessly in his sleep.  “I’m no thermometer, but he’s definitely sick.”

Alyx ran nervous fingers through his disheveled hair.  “Hopefully he’ll be okay.  We don’t have any medicine if he isn’t.”

“Let’s just hope it’s a simple flu that’ll go away on its own.”  As RC spoke, she kept her eyes on Ollie’s prostrate form.  Though she saw him vomiting violently only a few minutes before, it was still easier to look at him than it was to meet Alyx’s eye.  And when she did hazard a glance, Alyx certainly wasn’t looking at her.  Considering the humiliation of the previous night remained so fresh in her mind, she felt it was just as well.  “Obviously he’s not going to help with the hunting today.”

“No,” Alyx replied.

“I’ll go,” RC volunteered.  “Maybe you should stay here to look after your brother and the kids.”  She’d been awake most of the night, considering the possibility of simply slipping out the door and disappearing.  It might help her escape the embarrassment to do such a thing, but in the end, she couldn’t leave them behind.  Not when they had the kids to look after.

At least, that’s what she told herself.

Now Ollie’s illness gave her even more reason to stay, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t itching to escape for awhile.  Dodging patrols seemed more appealing than remaining idle in the house.

“It isn’t safe for you to go out.  If anyone’s going out there, it should be me,” Alyx insisted.

“I don’t care if it’s safe,” RC mumbled.  Keeping her head low, she exited the room.  She began to throw on the extra layers of clothing that would help her brave the cold.  Why should I listen to anyone who tries to talk me out of what I want? she thought as she tugged on a pair of warm shoes.  When I was on my own, I didn’t have to deal with other people’s opinions on what was best for me.

Approaching footsteps prompted RC to grab a coat and her backpack and make a break for the door.  “Wait a minute!” Alyx begged.  “You can’t go out there alone.  If something happens, you won’t have anyone to back you up.”

“I can take care of myself.  I’ve outwitted the patrols before.”

Just as she grabbed the doorknob, he grasped her shoulder, and the unexpected nature of the gesture punched a hole through her defensive barrier.  She lifted her head and met his gaze.  Immediately, she recognized how tormented he felt.  Concern and desperation resonated in the way he looked back at her.  “I know you can, but it’s always going to be safer with someone to help you.  If we both go, we can get everything we need in half the time.”

She paused, wondering how a joint expedition with the two of them could possibly go well.  It was bound to be one of the most uncomfortable experiences of her life.  “Ollie’s sick.  He shouldn’t be by himself,” RC argued.

“He wouldn’t be alone.”  Sheera startled them both with her interruption.  She sat on the couch, and young though she was, she was also confident.  The scared  girl RC comforted the first night was also a mature young woman in this world.  “I’ve looked after people before.  Neither of you are more qualified to take care of him than I am.”

RC couldn’t deny that logic, and she despised it.

“We’ll be back soon,” Alyx promised.

The biting cold of the day nearly took her breath away as they walked, and this worked out fine, since neither of them seemed eager to talk.  She buried her hands deep in her pockets, though this did little to shield them.

Most of the foraging passed by in silence.  They wordlessly took turns glancing around corners to be sure the streets were safe.  They worked together to check each room in the homes they visited.  The pickings weren’t as plentiful as they once were, so the two of them had to travel out further than they ever had before.  RC wondered if they really could build up enough supplies to last them through the winter, or if they’d succumb to the elements partway through.

A couple hours into the expedition, they sat down to rest inside one of the homes.  Like every other house they’d searched, the rooms were saturated with the cold, but the reprieve from the whipping winds provided some refuge.

“Rose, I know this is weird, but I . . .”

“Forget about it,” RC said sharply.  “There’s nothing to say.”  Part of her felt bad about being harsh with him.  After all, he couldn’t help that his feelings were different than hers.  Yet discussing that damned awkward kiss could only make her feel even worse.

Alyx shrunk away from her.  “Right.”

By the time they made it back outside, tiny snowflakes were drifting to the ground.  This was the first sign of snow they’d seen, and it was worrisome to say the least.  “We need to get back soon,” RC said.  “We don’t want to get stuck out here if it gets worse.”

Alyx nodded.  “Hopefully we have enough food.  Who knows how long the snow might last?”

They turned on to a road they hadn’t yet taken that day.  It should have been a faster way back to the house, and they figured the quicker it was, the safer they’d be.  Unfortunately, they only made it a couple of blocks before the sound of an agonized scream tore through the air. 

RC froze while her heart doubled its pace.  Somehow, Alyx’s hand now held hers as he whispered a question that undoubtedly had a dangerous answer.  “What was that?”

Go to Entry #17

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Build Me a Blog Hop!

Today is the Build Me a Blog-Hop!  The always cool David Powers King is hosting this event in celebration of gaining 800 followers.  That's insane.  I'm happy that I'm closing in on 200.  But 800!  Yikes!  David is popular indeed!

This blog hop is straightforward and fun.  Follow the link above to check it out. And be warned, there are amazing prizes to be won!

Here is my own 200 word description of my ideal blog banner.  Much as I do like my own that I made, I want a little something different.  As is also the case with me, my imagination for outpaces my own artistic abilities.

My dream blog banner would feature my avatar.  She’d be dressed in black pants with a black shirt and a black beret.  These black items of clothing would be sprinkled with twinkling stars, like I’m actually wearing the universe.  Her long red hair flows behind her, and she’s wearing a pair of sleek green eyeglasses.  The glasses are resting partway down her nose, making her look a bit like a sassy librarian.  My avatar is standing on a stack of books, because since I’m unfashionably short, my avatar should be as well. 

With a quill pen in hand, my avatar is in the midst of coloring a once blank background with images of the universe.  Planets, stars, nebulae all spill out of my avatar’s quill as she decorates the blank world around her with exciting stories.  Since I am particular, I must specify that at least one of these planets is a ringed planet like Saturn.  A 1950’s style rocket ship is zooming around this new universe.

The universe also features a black hole in the top corner.  My blog’s title Writing Off the Edge lingers near that black hole, tempting fate, because my blog is about writing spectacular things.

There's my vision!  Feel free to let me know what you think!  Also take the time to visit the other participants if you can.

FSF: Cosmic Visions

It's time for another dose of Five Sentence Fiction.  Thanks to Lillie McFerrin for another wonderful prompt.    This week's word is vision.

If you haven't read the previous chapters of my science fiction adventure, you can read the entire thing on this PAGE.

Chapter 11: Cosmic Visions

Orton proved to be a tall, trim, and neatly dressed man, and when he spoke, his words revealed a level of sophistication rare outside the main trading worlds.  “I fear it will take several lunar cycles to complete my work, but should you agree to the terms I set forth, I believe I can use a sample of your genetic material to devise a proper Kryllian repellent.”
Image courtesy of Gramps/

Ylana leaned forward and replied, “That sounds wonderful, but I hear there’s a price to pay for your work.”

“As there is with anything else,” Orton replied, his irises dancing between Ylana and Nara as he pulled a round, purple stone from his coat pocket.  “This stone is purported to produce powerful cosmic visions in members of certain races, of which you are one Ylana, and I need you to use it to complete a mission on my behalf.”

Go to Another Link Forged

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Character Profile Questions: Breakfast

Warning!  This post may cause hunger in, well, just about anyone with a stomach.  It may be hazardous to anyone currently on a diet.
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

The way we start our day says a lot about who we are.  This is also true of our characters.  Their actions at this time of day betray their personality and, in part, their aspirations for the day.  Or it can simply say something about where they live or their personal economic circumstances.  This is why it helps to consider the answers to these questions as you write and develop your characters.

So here are the questions I want to look at. Following that, I'll list some of the different breakfast personality types, and say what I think those breakfast choices say about the person as a whole.

What, if anything, does your character, eat for breakfast?  How do they consume this first meal of the day?

Grab-N-Go Dining
Image courtesy of Paul/
This is a general category that may be further broken down into subcategories. This broad categorization refers to the method in which a person consumes their breakfast.  By grabbing it and eating it on the go, the character lets us know that they are in a great hurry in the morning.  Perhaps this is a one time incident that shows they're running late.  Perhaps your character does this regularly because they have to be at work early, or maybe they simply put everything off until the last minute.  Whatever the reason, the fact that they grab-n-go potentially says a lot about this character.

Coffee and a Nibble
Lot's of people grab a coffee and a pastry these days. You get a quick jolt of energy that's easy to consume in the car.  The nibble may be a sweet roll, a bagel, or even a piece of fruit.  The exact choice of nibble indicates personal taste, or may simply say whether this person is making an effort to stay healthy or not.  Many may even forego the nibble altogether and simply have the coffee.  I have been guilty of this one plenty of times myself, though I know it isn't a healthy way to start the day.

Energy Drink/Sugary Beverages
Some people prefer to start out the day with an extra rush of energy.  They may or may not have a nibble with their energy drink.  I have seen a lot of people completely sub in an energy drink for a more traditional breakfast.  Similarly, I've seen people have only a sugary drink as a stimulant for the morning.  The main motivation for people who do this tends to be similar to those who are simply having a cup of coffee.  They are more focused on getting a boost of energy than with nutrition.

The Nutritional Dash
Some people grab a milk or a fruit smoothie and fresh fruits or bran muffins for a quick, on-the-go breakfast.  This says your character either enjoys these things, or is making a conscious effort to get some nutrition in to start the day.  Or both. There's no rule saying you can't enjoy these things.

Of course, there are other possibilities for the quick breakfast, and your character may behave differently from day to day depending on the circumstances.  It's your job as a writer to know how and why they start with a rush.

Sit Down Dining
Image courtesy of Paul /
This category also says a great deal about someone's personality.  This means, for starters, that your character enjoys a leisurely morning.  The reasons for this say a lot, so the sitter can be lumped into a couple of different categories.  I'll enumerate those before proceeding to the actual food consumed.

2a. The Reader-Eater
This category shows your character as a solitary diner.  Maybe they like a quiet start and are grateful for the chance to catch up on reading.  Or perhaps they simply have no one to eat with and read or surf the internet to fill the time.  These are great details that could easily be used to your advantage.

2b. The Family Meal
If your hero/heroine is family-oriented, they may have a family breakfast.  Not only does this reveal a lot about who they are, the dialogue and general interactions here are a good opportunity for character development.

Now, on to the food!  These meals have more room for different kinds of foods, so the foods in this category allow more room to show cultural background along with personality.

The Simple Sitting Meal
Some people still only have a cup of coffee and maybe something small to eat, like a croissant or muffin.  Cereal and pop tarts could fit into this group.  In these cases, the meals are small, relatively fast, and can be ingested relatively quickly. People who do this have opted not to grab-n-go, but they still don't have a lot of time to dedicate to breakfast.  Maybe they simply need a couple of quiet minutes before going to work.  Or perhaps their tastes are more attuned to a simple meal so early in the day.  Who knows?  It's your job as a writer to figure that out.

The Elaborate Healthy Meal
This is a meal that takes some time to prepare, or has too many components to be eaten as quickly.  There may be a combination of fruits and vegetables, along with eggs and other breakfast items.  This is a more filling meal, and it still counts as a nutritious meal.

The Large Comfort Food Meal
A culture may be known for its comfort foods.  These are the heavier comfort foods that everyone enjoys from time to time.  They may not be the most healthy, but they're good for your mood.  When you sit your character down for such a meal, perhaps they are distressed, or perhaps they simply enjoy such foods.  You can show culture, personal preference, and reaction to events in the context of such a meal.  Food represents more than something you have to do only for survival.  It's part of where you come from and who you are.  Use that if you can!
Image courtesy of vichie81 /

No Dining
I'll be quick with this last category as I feel I've gone on too long already.  I have that problem when it comes to food.

Some people skip breakfast altogether, and it's still valuable to at least ask why. Some simply don't feel like they have the time.  Some people may feel like they shouldn't eat breakfast due to concerns over diets and weight.  And some yet may be so financially strapped that they need to cut out meals when they can.  If you have a character who skips breakfast, it's worth your time to know why.

I know I've gone too long, and this is a lot to read through.  Thanks to anyone who had the patience to get this far.  I hope I gave you something to think about.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Express Yourself: Holiday Songs

It's time for another Express Yourself Weekly Meme post.  Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests provide great prompts each week

What are a few of your favorite holiday songs?

All in all, Christmas music isn't my favorite.  I don't like the idea of listening to it every day for an entire month before the actual holiday.  In general, I don't do much with music for any holiday, so I'm not picking on Christmas when I say this.

However, I do love Trans Siberian Orchestra.  Pretty much all of my favorite Christmas music comes from this group.  I love the big sound they produce.  I'm not sure how else to describe it.

This song, "Music Box Blues", features fantastic vocals and great sound.  Love it!

I also love it when Trans Siberian Orchestra teams up with Metallica.  How could that ever be wrong?  When I hear "Carol of the Bells" I am filled with awesomeness!

Now, here I'm going to admit something.  I have friends who might strangle me for admitting this.  I hope none of you will judge me badly for this.  In fact, many of you will probably be scratching your heads about why I'm prefacing this song in this way.  Don't worry, I'll explain why.

Here's "Christmas Canon."  There is also a rock version called "Christmas Canon Rock."

Okay.  In what is already a video-filled post, I'm not worried about posting one more.  The "Christmas Canon" is basically "Pachelbel's Canon in D" with a holiday twist to it.  Most of you have probably heard that one played at weddings, or in various other ways throughout the course of your life.  You can hardly escape it. A friend of mine in college grew to hate this song with a passion for that reason alone.  I don't have this strong hatred, though I learned many do.  And whether you like the music or not, this skit is hilarious and sums up my friend's position perfectly.  It's definitely worth a watch.  It actually has nothing to do with Christmas music, but I simply must share it.  That's all there is to it.