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There is no Off Switch on the Creativity Machine
There are times when I will actually make sense...this is not one of those times
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16th-Jun-2013 09:35 am - Short Story: Irony's Paradox
Jack smokin'
Title: Irony’s Paradox
Author: [personal profile] tamela_j
Artist: [profile] astro_nom
Genre: Lit fiction
Pairings: Bryon/Colin
Word Count: 5,500
Rating: Rish
Warnings: angst, life and death matters
Summary: Bryon Schultz met Colin Markers at an Apocalypse Party... that should have been his first warning that the relationship was going to wreck him. In fact, it was only one of many ironies that Bryon has to contemplate.
Author Notes: Written for [community profile] originalbigbang's Reverse Big Bang, where an artist/mixer created something and I wrote something based on it. It was great and a bit terrifying to be writing original fiction again for immediate release. *meep* [profile] astro_nom, I’m so sorry! It occurred to me after the 12th listening that maybe, perhaps you were looking for a story about an actual apocalypse, not just metaphorical. :(( Thank you so much for the song collection though! I loved them! Seriously, everyone, check it out!



Irony’s ParadoxCollapse )



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

7th-Feb-2013 09:03 pm - Long Overdue Update and News...
Jack smokin'
Wow. Sorry I've been MIA. It's been a busy couple of months. I keep telling myself to take a break and come here and update, and then more stuff comes up and now it all seems overwhelming just to try and remember. Lets see if bullet-points will help me keep it brief and manageable.

Read MoreCollapse )



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

25th-Jul-2012 08:39 pm - Writing Retreat of Awesome!
Dorothy Parker--alas
Over the Fourth of July holiday, I was lucky enough to attend the Second Annual Helderberg Writing Retreat. It is a glorious good time that my editor is kind enough to throw at her place in the Hudson Valley. It is secluded, isolated and yet filled with inspiration from not only the environment, but also the company of fellow writers.
,
It's also a bit of a homecoming.

There are people there that I feel I've grown up with as a writer, people who have seen the very roughest of rough drafts, that have nurtured me to be what I am now and are still invested in helping me be what I can be, one day. And I feel the same towards them. We've all sort of spread out over the country in the last few years, but I got to see a few of them.

So there was inspiration from that, plus, half a dozen writers sitting in the same room, happily clacking away on their computers, scribbling in their notebooks and not a single internet distraction was sort of an amazing experience.

This year was a perfect combination of writing, workshopping, prompting and shenanigans. We spent our days writing and workshopping pieces of each others' work (man, I miss that!) and our nights cocktailing, costuming and reading our work aloud *meep* (I read "Four Corners" which I still need to fix, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to say those words aloud. ♥)

One of the non-writing highlights of the retreat (other than breakfasts at the local hole-in-the-wall-of-awesome) was the Costume Ball. Last year's theme was Favorite Character and I half assed it by putting on some overalls, a derby hat and going as Tom Joad from Grapes of Wrath. ♥TOM♥ This year's theme, Favorite Villain, I was going to do the same (not go as Tom Joad, obvs, but use most of the costume) and go as Bob Ewell from To Kill A Mockingbird. I know, lame...

But then inspiration hit. Guess who I am?

I'm Your Biggest Fan!Collapse )</center>

For next year's Costume Ball, we all wrote two of our favorite books on a piece of paper and put them into a hat and then we each pulled out a book and next year we have to had read the book and come as one of the characters and then discuss. My two selections were Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow (naturally) and Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. ♥ Sadly, no one got Russell's book, so no Jesuit priests or alien life forms. But someone did get the Robbin's book (and man I hope they like it!) so there is a chance there will be a Salome or perhaps a Can of Beans--seriously, it's a really weird book.

I got The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I'm not too far into it so far, but am loving it. Anyone ever read it?

Lastly, I'm using the Dorothy Parker icon because one of the younger attendees of the retreat, rather innocently (and not at all prepared for the *gasps* of horror she would receive) asked, "Who is Dorothy Parker."

And there was much weeping (and also much googling some of the very best quotes).

This lead two of us to declare (and start to plan) that next year's retreat will have to kick off with a Dorothy Parker Cocktail Hour. IT WILL BE AWESOME!



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

16th-Jul-2012 12:12 am - Updates
Jack smokin&#39;
I am so lucky that I don’t depend on my ability to blog to sustain my livelihood or anything. I’d be screwed.

Well, maybe not, as seeing as how most of the reasons I don’t get to it more often is because I’m doing other things that take care of the pesky bills and the whole roof over the head and food in the belly thing. Could you imagine if blogging or, better yet, writing did all those things. *drifts off*

I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yeah.

Novel UpdatesCollapse )



Oh wait, one last thing not having anything to do with the novel. I just want to apologize once again for any of you following me on Twitter. I got hacked and it was of course the one weekend I was away from the internet and there was nothing I could do. It’s all fixed now if you’d rightfully fled during that time and would like to add me back @tamela_j I promise to be just as ridiculous and off topic as ever! :)) Also, if you’re looking for a less spammy Tamela, then by all means, Facebook like me, or whatever that’s called!



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

1st-May-2012 11:44 pm - Book Review: Trace by Sam Starbuck
old smelly books
From Jacket: Colin Byrne is a pickpocket, an artist, and an occasional consultant for the police. He’s also an ex-felon, an initiate into the feral, unspoken magic that only prisoners know: how to vanish, how to tell fortunes, how to steal souls. Now the man who put him in prison wants him to return to Railburg State Correctional Facility to help investigate a case.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this book. I have enjoyed other works of the author and have been reading his blog for years now, so I knew that I’d enjoy his storytelling and style, I just didn’t know how much.

I think the thing that surprised me was the magical realism. As much as I enjoy that genre, I very rarely seek it out, so I didn’t go looking for it when I picked up this book. It was a lovely surprise. As was the shock that the book really came to life the moment the bars clanged shut with Colin “Suicide” Byrne on the inside...again.

Don’t get me wrong, the brief moments of domestic bliss between Colin, Joseph (the cop who put Colin away years before and who showed him a life worth living after being rehabilitated) and Joseph’s wife Analise in the beginning was touching and beautifully rendered. All the more so when they became the thing that Colin clings to while battling demons both old and new in the joint.

Starbuck does an amazing job of showing life behind bars with its gangs and seedy underbelly without weighing it down with unrelated stereotypes just for effect. In addition he also introduced a whole new group of prisoners, the special select, like Byrne and his friends, who have powers that they collectively refer to as “mojo.” In so doing, he gives us a sense of family that I was pleasantly surprised about. In fact, my only criticism of this book (and it’s one that I have about a lot of shorter novels) is that I really wanted to know much more about this family. But that could just be me and my fascination, bordering on obsession, with secondary characters.

For example, I would read an entire book about Noel, the tattoo artist, post-Aryan with an intriguing past only alluded to in the book. So much angst and untold story in that guy and in his relationship with Colin!

In other words, I completely, unequivocally recommend this book to anyone who loves stories that stick with you and work their magic into your subconscious for a long time after.

Available at Lulu as eBook, Paperback or for a free(!!!) ePub.



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

Dorothy Parker--alas
I’m asking this not only because I’m too lazy/broke to go and procure a Writer’s Market or other type book, but also because I’d rather have real people who I can interact with and question further their opinions than just a bunch of random lists of way too many places with no real sense of pros vs. cons of each.

So, a quandary for all you writer/novelist types: What organizations, groups, guilds and the like are you a member of? Why? What do you look for in this sorts of shenanigans? What are some pros/cons and what should be avoided?

I have no opinions yet, so all suggestions, opinions and information will be much appreciated.
Thanks.

You can comment here or on my Facebook page.



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

Commas Save Lives
“Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. It is one of the hardest things to accept." Michael Crichton


Got my first round of edits. \o/

I’m not going to lie. They were painful to look at. So many stupid mistakes, so many embarrassing typos and repetitions, so many major rewrites to do and so very many plot holes needing to be filled.

I sort of want to send flowers to my editor as an apology for having to trudge through it--is that allowed? Also, more importantly, for taking this book on despite all of that; for seeing what it could be through all the tremendous amount of shit and for trusting me to getting it there.

Believe me, these were not my first thoughts. My first thoughts were pretty much to burrow down in the fetal position in the deepest, darkest hole and never, ever see the light of day again. Thankfully, after three days, that melodrama passed. Instead, I came up with a plan.

I found that the blinding panic every time I looked at it was due to the LARGE picture of everything that needed work and how impossible it seemed and how was I even allowed to operate a pen and paper? So, I decided to break it up into manageable, and hopefully less terrifying pieces.

”People who go on to be writers are those who can forgive themselves the horror of the first draft.” Alain de Botton


My first run through--which I’m almost done with--was simply to tackle the typos, spelling mistakes, grammar and repetitions. It’s a mostly mindless task that involves a lot of “Accept and Move to Next” over and over. The main goal of this stage (besides the obvious of cleaning up the text) was to relax me and give me time to contemplate the larger issues. It has also given me time to tone down the self-loathing. I can happily report that it was a complete success. I have even stopped adding “Dumbass” to all of the notes. Such as, “Commas don’t work that way, dumbass” or, “Hey dumbass, people don’t ‘smile the smile’ or ‘laugh the laugh’ they smile and they laugh. STOP IT!”

My second run through will be devoted to dialogue. My editor kindly reminded me that I am neither John Steinbeck or William Faulkner and not EVERY single character needs to talk with ya’s and gonna’s. The third run through will be filling plot holes and dealing with timeline issues and then finally I will tie up loose ends and make sure it all still flows.

Then I will send it off, sigh a sigh of relief, maybe make a cocktail or three and wait for round two. *meep*

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time unlike, say, brain surgery." Robert Cormier
1st-Mar-2012 07:47 pm - Blog: Recalling Characters
Jack smokin&#39;
Yep. Still feeling editing anxieties. Now though, they have manifested themselves in a deep and horrifying panic about characters and getting back to the place I will need to get to if I'm going to be spending time with them and tinkering with them to make them better. This is not a new fear for me, especially for this particular story.

Getting nostalgic for my characters and their beginnings, I pulled out the very first draft, what Chuck Wendig would call the zero draft as it was written during NaNoWriMo way back in 2004 (holy shit!). Anyway, I found this little note that I wrote to my characters even back then:

Okay Tim, Nomi I have to tell you something and you’re not going to like it. I’m starting to come to the realization that you might have picked the wrong person to tell your story. I’m sorry, but I might not have the talent to pull it off as great as it should be. I will do my best, as always, but I must prepare you for the realization that my best might not be good enough.

So, from the beginning I worried about treating them right, doing justice to this amazing story I feel sometimes that they gave me responsibility to tell.

No pressure guys!

And true, I’m not as artsy-fartsy as I used to be and don’t give the power to the characters that I’ve created and blame/give credit to an arbitrary “muse” for my inspiration or writer’s block anymore (or as much as I had in the past). But still, these characters are special. It took me a long time to create them that way and an even longer time to work out their issues, foibles and bad behaviors, you know, the things that make them human.

In 2004 these characters lived so vibrantly and richly in my mind and for years after I called them up regularly to add to their story, to finish it and then to edit it. Now though, it’s been a very long time since they’ve been prevalent in my head space. I’m terrified that I won’t be able to bring them back to the forefront where they need to be.

Part of me wants to go and start tinkering now, while I wait for the editor to get my manuscript back to me, but another part thinks that would be a really bad idea. What if my editor’s suggestions don’t work with the changes I make independently or I wind up wanting to tell a completely different story? That would be BAD.

Or, and this could be even worse. What if while re-reading, I like them less, what if there are fundamental things wrong with them that I hadn’t seen those years when I loved them so very much that they were a part of my every thought? OH GOD! OH GOD!

*deep breaths*

Great, now I’ve talked myself into being terrified of even reading the story again. Believe me, that was not the purpose of this post. Not even close. Let’s move on.

So, what should I do?

Options:

Read it in random chunks.
This will familiarize myself with the characters and their mannerisms and characteristics without stressing me about the plot and setting and all those other pesky bits that are a freak out for another post.

Rely on what I remember. I haven’t forgotten them of course, the goal is to bring them from my ever present subconscious to my immediate consciousness. So, if I take what is always there and actively think on them again, that would be a good step. Easy to do too, so that’s a plus.

Fanfic this shit. Hey, I’ve done it with other people’s characters that I love for fun and to tinker with aspects of my writing, so why not do it to my own? Take them and put them in new situations, tell bits of what happened before or after the actual story. Missing scenes? Sure, the book is full of them. Or, OR, since I’m really into crossovers right now, hmmm, maybe Naomi gets a certain letter from a certain school of Witchcraft and Wizardry? ♥

And finally:

Freak out some more. This will, of course, be happening whether I want it to or not. Maybe though, I can keep it to a minimum? Let’s hope. In the meantime, what do you do to get back into a character’s head?



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

old smelly books
It's pulp fiction. Real pulp fiction, though, not like the movie. John Travolta is not in this book. Sorry.

That's how A.J. O'Connell describes her new novella "Beware the Hawk" on her website. I'm not suggesting I'm an expert of the genre as I can honestly say that I have read very few (if any) pulp fiction novels (wait, does Elmore Leonard count?) I'm just saying, even I know there are a few things that are absolutely essential:

Feisty Dames ✓ The protagonist of the story (who, lol, I didn't realize until writing this up, is nameless and when I figure out how O'Connell managed to do that so effortlessly I will gladly share it with you) is nothing if not feisty. Jaded, yes, but not so much so that she's unreachable and isn't constantly surprised and dismayed. You can feel shocked by her predicaments, because you sense that she is too, no matter how above it all she tries to portray herself.
Clandestine Meetings ✓ Protagonist and her Boston contact, Leo have a number of meetings in a seedy bar where things get more confused the more they're explained.
Code Words ✓ The title alone tells you this is true and yet it avoids being gimmicky.
Someone Overusing the Term "Sweetheart" ✓ Sooooo many sweethearts! But, hey, a pulp fiction book that takes place in Boston where it's not sweetheart, but "sweet-haht" is begging for this overuse.

If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the genre, I highly suggest you start here. It's a short, well written read that will have you wishing it was so much longer. Not in an unfinished way, but in a "I want to hang out with these characters for many, many more pages" way.

In addition to the subtle way that she avoids naming the main character and still makes us feel as if we know her almost intimately, the writer in me also admires and wants to know how O'Connell finds the exact perfect way with descriptions so that they not only tell us the physicality of a thing, but also a bit about the character who notices them without weighing us down with too many facts. It's a gift that's for sure.

Here are a few of my non-spoilery favorites that, thanks to Kindle being in every aspect of my life I can easily highlight on my reader and then cut and paste on my Kindle App for my PC (annotated and everything!!). ♥

It started as a tramp stamp but kind of took over. One of my roommates calls it a tramp stampede.

O'Connell, A.J. (2012-01-14). Beware The Hawk (Kindle Locations 334-335). Vagabondage Press LLC. Kindle Edition.

I turned my head to see three skinny girls wearing black tank tops and khakis. Danny picked all of them up in one gigantic hug and then dropped them. They fell on their feet, three Siamese cats, styled by Abercrombie & Fitch.

O'Connell, A.J. (2012-01-14). Beware The Hawk (Kindle Locations 355-356). Vagabondage Press LLC. Kindle Edition.

It's taking everything in me not to share every single example and every single witty sentence (of which there are many) that I have highlighted here. But I don't have the time (or copyright) for that. :)) Plus, you should probably read it for yourself and highlight your own favorites.

Link for information on ordering the e-novella



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

29th-Jan-2012 08:34 pm - Blog: Everyone Needs Some Editing...
Commas Save Lives
As I sit here and patiently wait for my first round of edits to come back from my editor, I thought I'd ramble on a bit here about the editor-writer relationship. Anything to help swallow the mounting panic as I try and remember that the life of a small press editor is chaotic and their time is stretched among many projects, not just tearing apart my book. Hopefully this time will be used to bolster my confidence that it's all going to be brilliant and not that the editor is spending a huge amount of time trying to sort out all the ways in which I suck.

Breathe Tamela, breatheCollapse )

♥♥



As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.

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