Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting Down and Dirty

With Editing. No, really.
I’m working hard at it with C&C, trying to get the first 25 pages super perfect because I am going to send it into another contest. Oh, there’s so much work to be done. But I haven’t been dragging my feet, I haven’t been going, oh God why am I doing this to myself. In fact, I think with the judges’ comments from the Weta Nichols Writing Contest, it’s gone smoother.
I’ve done a little playing with Jonah’s character and I think he’s going to work out much better as the story progresses. I’ve taken some advice from other crits about some parts of the story and I’m revamping those too. I’m changing some elements and in the end it is going to be a better story.
I miss the fun, wild, crazy ride that was TRS and TT, but they’re there waiting in the wings. I haven’t forgotten them, but this has been a long time coming. Now, to stay on it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Keeping Your Part of the Bargain

Never mind that it was a bargain I made with myself.
Thirty thousand, one hundred seventy-six words. There. Treacherous Tumbles is finished. Not edited in the least, but finished. Wow, was that ever the kind of wild ride I never thought I’d go on. It was definately different and a lot *ahem* naughtier than anything else I’ve written.
I had a minor freakout last night when I went to open the TT file. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I searched and wondered if I’d moved it somewhere else. I found the stuff I’ve cut from it but not TT file. And then I had to laugh at myself because TT was never filed as TT. It’s always been filed as Decker, since it didn’t have a title when I started writing it. Whew.
And now, for your view pleasure (or not, whichever): A snippet from Treacherous Tumbles.
The blurb: Texas Ranger Byron Decker has sworn to protect the state against outlaws. But who will save him from the devil’s harpies?
Widow Priscilla Patton has loved Deck since her school days, but no amount of cajoling can convince the carefree Ranger to make an honest woman of her. A rift between them sends him straight into the arms of a murderous boo hag, a demon sent to collect souls for the devil. Armed with only a cryptic old story and her love for Deck, Priscilla must destroy the hags or lose her true love and maybe her life.
The door opened again, filled with dark figures. One stepped into the dying sunlight. Her skin was fiery red as though flayed and raw. Bulging muscles flexed in big thighs as she came down the porch steps. Boo hag in truest form. A row of white, bone-like knots ran down her back. She was much larger than she looked in human skin.
Another followed. Decker saw blackened scars on her shoulder and chest, evidence of the bullets that had wounded Mona’s evil hide. The trouble was, the damage didn’t appear to hinder her. She moved as fluidly as her sisters. The last hag joined them on the ground. A wicked smile formed on her face.
“Finish the dear widow off, but remember the ranger is mine,” Mona hissed.
A sharp gasp pulled his attention away from the hags. Priscilla opened her mouth to scream, but he slapped his hand across her mouth muffling the noise. Her eyes were round and wide. Sprawled across the toe of her shoe was a hairy black tarantula. It tapped a leg against the boot leather and twitched its feelers.
Fighting the urge to swear, he looked back at the boo hags. One sniffed the air, curling back her lips as though she sensed their presence.
“Rain tonight, sisters. We’d better hurry,” she said at last. “I don’t want to crawl back into my skin wet and cold. We need souls to keep us strong. I can’t wait to finish off the blacksmith.”
Without any magic Decker could see, they rose from the ground and were gone in a blur of red. The yard looked as though it never played host to three demons.
Priscilla’s gaze hadn’t strayed from her furry visitor. It had taken several steps and was a good foot away from her, but her lips were pursed tight.
“Step on it. Please?” she pleaded in a whisper.
“Leave it alone. Jesus, I thought we were spotted for sure.”
“Ugh, they probably sense evil and the house is crawling with them.” She shuddered, rubbing her arms like she was afraid spiders were all over her.
“I’ll check you for bugs later. Get the paint. We’ll have to hurry.” The demons were right, the scent of rain was on the air.
God, let it hold off for a few hours.
So few things scared him in life, but breaking into the house that demons called home scared the starch out of him. It wasn’t just Priscilla’s safety he had to think of, it was the entire town. If they boo hags were left to devour Austin it would become another ghost town, a memory and someday it might be completely wiped from the map.
Not while Byron Decker was on the job.
What to do with TT? Erm, well, it’s a little bit disturbing toward the end, so I’m not sure. Not that I didn’t give the characters their well-deserved HEA, but it does get a little gruesome before that. Um… yeah I don’t know.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Boredome Whip O' Doom

I haven’t finished TT. I haven’t finished or edited or done much of anything lately.Lazy. I’m not even going to try to defend myself.
I did finish both of Kimberly Killion’s books. I really enjoyed Her One Desire, very well written and unfortunately I’ve been thinking in a Scottish burr for the last two days. I’ve really got to stop that.
I’m bored. Bored with trying to edit, bored with trying to finish TT, bored, bored, bored. They say boredom leads to death. Well, that’s not good. You know what I need?
A slave driver.
Someone who’s going to say: Have you done any writing or editing today?
And when I say no (probably in a whiny voice), that person is going to crack the black whip o’ boredom doom and make me get to work. Here I always thought I needed minions, but turns out I need someone to put me in line.
Well, as I’m alone at the mo’ and have no one to brandish said whip, I guess I’ll wave it around, skip rope with it—at which point, I’ll no doubt fall flat on my face—and then make a goal for myself.
Goal: Finish TT. Tonight. A minimum of 1000 words, but preferably more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ORA Conference 2010

Between you and me, I’d have said you’d had one too many drinks if anyone was passing out awards for C&C. I’m flattered and a little bit awestruck.
Maybe I shouldn’t be peeking at the chapter as I post this blog. It might be the wrong thing to do. Deep, deep, deep down, I love this story. But on the surface, I sort of cringe every time I look at it. Like I planned it to be my greatest triumph, the “child” I groomed from day one, my show pony and it flopped, forgot a spelling word, or broke a leg and we had to put it out of it’s misery.
It was a struggle, word for word, scene for scene, stubborn Jonah bit after stubborn Jonah bit. The man couldn’t have co-operated with me any less if he was a real man! Honorable Mention. Wow. So, at least the first chapter isn’t all bad. I’m almost dreading finding out the feed back for it. Like ripping a Band-Aid off, you put that moment off because you know it’ll hurt. Luckily, I don’t have to fret over it today. Whew.
See, this just goes to show you have to have awesome critique partners. If you write and you don’t have crit partners, get one or some or whatever. The input is so valuable. Thanks to all of my awesome partners, you’re brilliant!
Honestly? I didn’t think it stood a chance. I heard how many entries there were, but I forget now. It was 50ish at least and some from Canada. I was stunned when For Everything A Time placed second in a national contest. I’m totally blown away that the Weta Nichols Award went international and C&C got an Honorable Mention. Holy cow.
Enough about me. The conference was great. I have photos, but they’re lousy. 
So much work went into the conference and it turned out beautifully. The speakers were so nice, I actually sat catty-corner from Kimberly Killion at dinner Friday night and she’s a riot. I won her two books in a really nice basket as a door prize, I can’t wait to start reading them and anyone who followed me on blogspot will know that Megan Kelly stopped by and posted that she was excited to come to the conference, so you know she’s cool. Ginger Kolbaba was a hoot and Mary-Lane Kamberg read some really funny stuff she’s written to give us an idea of how to do humor writing. Good stuff!
Honorable Mention. That’s me. Has my name on the certificate. Going on the wall. Uh-huh.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Part Where My Brain Went on Vacation

I thought I’d give you a laugh at my expense. Might as well, right? I already embarrassed myself in front of no less than 10 people, might as well let the world know.
I saw an ad advertising opening at the B-town zipline. Know what a zipline is? You strap yourself into the one of the most uncomfortable pieces of equipment on God’s green earth, climb a tower and step of a tiny platform into thin air 125 feet off the ground while you zoom at unbelievable speeds to another tower.
Some people are born with invisible tattoos on their foreheads that say “Do NOT under any circumstances let (your name here) take a job doing (insert job title here).” My invisible tattoo says “Do NOT under any circumstances let Allison take a job doing ANYTHING involving heights.”
I ignored the tattoo and applied for the job. I got an interview. It went well. Until the GM said come back tonight at 7, we’re going to get high. I’m no dummy, I knew that meant I was going zipping. Okay, I’m a self-proclaimed wilderness adventurer. I’ll do the zip. I will conquer the zipline.
I was nervous all day. I don’t like heights. It’s kind of like telling people I’m afraid of snakes. The only reason I’m afraid of snakes is because society taught me to be afraid of snakes. I’m afraid of heights because society says heights are scary. Well, that’s not true. Heights are kind of scary, but not as scary as actually falling. And falling isn’t as scary as hitting the ground. Also, I’m a control freak. I want to be in control of my immediate environment.
I showed up at seven. I got strapped into a body harness and they guide tried to kill me by strapping it so tight I couldn’t breath. Better to suffocate than go splat, right? About twenty feet up the tower I was ready to turn around and go back to the car. The only thing stopping me was the seven people standing behind me.
The GM zipped. The guy in front of me zipped. I couldn’t see a thing from my position. The only other woman to apply zipped. I could finally see. And I was horrified. The ground… it was so far away. Wonderful, solid ground. The tower was shaking in the wind and from the people standing on it. The air was suddenly gone and my heart was racing. The guy in front of me zipped. And then it was my turn. The tower 100 feet away looked more like ten miles. The guide clipped me to the wire-thingy and said whenever I was ready. No sense making a fool of myself, so I stepped into nothingness.
As I turned in mid-air with my back to the tower I was supposed to be landing on, my choice of words weren’t too pretty. I was supposed to be enjoying the view, but all I could think was holy crap, why am I going so fast, slow down!
I kicked my legs, trying to turn around so I could see where I was supposed to land. Finally, I got around and the guide on the other side yelled for me to raise my legs. I landed and realized I didn’t have legs anymore. I could barely stand up I was shaking so bad.
They unhooked me from the zipline, but to my horror, hooked me to another line. At this point, it didn’t occur to me how I was going to get down. I enjoyed watching the other guys zoom across. One stuck his hand out, eyes as big as his head. Clearly, he wasn’t too happy about the sudden landing either. When we were all across, they hooked us one by one to the safety device that enables the guides to walk out on the tiny deck where you have to go to “catch” some of the heavier people that might incur a rough landing. All the way to the end. It slants at an impossible angle. You know, that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the way the tower sways. That’s not cool.
Then, the more horrific part of all. Getting down. I wanted down. I wanted to kiss the ground and promise never to leave it again. I didn’t know I would have to step off that wobbly platform and fall 100 feet. Seriously, I was looking for the stairs. How can they not have stairs?
I looked down and 100 feet might as well have been all the way to New Zealand. I forgot I was strapped to anything, I forgot there were other people there and I forgot I had any common sense. I wanted down, but I didn’t want down that bad. The guide told me to take my time, do it when I was ready. Okay, see you tomorrow. I’ll sleep here tonight. I started rambling but I can’t tell you what I said. I’m sure there was something about stairs and a couple of ‘oh, god’s’ in there somewhere. I honestly expected stairs to magically appear.
I should’ve closed my eyes and stepped off. Instead, moron than I am, I kept them peeled. For several feet it’s kind of like free falling. I watched the blue rubber mulch rise and meet me and just knew it was going to hurt like hell when I hit. I forgot to keep my legs straight. The guide at the bottom said just a few seconds too late to straighten them. I barely got my feet down when I hit my knees. Hard. I don’t think my legs were capable of holding weight for a few seconds.
The ground. Precious, beautiful, wonderful, unmoving–to the human eye–ground. I staggered toward the exit–in entirely the wrong direction–my poor brain hadn’t caught up with me yet. It was still waiting to do the zipline, I think.
If the freak out on the platform didn’t ruin my chances for the job, the poor landing did. If I’d known there was a 100 foot drop, I’d never have gone back for that second interview. An angled drop, I could’ve handled, but for some reason looking straight down almost caused me to need new pants. I think if they’d given me the shot to do it again, I could’ve done it. Since I was already harnessed and what not. Since I knew what to expect. But no one explained the 100 foot drop. It wa kind of like telling me to stick my hand into an enclosed box that might or might not contain a rattlesnake. People pay money to fall a hundred feet? What is wrong with you people? Gliding along at ridiculous speeds, sure. Dropping–no way!
I could’ve just walked away. Well, limped. My right knee was killing me, but in front of all those men. Huh, I still had the tiniest scrap of pride left. So I stood there with my knees smarting and dripping sweat, because sorry to say I sweat really bad when I’m nervous. And I was dying of thirst because I also get really thirsty when I’m nervous. It was a big relief to get back in the car.
So, if you really are a wilderness adventurer and it’s not just something you say, I recommend ziplining. There are several in the B-town area. Me, I’m going to to stay on the ground. If God wanted me to climb trees, He’d have given me long toenails. If He wanted me to fly, He’d have given me wings. But He gave me two feet with high arches and said, “Walk.” Not a problem.
I’ve swam with the deadly sting rays in Grand Cayman. I’ve climbed the 1000 ft waterfall at Dunns River in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. And now I’ve done the Blue Streak in the Ozark Mountains. Lucky I didn’t leave a brown streak along the way.