Thursday, July 28, 2011

Does your writing career have muscle?

First, here's a great article to frame this topic. It's written by a Sourcebooks editor about getting "the call", and I'm talking the BIG call. The one that means your book will soon be sitting pretty on a shelf.

When considering taking on a new author, one of the things an editor looks for is the broad scope. If they like this writer's book/work, the next thing they'd like to know (especially if it's a stand alone novel) is what else that author might be working on.

This is to ensure that said author is not just a one hit wonder. Every editor wants to know their writers have a career arc ... big literary biceps.

When I signed with Agent Goddess, one of the first things she asked me was: "What other book ideas do you have in mind?" And I stayed up one night writing five book blurbs for the stories that were spinning in my head. Now that I'm being subbed to publishers, I'm thrilled I took the time to do that, even more thrilled my agent had the foresight to instigate that brainstorming session.

Have you taken the time to write up a few short blurbs? It never hurts to be ahead of the game. Even if you're still in the phase of seeking an agent, have those ideas ready. Nothing can turn a prospective partner's head like showing a little muscle.

**Heads up to all my blogging pals ... if I haven't visited you this week, it's not becuase I've lost the love. My son just turned fifteen (EGADS) and we're celebrating this week, so it's crazytime at the Howard homestead. Just know I'll be by soon!**

Happy weekend, all!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In the absence of words...

A typical work week for me is sitting in front of the computer for 8 to 10 hours a day, no weekends off (with small breaks in between to chauffeur kids around, make meals, or do laundry and occasionally but rarely housework--ha!). The majority of this time, I'm either writing words on my latest project or an interview, fixing words for my editor, or exchanging words (fun and amicable ones, of course) online via social media.

So much time spent with text can be mind-numbing. And sometimes I need a break from all the letters of the alphabet running tangents through my head. One of my favorite escapes is music. Even better if I can find music that tells a story ... because at my heart I'm a storyteller, and that's something I never tire of.

So, for any of you who've been slaving over sentences and scenes or even just typing up things for your boss or your business, I offer this haitus via a beautiful heartbreaking story set in a post-apocolyptic setting, told only through song and computer animation. A feast for the ears and eyes, and an escape for the weary mind.


Note: I am not the creator of this video. I found it on Youtube and fell madly in love. It's actually a clip from a short movie that has words spoken throughout. Here's the link for anyone interested in watching the original.

Thank you for indulging my tribute to the muse of music, and have a lovely week. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Please drop back by on Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)

Crow’s Feet
~ Tina Gray

Tiny seeds of youth are these…
the trinkets of our heritage bound as treasures
in dusty boxes and crinkled brown papers.

We linger in our attics like hungry crows,
seeking with rickety beaks
for the soul’s bloodmeal-
the substance of a dimming past.

Feeding late into the night as our lights blur
and our candles drizzle to stocky stumps of wax… 
we gobble up this moth-eaten reserve
filling our paunches to brim
with temporal gratification.

Grazing upon the faces of beloved lost ones,
existing now to us only as flavorless fillings
sandwiched between crinkly crusts of cellophane.

We putter upon aging feet…
fluttering lame limbs no longer capable of flight
-now simply mementos
flapping through showers of dust.

We perch atop splintered wooden horses
and scramble through threadbare muslin dolls-
glutting on the ageless beauty of tattered quilts,
salivating over strands of tarnished pearls.
In our desperation, we feed in a ravenous frenzy-
believing the seed awaits -
secured in crates
enameled by the snowy plush of time.

Yet by daring to intrude, we break the spell
inside this preserve of unbroken hours.
We taint the spotless climb with tender prints,
and shiver, bare and featherless in the bitter cold.
Any remaining hopes waft away
Like chafe upon the harsh winds of reality
as we realize the seeds have blossomed and withered,
never to be reclaimed…
All that remains are the spatterings of crow’s feet,
trudging a trail of discontented longing
upon today’s dusty shrouds of nevermore.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Attack of the Bloodsucking Pygmy Goats...

Nope, it's not my usual posting day. Once again, zaniness has infected my blog. The talented Miss Michelle Simkins has knitted a most adorably cute and creepy zombunny named Ryan:

He's one of a kind (and shares my son's name), so I must needs to have him! I'd like to prop him cozily beside my keyboard and sing happy songs to him each day. But I'm not the only one who wants him *eyes Justin warily*. Michelle, in her generosity, has concocted a contest to settle the question of Ryan's destination.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to, "Create something involving some kind of cute fuzzy thing that is also a monster. Whatever you like, so long as it is cute evil."


I accept your challenge, oh Michelle of the brilliant nonsense!

Introducing Clive, the Bloodsucking Pygmy Goat, in a silent movie adaptation of his evil night on the town.

Thank you, Clive! Take a bow for the audience.

Ermmm. He's looking a little hungry, so we should move along to the credits. I'd like to thank Kevin Macleod for providing the free royalty-free song clip at his website:  And google images for providing the silent film stills and intertitles.

Disclaimer: No salesgirls were harmed in the making of this film. Any transfer of blood was consensual and soon forgotten.  

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend, everyone! (Watch the skies ... those might be more than bats up there.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wherein a shoe has a soul...

Lately, upon realizing how many of my stories have secondary "characters" that are inanimate objects, I started pondering how often writers do this, giving life and breath to objects--maybe without even being aware of it.

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights is a perfect example, where the house itself becomes a character in the book. Ms. Bronte flawlessly wove personality into the surroundings by using melancholy and unnerving descriptions so that the house and setting emanate actual emotions: anger, hatred and jealousy.

Here's a quote taken from an online essay: “Wuthering Heights ... suffers from a kind of malnutrition: its thorns have become barren, its firs stunted, everything seems to crave for the ‘alms of the sun’ that sustain life.”

Throughout Ms. Bronte's story, the characters fall into despair, madness, and unrequited love: a self-fulfilling prophecy mirroring the home's ugliness and dilapidation. The proper literary term for this is objective correlative (thank you, Mary, for the terminology and the linkage!).

In one of my historical love stories, there's a pair of 16th century Italian shoes which harbors a gypsy curse and has an amusing yet creepy tendency to move about without a wearer. The heroine is drawn to the shoes, almost to the point of obsession. They hold a mystical power over her, even without her realizing they also hold the secret of her lost past.

Another example is my gothic literary love story, where a flower which embodies a man's spirit becomes an active participant in the intensely emotional relationship between the ghost and the flower's keeper, a young deaf woman.

Even in my SPLINTERED MS, worn-out and mutilated toys play too big of a role to be considered mere objects.

Anytime an "inanimate thing" serves as a game player or mirrors the characters and their arcs, it evolves to more than just a prop. It takes an active role in the plot, a role that without which, the story wouldn't survive. Thus it becomes -- for lack of a better description -- a character. Within the confines of the story, it develops a soul.

Looking back on your stories or WIPs, can you find any objects that could be considered pivotal characters?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Posie & Mosey Mondays

On Mondays, I like to share word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy this gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Please drop back by on Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)

Sleeping at Last
~Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)

Sleeping at last, the struggle and horror past,
Sleeping at last, the trouble and tumult over,
Cold and white, out of sight of friend and of lover,
Sleeping at last.

No more a tired heart downcast or overcaset,
No more pants that wring or shifting fears that hover,
Sleeping at last in a dreamless sleep locked fast.

Fast asleep. Singing birds in their leafy cover
Cannot wake her, nor shake her the gusty blast.
Under the purple thyme and the purple clover
Sleeping at last.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Personally, I like panties.

So I'm glad I got tagged. Thanks Michelle!

Without further adieu, I give you Greenwoman's Diabolical Panty Meme to end all memes (about underclothes)!

Disclaimer: The following answers may or may not be true. Some fake answers may have been used to tickle the funny bones of innocent readers.

What do you call your panties / underwear / undergarments? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?
Yes! Optional.

Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?
Sigh. It pains me to relive this ... but ... my panties were at my ankles, and well, no one would pull them up for me! *shivers*

What is the worst thing you can think of to make panties out of?

If you were a pair of panties, what color would you be, and WHY?
Every-color-of-the-rainbow-striped. Because I’m pc. Plus, they would look like Fruity Striped gum. ;)

Have you ever thrown your panties/underwear at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your panties/underwear at, given the opportunity?
Cap’n Jack Sparrow. But only on the high seas.

You’re out of clean panties. What do you do?
Two words: saran wrap.

Are you old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?
Do I remember them? I still wear them, yo! Check it OUT.

If you could have any message printed on your panties, what would it be?
Here’s the line up for my proposed Latin Days of the Week panties:

Monday: Nullo modo = No way.
Tuesday: Parve leves capiunt animos = Small things affect light minds.
Wednesday: Laborare non amo = I do not like to work.
Thursday: Semper ubi sub ubi = Always wear underwear.
Friday: Quisque comodeus est = Everybody is a comedian.
Saturday: Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre? = Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?
Sunday: Lege atque lacrima = Read'em and weep.

How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?
That depends, are the bloggers from Texas? Cuz it’s not looking too hopeful for these two cowboys. My odds are on the goat. He's looking a little mad...

Tag Four People and tell them why you are being so cruel to them.
1. Taryn because I like you almost as much as I like panties! And that's saying A LOT.
2. A.M. Supinger because I'm jealous of your rose tattoo.
3. Riley because you're one of the newest members of the #goatposse. Welcome to #goathazing101!
4. Aryn, because you don't have enough to do with all that moving and fighting off gnomes, etc...
Default 5. Any member of the #goatposse who reads this and hasn't been tagged is now tagged by default. You know who you are!

Congratulations and condolences to all of the nominees! Oh, and have a super fantastic weekend. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Step inside my fantasy...

Those of you who were lured over by my sultry voice and come-hither title, shame on you! This isn't one of THOSE kinds of blogs. But just to keep everyone satisfied, here's a crumb for any first-time naughty visitors:

Today I want to share the fantasies that keep my publishing dream alive, and also find out what you do to keep the faith while you wait. Because as we know, it's all about waiting in this biz.

(And no matter what you hear from Kalen, he SO did not think of this post first. Rookstar can attest that I emailed her with this idea the night before he posted on a similar subject. All I have to say to that is: collective consciousness.) Hee ;-)

When the writing well runs dry and the patience runs thin, I have to find an escape. But because I live and breathe my characters / stories, even my fantasies revolve around them.

I have a wonderful program called Adobe Fireworks that allows me to blend and doctor photos to fit any motif I choose. I used it to make the pictures for my Splintered Book Trailer, as well as my Writing is Like trailer.

And I also use it to make mock-up book covers.

This is for one of my early dark fantasies. Inspired in part by the movie, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, Nocturnus introduces a powerful clan of female halfling vampires who dress as geishas and hold galas to entrance men and siphon small amounts of blood, curbing their thirst without resorting to murder.

And this is the imagined cover for my YA Alice in Wonderland spin off about Alyssa Gardner, the great-great-great granddaughter of Alice Liddell (real life inspiration for the heroine of the famed Lewis Carroll novel). This is what Alyssa looks like after she stumbles into Wonderland. And everything in the above mock-up plays a part in the actual storyline: the bloody roses, the sparkles in the distance, even the mutilated teddy bear. But you'll have to read the story to understand. :)

Your turn! What do you do to feed your writing dream and keep it alive while you wait? Do you think up character questionnaires or interviews? Maybe you sketch your characters, or the settings they inhabit, even draw maps. Could be you're one of the lucky few who actually gets to travel to the locale of your story. Daydreaming of your characters also counts! I even met a writer once who made "movie posters" for her novels.

I shared my secret playground. If you're willing, share yours. I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Posie & Mosey Mondays

A posie is a tiny flower bouquet typically given as a gift. In medieval times, they were carried or worn around the head or bodice to keep the bad smells away and the nose happy.

Well, that's kind of what poems are for me. Word posies: little bouquets of words that though smaller than novels, keep my inner reader happy with powerful sensory and emotive cues.

On Mondays, I like to share these word posies with my readers. Comments are disabled so you can enjoy the gift of poetry then mosey on along to your list of daily do's.*

Please drop back by on Wednesday, my interactive blogging day of the week. Until then, have a lovely and productive Monday and Tuesday.

*Hungry for more in-depth Monday posts? Visit any or all of the entertaining and insightful blogs on my sidebar. ;)

A Birthday~
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow's shell
That paddles in a halycon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleur-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meme of Maniacal MADNESS

This is the BEST Meme I've ever come across. Why? Because my little madling, Miss Jenny Phresh, conjured it up in the dark recesses of her mind after I tagged her with a more traditional meme. Jenny's version is so heinously imaginative, it brought me out of my usual blogging haitus just to post it! The questions in peach are her brainchildren. Now sit back and enjoy the brilliant madness that is Jenny. :)

Are you a rutabaga?
Nope. I’m the illegitimate love child of a cabbage and a turnip. Oh, wait…

When was the last time you ate lion meat?
Does lion blood count? In my previous life I was a tick in Africa.

Upload a heartwarming picture of something that makes you smile.
(The last known sighting of Hoops and Yoyo.) Yes, their disappearance was tragic and suspicious. But doesn’t Humpty’s goofy grin make you forget all those ugly accusations and negative press releases?
C’mon! He’s a happy pill incarnate.

If you could go back in time and kick the crap out of someone, who would it be?
That bully who messed with my pony girl in 9th grade, Jujyfruit Assbat! In fact, I’m thinking the goat posse needs to band up and hunt down that sucker. Cloven feet unite!!

Name one habit that makes other people plot your demise.
My obsession with Hoops and Yoyo. I rain down e-cards on inboxes almost daily—for no apparent reason.

What song would you like to be playing while you are kicking the crap out of someone?
The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony. Kicking the crap out of peeps slow-mo-movie-style ROX.

Where da muffin top at?
Just below Humpty’s necktie.

How many goats, stacked atop one another like Yertle's Turtles, would it take to reach the moon?
That depends. Are the goats wearing platform shoes with their pants?

Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.
I only know Pig Latin. So: Illigitimateway egetablevay ithway away enchantpay orfay andomlyray ailingmay unnecessaryway ardscay.

Why does evil exist?
Erm. I think I’d rather answer the chicken meat question again.

What the chiz are you thinking right now?
That I need all of your email addresses.

As the rules state, I can tag as many or few peeps as I want.  I'm tagging five of my cool blogger pals, in hopes they'll play along and pass on the lunacy. Let's make this puppy go viral!

1. Keriann Greaney Martin
2. Sophia Richardson
3. KV Taylor
4. Huntress
5. Kerri Maniscalco

Pick a funny nickname for number 1.
Fried Butter Gert.

Make up a rhyme about number 2.
She has a fine cottage on fantasy lane
With goblins to tend to the plumbing and drains.
She grows many fruits of the succulent kind,
And weaves lovely stories in her dazzling mind.

Where would number 3 hide in the event of the apocalypse?
In the trunk of Neil Gaiman's car. 

Where does number 4 purchase her pants?
At the Disney store on the Winnie the Pooh aisle.

What would number 5's favorite dance move be?
The twinkie tumble.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A little Meme and a lot of You-you.

As I mentioned last week, I've been tagged by my fleet-footed Goblin Market sister, Miss Sophia Richardson. One of the things I like about this particular meme, is it's only partly about me. The last half of the questions made me spill the beans on what I think about my blogging pals. So if you're one of the names listed below, today's your day of reckoning, yo! Heh.

And we're off!

Do you think you're hot?

Ever heard of body dysmorphic disorder? I’m almost 100 percent convinced Michael Jackson suffered from this condition. My husband insists I have a touch of it. Not to the extreme that I do harmful or surgical things to my body to fix myself, but enough that I can never measure up to what I consider beautiful. I’ve been known to obsess about my nose, toes, or tushie for weeks on end before letting it fall by the wayside for a new bodily / facial obsession. Fact is, the person whose opinion matters most is my significant other, and he seems happy enough with his lot in life, so let’s leave it at that and move on to a less humiliating question.  ;)

Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.

This picture inspired the premise for my latest WIP, a YA Phantom of the Opera spinoff. I usually use wallpaper that ties in with what I’m writing at the moment, so it seemed apropos.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

Erm, what a random and strange question. LOL. Okay, last Friday while on vacation I had chicken sliders from Dave and Busters in Kansas City, MO.

List the songs you listened to recently.

Right now, I'm listening to the playlist for my WIP. There are over 50 titles, but here's the first ten. Lots of mood pieces to reflect the gothic and melancholy tone of the story.

The Crow & The Butterfly - Shinedown
Serenity - Lisa Gerrard
Scary Fragile - Butterfly Boucher
Sigh of Relief - Arcana
Familiar Taste of Poison - Halestorm
Gothic Winter - Nox Arcana
Stronger - 30 Seconds to Mars
Libera Me - Elliot Goldenthal
The Lonely - Christina Perri
Lullaby - Christian Henson

What were you thinking as you were doing this?


Do you have nicknames?

Husband calls me Wif. I’m Kumquat to the gals in my crit group due to a comment an angel-reader made when she came to one of our sessions upon our request. That was an interesting experience and a post for another time…

Father-in-law calls me Blondie. And I’ll always be my Dad’s butter gert, because I used to LOVE butter (back when I had a kid’s metabolism—heh). 

Tag eight Blogger friends.

(And just so no one reads anything into the listing order, they’re alphabetical. Ha. No partiality here, folks.)

1. Angela
2. Ashley Nixon
3. Bethany
4. Cherie
5. Jenny Phresh
6. Marewolf
7. Mary

8. Mindy

Who's listed at number 1?

Angela. One of the things that drew me to her blog is her honesty, positivity, and adorable profile picture. Hee. I’m not a creeper, I swear. She just looks so sweet and approachable, and that’s exactly how her posts are written and why she’s one of my fave blogger pals. Check out this post if you don't believe me.

Say something about number 5.

Jenny, my pony of many hats (aka Phresh, Pony Girl, Grocery Cart Activist, Goat Herder Extraordinaire and the list goes on…). What can I say about someone so unique and wonderful? When I found her blog from Query Tracker, all it took was reading this one post and I was hooked. Jenny doesn’t see the world through rose colored glasses; she sees it through a kaleidoscope: a dazzling and dithyrambic landscape of emotion, from sardonic and silly to heartrending and poignant. Just when you think you can’t laugh any harder without busting a gut, she’ll flip the same post around to something so beautiful and thought-provoking your eyes fill with tears and your heart melts. That is pure talent and honesty. Okay, so I’m gushing. I can’t help it. I want her to remember this post one day when she’s too rich and famous to remember me. ;)

How did you get to know number 3?

Bethany is my Sound of Music soul sistah. In fact, when she first hopped onto twitter, she sported a Maria profile pic. But now she's gone and got all professional because she's AGENTED (Woot!!) so she's showing off her Shakira locks to the world. Oh, but I digress. I'm supposed to say how we met. Bethany actually found my website from Query Tracker and emailed me, thanking me for the encouragement and support I gave to the other writers there in the threads. Yes folks, she is THAT nice and awesome! I emailed her back, visited her blog, laughed at her delightful wit, and a beautiful friendship was born. :) So, thanks for reaching out, Bethany girl.

How about number 4?

I met the effervescent and sparkly Cherie when she played the first contest I had on this blog.  I hopped over to her profile page (as I’m prone to do when someone I’ve never met comments on mine) and was so impressed by who she is as a person. This post here is only a taste of her giving and generous heart, which is what keeps me following her to this day. She is a giver: writing tips, funny comics to make us smile, twitter tips, and glimpses of her amazing prose and positive outlook on life, just to name a few. Cherie is a classy and elegant lady who blesses everyone she meets. BTW, loving the soundtrack on your blog of late, my dear.

Leave a message for number 6.

Marewolf, my witty and candid friend. Thank you for always making me smile with your sarcastic yet informative posts. Also, I’ll never look at foreplay the same again because of you. And anyone reading this with your mind in the gutter and making naughty assumptions, have a look at this post. Now that I’ve cleared that up, it’s safe for me to say that I love you, blog sister.

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number 2.

You mean, even mushier than the one I left above for Mare? Jeeps … this is about to get really embarrassing. Ashley, you’re beautiful, sweet, and radiant! If I had eight legs and a set of spinnerets, I’d write it in web all across your blog! Also, reading your posts makes me feel young again and your pirate heroes are VERY hawt. Hee. Lastly, I envy you your new car even though you deserve it because of the aforementioned attributes. Is that mushy enough?

Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities?

They are both aces with rolling out the writer interviews and networking. Their blogs are always fun and informative. And they’re also two of my fave twitter pals (which honestly could be said about all of my tagees -- er, except Ashley. Ashley, get your bootie over to twitter!). ;)

Woohoo! I survived, hopefully unscathed though I’m blushing from all of my confessions and gushings. Good luck to everyone I tagged. If you've already been tagged for this meme, no probs. I can’t wait to see your answers either way. Oh, and if you don't feel like doing the meme, that's fine too. I'll still like you all the same.

If I didn’t get you this time around, be on your toes! I’ve been tagged w/another meme recently by the brilliant Carissa -- our resident bathing daredevil -- which I will be posting within the next few weeks or so. For now, happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Posie & Mosey Monday: In honor of our heroes on this Fourth of July...

~Tina Gray

All is quiet…
a sinister silence unique to a land
swallowed in ash and smoke.
As weapons deploy,
a fuming veil surrounds the godless void.

He rises alone,
creeping on his belly like an eel
along a cinder sea-floor
of soot and grim fate.
In his weary heart he harbors a forged hate
against a race of unseen faces.

Tears moisten his tired eyes-
not spawned of fear nor pain,
triggered instead by an ashen rain
falling in tufts – ebony as raven’s down.

He stumbles upon a marshland
and cleanses his filth
with a cascade of stagnant paradise.
His happiness doesn’t hinge on
filtered water or fresh drawn baths.
His heart sings just to be alive.

He lives off the scabs
of a blistering, blighted land…
morsels of creeping things
and acrid sops of tangled weeds
are ambrosia to this half-starved man.

In this alien land he struggles to find footing-
all the while assuring the solid foothold of his home.
He has come to deliver her from a fiery blight
of tyranny and dread-

To become a hero,
in a world where heroes are soon trampled
and cast aside as forgotten dead.

He fights with human strength
in a war induced by human weakness;
struggling against an unseen evil-
to save us all from the evil within ourselves.

This is no common man…
He is a Soldier.

Photos from