Stealing Bria’s Ideas

Today (or yesterday? I’m sick, cut me some slack), Bria Quinlin posted a fun little terminology refresher course on her blog, challenging others to correctly match up literary terms (devices, in this instance) with their definitions. I love a challenge, so I accepted, but mayhaps you also love a challenge.  I’ll write my own answers near the bottom of this post with a big “SPOILER BLOCKER” image in between, and you can compare your answers to mine, after you’ve gone over to Bria’s and done the quiz yourself.


  1. A
  2. H
  3. J
  4. E
  5. W
  6. N
  7. P
  8. A
  9. R
  10. S
  11. O
  12. Y
  13. G
  14. F
  15. B
  16. V
  17. K
  18. M
  19. I
  20. L
  21. T
  22. C
  23. Q
  24. X
  25. U

All in all, I scored a seventy-six, mixing up E, G, M, X, and F.

When Silence Costs More Than You Have to Spend

Personal Note: In Golden I compare kissing Ian to the kind of fire that starts with frost, the kind of cold so deep it burns. If you want an idea of what I mean, buy yourself some True Shimmer Peppermint Rush ChapStick and put it on thick. It’s like IcyHot for your lips.

"Love hurts.

But sometimes it's a good hurt,

And I feel like I'm alive.

Love sings,

When it transcends the bad things.

Have a heart, and try me,

Because without love, I won't survive."

--"Love Hurts", by Incubus

I’m a lot of things I don’t like, but the largest of them is ‘chemically unbalanced’. In other words, sometimes the science project that is my brain goes a little askew and suddenly I’m not in control of myself, not really. This often correlates with my body doing various (not just the main one) things boy bodies don’t do. The last twenty-four hours have been bad. I never even saw it coming. One second I was fine, but the next I was suddenly so angry I picked up a figurine angel and flung it onto the ground to break into a hundred pieces. Then I ripped her thin bronze wings off because it wasn’t right for an angel to be that broken. An hour later I was so paralyzed with fear I couldn’t stop staring at a patch of carpet because that was the only way I knew how to keep myself from crumbling into as many pieces as the angel. I didn’t move a centimeter for thirty minutes. When my husband asked me a question, it took me five minutes and a dozen gaped-mouthed tries to to answer him. I was simply too scared to open my lips and wrap my tongue around the words.

Today wasn’t much better. I cried (I’ve perfected the silent sob, thank you) through several bits of church because I was too sad about nothing in particular. The part where I feel like I have the flu is coming. My throat is already scratchy, and I’m exhausted.

It got me thinking; how many other writers have something similar going on with them? They say creative, artistic, dreamer people are more prone to depression, rage, anxiety, etc. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure why my husband, the Vulcan, thinks of feelings the same way he thinks of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy; they’re there, but it’s your choice whether or not you let them effect your actions. To me, what I feel is just as real, just as physical as a brick wall too tall and too wide to get beyond. The concept of reacting to your feelings is so alien to me I can’t even explain it. Is that why ‘creative’ types suffer from depression more (as they say), because maybe we believe in feelings more strongly? Is it God’s way of balancing us out? We’re strong in our imaginations, but fragile in our hearts? Or at least the parts of our heart connected to our heads? Do we FEEL harder than our more logical counterparts? Or are we just not as strong as them?

In the Nicolas Cage movie, City of Angels, the angel “Seth” asks his human love interest, a pretty doctor named Maggie, what happens when people cry. She gives him some medical rigamarole, but then he answers her, “Maybe... maybe emotion becomes so intense your body just can't contain it. Your mind and your feelings become too powerful... and your body weeps.”

Maybe emotions are more real for some people, more forceful. It’s not that they’re more important than the emotions of others, but more that some people were made to feel them in bigger quantities, but in the end we’re still only human . . . and so our bodies weep.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

Personal Notes:  Two things. First, Office 07 still doesn’t consider ‘aint’ a word, which makes me love it more; secondly, I am apparently still a contender for Coolest Wife Ever, because I rather unwittingly bought a snazzy presale copy of my husband’s new video game (DragonAge: Origins), which means it has a crap-ton of cool XBoxLive downloads and whatnot.

Meanwhile, I will not be boring you with tales of holiday frivolity (unless of course you ask to hear about the ruined potatoes, the Guitar Hero: World Tour marathon, or the tragedy of my relatives not knowing anything about ‘80’s music), but for right now, I’d really like you to scope out the sidebar to your left.  Down  . . . down . . . there!  That' purplish, bluish rectangle that says something about being powered by SocialVibe. You know how much I support To Write Love On Her Arms, and now you can help, and it just takes a few minutes. This time of year is the toughest time for som, but you can lend them your shoulder, your heart in a way.

Take a few minutes spamming your various social networks with these free, usually one-question doohoockies.  I mean seriously, how many of you already have those annoying widgety things on Facebook or MySpace with zoos or farms or whatnot?  This is just as simple and no more intrusive than those dealies, only for every “quiz” you answer the sponsoring company of said '”quiz” donates money to the organization of choice. So far, I’ve only seen to TWLOHA, but I know I saw a link for Invisible Children, too. Have you SEEN what that’s about?  It’s mind-blowing.  Seriously, GOOGLE IT.

And on that note I leave you, sitting there in front of your keyboard . . . with your conscience, and your five minutes to kill.

A Fluff Post OR “Ooo, pretty!”

Personal Notes: One of my lovely little betas sang a solo with the church choir today, and it made me super proud! Awesomoso, B!

So, last night, while my hair was going from faded stop-sign-red to fresh stop-sign-red, I killed time by checking out this Sunday’s secrets at PostSecret. At the bottom of the page there was a YouTube video; The All-American Rejects had remixed their video for “Dirty Little Secret” (a song known to be on Ian’s playlist) to work with a PostSecret theme.

Anyone can tell you, I can love a band and have no clue what any of its members look like. It’s totally common for me. Comes from liking so many different kinds of music, I think. Anyway, the point is, I had never seen a photo of Tyson Ritter, the frontman for AAR before this little video. But the second I looked at that guy, singing that song with that cocky little expression, his dark, wavy hair, and his ice-blue ice, I knew I was looking at IAN. You want to know exactly what Ian looks like? Here:

Going on Thirty

Personal Note: My husband’s pretty freakin’ awesome.  Just sayin’. Also, I finally got around to organizing all my playlists by the character(s) each song applies to. I had all my very favorites kind of grouped together for a little while, and now they’re in different lists. I told N. it was like sending off my babies to different foster homes. He laughed at me and called me weird. Because he knows he’s cute enough to get away with it.

I’ve decided my writing style is a lot like my hair; there’s a lot of it, but it’s very long and thin, and it takes many, many steps to get it anywhere near manageable. Now, with my hair, this means anywhere from two to four hours (are we coloring it, because if we are . . . well, you know). With a book, my experience is that it takes closer to two years.  I’m not sure this will always be the case; I dealt with quite a learning curve for the first one.  The point is:

Step One: Grow it. Either several inches or several thousand words, this part takes a large chunk of your time. For some people it’s not the step with the longest span, but it can be. I can’t get my hair to grow quickly to save my life, but I can pound out 135K words in two and a half months.

Step Two: Wash it. Get all the yuck out of it. Scrub it for hairspray, over-used phrases, conditioner build-up, adverbs, oils, and typos.

Step Three: Rinse and repeat. Once, for you Michael Kelso fans.

Step Four: if you’re not coloring, Condition. Put a good timed repair creme on there and wait. Put your manuscript in a safe, child-proof, moisture-proof, plagiarism-proof drawer and wait. You’ll gain softness. You’ll gain subtlety.

Step Four B. If you are coloring (*ahem* picture books), do that first, and then move on to Step Four.

Step Five: Cut. Everyone needs at least a little trim to kill split ends, or perhaps split infinitives. Besides, whatever you had before Step Four, probably a good quarter (inch?) of it looks ripe for the shearing.  Be bold.  You could find just the right look, the right book, for you under there somewhere.

Step Six: Apply heat. Curling iron, flattening wand, crimper, or just a blow-out, you still need to go back and smooth out all those rough edges. Also, this is your chance to really make your style, the verve that’s uniquely you, shine through. Take it to the max!

Step Seven: The Consult. Call up your most honest, most loyal friend (critique group), and have them come over and check out the results. They will tell you if you have lost your ever-loving mind. Listen to them; they love you, and want what’s best for you(r book), just like you do.

Step Eight*: Assuming you’ve gotten the thumbs-up from your pals, add in whatever styling products you need to keep that hot mess in its hot messiness. You want to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE the end result. Sometimes this takes more than one gel, spray, mouse, act of nuclear illegality. For me, it takes a minimum of four (2 Hard drives, one flash drive, and an email record—Or mousse, spray, prayer, and a local de-humidifier).

And that’s why writing a book is like messing with my hair.

*Step Eight should actually be broken up into many fragments over the course of the entire proposition. As in, EVERY FIVE SECONDS.

Fallen From Grace

Personal Notes: Things I have to bar myself or I will cry:

  • Country music
  • Holiday commercials featuring family reunions
  • Anything dramatic or emotional involving fathers*
  • Or small children/babies being scared or hurt
  • My church choir, especially during Christmas

Seriously, I just can’t handle those things without bawling my eyes out. I’ve started keeping Kleenex in my purse Just For Choir Performances.

So, for once the title is kind of apropos of nothing, except that it’s a line from a song playing right that moment, and I have been kind of lax in posting. Shall we remedy that for today?

I told Blogger to make sure to publish this post on December the 18th.  This year December the 18th is a Friday. It was also a Friday when I was thirteen. Quick, remember being thirteen, or this won’t be quite as potent!

I rocked all kinds of upheavals the year I was thirteen, the biggest perhaps being The Move. Now my family had never been one to really put down roots anywhere; we moved at least once a year, and actually I never went to a single school two years in a row until I attended M. Elem. for fourth, fifth, and most of sixth grade. That was a good year, almost.  Finally had a BEST friend, had a cute little puppy love boyfriend (Hi, Jensey and Eric, of you’re reading this!). And then.

My mom remarried. Yup. And we moved. Not just a town away.  No. We moved from our very small town in lower Missouri to a very small town in Alabama. Myself, two, erm, larger adults, and an infant, stuffed into the cab of a sixties model Ford pickup truck, with a horse-trailer full of our possessions attached.

When I was thirteen, it felt like losing everything important in the whole world. Thirteen-year-old me is still holding a grudge. Thirteen-year-old me cried for every waking moment of the fifteen hour drive. Darn straight, I did.

But, eventually, I calmed down.  A pair of gorgeous blue eyes may have had something to do with it. But that’s only the half of it. The eyes are what made me look at him, but it was the I.Q. that made me fall head-over-heels in first real love with him.

You think I’m kidding, or foolish. Are you remembering being thirteen?  Did you forget? Sure, physically, in a more adult way the big pre-husband, teenage love was more cataclysmic, but that first love, it left its mark, too.

At thirteen, I hadn’t yet had my first kiss, hadn’t yet figured out that I should totally want to be kissing someone, because I was still clinging to the idea that shoving your tongue in someone else’s mouth was disgusting (don’t worry; I am very much over that misconception.  One day when I was FOURteen, Jimmy K. helped realize my fallacy there).  Anyway, the most serious thing Gorgeous Eyes-Q and I ever did was hold hands once or twice. And part of me really regrets that, because I can romanticize the Hades out of most of my previous relationships. Part of me still wishes she knew how GEQ kisses. Which is a kind of a tangent, sorry.

The point is, that was my first real love, and my first real heartbreak, and even though we’re friends now and love each other as such, I still remember December 18th, 1992, the last day of school before Christmas break.

Because that was the first time he told me he loved me and asked me officially to be his girlfriend. I remember how hard my pulse slammed into my veins, the enormous rush of adrenaline and endorphins. Oh, man. I’m not sure anything has ever felt that same kind of amazing before or since.  Sure, my first kiss was pretty awesome (thank you, Jimmy; I’ll always be grateful), and a few years later, when I fell into real, grown up love for the first time I was changed, different forever, and of course married love is the inexplicable phenomena and all . . .

But on December 18th I am always thirteen again, and I am horribly in love with you.

Hey, 53 degrees IS cold.

You have no idea how many blog drafts I have in my folder. I just haven’t published any of them.

Why Jack Nicholson's Wrong About Me

Personal Note: I have a Tsunami of a headache, and we've completely run out of any sort of Tylenol/Advil/Excedrin/Aspirin for adults. You don't want to know what I ingested to make it go away, but suffice to say the words 'grape flavor' were involved and there was some chewing required.

I took a little blogging break after NaBloPoMo because first, I'm lazy like that, and secondly, it's the holidays; things are all over the place, including my abilities to create a post-worthy, informative blog concept.

Jack, however, is all over this like white on rice.

As you may have guessed, today I'll be writing about truth, and again, on the heels of a fellowess writer also writing on the same subject (maybe there's like a spore in the air and all the blogging writers breathe it in at the same time? I dunno, but if so, I hope they're the cute little fuzzy ones like that thing with the bow on its head in Horton Hears a Who).

Anyway, TEH TROOTH! Ize handelz it!

When you've got your hands deep into gut-rearranging revisions you have a lot of little epiphanies (or at least I hope you do, because otherwise you're basically just rearranging crap . . . pun and disgusting feces reference intended), and sometimes these epiphanies will take a toll on your ego. I don't know if you've noticed, but a writer's ego is a sort of an oxymoron incarnate. On one hand, it is the most delicate, fragile thing, so killing it off should be pretty easy, but on the other it's so vast and enormous you can't ever take it out entirely. It makes me think of those under-ground forests that only look like separate and individual trees, but really is one great big boss fight of a plant. That, my sweet little readers, is a writer's ego.

And that's part of what's on the line when you revise, because sometimes you have to suck it up and admit to yourself a reaction here or a scene there was--le gasp!--wrong. Because admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery (unless your problem is loss of electronic documents into the ether of extensional limbo, in which case you're just out of luck, because I don't care what Microsoft Word tells you, you're not recovering anything).

The truth I'm handling is that I am sometimes wrong. I sometimes make someone fictional do something, be something, say something they never would in, uh, "real" life. More often than not the imaginary friend manages to get my attention and correct my misconceptions, but sometimes it take a meat-grinder and some scary music to make me see reason. I'm actually having a lot of fun with the mistakes I'm finding this go around, because not only is correcting them making the story ring truer, but it's clarifying some things in later books I was really fuzzy on, because I couldn't make out how to get from Point B to Point C with the path between Points A and B so fuzzy and sort of Plot-blocking me.

So, short moral: Be okay with being wrong. Accept it's going to happen, it isn't as personal as you think, and it means you have the chance to be RIGHT in the future. And seriously, who doesn't absolutely LOVE being right? I mean, dude, come on.

Because there are some things you believe with your heart.

I asked my eight-year-old son, "Do you understand what this video means?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Tell me."

"It means girls can do a lot."

Yeah, that's what it means, baby.