When I get bored, which is often, I send my mother random texts to annoy her like, “I lost my Saint Anthony medal and can’t find it.” (shout out to all my Catholic homies who get the significance of this). I also like to send annoying texts sent as people she doesn’t know. It never occurs to her to question who they are from, which makes them that much funnier.
Due to the change in our political climate, I’ve had to cease sending her my favorite kind of text, those from random immigration officers. It’s not so funny anymore now that deportation is a possibility.
I was recently scrolling through my phone, reminiscing, when I found a text that I’d forgotten I’d sent. It read: (more…)
Title: IN A DARK DARK WOOD
Author: RUTH WARE
Reviewer: VY CHAU
Ruth Ware’s psychological murder mystery hardened my cold dead heart.
Never did I expect that a novel about a bachelorette party gone wrong to stir up such deep pangs of sympathy for the main character, Nora Shaw. Perhaps it is the resemblance of similar struggles that I recognize in her personality to evoke such a reaction in myself. She is seen as the most troubled character out of the group. She is heavily introverted, and will go as far as ordering her groceries online to avoid going out into public.
A few posts ago I lamented on what genre my teen protagonist driven novel belonged to.
I somehow stumbled on to this site and found a genre that I’ve never heard of, and one that I think applies very well to my novel. It’s called Bildungsroman!
What is Bildungsroman? Here’s a quick and simple definition:
Bildungsroman is a genre of novel that shows a young protagonist’s journey from childhood to adulthood (or immaturity to maturity), with a focus on the trials and misfortunes that affect the character’s growth.
Some additional key details about Bildungsromans: (more…)
I’ve recently entered a short story competition sponsored by NYC Midnight. They assign genres, topics and characters as prompts for your story. They have a list of genre definitions that I found extremely helpful. You can find it below and here as well.
A suspenseful story in which a mission involving risk and danger forms the primary storyline. The protagonist, who is typically operating outside the course of his or her daily life, embarks on a journey to confront obstacles and prove worthiness. Action sequences are frequently featured, especially those involving chases, explosions, and attacks. This genre has its roots in Greek and Medieval literature, including Homer’s classic epic poem, the Iliad, which tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. (more…)
I wrote a young adult novel entitled THE GODS OF ASPHALT. The storyline came to me while I was sick, listening to my sons and their father argue in the next room while I lay in bed, unable to referee their emotions. For over a month I listened to them fight, play, and solve problems without me. It was mind-blowing. I felt like Dian Fossey. But instead of gorillas, I discovered how men interact with each other when women aren’t around.
What’s the slushpile, you ask? The slushpile, my friends, is the virtual trash bin where your manuscript lands the moment a prospective agent determines it is not yet ready for publication. Believe me, after all your hard work this is no place you want to be.
So how do you avoid the slushpile? Read widely? Write often? Find yourself a solid writers’ group?
Hell no! You do it by following my advice, of course! I’ve spent the past year creating a collection of books designed to help would-be authors navigate their way through the jungle that is the publishing world. Choose from the following: (more…)
I should be working on my novel but as usual, I’m blocked and cannot snap out of it. I suppose I could look up one of the hundreds of tricks on the internet that tell you how to break free of writer’s block, or I can do what I always do and write a separate manuscript where all my characters engage in a massive act of group sex.
Since I can’t share that, I decided to blog about the space where all the not-writing happens instead.
First up, the wall of books:
Happy Halloween and welcome to our first ever Funny Blog Friday! Me, along with a group of other hi-larious bloggers, are celebrating an otherwise spooky holiday with loads of laughter and free stuff! Click the links to participating bloggers at the bottom of the page for a chance at winning prizes and to read a lot of funny blogs, too.
Since our first Funny Blog Friday has fallen on Halloween, I thought it only appropriate to call on one of the
rantiest funniest people…er, “beings” I know for a good laugh. (more…)
FROM THE DESK OF THE GRIM REAPER:
Tomorrow is Halloween- the one day a year when souls breech the veil between the living and the dead and make my life Hell. Tomorrow is also FUNNY BLOG FRIDAY’s first ever blog hop, an event intended to celebrate humor and incite laughter in all who stop by.
Whoopdee Freakin’ Do.
I know I’m supposed to be as jazzed about this as Hellis is, but that’s fucking impossible. That Hellis chick’s not right in the head. She’s so amped for this in fact that she asked me to turn one of my “legendary” rants into a blog post for the occasion. I said yes, of course. After taking a colossal Bit O’ Honey dump, ranting will be the easiest thing I do all day. (more…)
My daughter just called to tell me that you nice folks at the Media Center are considering adding my book, THE GODS OF ASPHALT to your shelves to which I say, FANTASTIC!
She also told me that you would be checking out my blog for reviews to which I say,
My blog is a bit irreverent, so you can just skip reading all the posts and go straight to the reviews which you will find here:
Seriously, there is nothing worthy to read on the blog posts. Don’t even waste your time. No need to click. Just don’t.
A laborious and lengthy session of work on REAPERS WITH FANGS has led me to the sad conclusion that my writing needs work, so I’ve decided to give a bit of prose a try in an effort to beef up my chops.
Poetry and prose is not an area I am comfortable with as you will see, but the spirit of Halloween got the better of me and I rose to the occasion.
For better or worse I bring you:
DISTURBING ODE TO A LITERARY AGENT
So it seems that I am the subject of another interview over at H.E. Ellis’ blog this Friday, October 31st for a blog hop called Funny Blog Friday. Like I don’t have enough to do. Doesn’t this woman know it’s Halloween?!? The one day a year the souls of the dead are allowed to walk the Earth? (more…)
This is the opening to Chuck Palahniuk’s novel DAMNED, a story about an angsty teen dead girl and her journey through Hell. Or more accurately, the story I’d have written if I’d been, you know, a better writer.
My new years resolution to make my writing a priority ended the moment I finished the book DAMNED, and was forced to face the reality that my writing sucks balls compared to Chuck Palahniuk’s.
I’d like to tell you this revelation prompted me to get busy on a book of my own, working with all the drive and ambition of a writer inspired by Palahniuk’s genius to, as Neil Gaiman put it, “Make good art.” But it didn’t. Instead I curled up in a ball and cried like the giant hack baby that I am. I also haven’t written a word since.
That’s because I have my own personal cock-blocker, and his name is Chuck Palahniuk.
So why all the literary flacidity, you ask? Well I’ll tell you why.
[I’m going to give you my answer at the end of this next passage because it builds suspense. It’s a technique good writers use, or so I’ve heard]
The book world is filled with writers whose work makes me feel like I’ve been junk-punched in the literary genitals. One of them is James Ellroy. Take for example the opening of his pulp-fiction inspired novel, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL:
“An abandoned auto court in the San Berdoo foothills; Buzz Meeks checked in with ninety-four thousand dollars, eighteen pounds of high-grade heroin, a 10-gauge pump, a .38 special, a .45 automatic and a switchblade he’d bought off a pachuco at the border—right before he spotted the car parked across the line: Mickey Cohen goons in an LAPD unmarked, Tijuana cops standing by to bootjack a piece of his goodies, dump his body in the San Ysidro River.”
Only Ellroy can write a 78-word sentence about grizzly murder and police brutality and craft it to read as high poetry. In lesser hands this opening would have been a disaster. I am sure if I were tasked with the challenge of writing this novel I’d have Bucknered all over it (for all you non-New Englanders out there scratching your collective heads at the word BUCKNER, click HERE and feel my pain).
Another dream-crusher is Chuck Bukowski. Take for example his poem SOME PEOPLE:
some people never go crazy.
me, sometimes I’ll lie down behind the couch
for 3 or 4 days.
they’ll find me there.
it’s Cherub, they’ll say, and
they pour wine down my throat
rub my chest
sprinkle me with oils.
then, I’ll rise with a roar,
rant, rage –
curse them and the universe
as I send them scattering over the
I’ll feel much better,
sit down to toast and eggs,
hum a little tune,
suddenly become as lovable as a
some people never go crazy.
what truly horrible lives
they must lead.
I doubt Nicholas Sparks ever wrote a poem like that, the epic tool. Now I’ll admit that Bukowski is not for everyone, but personally, I cannot get enough of him. Seriously people, I hear Roberta Flack’s voice inside my head whenever I read his work. Whenever I read my stuff all I hear is Bobcat Goldthwait.
I admire Stephen King for his mastery of characterization and worship Neil Gaiman for, well, everything, but Chuck Palahniuk is the only writer who ever made me WANT to write. His literary voice and story lines are so eerily similar to mine that I have to wonder if we are related somehow. For me, reading one of his novels is like reliving painful childhood memories spent with a better-looking, ultra-talented sibling, feeling the push-pull of striving to be like him only to hate him when I fail in comparison. Now I truly know how it feels to be an Oakland Raiders fan.
So at the end of the day what does all this self-contemplation/flagellation mean? Why it means I am an insipid douche-bag writer, that’s what it means. It means that instead of wasting my time lamenting why I will never be as successful as my heroes, I need to get busy, you know, writing. It means it’s time to get my head out of my ass and get my ass to my desk.
Yeah. Easier said than done.
The author of this particular piece is tomorrow’s featured Twisted Fictioneer. Can you guess who it is?
Good morning! I have landed an exclusive with a personality not often featured in the stories concerning Santa Claus and the ongoing drama surrounding him. Today, I am interviewing Lashonda Jefferson, otherwise known as Brown Shugga. Good morning La… uhm, Ms. Shugga.
B.S.: You can call me, Shugga honey. Everybody does.
H.E.: I have to ask up front, what got you into this life, and why did you pick a corner in the North Pole?
B.S.: Baby, that’s one hell of a long story involving wayward elves and their love of…well, let’s just say they like them some brown shugga, you know what I’m sayin’ honey? Anyways, it’s damn cold on up in here if you don’t have nothin’ to keep you warm at night, and that Mrs. Claus, well she’s just plain crazy, you feel me? One of them elves just decided that Santa needed some good ol’ fashioned TLC if you get my drift, and he dragged my ass up and I’ve been here ever since. Can’t seem to get nobody to take me back and I can’t say I evah want to leave.
H.E.: Can you relate to the audience how the night of Mr. Claus’ arrest went down?
B.S.: I know that Kris is pissed at Brown Shugga, but I never set nobody up to take no fall! He was out, ya know lookin’ to score some Shugga *wink* and some coke. Of course, Shugga always takes care of her clients…especially them ‘high profile’ ones…Some bitch who was lookin’ to take over ma territory and ma man come outta nowhere and offered Kris her stuff!! Can you imagine?!! Well, I ain’t dealin’ with that bitch and I beat her ass. She tryin’ to hustle poor Kris into thinkin’ that she…that…that….HO! Fuckin’ whitey she was…she was a plant, a fuckin’ cop, I know it! I can smell a pig…anyways, next thing ya know me and Santa Baby in cuffs and bein’ dragged down to the station like common criminals! He was downright mean and nasty after that! Whew, baby you ain’t seen nobody with a temper like that fucker…
H.E.: I see. And you were then released with charges dropped in exchange for your information, true?
B.S.: Baby, Brown Shugga ain’t been charged with nothin’ and ain’t gonna be charged with nothin’. I was simply providin’ a service. Good ol’ fashioned satisfyin’ the demands of the area, if ya get ma drift. As for white bitch, she got what was comin’ to her…I got yo information right here, baby! (clutches her crotch) Hehehe..no, really. I gots lots of information and it’s all written down in ma – well, let’s just say Shugga is well protected.
H.E.: I have sources that also maintain that you and a certain D.A. have an ongoing ‘special relationship.’ Can you comment on that?
B.S.: Oh, ya mean…well, we been friends for years. He and I have an understandin’….he lets me live ma life and I give him some well-deserved R&R if you feel me…he certainly does…hehehe…hey. You hungry? You little on the thin side…want some of my tuna salad? I made it this mornin’ while I was takin’ a break…
H.E.: Oh… no. I just do not like tuna, thanks. Moving on, what is the nature of your relationship to LeMonjello Otis?
B.S.: Oh, dear LeMon he been tailin’ ma ass for years. He can’t hurt nobody, fucked up little fool. He talks big and all, but he’s really small in the, ya know, dick department. Shugga knows how to make him feel more like a man, but fuck, he’s really sm-
H.E.: Are the rumors of you launching a daytime talk show on the Oprah Network true?
B.S.: Oprah?! Baby, me and Oprah are like THAT (crosses fingers) Sista knows how to talk and Shugga is more than willin’ to let her all the way to Shugga’s bank account….anywho, it’s just talk right now. We’ll see how things go, ya know with Kris and his problems an’ all…crazy bitch wife ain’t makin’ easy on ‘im though…fucker needs some good lawyerin’ up…
H.E.: One last question – just how big is Santa’s – er, sleigh?
B.S.: Honey, Shugga don’t kiss an’ tell…but I can say he ain’t no magical elf for nothin’…hehehe…
STAY TUNED FOR OUR NEXT INSTALLMENT OF THE SANTA SHAME SPIRAL WHERE WE SIT DOWN WITH NONE OTHER THAN RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER!
One of the oddest things about my blog is that I rarely utilize it for what it was originally intended- namely, sharing my writing. Since I’m nearly finished with REAPERS TWO, I decided I would share some of the writing techniques I used in the conception of that novella, and hopefully get new ideas from other writers about their character-building habits and techniques.
Today I thought I’d share a specific technique I use for conceiving characters: I assign them a song.
On the surface this may seem counter-intuitive since music is capable of conveying emotion without words, but I find that the perfect song will reveal emotions or behaviors in the characters I create long before I construct a single sentence. The right song can encapsulate a single moment or an entire lifetime of a person’s emotional experience (recent birthday boy ElGuapo knows what I’m talking about). With that in mind, I’ll describe two different ways I use music to build characters.
The first way I do this is to create a generic version of a character in my head, and then find a song that suits him/her after the rough draft is written. I find this works best for when I really want to “flesh out” a character by layering dimension over the bare bones of the initial conception. One of the characters that benefited most from this technique was the character of Raphael in THE GODS OF ASPHALT. Because his character was the most like me, I found that he was the hardest to flesh out. You’d think he’d be the easiest since I ought to know him so well, right? He wasn’t. I suppose that is because it is always easiest to hide our truest selves from ourselves. Well that, and the fact that I had never planned for him to resemble me in the first place. By the time I did my first run-though edit it was painfully obvious that I had captured myself in print.
I struggled for what seemed like forever to find something, anything, about myself in Raphael that I could use to turn him from an angry, closed-off parent into a character with true dimension. Finally I discovered that what made his character and myself alike was our inner struggle with our ethnicity. Being raised as an American in a household filled with Old-World ideals made it hard for me to know who I really was and where my loyalties lay. I was constantly conflicted and to this day struggle for a sense of equilibrium. Without realizing it I had passed that same internal struggle onto Raphael.
Once his (our) internal conflict had been revealed, I searched for music that would tell the story of a compelling character- one who grew from a disgruntled Midwestern teen into a man struggling to find peace as a proud Spanish father. Rodrigo y Gabriela’s cover of the Metallica classic ORION instantly became that song for me.
From that moment on, every time I wrote Raphael I would listen to that song. The music brought him to life for me; from the timbre of his voice to picturing the way he walked. ORION became the soundtrack to every scene Raphael was in and helped me navigate his character through the story.
Rodrigo y Gabriela – ORION
This next example illustrates the same technique, although switched-up a bit. That example is the character of Lucifer in THE REAPERS WITH ISSUES Series.
Unlike the example above where I conceived of a character before assigning him/her a song, with REAPERS I was faced with the challenge of re-characterizing established characters. The one that gave me the most trouble was Lucifer. The difficulty lie in the fact that Lucifer is more than established; he is downright iconic. There isn’t a culture on the planet that doesn’t have a vision of evil-incarnate, so how was I to reinvent him?
I knew that within the context of the story I would have to humanize him to some degree, so I decided to portray my version of Lucifer not as purely evil, but simply as…a dick. I also knew that to “flesh” him out would not be to layer dimension onto him, but to reveal him; to strip away his skin and discover what makes him tick.
I failed epically.
Every version of Lucifer that sprung to mind was a stereotypical construct from the deepest, most generic part of my brain. I had nearly lost all hope when I came up with a solution: I’d do it all backwards and let Lucifer pick his own music. Sounds crazy, right? Well it worked. I turned on my music, closed my eyes and listened to every song I could think of that wasn’t evil, dark or brooding until Lucifer revealed his song. That song, believe it or not, was CLINT EASTWOOD by the Gorillaz.
Why that song? I have no idea (I let Lucifer pick, remember?). But I will tell you that things became instantly clearer for me whenever I listened to it. I easily pictured the way he walked [slightly slouching] to the way he spoke [slightly spoiled] and imagined a dozen tiny little habits [folding origami] the instant that song became a part of his character. But as great as that song was, it wasn’t exactly right. I needed a version of that near-perfect song to do more than just bring Lucifer to life. I needed Lucifer to be reborn.
Words + Music = Art
I enlisted the help of a musician to remix CLINT EASTWOOD into something that sounded slightly more sinister, slightly more spoiled, and slightly more modern. Below is that song: Lucifer’s Remix conceived of by production musician extraordinaire, DJ Casper. Believe me when I tell you that to my mind, this song IS Lucifer.
DJ Casper – LUCIFER’S REMIX
I imagine the idea of using music to inspire or create words on a page may seem unconventional or downright bizarre, but to me it is the most natural thing in the world. I chalk it up to spending too much time on the road as a kid with nothing by my father’s music and my imagination to keep me company. I firmly blame my inability to finish GOA2 on the fact that I can’t figure out what kind of music River listens to. Like Lucifer, I’ve decided to let River choose. I am praying he’s not into Rap.
- Has the stress of facing the holiday season alone got you down?
- Are you dreading another Thanksgiving Day dinner defending your recreational life choices to your staunch Republican (insert Military Branch Rank of your choice here) Father?
- Tired of being seated between your fighter pilot/Sunday school teacher/Abercombie & Finch model big brother and your half-dead Grandmother who smells like cheese?
WELL HAVE I GOT A SOLUTION FOR YOU!
From the warped and creative minds of the Blogosphere’s most talented writers comes a retelling of classic fables and fairy tales, each one more twisted than the last. F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES is the first of a two eBook novella series created by THE BLOGGER COLLECTIVE, a talented group of participating authors from around the Blogosphere. It’s childhood as you never remembered it.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!
F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES is guaranteed to make your brother come out of the closet while simultaneously giving Granny Limburger a moist-y.
F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES has been proven to increase penis size, get your car better gas mileage and give your ex-girlfriend a scorching case of rotten-crotch.
JOIN THE FUN! PICK UP YOUR VERY OWN eBook COPY OF F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES TODAY!
Tell the postman to keep his brown paper wrapping because this is not your father’s
porn reading material. That’s right- Volume One of the two eBook novella series F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES will be available for download by Thanksgiving morning, just in time for your holiday festivities!
For more Collective fun check out ICONIC INTERVIEWS: The world’s most beloved holiday icons presented in a collection of irreverent interviews that take on the backstory of their imagined existences.
Let the countdown begin…
I am not dead. I have not choked to death on a ham sandwich or run off to join the circus (although I am feeling a bit like the Fat Lady, lately). Sadly, my life has been consumed by a certain four letter word and that word is:
Yeah, I know what word you were thinking about. Sinners.
Anyway, I have read all the F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES everyone has sent in and they are AMAZING. I am hoping to get the ball rolling on book production this weekend, right between cleaning the house and supervising my daughter’s thirteenth birthday party- a party which will have boys in attendance. Let’s add talking HR Nightmare off the ledge to that list.
In summation, I haven’t forgotten you all, I’ve been loving your stories, and cannot wait until I get the chance to put them all together. Thank you all so much.
So it’s coming close to closing time on the project known as F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES. For those of you who may not know, F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES is a retelling of classic fable and fairy tales, all viewed from the
warped creative minds of bloggers from around the ‘sphere.
Want to join but don’t have time for a story? How about a limerick, lullaby or haiku? They can be as long or short as you like. Each story is a maximum of 5000 words (there is no minimum) and can be dark and twisted or entirely vanilla.
Every author who participates gets a spot on the BLOGGER COLLECTIVE page (presently under construction) with links back to his/her blog of choice. There are also weekly interviews planned if you choose to participate. But best of all, 100% of the profits from F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES are donated to charity (more info to come).
Sound interesting? Check out our list of contributors and join the fun! Each offering highlighted in GREEN has a page devoted to the author’s tale, BLUE is a tale yet to come, and YELLOW is what is available. Want to read what we’ve got so far? Visit F*CKED UP FAIRY TALES and scroll down the list for a good read!
- Aladdin – Emerald Dragun Studios
- Ant and the Grasshopper – g00dg33kranting
- Cinderella – Trailer Trash Deluxe
- Elves and the Shoemaker – Edward Hotspur
- Emperor’s New Clothes – Sparklebumps
- Gingerbread Man – HR Nightmare
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears – The Elite of Just Alright
- Hansel and Gretel – Madame Weebles
- Jack and the Bean Stalk – YOUR NAME HERE
- Legend of Santa Claus – ReadTomLucas
- Little Mermaid – Sparklebumps
- Little Red Riding Hood – Rantonit
- Peter Pan – The Fog of Ward
- Pinocchio – MC’s Whispers
- Princess and the Pea – Polysyllabicprofundities
- Puss in Boots – El Guapo
- Rapunzel – H.E. Ellis
- Red Shoes – Sparklebumps
- Rumpelstiltskin – Sightsnbytes
- Sleeping Beauty – Kayjai
- Snow Queen – Jennifer Vaughn
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Very Normal
- Three Billy Goat’s Gruff – VanillaMom
- Three Little Pigs – Pouringmyartout
- Thumbelina – Sandylikeabeach
- Tooth Fairy – Kosative D
- Tortoise and the Hare – Archon’s Den
- Ugly Duckling – Grafiklit
The planets must have finally aligned, because our favorite resident blogger/Photoshop terrorist/space cadet has written a book. Not just any book- but a SciFi book with a blast of fantasy and a galaxy of humor.
I had the privilege of reading SALOON AT THE EDGE OF EVERYWHERE and am happy to say it was everything I thought it would be- a funny and sweet read that doesn’t take itself too seriously, just like the author himself.
A.H. Browne’s story was so irreverent that I just had to know more about the brain behind the book. Well thank our lucky stars, because today I get to bring you none other than Pouring My Art Out himself, A.H. Browne. (more…)
Welcome to day four of BLOGSHORTS: a ten day, ten story, 110 word writing extravaganza.
Each participating blogger chooses a pooch a day from a list of dogs, thunk-up by our fearless leader BLOGDRAMEDY, and then writes a short story featuring their dog of choice.
Each story is 110 words in length and can feature as much or as little of our canine friend as we like.
Today we travel beyond the land of Muggles to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to meet with our favorite three-headed dog, FLUFFY!
FLUFFY’S FATEFUL FAUX PAS
Fluffy tucked El Guapo’s speakers into his ears and for one blessed moment let the smooth, mellow sounds of Coltrane drown out the incessant bickering between his two ex-wives.
Fluffy often used his stolen quiet time to reflect on the course his life had taken. He dissected every decision and evaluated every consequence. He ran scenarios over and over again in his mind, asking himself what he might have done differently to have avoided the fate that had so tragically befallen him.
But no matter how many times he replayed that fateful day, Fluffy always came to the one sad, inevitable conclusion:
He should have never called He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, “Lord Moldywart.”
Revisit these soon to be canine classics:
BLOGSHORTS DAY ONE: Tea Cup Cujo
BLOGSHORTS DAY TWO: Toto’s Ruby Red Booty
BLOGSHORTS DAY THREE: Lassie Learns the Truth
TAKE YOUR BLOG FOR A WALK AND THROW THESE GUYS A BONE: