Monthly Archives: September 2012

One Shot

Guys. Guys. Check this out. Okay, ready? Here we go.

Do you play tabletop RPGs? Of course you do. (If you don’t, it’s okay, but you should!)

Do you like murder and revenge? “Who doesn’t?” I know, right?!

I’m getting involved with an awesome new RPG called “One Shot,” which puts you in the shoes of a man or woman who is out to settle the score (The Shooter). Meanwhile, the world is out to make it as hard to do that as possible (The Forces).

Intrigued? Yeah, I thought you would be. So check out the Kickstarter by clicking the image below. Throw a couple of bucks at it. There are lots of fun perks, the biggest being that you will get a new, awesome game to play.

What are you waiting for? Cock the gun and pull the trigger…if you can.

If You Enjoyed My National Comic Day Post…

You should check out my review of Jen Wang’s “Koko Be Good,” which just reached its 2nd anniversary. 

I think you all will like it.

Oh, The Things I Will Do…

Trust me, she’s relevant. Keep reading.

…when I am done with this novel.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I am currently in the process of finishing my novel, “Cape and Dagger.” This fetus, this parasite, this growth has been a part of me for several years now, and it will finally be released into the world for one and all.

That day can’t come too soon.

Because I don’t just write. Ah, but wouldn’t that be nice? Leisurely having a bit of tea, going outside for a nice walk, working on the book before cooking a pleasant, sensual meal with my dear husband. No. Dreamfail. I work a 40 hour workweek before any of my writing, so writing is literally the only other thing I’m doing.

For a few weeks, my schedule has been thus: get up, go to work, come home, shower, write, eat, write, sleep.

It’s draining. I can feel my fingers moving in typing motions while I’m sleeping. I’m always pondering where I’m going to pick up, where I left off, how I like my characters, how I despise them.

So, to try to distract myself, here are five super awesome things I plan on doing once I am done with my book:

1. Create an awesome Marceline costume for a Halloween party I’m attending. I want to build an axe bass, too, which will be pretty hardcore.

2. Start a photography series. I have a new awesome camera, but I feel like I don’t know how to really use it. That’s changing.

3. Do some Fall cooking. Particularly pumpkin queso and buckeyes (that look like eyeballs). I want to take a cooking class, but that will probably wait until spring.

4. Take shelf-by-shelf to a whole new level and get this house cleaned out and decorated for the holidays.

5. Write something else. Yeah, I know, I know. It sounds like one of those lists about ‘what would you do if you had time away from the kids?’ and people go, ‘I’D WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH MY KIDS.’

What are you guys doing?

Happy National Comic Day!

That’s right, fans of sequential art in all its forms! And in celebration, here is a post I wrote about five comics that writers should read. Enjoy!

Comics. I love comics. They really were what made childhood awesome. My dad and I would go to the comic shop every week and buy stacks and stacks of comics, and as a result, I’ve never stopped loving them.

You don’t have to write comics, but there is a lot you can learn as a writer from them: characterization through dialogue, the importance of a strong image, the power of silence. Don’t ever tell me comics aren’t literature. They can be as powerful as a novel – memorable, emotional, character-driven. So what if it has pictures?

So! This week we have 5 comics for writers. I’ve tried to avoid long-running series – it wouldn’t be fair to go, “Read Batman” would it? – but there may be one or two that was technically serialized or came in multiple parts. Whatever.

1. Blankets by Craig Thompson

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I started college with this graphic novel. It was the largest book I had ever owned, and it still dwarfs most of my collection (along with Thompson’s most recent work, Habibi, which is also worth reading). It is a beautiful story about growing up, falling in love, having it fall apart, and then putting your life together again. It’s Catcher in the Rye, Garden State and all those other teens-and-early-twenties-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-world movies and books altogether with beautiful dreamlike inkwork.

2. Watchmen by Alan Moore

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At the basest look, Watchmen is a story about super heroes. And that alone makes it awesome. But when you start taking apart the characters, looking at them as they peel apart throughout the story, you realize that it’s a story about human beings. Each person in this book represents all the things a hero can be, and what a hero can become for a world that may or may not deserve him.

Speaking of heroes…

3. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

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This comic does pretty much the opposite of what Watchmen did. What we have here is a decoded, dissected look at a villain (a villain who plays the part of the narrator, at that). And then, as we think we know what is sanity and insanity, what is good and evil, the reader questions just how different the protagonist and antagonist are.

4. Maus by Art Spiegelman

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This was the first “non-super-hero, not-for-kids comic” I ever read. It is a metafictional plot in which a father recounts his experiences as a Jew during World War II to his son (who is a comic artist). With all races being represented by animals – Germans are cats, Jews are mice, etc. – it is left up to Spiegelman’s amazing storytelling to make each creature unique enough in voice and features that they can be told apart.

5. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley

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I love Scott Pilgrim. I love this entire series so hard. When it was first pointed out to me at a local comic shop in Richmond, I had my doubts. But what started as this fantastical, video-game-esque surreal world became…well, it all became suddenly very real. Suddenly, you were seeing your own relationships, your own friendships, your own misconceptions of events.* It suddenly became this weird headtrip that put together every love you’ve ever had. It’s a lot of fun, and then it punches you in your heart-face.

*not in the movie. I liked the movie alright, but just…nope, everything was exactly as it seemed in the movie. Fuck.

Writing Tip #18

(Remember how I said I’m cross-posting these from my Tumblr? Remember how I never said I was good at it? And remember how I explained that by not being good at it, 19 could potentially come before 18? No?)

Have a good time with what you’re doing.

So I recently got into audiobooks. “Tough Shit” by Kevin Smith is the first audiobook I’ve listened to since the abridged Jurassic Park cassette set that I listened to when I was younger, circa 1995-ish.

I listened to “Tough Shit” within two days. It was amazing. Where had I been, left behind from this new awesome technology that allows me to basically feel like I’m hanging out and shooting the shit with the creator of some of my favorite movies?

Anyway, this is not a tip about falling behind on the interweb zeitgeist and refreshing oneself on new audio stuffs more often than once a decade.

If there is one thing I took away from “Tough Shit,” it’s that the key to all creative endeavors is self-expression. Hippy sentiment, yes, but if you don’t love what you’re doing and if it’s not at the core of it all about you, then it’s just work. And work isn’t fun. You’ll never love work. You’ll love being happy, though.

Make it work for you. If that involves taking on side projects that are just a fun time, go for it, man. It’s easy to get caught up in all the do’s and don’t’s, the laws of craft, the guidance of those who have come before us, experts and naysayers. Find the unbridled joy in just letting it all out and sharing it with the world.

Coming to this realization again has really changed my perspective recently. I have spent so much time wandering through a desert of articles and critiques, reading about what you should and shouldn’t put into your writing, how to maintain your blog, how to just put words on paper…it just all got a bit much. But emptying the sand out of shoes and saying, “You know what? I’m going to do this my way”…well, it’s like breathing again.

How are things going for you guys?

Writing Tip #19

You have time.

No, no. Hush. You do. Believe me.

A while back, my husband and I had a puppy stay with us for a few days. A delightful (read: destructive) bundle (read: beagle) of joy (read: of havoc). “I’m ready,” I had said. I had poured over hours of information on dogs. I had had dogs, years before. We had discussed the breed at length. It was the perfect, serendipitous situation to see how things would go – we had wanted a dog, maybe it would work – and we prepared our home as much as we were able and welcomed the puppy with open, eager arms.

It was not at all what I expected.

Every second belonged to the puppy. The few minutes we had here and there were on loan from the puppy. We had time to do other things because the puppy said it was so. We grabbed at the quiet moments that he was finally asleep because it was what we could steal to do human things, like shower or eat or talk.

Wait, no, there was no talking because you would wake the puppy.

Listen. Listen to me. You have time. If another life isn’t reliant on you, you do have time. And if you are taking care of something, those moments should seem all the more precious, and if you don’t take those sand grains of seconds and make something with them you’re going to regret it.

I took a day off to work on my novel while we had the puppy, and I got 500 words written. I hoarded them like motherfucking gold.

Still don’t believe me? Still talking about, oh, I have a life and work and friends and school and no. Just no. No. Go over to someone’s house and borrow a puppy – if you’re feeling really ungrateful, grab a baby – and try to work on anything.

You’ll see.

Writing Tip #17

Read your stuff out loud.

I’d even go so far as to say that if you can stand the sound of your own voice (I can’t — not yours, dear, but mine) read your work into a recorder. Play it back.

I recommend this because writers don’t change much between 5th grade and 30, I find. When told to read something aloud, a writer starts happily and everything is good until suddenly:

“And he walked down the street with a…fish…in his pocket. A fish in his pocket? That’s not right! What the hell does that even mean? What was I thinking?!”

Or (better yet):

“I can’t even read what I wrote here. Sorry.”

Hide under your desk and do it. Close your door. Catch those little things before your editor does (or worse, your mom). Actually forcing the words out of your mouth gives you an idea what they are going to sound like to others. The practice slows you down, gives you real focus on the ebb and flow of your nouns, verbs, consonants and vowels. You’ll realize that what you thought was a great scene of dialogue sounds like two people trying to have a fight in another language.

Like a symphony, it can look fantastic on paper, but if it isn’t beautiful to hear, you’ve lost.