Friday, October 29, 2010

No Time is Write

More than anything else right now, I want to write. I want to disappear down a rabbit-hole with my laptop. I would swallow that red pill and tell those blue pills what I thought they could do with themselves.

Life, for me, is in the stories. Stories that make my life feel dull with their absence. I see fictitious people everywhere and I don't need any pills to induce or rid me of that. My characters chew on the shoe of my mind like a neglected puppy vying for attention. After all, I'm guilty on all charges. I have neglected much.

What I wouldn't do to lose myself to hours of writing. Where thoughts become people and places and lives. Where a story unwraps its self from my mind and that tiny courser blinks at me, ever ready to record my whims. I become a woman possessed. Chapters are written in hours that pass like minutes.

Stories I wish others would write cry for my attention like babies do mothers at ungodly hours. I wish others would write these because they are the stories I always wanted to read. These are my children because they are indeed laborious endeavours. How easy it is to create, how timely it is to mould. These trials matter not, because of the wonder of creation, the fulfilment of the craft. How I wish I had the time to write.

*sigh* Well, I guess it's back to my technical math homework I go. :s

Stella out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Call Off The Search Party

Yes, I AM alive! Sorry for neglecting the blogging world. My laptop is just furious about how I've been ignoring it. I'm currently battling my way thought the gauntlet know as midterms. This program has sapped all my spare time and what little time I get I usually spend starring at a movie trying not to think. Have I mentioned how intense this course is?

I have not worked on my novel The Male Amendment in over a month now. *sniff, sniff* I haven't had much time to even think about it. Though now I can calculate the added arced distance a plane must fly to avoid a storm. LOL!!!!! On a writerly note we are currently covering affirmations in my Communications class. I have a serious problem with when to use 'is' or 'are' in certain situations. I am still confused, but am getting closer to the root problem. It's funny that when all my classmates, and I do mean all, complain about going to another "useless Communications class" I laugh. It's my favourite class. I wish we had it more than three times a week. I've been proofreading some of my school buddies reports and it's needed, big time. I thought my grammar was atrocious, and believe me it is. After reading other authors works for the last three years, I've discovered reality has a mad left hook. The average person has a lot of grammar issues we can all thank our school systems for. A focus on more than just "basics" in school would help native speakers comunicate better in their own language.

Thank you to Botanist for wondering if I was still alive. I'm hanging in there and when I get a chance I'm definatly criting that peice of yours on CC that I never got around to. >_< I'm such a bad writer-friend. Stella out!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Skinny

I'm starting to fall into the school routine. I've time for almost nothing else in my life. I'll have to put my writing on hold for a bit. :( On a positive note, I've discovered that my tech communications instructor is a writer. We've bonded, did the writer handshake, and dished on our WIPs. He shall help me with my grammar troubles for sure! Wooo-who!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The end, and yet the begining

This day has finally come. My last day as an Artistic Director. Being an instructor/hairstylist has been part of my identity for so long that this moment has brought with it a conflicted mix of emotions. This is the last trip for work I make, no more living in hotels where everyone knows my name. Today is the series finale after a successful 11 year run. It's going to be memorable. It's now official. I'm unemployed. :O I haven't been able to say that since I was seven years old and had a paper route. I'm waiting in the Calgary airport, I'm going home, for good. School starts on Monday. This should be interesting. Stella out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anything but a mockery

I finished Mockingjay in one sitting. I am in awe of Suzanne Collins. She has been elevated to my favourite author of all time. This last book in The Hunger Games trilogy had me scared of the monumental let down I've experienced with other authors. Collins wove a story full of twists and turns that left me always guessing what would happen next. The action, raw and real in a way that most stories don't attempt. But I love that grit, that realism. She depicts human character so realistically it gives me goose bumps. This series is over now and I want to weep because it's so hard to find an author/book that so completely hooks me as The Hunger Games did. These books were so up my alley in every single way I imagine they were secretly written for me. Yeah, right. There are not enough words to properly praise this finale. I hope one day I will be able to write a story a tenth--no--one hundredth as good as this. But as Suzanne Collins so artfully concluded this book "there are much worse games to play."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OMG!!!

Must. Read. Until. Eyes. Spontaneously. Combust. And hopefully that only happens when I'm done.

Monday, August 23, 2010

So Excited!!

Tomorrow is the day I've been waiting for. It's not the last day of work or my first day of school. It's the day Mockingjay is released.
Oooooo! The anticipation!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pointless Things

It started small, the way of all things. Supposedly in reach, it's taste in everything. What game is this? Why pine for lies? What good could come? Pointless, for all my tries. Envy evil, ambition lost, sorrow friendly, years the cost. To never accomplish what's dearly sought. Empty inside, never to be caught. The grief has no name, swallowed deep down. It festers inside, a king with it's crown. It rules everything. Little can cope. One reason to fight The little word, hope.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Big News

I’ve been doing hair for fourteen years, and been working for Regis/Supercuts for eleven of those years. I’ve been and Artistic Director/Educator for six of those years and have traveled every second week since taking that position. There have been some long professional/personal relationships I’ve made in that time and I’ve been through a lot. I’m a much different person than I was eleven years ago and I have Supercuts and all the wonderful people within that company to thank for that. They’ve helped me through some hard times and I’m the confident professional I am today largely because of them. But, that chapter of my life is ending. August 26th is my last day as an Art Director. I’m sad to leave but am looking forward to the change. I’m going to school full-time beginning August 30th for chemical engineering tech with the goal of a degree in petroleum engineering. This could seem odd to those who know me to be a creative busybody but I also love the logic of math and sciences. Some may wonder why I’m not taking a writing class, but being a writer has little to do with simply taking a class. I’ll be going from a 99% female work environment to a 99% male work environment. From beauty industry to chemical/oil industry my life is about to change. I’m excited. Thank you to everyone at Supercuts, I'll miss you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where have I been?

It's been a while since my last post. My life is about to radically change in just a months time. It's so exciting I'm finding it hard to focus on anything. It's also a bit scary. The scary part just hit me yesterday. I'll inform you guys about it when I feel the time is right. Just know I'm still alive. ;) Stella out!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

And the verdict is...

My tentative first chapter is up for review on the blog Flogging the Quill. The blog is run by Ray Rhamey, a writer and editor that focuses on the hook of the first page of a novel. The first page and the first chapter really have to reel in the reader and get them addicted to the story. He posts the first page of a writer's novel and Ray says what he thinks and gets others (writers and such) to vote whether or not they would turn the page. To see my post on this site click here. A writer friend of mine had suggested the changes Ray recommended. Good on ya, Jean. ;) Back to the drawing board it is. Ray's comments meant a lot. Maybe he's just really nice, though. Either way...I'm reminded that while writers are wonderful at giving critiques of other's works, there is also no pleasing them. The comments on the blog are a good example of that. Stella

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Onward I Trudge

I'm still working through revisions and it blows my mind how far I've come in being able to spot my own mistakes. However, I'm even further boggled by my inability to catch the rest of my mistakes. Mistakes that my wonderful writer friends point out to me. Mistakes that have me wondering if I should get my eyes checked, for surely I must have been blind to miss them in the first place. It is so easy to critique someone else's work and find these mistakes. If only I could find them in my own work as easily. I found this video about the importance of proofreading. It's hilarious. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On a sad note

Today, July 8, is four years since my father died. That day changed everything. I had been so absorbed in my job I did little else. That was very unusual for me. I had many hobbies but had not spent time doing them in years. After my father died I found joy in nothing. Nothing had any flavour anymore. Could I push the joy back into my life? I wondered. I started painting again. The first piece sits unfinished in my library/office/studio. I couldn't finish it. The urge to write again came to me. I wrote my dads story. But, I couldn't finish that either. The books I read began chipping away at my sadness like miners in a dark cave. A story began to build in my mind. Never being able to stop thinking about it I started writing it down. I began painting again. Now that I've found the joy again I don't want to lose it. My dad taught me that, among many other things. I wrote a story story about my dad years ago. Click here if you'd like to read it. It was one of the first things I had written in years, and it shows. Lets all do what we love everyday, and tell the people we love how important they are.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Broken Presumption

I have had my hopes of finding a good Canadian mid-grade fiction author dashed before. I'm very tough on Canadian writers, tougher than I should be. Kelley Armstrong killed my hope with her final book of her dark powers trilogy, The Reckoning. Click here to see review. I'd lost all hope in Canadian authors yet again until I came across a book in an airport book shop.

What Amazon says:

Destroying a deadly prince, in a violent court far from her home, was not what Alina expected when she was chosen to serve on the Isle of the Weavers.

Fifteen-year-old Alina comes from a long line of women who have gone to serve on the Isle of the Weavers, and she has always dreamed of doing the same. Her older sister is going to inherit the farm. She hasn't found any boy in the village that she's attracted to, like her other sister. And she loves her 10-year-old brother, but he's getting to be a pain to look after all the time. Still, a girl must be chosen to be a weaver, and Alina's already older than others were when they were called.

Then the weavers come. Her dreams come true, and she's taken to the Isle of Weaving, where the destiny of the world is born. Alina enters a long period of mental/spiritual training to prepare her to be a weaver. But she struggles with her trademark impatience.To the amusement of her trainers, she's anxious to begin weaving after only a few months training.

Then Alina is asked to take spools of thread to the weaving room, and she gets her first glimpse of the awesome tapestry, with its multitude of threads, and colours, and shifting patterns. Left alone for a minute, she discovers a red thread - red like her own hair - which is short and broken, and she impulsively takes a strand of her hair and ties the red thread to a tawny thread nearby. Immediately, thousands of other threads in the tapestry break.What has she done? The tapestry reflects what goes on in the world, as well as affecting events. By reconnecting a thread that was meant to be broken, she has caused the end of thousands of other threads/lives. She must undo what she has done and the story begins.

Get lost in a magical time where adventure and danger abound and the strength of our heroine, Alina, is put to the test.

I was so happy to read a story that didn't involve: vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, angels, or demons.

The author, Linda Smith, passed away suddenly in her home in 2007. She died before this, her last book, could be published. The Broken Thread has gone on to win many awards. Click here to go to her site.

I read this book in one sitting and was glad I didn't have to fetch my foam missile gun. Thank you, Linda, for making me believe in Canadian authors again.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy birthday, Canada! You're 143 years old and have over 34 million roommates.

Here's a little something I wrote over a year ago for Canada Day:

This day holds a cornucopia of images and memories in my mind. Most of those memories call back to my childhood. Summer times spent camping at the lake, spreading blankets on carpet like grass to watch in wonder as the evening’s focus ended underneath the sky. The sky, which entertained me as televisions did others.

The annual fireworks display was the main event of the entire day for me. The parades were fun, remarkable and festive. But year after year, no matter where our family was we would gather with the sea of mounting aficionados to marvel at the nocturnal show. I clutched mini Canadian flags in my tiny hands covered in matching temporary tattoos. I waited in anticipation for the first lone bang that signaled the start of the show. I folded my legs underneath me and watched.

Multi coloured sequins were dashed against the black abyss of night sky. The shimmering pinpoints of light brightened the many upturned faces captivated by the spectacle. Arcs of fire blazed in an orchestra of life; random, burning, intense, fleeting, fiery, wonderful, and deliberate life. Silence encapsulated the thousands of enthralled spectators inside one sentiment, awe. No one presumed to move a muscle as the radiant vision performed for all, no one dared shatter the magic.

The show ended, as eventually all must. Some would scoff at the mediocrity of the display. How government funding must have been cut this year. They would tell of how grand the display had been in years past, for in our memories we hold the standard against which we see the world. The magic had ended and all had returned to their own realities. For some, the cynicism was a safety net against their tainted veracities.

I would wait with my family as the flock of people scattered like seagulls. I stared at the star speckled sky willing the magic to stay longer. The twilight calm punctuated the crescendo of enchantment for me. So quickly the delight ended, but long after, the emotion stayed. To be remembered on this patriotic day as one of the many things we should all be thankful for.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

To cut or not to cut...

My Blackberry rings. On the screen I see the number of the caller. "Hey, Janice. How are you?" I say. "It's terrible, Stella. I have to go to this wedding tomorrow and I have no Idea what I'm going to wear. Chandler's ex is going to be there and I gotta make her crazy jealous." Janice explains. "Hmmmmm..." I reply. "Did you see what she did to him the last time we ran into her?" "Uh-huh." "She's such a douche!" "Uh-huh." "Stella? Are you listening to me?" "Oh, yeah. I'm sorry, girl. I've been really preoccupied lately." "Tell me about it maybe I can help." Janice offers. "Well, you see I've been working on this scene in my novel. There's this part were Mia's thinking about the war in Iraq and about how the Americans are intruding on another country's internal affairs. She also thinks about how happy some of the Iraqis were that the Americans were there. Not all the Iraqis are pleased about it of course. She doesn't see it as liberation for the Iraqis, more like liberation into further chaos. She acknowledges that everyone has a different opinion on war." "Mmmmmm..." "I think this part of the scene is a great parallel to Mia's future struggles on Gaia. She is an outsider getting involved in another culture. Some are happy she's there, others want her to leave. This also foreshadows the chaos that will eventually come as a result of Mia's meddling on Gaia." "Uh-huh." My problem is that another writer thinks I should cut the scene entirely. That it makes Mia sound like a whiner, and I could lose the reader. I don' know what to do. I like how this ties together the social and political issues involved, but I don't want to bore the reader." "Uh-huh." "Janice, are you listening to me?" I say. "Oh my God!" "What?" Shuffling sounds come from the earpiece, "I think I just found the perfect dress!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aberrational

While I was thinking about my dislike of the category of chick-lit, I thought of another genre I love to hate. This genre is 'Inspirational'. Again, I don't hate the writing or stories as I hate the title of the category and how pretentious the label sounds. How arrogant the authors or publishers must be to think that people will find a body of work inspirational. A story is just words on paper until the reader picks it up and breaths life into the characters by letting them live in their imaginations. If a story is inspirational it is because of the reader. Another person will think it's garbage, it's all subject to opinion. They both read the same book, one man's trash is another man's treasure, so the cliche goes. It is the reader who can deem a book inspirational, this is not something that can be predetermined. Like telling someone how they should feel about a situation before it happens. How do you know how someone will feel about something before that thing happens? Many will hate the story, even more will dislike it, some will read it and forget, a very select few will remember it for years and an even fewer still will remember it for the rest of their lives. The books I have featured on this blog post are best sellers in this genre. I'm not saying these books aren't inspirational, I haven't read either one. All I'm saying is that how a book will be received isn't the publisher's decision. It is based on the readers very personal set of beliefs. Who are you to tell me what I'd find inspirational?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Audio Books

I used to drive a lot for work. I’d drive all over Alberta at least four times a month. I hate solo road trips. I’m that woman on the highway with her windows down, music blaring, singing/yelling tonelessly to the music. I’m sorry that many had to suffer, but it was for my own safety, I assure you. If I didn’t do all these things I fall asleep behind the wheel. Highway 2 is one boring stretch. Combine that with the sneaky suspicion that I have narcolepsy and I'm ready to do just about anything to stay awake. Seriously, I can sleep anywhere at anytime, ask anyone. I've slept on stairs and right through an earthquake. Audio books were a great answer because they kept my mind occupied. But now that I fly for work, I’d much rather read a book than listen to it. Not that I ever preferred an audio book when I wasn’t driving. I find the reader’s voice gets on my nerves fast. Plus, when I’m not a captive audience I’m a busy body, so I’ll start doing other things and tune the audio book out unintentionally. I have recently discovered an author named Scott Sigler who started out turning his books into podcasts. After developing a huge fan following, publishers discovered something called a computer and then discovered a new thing called the ‘internet’ and realized that readers used such forms of information sharing and communication. (Sorry, I get a little angry when I think about how many publishers and agents don’t/refuse to use the Internet and still rely on archaic forms of communication, like snail mail. ERRRRRRG!) Soon publishers were knocking on Sigler’s door wanting to publish his books. Way to go, Sigler! Talk about the mountain coming to Mohammad. Ding! Ding! I have yet to listen to a whole book in audio form but it made me wonder how many other people have and do. I don’t care about stats. I’m wondering how many people I know listen to audio books. Let me know if you do. I have just recently bought myself an iPod touch. I am in gadget heaven! I was playing around with it the other day when I came across the voice memo device. I recorded part of a conversation that happens in my novel. Props to voice actors out there, it's tough to make them sound interesting and not annoying. My grade 9 drama teacher would be disgusted. Hee-hee!! For those of you interested, Scott Sigler has a few of his books on iTunes for free. You read right. Free! If you have a boring stretch of highway ahead of you, or you enjoy audio books when you're not trying to stay awake/alive, check them out. Stella, out!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Categorical Gripe

When I think of the many genres of books out there I think of them like different flavors of ice cream. Some people like specific tastes, some only eat one certain flavor, while other like to try something new every time. There is: action/adventure, autobiography/biography, detective/spy, family drama, fan fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, historical, horror, literary, medical/forensic, mystery, non-fiction, picture books, poetry, police, romance, science fiction/speculative, sports, suspense, thriller, war, western and more. One category makes me mad though. I don’t understand why the distinction was made in the title of this genre, a division that totally alienates a specific gender from it. I hate the genre chick-lit, also known as women’s fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the stories that fit into this category, I hate the name, the need for the category itself. The name implies that men wouldn’t be interested in these stories, that only women would read them. Does a good plot and story have to be gender specific? No, of course not. People gravitate to what they like, certainly. But am I going to forgo reading a book because the MC is a certain gender? No. I should hope the struggles any gender faces in a story is pertinent to the human condition. Are they trying to say that no man enjoyed Bridget Jones's Diary? I'm sorry but that book was hilarious! Made me laugh out loud so many times my husband questioned my sanity for a while. Why is this distinction not made with men’s fiction or (dare I coin it?) dick-lit? Sorry, it does roll off the tongue better than dude-lit, guy-lit or man-lit. To coin such a term says that women wouldn’t be as interested in male MCs, or in the stories these novels have to tell. Of course this is rubbish, I don’t care what sex the MC is, just give me a good story. Stella out! P.S.- Bevis points at Stella and looks over at Butt-head. “She said dick. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.” "Oh, shut-up!" Stella says.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tagged-seven awesome things


I’ve been tagged by Botanist to tell-all about the seven most awesome gadgets or pieces of technology I’ve either written or read about. Imagine my dismay when Botanist stipulated that I couldn’t include my beloved foam missile gun. (see picture) LOL! Click here or here if you don't know about my precious.
 
Here I go. I’ll try to stick with those gadgets that I’ve written about in my speculative novel ‘The Male Amendment’.

1. Parallel world transporter device that Vuri uses to travel to Earth from Gaia and meet Mia. It looks a lot like a classic iPod and can instantly ship one through wormholes to parallel universes where the women are svelte amazons that can kick ass. Funny, my gym pass does the same thing. That iPod is slated for release in 2020. Ha ha!

2. The GAU-19 Gatling gun Mia uses in Iraq. It’s mounted on the roof of her Humvee. It can fire 60 rounds in less than 2 seconds and has an effective range of 1,800 m, and a maximum range of 6,000 m. My foam missile gun sounds pretty weak to the fire Mia’s packin’.

3. The hover vehicles of Elysium. I secretly LOVE hover vehicles. Everyone who reads my story thinks they are some kind of futuristic automobiles that can fly, when in reality I just mean HOVER vehicles. They only float over the ground and water. I don’t know why there aren’t more hover vehicles around today, seems to make more sense creating a vehicle that can go over different terrains instead of leveling the planet so you can get around. Fewer taxes this way, the chicks on Gaia figured this out. Hee-hee!

4. Wireless power. A concept only in its early stages on Earth. I remember my husband reading me an article he’d found on the matter. I recycled the idea for my novel. Imagine, no power lines anywhere, all the power you need is sent to you by an antenna on your car or house. Sweet! Imagine all the shoes that couldn’t be pranked by tossing them on power lines anymore.

5. Elysium, a city run by solar and wind power alone. It will happen one day. Woo-who!

6. Shock rods, weapons used by the women of Gaia to electrocute and bludgeon men into obedience. Those amazons are brutal! :)

7. The Grid, a type of motion detector/sonar-like device that watches the forest around the Ant Hill. The Ant Hill is a camp the men have hidden in the woods, were refugees can escape from the cities where rebellion is synonymous with execution.
Now it seems I have to tag four people to pay it forward. I there for tag you:

Your objective is to tell us about the seven most fascinating characters you’ve ever dreamt up. Are they villains, heroes, psychopaths, egomaniacal friends, or janitors? I gotta to know.
Stella

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Battle of Good vs Corny Superhero

The other day I had a short debate with a writer friend who had a different view of a violent scene in my novel. He thought that the violence on the MC’s part made her character less sympathetic and would therefore be less likable to the reader. I felt that the MC’s actions were justified and that the other character deserved the MC’s actions.



This debate brought to mind a preference of mine that not everyone shares. When faced with the choice of Corny Superhero, or Battle-hardened Cynic my choice in favorite character will always be option two. I know there is merit and entertaining stories centered on the Corny Superhero type character. Just look at Superman, Spiderman, and the Fantastic 4. People love those comics and movies. But when ever I watched those movies I always felt some things were missing, reality and good dialog.



Now I know what you’re thinking, “Stella, these are Superheroes with secret superhuman powers. It’s not meant to be realistic.”



You would be right, it’s not meant to be realistic, but the one place that these characters could be realistic is in the personality department. I know all the Superhero corny lines are the writers’ faults, but it seems that some people like the idea of Superheroes being these unrealistic pillars of wholesomeness. Some people think that that is the only true definition of a hero, to elevate these individuals to ethical superiority where we can no longer identify with them as people, but praise them as gods with our hero worship.



“ICK!” Stella fans the stench of Corny Superheroes away from her and swallows a breath of realism.



These goody-two-shoe personalities piss me off! All the villains these Superheroes face usually want to destroy the world. I say, “Hey, why not? Go big or go home, I guess.” They kill innocent people all the time, but when the Superheroes go out to stop them, they end up handing them over to the police to take care of them, because killing them would make them the same as the villains.



“Bleck!” Stella wretches into nearest trash receptacle.



Great! Now when the villain busts out of prison-like they always do-they’ll kill more people and we have to repeat it all over again. I think writers just don’t want to have to keep coming up with new villains.



I’m my opinion, the deaths of those innocent bystander’s are on the Superheroes hands, they should have put the villain out of their misery and saved tax payers millions of dollars from having to build expensive prison cells to contain these Supervillains. LOL!



This whole Corny Superhero mentality is great for kids. The naive sense of right and wrong attributed to the Corny Superhero would be more fitting to someone much younger who had not yet seen how gray-not black and white- the world is. So this is great for a younger audience or younger Superhero. But this isn’t how real world heroes work. Someone older would be jaded for they know how Uncle Sam works, and while things like government, Police officers, spies, and soldiers fight for the greater good, it is not always good. Good soldiers do not become lifers like Superman because it is moral and just, but because they think that if they are there, in the conflict that maybe, just maybe they can prevent a bad situation from getting worse, as it would if it were in the hands of someone else. Superman is portrayed as perfect. Corny Superheroes are perfect, real people are not. Real people have fears. The fear and guilt and pain associated with trying to do the right thing-when the right thing is so much more complicated than catching the bad guy-is what makes a character believable and loveable to me.


Situations Corny Superhero find themselves in always have a very clear right or wrong decision, there’s no thought process needed, there’s no internal struggle. Real heroes are never their own bosses, they take orders from someone else, and orders are not always easy to follow.



I love characters like Batman, Wolverine, V for Vendetta, Ms. Tree, The Crow, and the Watchmen. They are twisted, have emotional baggage, and struggle with who they were and are. But in the end they choose to fight for good, even if that good is a less polished and pleasant version of their Corny Superhero peers. That struggle to fight their own inner villain makes them more of a hero in my eyes, but beyond that it makes them interesting because as a reader we can identify with that struggle.



My MC-Mia-is a former Marine. She is not perfect, she does not claim to have all the answers, she is effed up in the emotion department, she has PTS, and depression issues, but that’s how I like her. She tries to do the right thing and even though she maybe violent at times, she is a product of her environment. To clean up bad things you have to be a little bad yourself. To clean a big mess in your kitchen, you have to dirty a few dishrags. You must sacrifice for the greater good.



In the real world people hate heroes. I once seriously considered becoming a Police officer. I went on a ride-along with two officers for a whole twelve-hour shift downtown one Saturday night. What I realized was that people hate cops. One of the officers told me that people always love firemen, because they always help. But cops always get the short end of the stick in popularity department because I think people expect them to be some kind of Corny Superhero, who is faced with decisions that have obvious right and wrong answers. I know different-everything is gray-there are always two or more sides to every story, and very few people are entirely innocent.

Real people are heroes, Corny Superheroes are the stuff kids dream the world is made of. But we all have to wake up and smell the roaches one day.


That’s all I have to say about that.



P.S.- Oh yeah, I also love Forest Gump, he’s a hero too! LOL!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Retching

On Wednesday I picked up the conclusion to a series I’ve reviewed here. The Summoning and The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong had me re-thinking my aversion for Canadian writers, to read the review click here. The final book The Reckoning had me hoping for the same good reads the first two books had given me. Boy, was I wrong.


First to the title, The Reckoning, this gives me images of Chloe and her friends getting back at the Edison Group for all that they’ve done to them, for all that they’ve lost, for all the people the Edison Group has killed. The last page in The Awakening has Chloe talking about sabotage and bringing the Edison Group down. I don’t think Chloe could bring down a Janga tower. Grrrrrrrrr!

This book started with promise. Chloe finds spirits in the safe house they are staying in. A safe house owned by other supernaturals who want to bring down the Edison group as well. The spirit is crazy, we find out this spirit is connected to the original owner of the house. Turns out the owner of the house (can’t remember his name because I’m too pissed off) wanted to kill all supernaturals. The problem is that this guy was the founder of the resistance group Chloe and her friends are shacked up with. Turns out things aren’t what they seem and now the gang needs to run away from the house and the supernaturals they thought they could trust. They wait for an appropriate time to run, and they wait, and they wait, and they wait. Grrrrrr! Hey I know, how about the huge Werewolf kid knocks the one guy who stands in their way, out with…I don’t know, any blunt object that can be found in a house…say a frying pan for example, and get on with it!! The odds are in their favor, four to one, if fact. But no, they do the equivalent of picking their noses and get captured by the Edison group, YET AGAIN!!!!!
The little voice of optimism pops up in my mind. “Stella, stop clutching the book so tight. You’ll rip it. Stop twitching too, I’m sure the author will wrap this train wreck up well.”

Stella gets contrite. “Oh really, little voice of optimism? You think so? ‘Cause I was just about to use this book for kindling!”

“Easy now, Stella. Put faith in your fellow Canuck. You have only recently found the faith. Stella, put down the foam missile gun!”

“What did you just call me?”


"Huh? I-I called you a Canuck.” Little voice of optimism remembers she is in Edmonton, in the Oilers stronghold and squeaks out the response. “Please forgive me.”


Stella narrows her eyes and clutches her foam missile gun. “I’m no Canuck and neither is Kelley Armstrong.” Stella looks down at the book in her hands, “She’s probably a Leaf’s fan.” Stella throws the book across the kitchen and the little voice of optimism vanishes.


Stella picks the book off the floor. “I’ll give you another chance Kelley, but only because our teams didn’t make it to the playoffs, unlike those vile Cunucks!”


Ahem…where was I? Ah, yes, The Reckoning. In reality the book was progressing with much promise until Chloe and her gaggle of supernatural misfits gets taken back to the Edison group. Then things happened in such rapid succession and in such random ridiculousness that I’m insulted as a reader that I’m supposed to take such a mangled disjointed ending and be satisfied with it. Are you effing kidding me? Chloe enlists the help of a demi-demon (big bad stuff here) she pretty much makes a quick deal with the devil to free the demi-demon if she will help her and her friends escape. This added great tension, how was it going to end, I wondered. The demi-demon saves Chloe and disappears. WTF!! Then Derik busts in to help save them all only to have everyone end up hiding in a storage closet waiting to escape from the…what was it called again (leafs through book to find the name) oh, yes. *enter scared voice* The Cabal SWAT team.


What?


Yeah, that’s right, THE Cabal SWAT team. Ooooooooooooo!!!!

Now if you’re wondering how this SWAT team fits into the story line, you’re not alone. Kelley Armstrong introduces the big bad SWAT team only to have the ceiling collapse on them and Chloe and her gang avoiding running into them altogether. WTF!! Then Chloe kills the main guy by controlling the dead and the story gives us seven pages for a butchered ending that does little in tying up lose ends.


Chloe doesn’t talk to her father to let him know she’s alive. Doesn't tell us why the stone Chloe wears has changed color. Doesn't find out what this Cabal group was all about. Doesn’t send the letter she had promised the ghost. Doesn’t find out about the madness that eventually affects necromancers like her. Doesn’t find out if the friend who betrayed her in the last book is okay, or feeling guilty at all. Doesn’t let her two friends know that they are actually brother and sister. Doesn’t talk about the physiological ramifications about killing someone. AND, doesn’t know what is going to happen to her.


ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Hello!!!! This was supposed to be the end of a trilogy! End! FINI! FINITO! BUENAS NOCHES!! CABO! FINAL! TERMINO! ACABAR! CONCLUIR-SE! TERMINAR!! FINALIZAR!! …I think you get the idea…

I’ve read that this is how Kelley Armstrong likes to end books so that she can loop characters into other books of hers. I DON”T CARE!! This was poor execution on her part that makes this reader never want to pick up another one of her books again, even though I bought about ten of them. They were on sale at Chapters so I thought why not. Damn you Chapters!! Damn you!!

The only two redeeming things about this book is that we get to see that Chloe ends up with the guy she should have all along. And it wasn’t the perfect hot guy like most YA MCs go for. But the two of them get interrupted at least twenty times by different characters, I’m surprised they even got to know each other’s names. Grrrrrr!!!! The other is that Chloe comes into her own and matures quite a bit, and stops being the pushover she’s been in the previous two books.

I give this book two stars out of ten. The ending could have saved this book, but instead it made everything worse, and made me mad.



P.S.- Yes I’m in my pajamas. Don’t judge me. LOL! ;) I stayed up till 2:30am reading THAT book. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and now I have to wash the soup bowl in the picture from last night. *Simmer*

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Query Letters and Other Forms of Torture

I have revised this query letter dozens of times. I've sent many versions to literary agents all over North America with out a single positive response. Yup, you guessed it. My query letters sucked.


For those of you who don't know, a query letter is something a writer sends to literary agents and publishers. It is based on this one-paged letter that the author must sell his/her story. If the author does a good job of writing this letter, it will entice the agent/publisher to request sample chapters from the manuscript the author is attempting to sell. If the agent/publisher likes those sample chapters (usually three chapters) they will request a full manuscript. If they like the manuscript-and if the author has the luck and odds of a lottery winner-the agent will represent them, or the publisher will publish. Many publishers-especially the big ones will not even consider reading a letter from an author that is not represented by a literary agent. Then the agent does this same process when searching for a publisher on the authors behalf.


If this letter is poorly written, the author will receive a form rejection letter. What is a form rejection letter you ask? Well, here is one such letter copied and pasted here for your benefit.


Thank you for querying us regarding your manuscript. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, we have decided to pass on this project. Thank you for considering our agency for representation.


Yup, a form rejection letter tells you about as much as a mime. Form rejection letters get irritating, fast. I should know, I've received tons of them. Can't say I blame them. Agents receive hundreds of query letters a day. Hard to personalize that many letters.


After discovering a very helpful blog: Query Shark , I know what I have been doing wrong this whole time. I was too focused on telling the reader what I thought the premise of the book was instead of focusing on the characters struggles. The characters are the reason a person wants to read a novel, and I had given the characters a backseat to what I thought the novel was about. This can make the delivery of the story sound preachy, which is a fate worse than a Lindsay Lowhan career death. *shudder* Rest assured, I have learned from mine and Lindsay's mistakes.



I have written a new letter, one that focuses on the character's conflict.


Now all I have to do is finish editing the novel and write a synopsis. *presses hands to sides of face and screams until the neighbors complain*


For those of you who don't know how horrible writing a synopsis is, see this post. I never did end up writing a synopsis yet. I must save that torture for another day.


Duh duh DAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!


Stella out!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is Something Ever Truly Timeless to the Creator?

The idea for this post came to me the other night as I was watching Michael Jackson's 'This is it'. It was a movie made with the behind the scenes footage of Michael Jackson's come back tour rehearsals. The tour he never got a chance to perform before his tragic death.



He performed songs I have heard my entire life. He spoke to musicians about how to make everything sound just right. He was meticulous about minor details and had control of every aspect.



But, here is my question. Did Michael Jackson ever get tired or even cringe at hearing his old works?



I know that when I look at old paintings of mine, or when I read chapters I've written, or comics I've drawn years ago, I cringe. All I can see is where I had made mistakes, how my style has matured, how I would have done it differently if I could do it all over again. I wonder if other artists feel the same way? What would it be like to be stuck celebrating something you believe you have grown beyond? Or maybe it is more like a moment of brilliance that the artist feels they can never reproduce. That lighting will not strike twice. That for a while one possessed the Midas touch, and now all that is left is fool's gold.


Is it timeless or stale to the creator?


I wonder.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Suspense Might Kill Me


Last night I read Hourglass, book number three in the Evernight series written by Claudia Gray. The first two novels, Evernight, and Sartgazer were good. You cared for the characters, the plot wasn't predictable and Ms. Gray did a wonderful job bringing life to a tired genre, vampires.


But as series go along I tend to be quite critical of sequels because most of the time it seems that the story should have ended much sooner and the author was forced to stretch out the plot to make more money. *Bleck!!* I hate it when that happens. Just end the bloody story already!

This, however, was not what I experienced last night while reading Hourglass.
I was...shocked...

This third book was even better than the first two novels. I could not put the book down until I finished it in one sitting, six hours later. It was freaking awesome! For those of you looking for a good read, I highly recommend this series. The forth and last book in this series is called Afterlife and is due out in March of 2011. The suspense may just kill me. Hourglass had such a cliffhanger I had to go online to see if the first chapter of Afterlife had been posted as a teaser yet. *pouts* It wasn't. I don't want to say much about Hourglass so that I don't ruin the first two books for those of you who might check it out. Here is the DL on the first book, Evernight.

When the story begins in Evernight, Bianca has just left the small town where she's spent her whole life. She's a new student at Evernight Academy, a creepily Gothic boarding school where her classmates are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas, another loner, who seems fiercely determined not to be the "Evernight type." There's a connection between Bianca and Lucas that can't be denied. She would risk anything to be with him—but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart... and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed to be true.

This description by the publisher does the book little justice, but I understand why. Wouldn't want to give away the twist too soon. Muah hahahahahaha!

Oh, how I love a good distracting read.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Writing Process

There are no right or wrong answers; everyone's writing process is different. The way I write, is just that, mine. I'm sure this post will elicit a few headshakes from fellow writers who are more organized and structured with their plot development than I am. *Shrugs shoulders* I never claimed to be a good writer. I hate order, which is probably why I struggle with grammar so much. I will argue about all things bookish, or not, but I do know one thing beyond a shadow of any doubt. The shower curtain DEFINITLY goes on the inside of the tub.

Bwah hahahahahaha! ha ha...ha...ahem! Now, where was I? Ah, yes, to the Batmobile!

It all starts with a scene in my mind about a couple of interesting characters (usually the MCs). If I like the characters I start thinking about them more, the story builds and gets bigger. More characters get added. I basically plan out the whole story in my mind before I ever write anything down. But it's not a plan. I don't plan. Things change, and I like it like that. The story plays in my head like a movie, if I don't like something I change it. Then I jot down a few important plot points for order. The Male Amendment is going to be a three to four book series, I think. The first book was maybe ten bullet points, and right now I have about thirty. Each point was about five words to a sentence long. I hate too much structure, it's just the way my brain works.

Then I sit down and write out everything from beginning to end, in order, like I saw it in my head, filling in blank spots with scenes I feel are needed. When I write it's totally organic, things change as the characters morph into different people as I write. The characters are all real people in my mind, who talk, and I just write out what they say, or I change what one person does and see how it changes what happens to everyone else. As I write things change, but that works even better. There are times I have to fight through dry patches where I don’t know how to bridge two scenes smoothly. What works for me is having a writing goal everyday, like four or ten pages a day. Sometimes I beat it, sometimes I don't, but I always make up for what I miss on other days. And the revisions! Revisions, revisions, revisions! I'd say revisions take about 80% of the novel writing time, for me. Everyone is different though.


I'm finding that my story is too long right now, I gotta cut stuff out which is hard. I need to cut 15-25% of the words I have now. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it should be achievable. I am sooooooo repetitive, as you can tell by this post…yes…you guessed it…I like change!

While I’ve been working on The Male Amendment I’ve had other ideas for novel pop into my head. I jot down the stories so that I don’t lose the ideas because for right now I need to see this novel thorough to completion. I am notorious for starting projects and never finishing them. It’s that damn creative part of my brain that goes A.D.D. every five seconds…oh, look, a kitty!

I'm sure people would say that my writing approach is weird, but it works for me. Now you have insight into my madness.

Hopefully this made sense to all you sane people out there. Let me know.

Stella out!

Making it in High Heels

For those of you wondering how to get a copy of the book my short story was published in, go to this link: http://www.burmanbooks.com/node/198 . This link takes you to the publisher's site. Thanks to all the support from my friends who ask me how to get a copy every time I see them. Love you guys! If you get a copy please let me know what you think.

Stella

Monday, February 22, 2010

Step inside my office

Some of you who know me know that I travel a lot for work. When I say a lot, I mean 50% of the time. I spend large amounts of time in airports, hotels, Second Cups, and Starbucks. Sometimes I’m stuck in airports for nine hours at a time. What on earth do I do with my time? I read, edit, write, revise, and try to work on my grammar.

This is an example of how I work. I first choose a spot to sit in the airport by scoping out the power outlets, there aren't nearly enough in airports, believe me. Now that I’ve found my office, step inside.I've plugged in my laptop, hopefully there are seats near the available outlets. My Ipod plays, helping me find the mood for the scene I'm working on with music. My Bose sound canceling headphones (a gift from my husband) keeps the noise of the busy airport from distracting me. My notebook--that I always carry with me--is open to random ideas that I scribble down to help with plot, dialog, and flow. There are stacks of critiques from other writers to work through. I try to extract the opinions and thoughts that will improve my novel.

I've been working on this novel for almost two years non-stop, until recently. I wanted to share a little about how I work around my schedule, since I get asked every so often. Recently I've taken a break from my writing, I think I needed to step back. I think it’s like when I paint, the longer I'm working on a part of it I'm not satisfied with, the more I feel I can't fix it. I need to walk away. The next time I return to the painting it is easy to see what wasn't working, what was out of proportion, what colour I wasn't mixing right. I think my month long sabbatical is almost over. I did get a lot of relaxing reading in. Time to get back to work.

Stella out!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Judging a Book by It's Cover

Bad, cover art! Bad!!! I think quite a few people in the marketing departments of some publishers should commit seppuku. Why would anyone want to pick up a book because of these dreadful covers? I would never want to be seen holding one of these eye-soars, I might die of embarrassment if I did. I would be taunted relentlessly; the tasteless art and heckling of others would follow me around for the rest of my life like a criminal record.

My opinions are based on the cover art not on the authors writing. I am simply judging a book by it's cover. HA haha!


The Gathering Storm. Okay, I know this book is a bestseller. How I feel when I see this cover has nothing to do with the author or his work, but damn. This cover is so lame and melodramatic, it might as well be a daytime soap-opera. Even the quality of the drawing is terrible, the proportions are out of whack. Erg! Good thing you can get it in hardcover, so you can take the jacket off and read it in public.

Nauti Deceptions. For real? I know this cover tells us all what's inside, but how can any intelligent woman or man want to be see in public holding this book? It would be like reading Hustler on an airplane or bus. *shudder* What would people think? I don't want the picture to show me how hot the characters are, I want to be attracted to them through the story. Enter female reader's voice of reasoning: "Hmmmm...how should I decide which book to buy? This one sounds good, but, the guy on this book is much hotter. Sold!" Errrrrrrrrg! And women wonder why romance novels are considered cheesy, second rate, and plotless. It's because of cover like these!!!

Dead and Gone, book nine in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I have recently read this entire series, and believe me it's good. But these covers are horrible! They make you think that these are YA novels, and they are NOT! I believe new covers are coming out for all of these books and not a moment too soon, I was about to go septic. 







Old cover. It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Dracula dancing up in the sky!











New cover. Ahhhhhhhhh! Much better.


Pleasure Model. Here is why sci-fi is also considered ridiculous. Do you even want to know what this book is about? Probably not, but after I read the jacket out of morbid curiosity, I feel I have to share it with you. You know what the say "curiosity maimed, decapitated, burned, and killed the stupid cat". The jacket reads : Rook Venner is the unlucky cop assigned to a bizarre and vicious murder case. The vic was a high-ranking military officer, making this a political killing—extremely dangerous to everyone involved. The only witness is an illegal pleasure model, a voluptuous gene-grown human with a limited IQ. Plesur’s sole purpose is to satisfy her owner in any way he desires. And her existence makes the case even more difficult. When shadowy assassins destroy his home, Rook takes Plesur into hiding. But as he desperately looks for clues to who wants them dead, Rook may be falling under Plesur’s spell....

Bwah hahahahhahahahahaha! For real? Honestly? Plesur? Oh come on! Stupid, hot, and horney woman in space, space, space. *the announcer's voice echoes off into the abyss* Makes me laugh when guys make fun of romance novels and they're reading this tripe. Makes one wonder how good the plot is when the name of the book focuses on the brain-dead hot chick. Rook may be falling under Plesur's spell? Plesur is weak between the ears, so what does that make Rook?


Bad cover art makes Stella mad! How about you?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mockingjay

The cover and title for the last book of The Hunger Games series has finally been released. The last book in the series, titled Mockingjay, is slated for release on Aug 24th. I can't wait to see how Suzanne Collins will finish off this captivating story. I squeal in anticipation. I jump with excitement. I cross the days of on my calendar and countdown the sleeps until I can purchase this book.




I'm FREAKING OUT!!! LOL! JK!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ipad

Look out Kindle and Sony Reader, the Ipad is coming and it's going to rock our world. The Wall Street Journal said "The last time people were this excited about a tablet, there were commandments written on it." Ha hahahahaha!

I am a book reader, I don't know if I'll ever switch over to e-books. There is just something about having a real book in my hands, that speaks to me. You don't have to worry about low batteries, if your at a pool or on the beach, that sand and water are going to get on it. And you don't have to worry about getting mugged for it.

I don't think I would ever buy Kindle or Sony Reader. But now that I've read up on the Ipad, I think I might have to reevaluate my opinion. It is amazing! It is something we have all seen in sci-fi movies and shows, and soon it will be a reality.

My only concern about using this to read books on is that I usually read books for HOURS at a time. Like 11 books in two and a half weeks. I'm afraid that the back-lit screen on the Ipad will prevent me from being able to read for such long periods of time due to the strain involved in looking at a computer screen. Maybe this back lit setting can be adjusted? Maybe it won't be that bad at all. All I know is that I'm going to get one. Oh yeah! Thank goodness I head about the Ipad in the nick of time, I was about five seconds away from buying a 64GB Ipod touch. Whew!!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Finding

I have recently had the pleasure of discovering a wonderful Canadian writer. I know, I know, but you read right. A CANADIAN writer, believe me, it was unplanned.

Kelley Armstong should thank Doubleday Publishing, because the cover and jacket both won me over. I had no idea that the author, Armstrong, was even Canadian. I would have stomped all over it like a flaming bag of poo had I known. See my post called "A big poo-poo on most Canadian art forms" for insight into my aversion of Canadiana.

I read two novels in a series of hers that kept me hooked from beginning to end.

Book one was The Summoning. The story begins with a chilling scene where a little girl is sent to the basement by a cruel babysitter to search for something. The little girl finds terror as she sees a dead body hanging from the ceiling. We jump forward to the present and the MC--Chloe--is a teenager now. I like Chloe, for she has aspirations for her future and is not a wuss, unlike some heroines in certain books. As she struggles to fit in to her new school and deal with her distant father she encounters a dead body at school that speaks to her, but no one else can see him. He is burnt, chard, and gruesome. She is terrorized out of her mind and is taken away to an institute called Lyle House. She is told she is hallucinating and that she is scitsofrenic. If she behaves and takes the pills they are giving her she will get better and go home. Chloe wants to get better, she wants to go home, but the visions are becoming worse. Chloe and the reader become so confused about weather or not she is actually crazy, it is interesting to say the least. The other teenagers at the institute are just as confusing at times, and seem even dangerous. The truth is revealed, Chloe is a necromancer, she can see dead people and they come for her because they know she sees them. It also seems that there is more to this institute than meets the eye, and that the teenagers that don't get better, get gone--and Chloe comes to suspect--dead. This book was a good page turner that wasn't as predictable as most YA novels. It had some pretty creep moments too. Giggidy! Giggidy!! The Jacket reads: After years of frequent moves following her mother's death, Chloe Saunders's life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she's not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts-everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.

At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe's small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home-charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a "thing" for fire-Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn't your usual "problem kid" behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either…


The second book was The Awakening. This book felt a little lost at times for me, it didn't really seem to have as much direction as the first book but it was another good read. Chloe and some of her friends are on the run for their lives after escaping the institute. The string of betrayal and horror continues in this installment and has me wondering where the love interests of the MC's truly lie. I doubt they will be were most people expect. Ding! Ding!! The jacket reads: If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl - someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment - not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a group of people who call themselves The Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control: I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends - a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch - and we have to find someone who can help us gain our freedom back before The Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.



Book three, the finale, is called The Reckoning. It comes out on April 6th and here's what the jacket says:  Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I'm on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We're hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We'll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we'd left behind and take out the Edison Group . . . or so we hope.

I can't wait to see how the story will end!
If you're looking for a good and distracting read pick up this series and let me know what you think. The discount stickers you see on the pictures are courtesy of http://www.chaptersindigo.ca/ order on line and you get a great deal.

Stella out!

All stories and poems posted are
Copyright © 2009 by Stella Telleria
All rights reserved.