Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A sprinkle in the well

While my creative well still need a few days of torrential rain to get anywhere close to capacity, things are looking up. I spent the morning (when I should have been working) putting the finishing touches on one of the shorts that has been glaring at me and started in on the other. At least I feel like I've accomplished a little something on the writing front.

Now I just need to get to last week's chapter edits. Oh, and that work I put off this morning. Bad me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My creative well runneth dry

It's been a hectic couple weeks around here. I've not done any writing beyond editing A Broken Race. The Percolator is giving me glimpses at how to cut Trust's word count before it tries another foray into queryland. Healer is glaring at me. No one likes short stories glaring at them. Especially kinda creepy ones. I'd intended to have that one revised and back out in submissions but that just hasn't happened. Children of the Leaves is looking like its about ready to gang up with Healer any minute.

I should probably keep Blue close while I'm sleeping. He's be happy to eat anything at this point. His translator is still in the shop. Poor guy...err...umm...male alien?

So what the heck is keeping me from writing? Workity freaking work work.

The not-quite-but-sorta-in-this-case problem is that I have a fulfilling creative day job. (Which has also become an evening job recently). Thanks to a somewhat overwhelming workload, my creative juices are being sucked dry. By the time I collapse in front of my writing computer, I'm running on fumes. Keeping up with edits is all I can manage at the moment, and I'm a week behind the critiques that are coming in so 'keeping up' is a relative term.

On the plus side, bills are getting paid and we're planning a vacation this summer. Let's just hope the Percolator doesn't explode before things mellow out a little around here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eggs, Spring and yet another creative distraction

Mother Nature decided to make spring come to Michigan during spring for once. It's kind of crazy, because in all my years this has never happened. We might not have snow, but it's still cold and usually raining.

With the first day of Spring coming in just three days, we're (vastly) enjoying temperatures in the upper seventies. I've even cleaned out a few of the more protected flower beds close to the house (because this IS Michigan and for all we know, we might have two feet of snow by next weekend). Crocuses and daffodils are flowering. Have I mentioned how crazy this is? We're several weeks ahead of schedule here.

And so am I.

Easter usually hits me as an 'oh crap, that's next weekend?!?!' event. Which means our Easter decorations usually sit out for a whole two weeks (maybe). This is a little sad, because we have a long running tradition of painting wooden Easter eggs every year and I'd prefer to enjoy them a little longer after our effort in creating them. This year, we're on top of things!

When my son was born fourteen years ago, I had this grand idea of painting an egg for him every year so he'd have a little memento to take with him when he eventually moves out. Yeah, I was kinda planning way ahead, but this comes from a similar thing my mother did for my sister and I when we were little. We picked out a new Christmas ornament each year, and when we moved out, we had a pile to start decorating our own tree with. Well, I do that too, but the overachiever in me had to one up my mother and pull in a second holiday.

But now I have two kids and a lot less time. You can probably figure out which years were more of a last minute rush than others from this photo. We've done glitter, and little designs. That second one in the bottom row was finger painted by one year old fingers. And some years, I've actually had time to sit down with my tiny paint brushes and have some fun.

My son is rather past the excitement of painting eggs. In fact, he'd probably much rather calculate the number of eggs he'd have by the time he moved out by pi and multiply by the circumference of Jupiter and then applying that to some ungodly number theory game he learned in math.

Thankfully, my daughter is my mini-me and loves painting so she paints her own eggs now, which frees me up to take over the task of creating one for Mathboy. He also loves Nerf guns, which is why, this year, I decided to use that particular phase to decorate his egg.

Ok, so it's not particularly Easterish. I gave up on that years ago and went for documenting what ever they are into at the time.

My daughter has hermit crabs. So yep, we have a hermit crab egg.

A dragon egg? Sure, why not.

Swords? Definitely.

My daughter was a little easier. Some flowers, glitter and more glitter! That worked for several years before she started painting her own.

A couple years ago it occurred to me that I should make a few eggs for myself or I'll be left with none when these kids finally do move out. Tie dye was fun in egg form for something different.

So how does one make one of these things? 

It's pretty easy. First, get thee to a craft store and buy a bag of wooden eggs. You might notice that mine are different sizes. Some years I had left overs. The medium size come four in a bag. So do the small ones. The large ones are sold individually. Some years I had to go with whatever size was still on the peg a week before Easter. Hence, we have an assortment. 

If you're fortunate, you might find a brand of wooden eggs that are round on the bottom. Most are not. This is ok really because it makes it much easier to stand on the table to paint and dry. Look for ones with the smallest level of flatness on the bottom. You won't notice that once they're all painted and piled in a basket.

 Then you'll need some acrylic craft paint. Just a little goes a long way. Gather some brushes, water and some inspiration and you're ready to go.
 Paint a base coat. You can either paint a solid color or water the paint down a little and do a wash. I'm rather fond of the wash so the wood grain shows through a little. For this year, I did a wash of mix of pearl white and pearl blue. If you opt for the wash, it dries very quickly and you can get right to painting.

If you're going to add glitter, you'll need wet paint to for the glitter to adhere to. Be aware that painting over glitter isn't the easiest thing so only put glitter in the areas you don't plan on doing anything else with. You could also add the glitter to smaller spots at any point by shaking it onto any wet paint area - making little dots or squiggles of paint works wonderfully. 
 And then paint your design. Yep, it's pretty simple. I'm a fan of long, thin bristled brushes, mostly because it better hides the shaking my hands do these days. I usually do something more in the random design arena on the opposite side of actual painting so it can look Easterish if it ends up with right way in the basket.

And then there's the other side. 

At this point, I write their names and the year on the bottom and bring it outside for an overall shot of Krylon clear coat. The clear coat also seals in any glitter.

Once it's dry, it goes in the basket--where it will come out several times as the kids go through the pile and organize them by year (as my daughter did in that long picture), and chat about which ones they painted, and hide them, and find them (or I find them a month later). The best part about them is that they don't chip, they don't rot, you don't have to find a way to eat a dozen hard boiled eggs and they make a great conversation piece year after year. 

And now I can check that little project off my mommy list for year. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time to get motivated

Ever feel like flinging your uncooperative character across the room? Well now you can! Want to stomp on their stupidity? Literally crush their limbs...err...whims? Yep, you can do that too.

Made from gloves, which I'll toss out the trendy term 'upcycled' to pretend I'm up on the lingo, these little guys (No, I didn't use that extra finger to make them gender specific) are ready and waiting for your abuse (a.k.a. motivation). They are posable and padded for to protect your knuckles.

I'll use one of my current characters as an example.

"Hey 152, can I talk to you a minute?"


"So in that last chapter, I thought I had issues with William slowing the pace down with all his tidbits of history."

"The Williams are bad."

"Yes, yes, we know that. But it turns out William wasn't my problem. It was you!"

"Me? What did I do?"

"It seems your killing people, even by accident is making you difficult to sympathize with. You're going to have to cut that out."

"But, it's not my fault. It's what I do. I don't want to change!"

"Oh yeah?"
"Okay! Okay! Rewrite me! I'll change! I promise!"

Yep. They work. And I feel better too. Win win!

Character motivators, coming to a OCGR Nano raffle near you. Or me. Yeah, mostly near me. Sorry.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Victims of the Knife: Malfunction

A distant scream yanks my attention away (yet again) from editing A Broken Race.

I spin my chair around and scan the paper covered floor. There, in the corner by last November's dismantled ream wall, characters run around like they've lost their minds. Delilah is on her knees, sobbing. Nekar throws adverbs left and right as if searching for one in particular. Bulky-short-haired-hot-tempered-violet-ex-partner-who-sold-out-Ms-MC-and-caused-her-serious-emotional-harm-before-she-hunted-him-down-and-killed-him shouts threats on the top of his lungs.

 The object of his threats comes into view as I draw closer. Blue sits in the middle of a bloody, uniform-strewn clearing. He appears to be chewing something.

 "Blue, what the hell are you doing?"

"Having a snack." He holds up the sleeve of one of the uniforms.

 Holy crap, there's a hand dangling from it! "You've eaten the Barthromians!"

 Blue smiles around his mouthful of pale flesh. "They were good."

 "Since when do you eat humans?"

"I don't. They were aliens. They just looked like humans."

Ms. Wildstar taps me. "He has a point. About them being human-looking aliens, that is. You said so yourself." I glare at her. "Weren't you the one screaming?"

"That was Trala." She points to the quivering woman on the ground beside Delilah.

"Oh. Weren't you supposed to be introducing Blue to everyone? How did this happen?'

Ms. Wildstar sighs. "He said he was hungry. I went to get him some food." She holds out a bowl of discarded undefined fantasy novel 'food'.

"Seems he was too hungry to wait." I pluck the new alien from his messy plate of a clearing. "Blue, seriously, what the hell? You ATE my Barthromians."

His eyes, on their foot-long stalks, blink at me unabashedly.

Nekar groans. "That was horrible."

"Shut up." I turn back to Blue. "Well?"

"I thought I made my intentions quite clear when you introduced me to everyone. I said I looked forward to eating them."

"No. I'm pretty sure you said, meeting. Guys?"

The gathered discarded characters nod.

"See? Meeting. Not eating."

"Stupid translator." His tentacles sag. "So when they were running around screaming as I tore them limb from limb, it wasn't because they were excited?"

"Um. No."


Friday, March 2, 2012

Victims of the Knife: The New Guy

From the shadows under my desk comes a concentration-busting drone of sobs. I turn away from edits on A Broken Race and search for the culprit.

I discover a blubbering blue mass of tentacles. Ms. Wildstar sits beside it, patting one of the long, thick appendages. She glares at me. "What did you do to him?"

"I wrote him a nice letter."

"You call that nice? You dumped him."

"I dumped him nicely. I have other projects to work on and his wasn't going anywhere. Remember my resolution of LESS? This falls under cutting losses so I can devote my story-fixing peroclating time to stories that have a hope of getting published."

"But you hoped his story would get published. Why would you up on him?"

"He was created for a specific prompt. When he was rejected, I changed him for a wider market. He never quite flowed right after that. We covered this in the letter." I turn back to my laptop and the more promising story waiting for me.

A tugging on my leg proves just as distracting as the sobs had been. "What now?"

Drooping eye stalks atop a climbing mass of blue tentacles make their way up my leg. His prolific tears soak into my pants.

I sigh. "Since you're intent on not going away, I suppose you want to meet everyone?"

He bobs his eye stalks.

"Everyone, this is Blue. He's an alien. He's blue. Thanks to being horribly misled by our government, he's now very paranoid and will not be taking any vacations in the desert. He enjoys filing thorough reports, good food, females and the familiar comforts of his spaceship. And apparently most things beginning with the letter F. His dislikes are people that won't listen to him when he tells them their world is about to be destroyed, his boss, probes of any sort, and misinformation."

Blue raises a tentative tentacle and waves it. A shrill female voice says, "Hello." Blue turns a shade bluer and bangs on his translator. A booming male voice says, "Hello. That's better. Worthless piece of malfunctioning crap. I look forward to meeting all of you."

"Happy now?" I ask him.

"For the moment. Got anyone around here that can fix translators?"

Ms. Wildstar beckons to him. "Let her get back to work before she axes someone else out of spite. I'll show you around."

I let the two of them be and settle back into editing in silence.