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Elisabeth: Marked

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:~: Monday, January 14, 2008 :~:

Time Out

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this special news bulletin:

(That was my lame attempt at humor. Considering I've only had 1/2 cup coffee this morning and I'm still suffering from the mother of all ear infections, it's not half bad...)

After much discussion, the girls here at Romance Worth Killing For have decided to take a mini-break from the blog. We each have some busy things going on in our lives - Linda's working on her Masters degree, working full time and juggling multiple releases from Sahmain, Joan's going back to work full time and managing her new RWA chapter, and my responsibilities with my RWA chapter and my precocious 3 yr old (who for some strange reason does not like me at the computer anymore) are limiting my online time.

Real life gets in the way sometimes. And when we look at juggling what we're each holding, we agree the writing comes before blogging. So for the time being we're going to put the blog on hold and come back to it in a few months when we're all refreshed and ready to commit more time to it.

In the meantime, if you're still interested in following what's going on with us, you can visit each of our personal blogs. Joan, Linda and I would love to hear from you, so don't be a stranger. Stop by when you can and let us know how you are, too. And when we're back, we'll be sure to let you know!

:~: Friday, January 11, 2008 :~:

What Would Your Hero Do?

Last night, I caught a few minutes of Notorious on the Biography channel. I’d seen the episode, about a daughter accused of helping her boyfriend kill her mother, once before, and the scene I walked in on last night was one the DH and I had talked about the first time around.

Backstory: The teenagers brutally murdered the mother, then left in her van, using the ATM card for money to fund a multi-state ride across I-10. They were finally stopped after a high-speed chase in Texas, in a county where the sheriff (not sure if he’s still in office) prides himself on keeping crime and those who err on the side of it out of his territory. So when he and other officers attempted to stop the van, the teens made an egregious error.

They didn’t stop.

Translation: I’m defying your authority. Heck, I’m giving your authority the finger, with both hands.

The sheriff and his deputies made them stop.

So the video . . . deputies have the two boys, suspected of carving up a woman, out on the side of the highway. They’re prone, about to be cuffed. The sheriff walks over and plants his boot in the driver’s ribs. Not a toe-first kick. A flat, tight, boot-to-the-ass kick. He did not commence to whup up on the boy, as my fifth period freshmen would put it. One very controlled, well-placed, I’m-top-dog-and-don’t-you-forget-it, you-don’t-run-from-me-in-my-county kick and he stepped away.

My first thought was “day-um.”

My second was, “If I let Tick or Cookie or whoever do that and subbed to a crit group, people would be screaming about non-heroic actions.”

What about realistic actions? We like cop heroes because they’re masculine and tough, men who live on the edge of danger. And sometimes real men who are masculine and tough, men who live at the fringes of danger, will plant a boot on your ass if you piss them off.

Example: High speed chase on the interstate, several city officers and county deputies involved. Two of the deputies are brothers with a close bond. The suspect rams the side of one’s car, sending his unit rolling several times down an embankment. Because the brother is the officer closest to the suspect now, he must stay in the chase. As medics and other officers race to check on his brother, he continues the pursuit. Finally, the suspect is stopped. The brother gets to him first and drags him from the car. Still unsure of his younger’s brother fate, he slams the suspect down on the hood of his own patrol unit to search and cuff him, probably a little harder than necessary, while snarling, “That’s for hitting my brother.” He didn’t shoot the guy or punch him or beat the snot out of him, all of which he told us later he wanted to do.

So, reigning in adrenaline and anger is heroic, right?

I think, as a reader, I forgive a lot. I mean, come on. I love Rhett Butler. Can’t make myself read the book again, but I love Rhett. He’s a cad. A scoundrel. Not hero-material.

And I firmly believe if you made the mistake of running from him, he’d place a boot to your ribs.
What realistic, yet borderline-unheroic behavior will you forgive your favorite heroes?


:~: Wednesday, January 09, 2008 :~:

Breathe...Just Breathe...

I'm a bit fried...hence my LOSER status in the POSTING department.

I'll spare you the gory details for now. Instead I'll torture you by telling you about them one by one.

Let's start with contest entries.

I just finished the score sheets and comments for 5 Gotcha Entries. They were due...today. I made it--with about an hour to spare.


I've done this a few years now. Every year after I spend hours upon hours judging and offering comments, constructive criticism and kudos, I swear I'm not doing it next year. And the next year the contest rolls around and they ask for volunteers, and I say, "Sure, I'll do it."

**smacking my forehead**

Man, done right, that is a time-consuming, draining exercises.

Have you/do you judge contests? Which ones? How much time do you put into them? Do you love it, hate it or are indifferent to it but do it to pitch in?


:~: Monday, January 07, 2008 :~:

Little Pearls

This time of year, all the buzz on blogs and loops and writers websites deal with goals and to-do lists, dreams and aspirations. We all have them. Some of us write them out and stick them on a big post-it board in our office, some of us make lists on our computers or on paper and stick them in a drawer, others of us keep them filed away in our heads. Whether you need to see those goals daily or simply think about them is up to you, but one thing I'm sure we all could use from time to time is a good dose of motivation. I know I sure do. Though my writing goals are ingrained in my head and I know where I'm going, a few reminders here and there that I'm on the right path as I make my way never hurts.

A very dear writer friend of mine got me a nifty little book for Christmas. It's called the Writer's Little Instruction Book: Inspiration & Motivation by Paul Raymond Martin. Now, I'm really not one for craft books, and most inspirational books just don't interest me, but this one is pocket-sized and instead of pages and pages of this-is-what-you-need-to-do-to-stay-motivated instructions, it's simply full of one-liners - pearls of wisdom that make you stop, think, and realize you're on the right road to get to your goal. And wow, yeah, it is inspirational all by itself.

I'm going to share some of my favorite quotes from the book here:

Writing is the only known cure for not writing.

Writer's block does not spring upon one full blown; it worms its way into your consciousness. Dispel the first and every subsequent niggling doubt.

A negative attitude will erode your creative landscape more surely than a torrent of criticism.

Writers make sentences. Wanna-bes make excuses.

You needn't be in control of your material to begin writing - only to finish.

Write what won't let you sleep in the middle of the night.

Your favorite piece of writing will always be your next one.

Focus on identifying what is wrong, not on fixing it. Fixing comes later.

The best thing about writing? There is no wrong way to do it.

Working writers hardly ever write well on the first try. It usually takes many rewrites to write well. Even for famous writers.

Don't talk yourself out of a story. Instead, write the story out of yourself.

Writing generates inspiration. Not the other way around.

and finally,

A person may be born with the potential to be a writer, but every writer is self-made.

Do you have any quotes that inspire you to keep reaching for your dream?

:~: Friday, January 04, 2008 :~:

Time's Not A' Wastin'!

I returned to work today, after a lovely two weeks of holiday break.

Oh. My. God.

Here's what lies on my plate for the next two weeks:

1) Edits on ABM due Jan. 18.
2) Print galleys for TAC due. . . Jan. 18.
3) Two papers, two discussion postings and follow-ups, two quizzes, all the reading etc. for my graduate courses.
4) Begin teaching The Scarlet Letter.
5) Begin teaching Macbeth.
6) Begin teaching Romeo & Juliet.
7) Begin the Personal Research Project for my 11th graders.
8) Begin the I-search Research Project with my 9th graders.
9) Supervise the transition to semester two of the Senior Project with my 12th graders.
10) Grades due Jan. 8.

Did I mention my house is undergoing eight weeks' worth of intensive renovations?

There are also a pair of Monsters roaming my house who require clean clothes, sustenance and parental attention on a pretty regular basis.

There's no room for wasted time in my life. How do I stay on track? I keep a daily/weekly/monthly planner with me at all times. If it needs to get done, it goes in the planner. I set daily goals -- i.e., if ABM is 280 pages long and I have two weeks to get it edited, I need to do at least 20 pages a day to get it done. Ditto with TAC. So, for the next two weeks . . . 40 pages of editing, daily. No excuses. If I miss a day, it gets made up the next day.

I also set reminders into my Yahoo mail. This runs them along the bottom of my mail when I open it and sends me email reminders. I use this for things like my appointments to blog at my publisher blog, etc.

That's two ways I keep my head above water.

Do you have a full plate? What time management tips do you have to share?


:~: Monday, December 31, 2007 :~:

Into the Woods

Happy New Years to everyone!!! Looks like Joan is going to talk about resolutions, so I'll stick to fun medical facts for your fiction.

We all love to throw our Heroes curve balls, move them out of their comfort zones, give them physical challenges to overcome, and place them in life or death situations.

One of the most common of these is the wilderness--the stuff of Grimm fairy tales, boogey men and primal nightmares. But what to do once we get our characters out there in the deep, dark woods-- how do we realistically get them back to the ranch in one piece?

Let's use an example from one of my old manuscripts. The hero, Lucky, is a city boy, an ATF agent whose cover has been blown by some renegade militia types. Poor Lucky, he's been shot, the bad guys are hot on his tail, and the only place to go is into a wilderness area. Oh yeah, it's January and a nor'easter is heading right toward him.

What does our hero need right now to ensure his survival?

The most important survival tool is attitude. Not just a stubborn will to live, although that is vital, but also the ability to focus and prioritize, to accept that something bad has happened and move on, and to improvise, think outside the box.

Aron Ralston, the climber who amputated his own hand when pinned beneath a boulder, didn't waste time on self-recrimination. He spent five days improvising various methods to either move that boulder, attract help or free his arm. At the same time he also attended to his other physical needs: temperature stability, water, food.

Top of my wish list if I was stranded anywhere: duct tape.

Got a broken arm or leg? Duct tape holds your splint together. Deep cut or gunshot wound (as in Lucky's case)--duct tape holds the edges together or secures a dressing. By the way, your heroine can really help out if she's prepared for that time of the month-- maxipads make ideal dressings.

Need to build a shelter? Or make a pair of sunglasses so you don't go snow blind (punch a small hole in the duct tape for each eye to look through); wrap it around your ankles as gaiters to keep snow or water out; tape up a sprain; make a sling; blaze a trail; patch up some blisters (once applied, try not to remove it until you're back in civilization or major ouch); you can even fashion clothing from it!

A few trash bags can also come in handy. Lightweight, easy to carry, cheap and versatile. Got rain or snow--instant rain poncho. Need a shelter to bivouac the night in? Fill one with dry pine boughs or leaves, and you've got an itchy but warm sleeping bag. Or cut it open and use your duct tape to fashion a "pup" tent. You can also cut strips to blaze a trail or to use as lashing. Caught wearing sneakers in the snow? Make goulashes.

For first aid it gives you waterproof dressing material, also use the bag part (Ziploc bags work great for this as well) to flush out and irrigate wounds or burns. Just cut the corner off the bottom of the bag, fill with water, hold the top tight (or duct tape it) and poke a hole in the corner, and you have a high pressure irrigation system. And if you need to carry water but didn't bring your Camelbak, you can haul as much as you can carry.

What if you are caught out in the woods with "nothing"? Do a quick inventory, you'd be surprised what you really do have. Nasty gash on the scalp-- tie the edges together with your hair; it worked for the frontier pioneers. Got a broken arm or collarbone? Use the cuff button to attach your shirt sleeve to your collar and viola, instant sling.

Bitten by a snake and no Acewrap handy to use as a compression dressing to stop the venom flow--use your sock. (Note: compression means you can slip one finger beneath it--NOT a tourniquet, and please, no cutting and sucking snake bites! Depending on the kind of snake, almost half are "dry" or venom free, and all you're doing is making it worse by adding a laceration and your dirty mouth germs to an area that's already damaged.)

Fall in the water and need a flotation device? If you're wearing anything water repellant, take it off, tie it like a balloon and blow it up. This technique is one of the reasons people in Alaska swear by Carhartt clothing--there have been several people there literally saved by their pants!

Need lashing for a shelter or to make a splint? Shoelaces or your belt. Need a signal mirror--wearing any jewelry? Want a compass--use your watch, or make a "sundial" compass with a stick. Got matches but no dry tinder? How about the lining from inside your coat or fuzz from your socks?

You get the idea. Remember, attitude is the most important survival tool there is, followed by imagination. Writers, with our positive, no quit attitudes and familiarity with the realm of possibilities, should make for the perfect survivalists!

Anyone with their own wilderness survival techniques or stories? I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!


:~: Wednesday, December 26, 2007 :~:

Holiday Hibernation?

Has your laptop keyboard seen more of the screen than you have lately? (In other words, has it been closed more than open?)

Holidays, whether filled with joyous family or barely tolerable in laws (or even vice versa) are busy. Visits, dinners, parties, cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating...it can be both exhilarating and exhausting.

I haven't been as sluggish with my writing this holiday season as I usually am. I attribute that to my new Alphasmart. Maybe because it's portability is working for me. Maybe because it's still a new toy I like to play with. Maybe because I've been working on breaking through my creativity blocks and pushing past the apprehension of writing new.

Whatever it is, I'm writing.

Has your holiday this year been hectic or harmonious? Productive or futile? Mine's been both hectic and productive. I can't say there's been anything harmonious about it, although I'm home for New Years with 4 days off. The bedroom-slash-office is going to get cleaned and organized even if it kills me...which it might.

Next week I'll talk about goals/resolutions for the coming year...put on your thinking caps so we can chat about it.

Wishing everyone a published new year. :-)