This will never become a book.

2014 December 14 Sunday

Another Anthology Announcement

Filed under: writing — Tags: , — KDeFlane @ 16:24

Hello again! A year ago, I popped in to tell you about Scripting Change and my first published short story. Hard to believe, now an entire year has passed, and I have a new story appearing in another edition.

BEYOND THE WORDS

BeyondTheWords

“Beyond the Words”, the latest book from Scripting Change BEYOND THE WORDS

The community writing project Scripting Change is incredibly excited to announce the release of their second anthology: Beyond the Words! Writers, artists, and editors have donated their talents to create this project for charity. Proceeds from sales of this book will benefit three regional literacy organizations:

  • Read for Literacy, in Northwestern Ohio, provides learning opportunities for readers of all ages and backgrounds, with three tailored programs: Creating Young Readers, for children in kindergarten through 2nd grade; Adult Basic Education; and English Language Learners, for non-native English speakers.
  • Literacy Action, in Atlanta, Georgia, offers an incredibly wide array of literacy programs for adults — from literal reading assistance, to workplace literacy, family literacy & education, and much more, this organization provides its community with crucial support, enhancing so many lives!
  • Page Ahead, in Seattle, Washington, focuses its literacy efforts on children, allowing elementary-school children to browse book fairs at the end of the school year & choose their own books for the summer — which are then provided to them by Page Ahead! They bolster this program by also working with parents, helping them engage their young readers.

You can support literacy outreach by buying this e-book at any of the following links:

For more information, visit:
http://scriptingchange.blogspot.com/p/our-projects.html
Scripting Change anthologies
Find them on Facebook or on Twitter @ScriptingChange

2014 March 31 Monday

New Chapters and Endings

Filed under: life — kdefg @ 12:56

It’s spring cleaning time here in my neighborhood.  The city invites us to dump huge piles of large trash items out on the curb, and they come around with dump trucks and a scoop to haul it all away. Sometimes we play trash BINGO looking for the most unusual items.  This year there are fewer broken toilets and more kitchen items.  It’s hard for me to throw away anything that has potential to be useful to someone else, but I’m never organized enough to have a yard sale or take things to a drop-off location.  Fortunately we have people who drive around and pick thru the piles of trash for things they’ll either clean and use or resell.  It has taken me years to amass what I have in storage, and I can’t just wipe it all out in a weekend.  I consider it a victory to eliminate a stack of old magazines and regain a single shelf in the garage.

While spring brings the promise of new life, it seems like many other things around me are coming to an end.

Free Realms is shutting down.  I might have mentioned the game here in a post long ago.  It was an online game with quests aimed at a younger audience.  I enjoyed it more as a virtual world to explore rather than the MMO aspects with battles and trading cards and shops.  It was free-to-play if you never bought the in-game extras.  It’s a dying business model.

Television Without Pity  (TWoP) is shutting down. I might have mentioned the website in the past, for its forums and snarky articles.  Some of their recaps were amazing works of creative and expressive writing.  The parent company has no plans to maintain an archive, so read (and download) what you can this week. Many of the staff (mostly freelance part-timers) have posted about how the site is what gave them a start as professional writers. They were paid, but the site content was free to access, with ads pushed to the edges. It’s a dying business model.

My personal experiment with writing has taken a detour, mainly down a dead-end path.  I still enjoy discussions about writing, and I still play out scenes with the characters in my novel, but I don’t sit down to write the actual words.  I have discovered a lot about myself and my abilities over the years with NaNoWriMo and my local writers group.  Mostly I’ve learned that I do not have a passion for writing.  There is nothing wrong with accepting that and moving on.

A local movie theater is shutting down.  The lease ended, and the property owners are turning the site over to a redevelopment group who feels there is no market for a single large screen.  (It’s a dying business model?) There is a petition to save the domes or at least the oldest building in the cluster, but even as an historic preservation site only the dome would remain, with the interior repurposed for anything other than motion pictures.

And the list goes on. My friends have sold their house and are embarking on early retirement.  Can we really be that old?  I remember helping them move from an apartment to a small starter home decades ago, then move again when they bought the large house on the hill years later.  We saw less of each other after that, because it was an inconvenient distance, but we enjoyed many “date nights” for Scrabble and cards and catching up. Now they have a plan to travel the country in an RV.  They put some furniture into storage, so they must expect to settle down again in the future.  I can’t image where they will end up, but it will probably be too far away for game nights.

In other news about endings, my cat was well into her nineteenth year of life when she had a stroke.  She had been doing poorly even before that, waking me up every night and needing a lot of attention. The stroke left her too weak to use the litter box or stand at her food bowls.  After two days, we decided it was time to let her go.  Her things will go into storage, not the curb.

Now I find myself no longer tethered to the house.  I can get a full night of uninterrupted sleep now, too.  This led me to think about going back to work again, not just for money like the cashier job but something to use my computer talents and interests.   I quickly found what I think might be a perfect fit, and I have a job interview scheduled for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a good time to start another chapter.

 

2014 February 19 Wednesday

Escapism

Filed under: dreams — Tags: — kdefg @ 14:09

I saw a wise tweet today and wanted to share it with you:

Maybe that’s why movies feel so normal to us – because we dream at night.
== tweet by ‏Amber Benson

I love to dream.  I also enjoy movies, but not as much as I enjoy dreaming, and the movies I enjoy the most are the ones with the most dream-like qualities.  I want to be entertained, and although I can appreciate a well-crafted documentary or realistic drama in movie form, I get more enjoyment from a story which is unbelievable. I want heightened realism and witty dialog, the stuff that is too perfect and too clever to ever happen in real life.  Waking life is just not that entertaining.

Does this say something about how I am living my life? I avoid risk and the kinds of behavior that others describe as “living life to the fullest”.  I don’t keep a running “bucket list” of things I hope to do before I die, because I live my life more in my head than in my body.  I can experience plenty by reading and visualizing, and I can use my memories and imagination to generate the same emotional response as my body’s senses would. Great dreams and great movies may seem like mere simulations to others, but they stimulate me.

That doesn’t make all escapist movies worth seeing.  I’ve enjoyed some recent blockbusters in RealD and IMAX 3D but have avoided many of them as well. Sometimes it’s a matter of technology (as in “Is it real or fake?” per this list of 3D movies) but more often it’s the content that just doesn’t draw me in.  The latest movie trailer for “Guardians of the Galaxy” is an example where I just don’t see the appeal.  I can’t see putting myself into that story, so it doesn’t work for me as an escape.  It looks more silly than fun to me.

Ideally I would just dream more if I could, or dream better.  I find myself with more time lately to drift back to sleep in the morning.  That gives me an extra dream cycle, but the dreams are not of a consistent quality.  I also have more time for watching trashy movies on cable TV, but I remain detached from most of them as I pay attention to the details of their narrative techniques and analyze them for story structure.  I’m using movies as homework instead of escape.  I think this is affecting my dreams as well.

I signed up at a website which aims to run a monthly experiment in lucid dreaming.  The Mutual Dream Experiment has a lofty goal, but I believe it is based on faulty logic.  (That is a discussion for another time.)  I don’t believe my dreams will ever intersect with anyone else’s dreams, but I’m willing to participate if only to add to the pile of negative data.  Dreams need more research, simply to expand our knowledge of what it means to be human.  Perhaps we can improve our dreams in the same way that the studies of story structure and writing techniques have improved cinema.

But if you do want to send me a message in your next lucid dream, please write it down.  Show me something on paper, as a drawing or as text, and point to it.  I process information visually, and I remember the things I’ve seen, both in movies and in dreams as much as in real life.

2014 January 23 Thursday

What Does the Crow Say?

Filed under: reality — kdefg @ 18:58

Caw.

Or rather, “Caw caw caw caw.”

Today I was walking under a telephone pole when I heard a strange noise coming from above.  It was a single burst of sound, somewhere between a honking squawk and a squawking honk, which felt to me as being both organic and yet artificial.

I kept walking, but when I heard it again I simply had to stop and find its source.  At the top of the pole sat a large black bird.  It made the sound again, and I simply stared at the bird while my brain debated whether this was a raven or a crow.  I had looked it up once, but I couldn’t remember any of the descriptions which would help me make a determination.  “Caw,” it said, as if trying to teach me a foreign language.

There is nothing in the vocalization of this bird which maps onto the sounds of the word “caw” as said by a human.  The bird has no vowels or consonants. Look at this list of words for the sound a crow makes in various languages.  Most of them begin with a hard, guttural letter, and most of them have a long vowel drawn out behind it.  All of them are a poor approximation for the sound I heard today.

I stood there, beneath the telephone pole, and watched the bird shout its thoughts to the air.  I stood there and counted the bursts as if there was a coded message in it just for me.  Four caws, three caws, five then two, with pauses in between.  I stood there and listened and toyed with the idea that the universe could be sending me a signal from the other side of the simulation we live in, telling me that there is a bigger world beyond what we currently see.

The bird was silent for a stretch of time.  I waited, and I asked it to repeat its message, because I hadn’t been paying attention to the beginning of its stream.  The bird started up again, with four caws, then three, then four again.  I wondered why I never heard more than five caws in a row, and then the bird cawed six times.

I did not write down the message.  I hope it wasn’t important.

 

2013 November 5 Tuesday

Published!

Filed under: writing — Tags: — KDeFlane @ 15:21

Hello, I am the pen name of this blog’s owner.  And “we” have been published!

A friend from my writer’s group recently started Scripting Change for writers to contribute their work towards charitable causes. Their first project has just been published and is now available online. Volunteers donated their time and the contents in order to direct all proceeds to charity. Sales of this inaugural book will benefit the MSTR Scholarship Foundation and its students. This ebook contains my first ever published story (not counting my middle school newspaper).

book cover

“Seeing Past Sickness”, the first book from Scripting Change

SEEING PAST SICKNESS

On November 4, 2013, the Scripting Change ebook title “Seeing Past Sickness” goes on sale. Proceeds go to the MSTR Scholarship Foundation, which provides financial support for students pursuing an education, despite the difficulties and costs associated with chronic illness.

For more information, visit:
Scripting Change

2013 October 29 Tuesday

Plot Recipe

Filed under: writing — Tags: — kdefg @ 14:09

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for years.  My first year, I began the month with a blank page and no plan, and I generated characters and scenes out of thin air.  It was awesome! But it was not a book.  My second year, I began the month with a theme and some vague ideas, and I stalled very quickly.  I don’t even remember much of what I produced back then.  Even after reaching my 50K word goal two summers ago, I still have not produced a novel.

I finally joined a local group of writers who meet monthly to discuss The Craft.  I started to see the wisdom of making an outline and thinking about the importance of plot and structure in building a story.  I found books and articles and blogs that all presented their own spin on the idea that a story must have a structure.  Some of the focus was on movies or television episodes, so the templates might not work ideally for a novel, but the concepts are all there.  A story has ingredients, and they come together in a fairly common mixture.  I was afraid at first that my outline would restrict me, like a template or a formula which produces the same bland thing each time. Now I like to think of it as a recipe, and the results can vary with the cooks.

One benefit of being part of the NaNoWriMo community is in being exposed to more resources.  The @NaNoWriMo twitter feed gave me this gem today:

Our #NaNoCoach this week, @teribrownwrites, mentioned a post about feeding the muse by @KristenLambTX. Find it here: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/fueling-the-muse-for-nanowrimo-part-one/

And with that link, I was off on an adventure.  I discovered more info about plot points, much of what I’ve read elsewhere, but it is finally starting to sink in.  The rest of the blog is full of similar inspiration. I now have a synopsis of my story and a list of scenes ready to tackle.

Is it November yet?

 

 

2013 October 9 Wednesday

Turn on a Dime

Filed under: reality, synchronicity — kdefg @ 23:16

I used to write on this blog about reality.  I used to think a lot about the nature of reality.  I used to have time to ponder metaphysics and illusions and dreams. Then life became more mundane, and reality was simply real life.  I ran out of things to blog about.  Until today…

PROLOGUE:  Today started out simply enough.  I had the day off work and looked forward to spending time in front of the television catching up on a backlog of shows on the DVR.  I had a pile of laundry ready for sorting and washing.  I had websites to read, books to read, mail to read.  By noon, I had barely made a dent in most of those plans, having spent the morning reading forums online.  It was time for that cup of coffee I had promised myself.

INTRO:  I wanted to walk to Starbucks the way I used to, back in my days of unemployment. My feet have been hurting me more since I’ve been spending so much time on them — walking to work, standing at work, walking home again.  I dug into the back of a closet and found an old pair of hiking shoes, and marveled at how solid they felt compared to my worn-out sneakers. I put a load of shirts and socks into the washing machine, then headed out of the house.

SET-UP:  The walk was refreshing and immediately familiar. This was the path where I thought about the characters and setting of the last novel I worked on more than a year ago, during Camp NaNoWriMo last summer and again last November.  Lately I’ve been reading about ways to structure a story and how to create an outline, feeling more like a writer than ever, and looking forward to a new NaNoWriMo — my first as a plotter instead of a pantser.

FORESHADOWING:  When I reached Starbucks, a sign on the front door greeted me with this message:  “There’s a story in every coffee.” As it so happened, I was wearing a shirt I got from the American Red Cross which says, “Live a Story. Give a Story. Donate.”  In the parking lot out front, I had just passed a car with a bumper sticker which said, “writer.”  I believe the Universe was trying to get my attention.

PLOT TWIST:  Inside, I paid for my coffee and a muffin.  The cashier handed me $1.10 in change.  As I shifted the cash from one hand to the other, the dime slipped through my fingers.  I was intending to drop it into the tip jar anyway, but I couldn’t figure out where it had landed. It wasn’t on the counter or the floor, nor was it inside the pastry bag with my muffin.  The dime had vanished.  Maybe it fell into the display case, and maybe a worker would find it at the end of the day, but it was gone now.

CLIMAX:  I returned home.  Before settling down in front of the television to enjoy my coffee and muffin, I checked on the laundry.  I transferred the load of clean wet shirts and socks from the washer to the dryer.  My routine for this task includes clearing the lint traps and wiping the water seal around the door of the front-loader machine.  This time there was something besides hair and suds and water within the folds of that rubber gasket: a dime.  A shiny dime.

EPILOGUE:  A spooky feeling passed through me. For just a moment, I could believe that the Universe had teleported my dime from a shop three blocks away.  In the next fleeting moment, I wondered whether that would make an interesting premise for a new story.  My logical brain intervened and tried to explain away that dime as a stowaway in a clothing pocket — not from the most recent load, but the previous load of jeans.  Ridiculous! Who would believe such a story?

Reality has layers again.

2013 July 8 Monday

fiction sprint – Circus

Filed under: writing — Tags: — kdefg @ 14:32

“Mommy, what do those words say?”

Allison held her daughter’s hand as they walked past the storefront displays inside the mall. There were banners and signs everywhere, covered with logos and photographs of products, splashes of colors and sprinkles of numbers, and occasionally a word or two.

Lily was five years old now, and only recently discovered the joy of reading. She understood that books contained stories which were made of words which were made of letters. She was forming the connections between letters and sounds, but still wanted someone to tell her how to say the words she saw in unfamiliar forms.

“That one says ‘Sale Today’,” said Allison.

“It looks like ‘toe day’,” Lily insisted, pronouncing the first syllable with a long ‘Oh’ sound. “Maybe it’s spelled wrong.”

“No, that’s the way ‘today’ is spelled, trust me.” Allison pointed at a sign in the next window. “Can you find the word ‘sale’ on that one?”

They continued exploring the sights for the length of the entire mall. Sometimes Lily would pull her mother forward to the next store if Allison paused too long to gaze at the pretty dresses in the windows. Sometimes Allison would guide Lily away from stores with provocative images or inappropriate words on the signs.

They reached an art store, and they both came to a halt in front of a large poster hanging in the window.

“Mommy, what’s that big word?”

“Circus.”

Lily protested, saying something about the word starting with C instead of S, but Allison was no longer paying attention to her daughter. Her eyes were fixed on the faded image of the poster. It was a montage of classic circus sights: a clown juggling balls, an elephant with one foot on a pedestal, a lion roaring at a tamer, a woman standing on the back of a trotting horse.

A tug on her hand brought Allison back to the mall.

“Mommy, I see my name there! See? It says ‘Lily’ next to the horse lady. Right? That’s my name!”

Allison blinked away the memory of her former life, her former stage name, her former lover.

“That’s right, Lily. That’s what your name looks like.”

Lily clasped her mother’s hands with both of her own. “Can we go to the circus? When is it?”

“Oh, this circus isn’t here anymore. This is an old poster. The store just keeps it for the artwork.”

“Is there another circus? Can we find another circus and go there? I want to see a circus! I want to see the animals and the clown and the lady with my name.”

“Not every circus lady will have your name, Lily.”

“That’s okay. Will they still have a clown?”

“Every circus has a clown,” Allison said, looking at the poster with a sad smile, “but there will never be another one like him.”

2013 June 19 Wednesday

Wiped Out

Filed under: life, writing — kdefg @ 14:16

I am tired, so very tired. Exhausted. Who knew that standing at a cash register for eight hours could wear a body down? My feet hurt, especially my heels, and my knees ache, especially the “pits” where the tendons stretch behind the knee-joint, probably because I hyper-extend my legs and lock them into a standing position. I come home and want to do nothing but recline on the sofa and watch television with my legs sprawled out on the padded cushions.

I still find time to sit at the computer, but my legs grow restless in that position.  I have no room under my desk to stretch them out or prop them up.  I find myself reading fewer online articles and following fewer random links these days, sticking to my core list of bookmarked sites to visit daily.  This is not necessarily a bad thing. While my body may be rebelling against the Internet, my mind has sought out other sources of input.  My job has kept me away from technology on my lunch breaks, and this has given me time to read more novels.

For a while, I tried to use my time between customers to think about my own novel. I would let my mind wander, and I jotted down ideas on scraps of paper tucked into my back pockets.  I now have a small pile of scraps which I have not gone back to read, and I’m feeling no better about my novel than I did when I stopped working on it months ago. I think I need a break from thinking about it altogether.

I had been thinking for some time now that my experiment with NaNoWriMo had reached its conclusion. I tested myself, I learned about my strengths and weaknesses, I accomplished my goals — because I did not set my goals very high.  I wanted to give it a try, and I did try for several years in a row.  Now the organization is running NaNo events several times each year, and the novelty (no real pun there) has worn off for me.  It is no longer a special occasion.

There is a show here on ABC called “Wipeout” which also used to be a special occasion, airing for only a few months out of the year.  It was escapist television, summer fluff, and my family enjoyed it together when it was something new and different.  Then ABC created “Winter Wipeout”, which was somewhat different but came on when we didn’t need the diversion.  Then a year later, they started airing new episodes twice each week, and that’s when we reached saturation point.  The more they produced, the less we wanted to watch.  We were exhausted.  We now skip it, even when there is nothing else to watch.

That was how I was beginning to think of NaNoWriMo.  I am not obligated to participate in every event. Maybe I should skip starting something new until I put some serious effort into working on a second draft of my last project.  I’ve heard others in my own writing group say that they’ve gotten all they needed from past NaNoWriMo events and would not return in November.

So why did I just sign up to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo next month?  To be honest, it was their new feature which allows me to set a smaller goal. My seasonal job will still be taking up my time at least through the first week of July, and my body will still not want to be sitting at a keyboard for hours.  I think I will do better by aiming for only 500 words per day, something more in line with the size of a blog post.  In fact, I’ve decided to structure my project more like a series of blog posts rather than a novel.  Camp NaNo lets me get away with being such a rebel.

The main characters from my last novel have haunted me long enough.  It is time to wipe them from my mind and start fresh. I am putting away my scraps of paper, for now.

2013 May 6 Monday

Paying for Free

Filed under: life — kdefg @ 22:29

My weekend was filled with little lessons in economics.

Free coffee.  I started my morning with a few errands.  Along the way, I passed a coffee shop, so I decided to grab a cappuccino.  Just my luck, it was peak demand time, and the line of customers was excessively long.  Fortunately for me, they had set up a table by the door with samples of their new roast in little paper cups.  It was barely a shot, but it was caffeine, and it was free.  I doubled the volume in the cup by adding milk, and left with just that drink.  (I still wanted my fancy tall beverage, so I ended up driving back to that same store later in the day.  My free drink cost me extra miles on my car.)

Free comics.  Saturday was Free Comic Book Day.  I don’t really read many comics, and I rarely buy graphic novels, but the annual event lets me sample what’s new. I found a small comics shop in a remote part of town where I was running other errands.  The place was filled with people of all ages, and the staff was helpful.  I like to support independent retailers, so I also bought an issue of something from the sale rack for two dollars.  (As it turns out, it was chapter 19 of a long series, so maybe it wasn’t such a deal after all.)

That store had a two-per-person limit on the free comics, so I decided to “cheat” and get some more elsewhere.  Back in my own neighborhood, the local comic store was crowded, too, but the atmosphere here was different.  They had balloons and people in costume, and artists had set up tables outside to sell their custom drawings.  To get to the display of free comics, I had to pass a grumpy attendant taking down names and signing people up for their mailing list.  I told her I was already on their list, but she insisted that I had to sign in to get a free comic.  I suppose even free things have a price to pay?  At least their free selection did have a few titles that the first store did not have, but again the limit was two.  They also were running a sale, but with a much smaller discount.  My desire to support their business cost me six dollars, and now I have issues 1 and 2 of a series that I will probably track down at the library to read rather than purchase.

Free movie rental.  Our public library system is an amazing concept.  We take out books, read them, and return them without paying a cent.  When they first added video years ago, they charged a daily fee per VHS tape.  Eventually they added DVDs to the collection, and dropped the fees, lending movies by the week — a shorter term than books but now for free.  Today I can “rent” an entire season of a television show in a DVD box set and keep it for three weeks, thanks to my library membership card.  The only “cost” is that I need to drive to the library to return them.  And this weekend it cost me twenty minutes of standing in line at the automated return window because their computer system was down.

Free sandwich.  I needed to pick up something for dinner, and I chose to go to a cheesesteak sandwich place near the library.  I had a loyalty card, the kind that they add an ink stamp for every purchase.  Buy fifteen sandwiches and get the sixteenth for free!  Of course, the free sandwich they offer is only the small size with only the basic toppings.  My deluxe options cost me a few dollars more.

Free parking.  Everywhere I drove this weekend had a parking lot.  I never had to park on the street or pay to enter a garage.  People around here take such things for granted.  Just wait until the holiday shopping season kicks in, and all the spaces are filled.  At least one shopping mall sets up a valet service, where people are willing to pay someone to find them a free parking space.

Thank you, WordPress, for letting me use your service for free.  Really, I do appreciate it.

 

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