Category Archives: Videos

How to Chop and Change

Have you ever felt the need to put real people in a fictional setting and then do absolutely terrible things to them?

I wish I could say I haven’t, but I have.

In fact, while feeling rotten last night, I sat down with my notebook and pen and started writing.  And I am now at the point where said coworker’s brain is being replaced by a computer so that her actions and functions can be controlled by someone who is actually capable of intelligent thought.

Sort of a Frankenstein meets Stepford thing… Steampunk-horror, of course, because how else would you find the crazy doctor willing to transplant a computer with a brain AND know how to hook up all of the wires to the right nerves so that the body continues to function?

The names have been changed so not to call out the guilty, but I still don’t think I’ll be able to rightly publish this story without it being so obvious that I’d get blasted in court for Libel.  Honestly, the person in question would freak out and accuse me of Slander while not knowing the difference, so maybe I’d have the ability to weasel out of whatever lawsuit arises by (1) putting the FICTIONAL CHARACTERS disclaimer at the beginning and (2) calling her on a definition-based technicality.

Unfortunately, this chick is the type that no matter how high you throw her, she always manages to come down easily and land on her feet.  And that makes me absolutely, completely, and totally in-freaking-sane.  People like that make me want to smack them repeatedly just for being so lucky.

And yes, the whole thing stems from something that happened last night.  And the fact that on the way home I was listening to the Black Keys song.  A lot of us talk about music as inspiration, and while the story has nothing to do with the song, it was the motion and the mood of the music that did it.  This has become one of my favorite songs, and it shows up on almost every playlist I have.

Along with the working-title track, I have the following, for your amusement:

Stigmata Martyr – Abney Park (Yes, the Bauhaus Cover…it’s freaking awesome)
You – Candlebox
Withered – Atomship
Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode
Uprising – Muse
Dunce – Voltaire
Golden Years – David Bowie

And on a final note… those of you that I said I owed stuff to… check your inboxes.  I think I only have one person outstanding, and that’s because I just got it yesterday.

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Web Savvy? I Think NOT.


Because it’s stuck in my head and I want everyone else to suffer!

I’ve spent some time over the last few days looking at other writers’ websites and blogs, and I’ve realized something:

I’m not the least bit web-savvy.

Yeah, I have a basic working knowledge of HTML and JavaScript.  I understand CSS and I can build a mean background or animated ad banner.  But when it comes to serious, in-depth customization, I’m just not that good.  One day I’ll be rich enough to afford the services of a publicist and webmaster.

Hey…I can dream, right?

I was so proud of myself earlier this week because I figured out how to use one of the WordPress Widgets to put a photo-link to my book on the sidebar of this blog.  Now I just need more books to add to the list.  But that really has nothing to do with the point of this post.

I have a friend that’s a really, really, uber-dorky guy that could probably build me any website I wanted.  I love Michael to pieces, and he knows that.  You’d think that after sixteen years, I’d have already capitalized on his nerd-brain and had him build me something awesome.  I may yet do that…I just have to get him warmed up to the idea of my shameless use of him.  Heh…it wouldn’t be the first time.

I wish I had that sort of borderline-autistic attention to detail.  As it is, I’m having to threaten myself after every word I type to finish this silly post.  I keep telling myself that nobody’s going to want to read it, that nobody cares, and I should just go to bed because it’s late and I’m tired.

Sorry, kids… you aren’t getting out of it that easily.  Besides, I’m sitting in Starbucks with Lexxx, and while she’s revising, I’m avoiding writing.

IN MY DEFENSE…

I wrote about 800 words while revising two chapters of a story I hadn’t picked up in weeks.  I made a little progress on it, and am likely in a good place to run with it now.  I know what’s going to happen… it’s just a matter of actually sitting down and committing the time to finishing it.  I’m expecting a 65-80K final word count for a first draft. I’m at 22,500 at the moment, and about a third of the way through.  Not bad.  Could be better, yes, but not bad.

Especially considering my brain is full of pre-baby freakouts and silliness like my inability to build a proper website.

Plus I just noticed something:  I’m a lot wittier when I’m tired.  Or maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I don’t realize how idiotic I really sound.  Oh, hell… I don’t even know anymore!

Also, it would probably be wise to stop chewing on the earbud cable.

I haven’t had a real dose of caffeine in a week now.  How I’m still functioning is nothing short of a miracle.  I even passed up the Venti White Mocha tonight in favor of a decaf frappuccino.  And my weekly cup of shaken tea/lemonade has no caffeine.  And adding to that the vitamins that make me feel rotten…

Wait, who the hell am I again?

My iPod is revolting.  I just went from Blaqk Audio to Johnny Cash.  WTF, iPod… WTF?

I’ve obviously lost my train of thought.  Is it as obvious to everyone out there in cyber-land as it is to me in this armchair?  Is it a good time to shut up and go home?  Probably.

Good night, world.  I’ll worry about tackling my ‘net whoring problem tomorrow.

 

They Call Me Snow White

It’s true, you know.  My friends have this bad habit of telling me I have “Snow White” powers.  What it means is that I have this weird way with animals…bordering on supernatural, they tell me.  I’ve always been that way, too.  There are only two animals I’ve ever NOT gotten along with – a chihuahua that took over my back yard when I was 8 and bit me (at which time, the dog catcher was called and the little bastard was taken and put down), and a doberman that lived down the street (that one tried to bite a car, and it didn’t work out so well for him).  Any other animal is my friend, though.

The reason I say this is because as I write this, there is a whole herd of kittens on my porch.  We have five, a combination of two different litters.  The two older ones are becoming bolder because of the three little ones.  Either that, or they’re talking in their secret kitty language to the littlest one, who has become my little buddy.

Rooster named him “Honey Badger” and says it’s because “he don’t care.”

(If you haven’t seen the video this refers to, then CLICK HERE.)

Of course, Honey Badger doesn’t look too swift these days.  The poor thing’s eyes are constantly mucousy, and he’s so little that I worry he won’t make it.  He seems pretty tough though, and he’s a sweet little thing.  Whether it’s because he’s nearly blind or he just likes the attention, I don’t know.  But he and I have quite the rapport going… to the point where the others are poking their heads out of their little hidey-hole (a brick fell out of the porch and they get under the house) to see what’s up.  I had four little sets of eyes looking up at me this morning, and it was cute.  Before I could take a picture, they all ran, though.

If something happens to Honey Badger, it’s going to break my heart.  I knew better than to get attached to the little booger, but he’s just so… unfortunate.  I’ve always been drawn to the outcasts and underdogs… precisely why one of my indoor cats is the runt of the litter.  Mena, even at nearly six years old, is still a tiny little thing…but her attitude more than makes up for her smallness.

When I was in high school, I was convinced that I would become a veterinarian because I loved animals so much…then I worked for one and discovered that I couldn’t handle it.  I’m too squishy inside to deal with sick animals, especially when not all of them make it.  After the dachshund that was attacked by the gator (I grew up on the Barrier Islands of Charleston…so we saw lots of gators), I knew it wasn’t for me.

But back to these powers…

Lexxx calls me Snow White because I manage to charm pretty much any animal that comes around.  Aside from the herd of cats outside (I blame Rooster and the SUCKER stamp across his forehead – I swear there’s a neon sign in the woods just for cats that points to our house and says A SUCKER LIVES HERE!!!), I managed to charm her sister’s dog that apparently doesn’t like anybody.  Jake is a sweetheart…she just doesn’t see a whole lot of new people.  When we all moved out of our apartments, we had a communal cat named Cat who had moved in with all of us.  He was going to go live with Lexxx, but they couldn’t seem to catch him.  When I went over there, he came right to me and let me pick him up and squish him before shoving him into the carrier.

If I were a superhero, they’d probably call me The Zookeeper.  My super power wouldn’t be so super, though… except that I would have the ability to send throngs of animals after my targets.

Rooster keeps talking about getting ferrets… I don’t know if  I can handle more animals.  We’re up to NINE cats outside (if all the kittens make it), three cats and a guinea pig inside, plus Rooster and Raven.  I have my very own menagerie.  Plus we have a dog that comes to visit and a donkey across the street that likes my flowers.  And there’s an unholy combination of birds, squirrels, deer, beavers, rabbits, and everything else that lives in my hard.

If Alfred Hitchcock’s work  is any indication of the future, one day I’m going to end up trapped in my house by the throngs of wild animals outside.

Heh…that would just be my luck.

To Listen, or Not To Listen

A big topic of conversation among my friends and I is music.  What we’re listening to, what we like, if anything interesting has come along recently.  We’re always on the lookout for new music.  With a collection of 60,000+ songs that grows by leaps and bounds every week, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I like my music.

I am also the type of person who likes my music EXTREMELY organized.  I have song titles, track numbers, disc numbers, album titles, and artists all arranged so that I can find anything I want, right when I want it.

I’m also OCD enough that I have the full albums cataloged in a sortable spreadsheet that will tell me exactly what I have in any category.  Right now, I have 2,650 full albums in digital storage, and that number grows on a weekly basis.

Oh, yeah…and my collection is comprised of pretty much every genre of music you can think of.

In one of her recent posts, Lucy talked about her writing playlists.  Awhile back, Amy posted a Grooveshark playlist, and Puddin’… well, Puddin’ is Puddin’, no matter what way you squish him.  He talked about a local music store selling old-stock CDs for $0.25 each.

So all of that has me thinking about my own playlists, And this is the point when I share my music with the world.  Like Lucy, the music I listen to greatly influences the mood of the story.  If I’m writing a fight, I’m going to have loud, angry music playing.  If it’s a sad scene, there will be a sad song.

The majority of my inspiration comes from music – I will hear a song and think hey…that’s a good plot point.  So I make a note of the idea and stick the song in a playlist.  Many, many times I have built whole stories around a basic song idea.

Marked had a very specific set of songs that went with it.  This story is one of those rare occasions where I don’t have a specific inspiration.  I just started writing, and that was what happened.

While the playlist is too extensive to share the whole thing, the following is a selection (in no particular order, with YouTube links for your listening pleasure) that will give you the overall feel:

Bad Things – Jace Everett  (This sort of became the theme song, even though it’s the most oddball thing on the list)
The Ache – Epsilon Zero
Holy Fool – Love and Rockets
Snakedriver
– The Jesus & Mary Chain
Para-Noir
– Marilyn Manson
Howl – Florence + The Machine
Amour – Rammstein
Carbon – VNV Nation (the comments on this one are a hoot…techno-junkies complaining about global warming…)
Wreath of Barbs – :Wumpscut:
Meet Your Master – Nine Inch Nails
Adrenaline – Rosetta Stone
Come Undone – Duran Duran
Come in Closer – Blue October
Wild – Poe

For now, I leave you to digest this one.  Maybe one day next week, I’ll provide a new playlist for a different story.

A Video, An Idea, and Things That Scare Me

Morning, y’all.

It is still morning, right?

*sigh*

This song kept me up most of last night, rolling around in my head and building a plot.  I’m not sure I can write the story that goes along with it, because it’s one of the saddest things I think I’ve ever created.  It touches on things that really scare me, takes me back to moments in my life better left in the past.

Few things truly scare me, but one of them is losing my father.  I’m sort of numb to any other major loss, but even thinking about the day that I lose him cuts me every time.  Even now, as I write this, I can feel the burn in my nose.  I keep blinking because if I don’t, my vision will be completely blurred.  He’s my own personal superhero – the one that I can always go to when I need a problem fixed, the one that makes me feel better. 

The fear, combined with the knowledge that one day he won’t be here, is absolutely crippling. 

That pain is what I feel when I listen to this song – a deep, empty ache that moves any time I try to pinpoint it.  It’s a raw place on my heart.  It reduces me to a blubbering mess in a matter of seconds.  Less than seconds, actually.

The idea for this story isn’t exactly about losing a father… but about loss (in the final sense), grieving, and recovery.  And with each new image that meshes into the outline in my head, it pulls another hurtful, painful part of my past back.

This time two years ago, my husband was sick.  Very sick.  I mean sick to the point where I was waking up every few hours at night just to make sure he was still breathing.  Then in September of that year, he went into the hospital.  He was there for a week, but it was the scariest week of my life.  I slept a total of 6 hours in eight days, and spent the vast majority of my time on the road between here and the hospital in Rock Hill.  I would spend the days at the hospital while they ran tests, poked and prodded him at regular intervals, and kept him confined to a hospital bed.  Then I would go home when he finally made me leave at night, and after taking care of the teenager (feeding her, helping with homework, making sure she was ready for bed) stare at the walls in the house until I finally passed out from exhaustion, only to wake a few minutes later in the middle of a nightmare.

On Wednesday of that week, my mother came up to stay with me.  I still didn’t sleep, but at least I wasn’t driving up and down the roads alone.

Rooster still doesn’t believe me that he was really that sick, but I know.  I lived through it with that dead weight in my chest.  There are still times, even now, that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and reach out for him just to make sure he’s still there, but I’m a lot more stable in the belief that he isn’t going anywhere any time soon now.

This story idea takes that hollow ache of fear, and adds to it the weight of terror.  The knowledge that no matter what you do, it’s out of your hands.  Then it compounds that state of misery by adding in the driving need to cling as tightly as possible and not let go.  Ever.

And then there was the day that my Aunt Connie died.  It will be eleven years in July, but it still hurts like hell.  I miss her every single day.  It’s a wound that still hasn’t healed,  because the edges of that wound are coated in regret. 

We were close – her house was my second home. 

I was young when she first got sick, so I got scared and I pulled away from her.  I was old enough to understand what was happening, but too young to realize that I needed to cherish that time.  I just didn’t want to watch her die.

It was another seven years before she passed away.  That was seven years I could have spent with her, telling her how much I loved her.  Seven years I won’t ever get back.

I can’t tell her I love her now, because she isn’t here anymore.  I lost that chance, and I live every day of my life with that knowledge.  I still love her, and I still miss her.  While I don’t cry every day, I do think about her.

So now I’ve added in a good, unhealthy dose of regret to the mix of emotions in this story idea, and I have the perfect storm of pain.  I also have the trapped soul of a flawed man trying to make things right.

It’s going to hurt to write this.  I know that.  I’ve accepted it.  Now I just have to make myself do it.