This past weekend, Mr. Suze and I attended a two-day event in New Hampshire. Our son, the Crown Prince of Hardydom, is a member of his school’s FIRST Robotics team and this was his first competition. FIRST is an organization founded by Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway as well as numerous medical devices–and he’s also king of his own island nation, the Kingdom of North Dumpling). Teams from across the country work with local mentors on a predetermined challenge: build a robot to accomplish specific tasks. This year the robot needs to be able to shoot disks (frisbees) into a goal as well as climb a pyramid in order to score points. Click here to see the robots in action.
As I watched the competition from the stands, I couldn’t help noticing that there were a lot of, well, geeks in that arena. Proud geeks. Intelligent geeks. Geeks wearing capes and tights and labcoats and team tee shirts–working hard and having a heck of a lot of fun. And it got me thinking. We each have our own particular brand of geekness, don’t we?
Me, I’m a history nerd. If it happened a couple thousand years ago and we’re digging it up now, I’m hooked. Add an element of DNA or skeletal analysis and associated artifacts, and you can forget about dinner and clean clothes, because I’ll be parked in front of the computer or television screen sucking up factoids. I’m also fascinated by stuff like ancient languages and their relationship to modern tongues, and what they tell us about our ancestors’ migration/settlement patterns. I’m that girl who rubbernecks, nearly causing accidents, every time she drives past a house with one of those signs nailed to the front telling who built the place and in what year. If I miss it, sometimes I’ll turn around and go back and look. Later, I may Google the name and date to see if there’s any more information available. If I possibly can, I stop to read historical markers on the side of the road. I was captain of my school’s history bowl (trivia) team–2-time New York State champions!
So I totally get what these robot-building kids are about. And I applaud them!
Say it loud. I’m a nerd and I’m proud.
What about you? Are you ready to let your geek flag fly here at the Scribes? I’d love to hear what geeky interest keeps you away from your chores–Cryptozoology? Comics/graphic novels? Computers and technology? Experimental horticulture? Eighteenth century poetry written by nuns? Free yourself and admit it here! Inquiring Scribes want to know.
Hi there! Number One Kid here! I’ve hijacked Mom’s blog while she is in Chicago selling her book, Real Virtue, at the RT Booklovers Convention. While the big cat’s away, this little cat is here to play!
So, what does a girl talk about when she has carte blanche on her mom’s blog? (Without getting grounded, of course.) She talks about what it’s like to live with a writer, that’s what.
For the past two years, I’ve watched my mom go from dreamer to success, and I’ve learned a few secrets along the way. Perhaps some of you will relate.
Here are my top ten observations:
10. Practice makes perfect! When following your dreams, never give up practicing. (Thanks, Mom, for this one. I won’t forget it no matter what I am striving for!)
9. Thinking about writing is NOT doing it. (I hear this one a lot—usually when she is driving me to all of my sport activities which is then keeping her from her writing. Once again, thanks, Mom!)
8. I love this one! The road to success has to include little mini-parties along the way. I especially love the parties with cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles on top…and kitties! Meow!
7. Being an artist, I’ve learned from watching my mom that writing and drawing are related. While Mom is describing the human anatomy, I enjoy drawing it. (Get your minds out of the gutter! I mean people! I enjoy drawing people. Check out my latest drawing. What d’ya think?)
6. This one I’m still a little bummed about. I’ve learned just because you’re in the family, doesn’t mean you’ll make it in the book. In Momma’s new release, her character, Mel is a gamer. I made myself her “go-to” person on everything virtual. The character Cassie was based on me! I was so excited! Until Cassie had a run-in with the delete button.
5. Another thing I’ve learned is that typing cute messages into her manuscript is not as funny to her as it is to me. (I don’t understand why though, because it is pretty funny.)
4. I’ve learned that it is normal for her to carry-on full conversations with absolutely no one. If you have a writer in the family, don’t admit them to the hospital just yet.
3. This one goes along with number four. Remember! Their characters are real to them. Just nod and go along with them when they are telling you what so-and-so is doing today. And still, don’t admit them to the hospital!
2. I can’t stress this one enough. An “Enter at Your Own Risk” sign should not be taken lightly. Even if you’re bleeding, DO NOT DISTURB! (First Aid classes will help with this situation. You will need to learn how to stitch your own wounds.)
And for my number one observation of living with a writer…drum roll please!…..
1. “Get out of here!” means I love you. “Get the heck out of here!” means I really love you.
I love you Mom! I wish you the best success in selling your book.
PJ here. To top off our spooky week on All Soul’s day, I’d like to welcome our fabulous final guest, Fran Friel. Take it away Fran!
Inspiration and a Hubby Chat
As proof that inspiration can be found anywhere, I submit the hubby chat. The other night, my hubby and I were talking about the TV show, Vampire Diaries.For the most part, he ignores it when it’s on, but in a moment of unguarded interest (I know he’s actually watching from the corner of his eye), he asked me about the werewolves in the show.“Are they suppose to be stronger than the vampires?”I wasn’t sure, in fact I suspect it depends on what the script writer’s plot needs are for any given episode.As if on cue, our cat yawned, and that girl has some serious fangs.
This lead us to a discussion about Vamp Cats (and yes, we have the oddest conversations), then on to even more fanciful speculation concerning the efficacy of Vamp Turtles or a Vamp Cows.Nah, I thought, too slow, too cumbersome.
What’s the point of all this, you ask? Well, when the Seven Scribes honored me with the opportunity to write their Halloween blog, I was looking for inspiration.What could be more inspiring than Hellcow?And what does Hellcow have to teach us about writing?The art of reinvention.
So I’m setting a Halloween challenge for you to exercise your writing muscles by using an old theme and reinventing it in your own unique way (in any genre). Here are a few suggestions to start you off:
Choose a common topic, but be sure it’s one that has a spark for you
In the spirit of the day, Halloween themes like ghosts, witches, zombies, etc. are great. And with the winter holidays soon upon us, you could rewrite the Thanksgiving story or Santa’s tale.Or how about pirates, cowboys and aliens?Childhood characters like the tooth fairy, or the boogie man are in serious need of some new digs.Basically, anything that gives you that little zing of inspiration is game.Even common everyday items can be fun.I once wrote a story about homicidal dust bunnies, and another about demonic spuds!And yes, they were both published.
Turn Left Instead of Right
Writing teacher, Terri Brown-Davidson, gave me a suggestion I’ve never forgotten., “When you want to go right, try turning left and see what happens.” As writers, we can get into a rut of comfort or predictability, so as an exercise in the process of reinvention, do the opposite of what you might feel safe doing.Give your story and your characters some unpredictability by challenging yourself to go where you might not normally tread.A little discomfort for a writer can create exciting results.
You’ve heard the saying, “Dance as if no one is watching.” Well, do the same with your writing (at least your first draft)–write as if no one but you will read what you’ve written.Be fearless, and write to entertain, intrigue, or scare yourself.Not worrying about what anyone else will think is very freeing.If it turns out to be brilliant, then you can always share later.But for now, this work is for your eyes only!
Just like Frankenstein returning to life or a vampire being reborn as the undead, the exercise of reinventing old themes can really get the creative juices flowing. If you seek to be brave and step beyond your comfort zone, turning left instead of right down the old worn path, you may find that reinvention extends beyond the story and into your broader writing life.Staying fresh and challenging yourself to expand your reach as a writer is important to the longevity of your career (and your sanity).Give it a try and let me know how it goes.Remember, someone actually wrote a story about a Hellcow and got published.You too can reinvent the impossible!
Happy Halloween, have a wonderful All Souls Day, and Happy Writing!
Fran Friel is a two-time Bram Stoker Award Finalist, winner of the Black Quill Award and former editor at Dark Recesses Press.Her short story collection, Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales, and her novella, Beach of Dreams, are available at Amazon and Apex Book Company.Look for her novella, Grid Walker, in the upcoming anthology, Barbers and Beauties, from editor Michael Knost.You can find Fran at Facebook, Twitter, Fran Friel’s Yada Feast.
Thanks for being here, Fran. Love the cat fangs! Anyone want to jump in and tell us what creative re-inventions you’re working on?
Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here. Also, please check out my exciting news at my blog (after you finish reading this one!).So who’s noticed the growing trend among paranormal and urban fantasy authors to go graphic? No, I don’t mean sex. That’s a different topic for another day.
I’m referring to graphic novels. You know, those “comic books”. The ones often snickered at as not being “real” books because they have pictures.
For those who don’t believe graphic novels and comics are a legitimate form of art, I would direct them to the movies. There have been dozens of films (The Green Mile, 300, Sin City, Watchmen, The Crow, A History Violence – all graphic novels).
And do I have to list the comic book movie adaptations? I think we all know what those are. But wait. I mentioned TV. AMC’s Walking Dead anyone?
I admit it. I’m a comic book geek. I grew up reading comic books and I still own my childhood collection (and, ahem, the comics I’ve purchased as an adult). They are lovingly tucked away in protective sheets in an acid free box. Thanks to my teenage boys, I discovered manga (Japenese graphic novels). The stories are engaging and as well written as novels. The perfect fusion of art and drama.
Needless to say, for romance authors, being asked to put your work into graphic novel form is a huge honor (at least to me). Thankfully, comic books, graphic novels, and manga are finally earning some respect.
Yes, us geeks are finally inheriting the Earth. It’s about time!
Who out there enjoys graphic novels? And if you haven’t read any, what’s holding you back? And would you read your favorite author’s books in graphic novel form?