Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wanna Read a Book?

"It's Banned Books Week."

"Band books? They have books about Katy Perry? Eminem? Linkin Park?"

"No, knucklehead. Not band like music. Banned like books someone says we can't read."

"Who says I can't read? I learned how to read in kindergarten."

"No. Some people think we shouldn't be permitted to read certain books."

"Why? That's stupid."

"Because they think the books are evil or because they think we're not old enough to understand the real message they contain. Or they don't agree with the message in the book."

"I understand that nobody is going to tell me what I can or can't read. I can decide for myself what I like and don't like. And what I think. They're not in my head. If they say I can't read something, that only makes me want to read it more."

Don't be stupid.
Read a Banned Book.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Art Flowers is a Character

On Saturday we went to local arts and crafts fair called Celebrate Art in the Garden held at The Antique Rose Emporium. I didn't buy anything, but a few things tempted me - especially a wide array of glass suncatchers and windchimes. Live In Handyman's green thumb took control, however, and he purchased a Texas Star hibiscus:

The artisans captured most of my attention. Some sat back in the shadows of their booths not interacting with the lookers and shoppers. Some mingled and talked to everyone, telling about the objects they'd created. Some stood at the front of their booths but didn't mingle. They looked at everyone, some said hello.

I thought about how different these people were and how their overall demeanor would shape them as a character on the page.

Say you have a police officer as a character. If the officer were the type to sit back in the shadows, he would be the quiet one who listened intently to what each witness and suspect said. He would observe how they moved, understand what their body language told him.

But if your officer mingled and talked to everyone, all the while keeping an eye out for everything happening in and around her, she would be the officer who carried on with those witnesses and suspects who came away thinking they weren't on her list at all. In an earlier time period, this would be the stereotypical beat cop who knew everyone on the streets he walked every day.

What about the officer who stood in the Mr. Clean pose and glared at the witnesses and suspects? He's the off-duty cop working as the bouncer.

I chose a law enforcement officer because I write mystery and suspense. What about the characters you write? Can you see how these different personalities could apply to them?

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten colors of fall:

10. Pine
Pine cones make great firestarters

9. Indigo
The early night sky

8. Slate
Rainy, blustery days

7. Aubergine
Eggplant Parmigiana

6. Rust
Piles of crunchy leaves

5. Terra Cotta
Planters filled with mums

4. Gold
Glow from candles

3. Pumpkin
Jack-o-Lanterns and Pie

2. Scarlet
Maple leaves

And the #1 color of fall:

1. Mustard
For pretzels and pastrami

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This, That, and the Other


Last week Zoe Courtman at No Letters on My Keyboard presented me with the One Lovely Blog Award. Zoe's a riot, and I love visiting her blog. You will, too. Go see.

This is another award I'm supposed to pass onto fifteen other bloggers. I'll go you one better than that. It's yours. Free! If you don't have this lovely award, take it as my treat to you for visiting the Tiki Hut.


Also last week, VR Barkowski tagged me on a handwriting meme. I'm supposed to write all this out. So now if you're a handwriting expert you'll see the real me. Or not.

1. Full Name and Blog Name

2. Right handed, left handed, or both?
3. Favorite letters to write
4. Least favorite letters to write

5. Write "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."


7. Write the lyrics to your favorite song.
Sorry, this one's not happening. My musical tastes are too eclectic for me to choose just one.

8. Tag seven (7) VERY SPECIAL BLOGS with a unique drawing or doodle.
The names are in the doodle. The links are below.

Holly at Scribbles & Splashes
Hannah at Musings of a Palindrome
Kimberly at The Perpetual Writer
Mason at Thoughts in Progress
Helen at Straight From Hel
Laura at A Shift in Dimensions
Conda at Conda's Creative Center


On Monday, Alex J. Cavanaugh ran a blogfest for favorite TV shows. I didn't sign up. Bad Me. All week I've been picking my favorites from everyone else's and moaning about not joining in. So here are my choices of theirs and some of my own. In no order whatsoever. And with no more about the shows since you've all either seen them or read about them elsewhere by now.

1. Seinfeld
2. Cheers
4. Charlie's Angels
5. X-Files
6. Quantum Leap
7. I Love Lucy
8. Big Bang Theory
9. Criminal Minds
10. Home Improvement

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ugly Duckling

That pretty much sums up my first draft.

And my second.

Then the thing starts to perk up.

Can you tell I'm deep in revision mode?

The story that was inside my mind has been drafted. It's been shuffled around. The fluff and stuffing I needed while transferring the story from my mind to the page has been purged. The missing pieces of character and plot have been found and put in the correct order.

At least this is where I should be at the end of second draft. As it turns out, this story hasn't followed any normal path to reach this point.

Due to circumstances entirely beyond my control - including the unplanned arrival of a high-energy puppy, a move, and two emergency surgeries on a family member - I needed two drafts to be where I should have been at the end of the first one because I lost focus so many times.

So I'm on Draft 3 now. Pulling out fluff and stuffing by the handful. Inserting bits of character and plot. Making sure the motivation and goals are clear. Building lots more tension on the page. Tightening as I go. The incident on page 85 now shows up well before page 50.

When I finish this draft, the real work will begin. Getting deeper into point of view will tweak the voice, which will tinker with things like dialogue and description. I'll need to find all those pesky overused words. Play with sentence structure and stronger words that still keep to the character's voice and overall tone. Pacing - where I need to jiggle with the ups and downs, the suspense and release.

After all that, I'll read it aloud to catch things I missed. I usually find a lot.

I still have an ugly duckling right now, but it won't be long before my vision starts taking shape. But one day, after lots of help from my critique partners and months of revision and editing, my ugly duckling will grow up and be refined enough to venture out.

It won't yet be a beautiful, graceful swan ... that's what good editors are for.

But it's on the way.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cassandra Jade - In the Realm of the Tiki Hut

As promised, my guest blogger today is Cassandra Jade. Cassandra is on a blog tour this month promoting her new release, Death's Daughter. I'm honored to have her visit all the way from Australia to tell us a little bit about herself.

I'm also pleased as punch to say I'm blogging at Cassandra Jade in the Realm today. So click on over after you read all about Cassandra here. And a big thanks to Cassandra for hosting me. It's a twofer day!

= = = = =

CK: Hi, Cassandra, and welcome to Under the Tiki Hut. Please tell us a little bit about your new book.

CJ: Death’s Daughter is a fantasy, with a bit of mystery among other things mixed in. The story is narrated by the protagonist, Calandra Delaine, who is trying to make a life for herself only she keeps getting interrupted by things outside of her control.

CK: Is there a story-behind-the-story about how or why you chose to write this novel?

CJ: I think the reason I actually managed to finish this story was because I could relate to the main character in that she had really clear goals for what she wanted, but she didn’t really factor in all of the outside influences. Obviously in my life I don’t have gods conspiring against me, but every day there are small things outside of our control that derail our plans and it can get quite frustrating.

CK: What is your typical writing day like?

CJ: My typical day involves me either writing first thing in the morning, before I deal with work, or spending a lot of time working and then winding down by writing in the evening. Mostly during the week I write short scenes and on weekends I try to string them together and get editing done. It depends where I am with work.

CK: What are you working on now?

CJ: At the moment I have a couple of projects in the beginning stages and two that are closer to completion. I’m waiting to see which one of my more recent projects grabs me before I fully commit. Meanwhile I’m still looking for representation on another MS and have editing to finish on others. I seem to be going for a more urban fantasy style in my more recent projects than the medieval settings of Death’s Daughter. I’m not sure why, but that seems to be where I’m going.

CK: In Death’s Daughter, which of the characters would you like to spend a day with on a deserted island under a fully stocked Tiki Hut? And why?

CJ: I’d have to go with Tranya. Mostly because I think he has a lot of potential as a character that wasn’t explored in Death’s Daughter. Calandra, who was telling the story, was freaked by him and so she didn’t really get into extended conversations and the audience doesn’t learn a lot about him. However, we do know he is tall, good looking, ruthless and very ambitious. I’d love to spend some more time with this character.

CK: Thanks so much for visiting us today. I wish you lots of luck with Death's Daughter.

CJ: Thanks Carol for the opportunity to visit you on my blog tour.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mix-Up Monday

On Mondays I blog about writing. And today's post is sort of about writing, but there's more.

Cassandra Jade. From Cassandra Jade in the Realm.

Several days ago Cassandra presented me with the Versatile Blogger Award.

She presented the award to all the bloggers who are hosting her blog tour this month. On Wednesday, Cassandra will be visiting Under the Tiki Hut and telling us about herself. So be sure to stop by.

Back to the award. I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself. I'm boring, so I decided to tell you seven things about my Writing Self. Much more exciting.

1. I didn't choose to become a writer. Writing chose me.

2. I write because I can't not write.

3. My mind is always filled with stories and characters.

4. Although I write every day, many days I write for five or ten minutes at a time all day long. Somehow, I still reach my goals.

5. My first drafts suck. But that's OK.

6. So do my second drafts. But that's OK, too.

7. I learn at least one new thing every day. Usually I learn more than one new thing. Maybe I should have said I learn at least one new thing about writing every day :)

The rules say to pass the award to 15 deserving bloggers. Ack! I love breaking rules, don't you? In that spirit, I'm passing the award to three bloggers. And I'm giving these three bloggers permission to mix-up the rules a bit for however suits them best. Go for it!

The winners are:

Maryann Miller at It's Not All Gravy
You'll find a little of everything at Maryann's blog.
If your first visit doesn't float your boat, go back again. It will be different.

Summer Ross at My Inner Fairy
Summer's eclectic blog is enchanting as her inner fairy flits from topic to topic. She writes across the spectrum and enjoys sharing everything.

Zoe Courtman at No Letters on My KeyBoard
Zoe is a horror writer with two teen sons, and she also participates in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog every Wednesday.

= = = = = = = = = =

Don't forget to come back Wednesday to read my interview with Cassandra Jade.
Also on Wednesday, I will be blogging at Cassandra's blog
Cassandra Jade In the Realm.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten ways to know school has started:

10. Mornings are a total zoo.

  9. Your daughter has nothing to wear.

  8. Coffee is heaven.

  7. Your ears ring from the silence.

  6. The laundry has doubled in size.

  5. The dog wanders from room to room and finally plops at your feet.

  4. The cat doesn't show up until noon.

  3. Afternoons are a total zoo.

  2. Homework!

And the #1 way to know school has started:

 1. You get to do it all again tomorrow :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Power Strokes

What would you do all day with no electric power?

I had the chance to find out.

Yesterday, Tropical Storm Hermine visited San Antonio on its trek inland. It explored the Missions, the Riverwalk. SeaWorld, of course. On it's way out of town, it knocked out our power.

This occurred sometime around noon - maybe 11:30 or so.

No big deal.

I had a few things to do that didn't require the computer. Lunch time came and went. I read. The soggy, windy weather meant the doggies and I stayed inside for the most part. They did venture off the patio and onto the grass a few times.

I read some more. Then - this is a secret ... don't tell a soul. I dusted. Ssssshhhh.

Dinner time. Live-In Handyman lived up to his name and grilled salmon in the rain. I provided the salad, and we dined al fresco on the patio.

Darkness fell and still no power.

"Now I know why all the old families had so many kids."

"It's only eight-thirty."

Time passed.

"I guess I'll go to bed."

"I'm not anywhere near sleepy."

"It's dark." Live-In Handyman climbed the stairs, light from his flashlight making eerie shadows on the walls.

I switched on a flashlight and opened a book. When I was reading the second page, the power flashed on. Appliances whirred to life. Ceiling fans woke up. A light in the kitchen winked on. I heard footsteps while I reset the oven and microwave clocks.

"Was that the power?"

No. I just found a 100-watt flashlight. "Yup."

"Good. I need to check my email."

I'm thankful we live in a time after Thomas Edison. Otherwise we would have very little that makes our lives easier today. Otherwise Live-In Handyman would've helped create a whole huge flock of Little Live-Ins.

How about you? Would you do well living in an earlier time period?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

Being a mostly impatient sort, I've heard that old saying all my life. Especially from my aunt, who early on appointed herself chief maker and enforcer of my moral code. Luckily for me, my mother didn't often agree with her in matters of child rearing.

Patience is a virtue.

The only patience I ever knew for a long time was Patience Powers, who was anything but virtuous. I might or might not have learned some a few things from her. Just sayin'.

Patience is a virtue.

Then I grew up. Adulthood. Oh, no! What do I do? I'm supposed to have all the answers. Not. Not only not a clue, but I'd never even heard most of the questions I was supposed to have answers to. People had PATIENCE with me. Live-In Handyman could tell you tales, but we're not going down that road.

Patience is a virtue.

One day I realized I was supposed to write down all the stories and characters that had always filled my head. Hello! So I wrote. And rewrote. And learned. And learned more. And rewrote. One day I sent off a short story.

After a mis-step or two dozen, I realized I needed something. Patience.

Patience in everything connected with this new endeavor. Researching. Plotting. Writing. Rewriting. Editing. Submitting. Waiting....

Patience with myself. Patience with others. Patience with the process.

Patience is a virtue.

I wonder whatever happened to Patience Powers?

I wonder if my aunt was able to see this far down the road of my life?

I wonder if patience is a virtue or a vice?

Patience is a virtue.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

UPDATE: It's 7:30 p.m., and it's been a crazy day around my house. Nothing evil or malicious or frighening, but I've done everything in the world except sit at my desk. Please except my apologies for being tardy to visit some of your blogs and for not yet responding to any comments. Barring anything else unforeseen, that's how I'll spend a bit of time this evening.

= = = = = = = = = =

Top ten things about traveling:

10. Photos

  9. Adventures

  8. Kids

  7. Discoveries

  6. Lost in Translation

  5. New Outlooks

  4. New Food

  3. Luggage Hassles

  2. Tons of Fun

And the #1 thing about traveling:

  1. Aahhh . . . home!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Luckenbach, Texas

Over the weekend we drove to Luckenbach with a group of friends.

It's a large place.


No place to dance as the day wears on.

No place for writers to wait for an answer to submissions.

Just a town - like any other.

Only in Texas!