Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

Since it's Halloween and since SHADOW POINT is a ghost story, it seems fitting that I post another short excerpt from the novel. (no trick, all treat here at Amy's Blog-o-rama!) Here's the setup: Protagonist Madison McPeake has just spent her first night on Shadow Point in her dead brother's isolated and less than luxurious beach cabin. She awakens before dawn to get ready for a day that will include (a) her first meeting with her 5 year old niece, Katie, (b) some pretty decent huevos rancheros, (c) Mysterious Happenings, and (d) her first encounter with the intriguing marine biologist in the cabin across the way. What a day! But, first: The Shower Scene...

I again woke with a horrible start, this time due to the lunatic clamor of the alarm clock in James's room. Loud enough to wake the--never mind, I thought, jamming back there to turn it off. It was still dark outside. Shutting my mind to everything but the need to get going and pick up Katie, I focused myself on my next goal: taking a shower in that bathroom.

It wasn't that bad, I told myself. Especially if I kept my eyes tightly shut. I got through teeth brushing and the other preparatory stuff, then reached in to turn on the hot water in the shower. With a couple of clanks and a groan, the plumbing reluctantly responded. I noted the daddy longlegs up in the corner had been joined by a friend overnight. Great. At least he had one.

I hadn't bothered to shut the door to the bathroom, since I was there by myself. Besides, with no fan, I wanted the door open so the mirror wouldn't steam up too much. I waited for a while for the water to get up past mildly lukewarm, but it never did and I finally decided I couldn't wait anymore. I had places to go and people to see, so I braved the temperate water.

At least the tub was clean. The shower curtain, however, once expanded, revealed a wealth of mildew in its folds. Lovely. Good thing my favorite color is green.

Its remaining once white opaqueness enveloped me in a dreary, dreamy, milky light inside the shower. The rest of the bathroom could be seen only in vague, shadowy outlines through the curtain. I washed my hair as quickly as possible, being careful to not make eye contact with the spiders lest they viciously leap upon me. I was still plenty jumpy from the night before and felt ultra vulnerable in the shower. The less-than-hot water was not conducive to relaxation either. I kept thinking maybe I heard something. But, no, of course I didn't.

Head under the tepid flow as I rinsed, I then thought I really heard something. A thud or a bang or...something. I jerked my head out of the stream, frantically wiping suds out of my eyes so I could open them. Blinking away, I strained tensely to hear, but there was nothing but the rush of the water and the gurgle of the drain. What could I have possibly heard with my ears full of water anyhow? You dumb butt, I chastised myself. I took a breath. And realized with an agonizing spurt of adrenaline that a tall dark shape was visible through the curtain that hadn't been there before.

The worst and longest thirty seconds of my life followed as I stood, immobile with fear, with the now cold water cascading down upon me. And the shape unmoving outside.

After thirty seconds of chicken, however, I suddenly couldn't take it anymore. With a shriek, I threw open the curtain and threw up my fists, ready to take on my attacker.

Who, I realized with a gasp, was James's navy blue bathrobe, hanging on a hook on the back of the bathroom door, which had slowly swung shut while I showered. So, I'm standing there with the shower shooting water out on the floor, buck naked, fists up, ready to take on a terry cloth bathrobe, and whup its ass! Ay yi yi. How humiliating.

After all that, I was so shook up I couldn't even do conditioner.

copyright Amy Briant 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Quote-O-Rama!

"...so her social position was not very high. She was a member of I Felta Thigh..."

Unknown

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saturday Quote-O-Rama! (on a Wednesday!)

"It's Friday the 13th on a Wednesday!"

The Most Quotable Person I've Ever Known

Sunday, October 3, 2010

OctoWriMo?

If you’re a writer, you may have heard of NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. (www.nanowrimo.org) From the first time I heard of it, I loved (a) how NaNoWriMo rolls off the tongue and (b) the idea of writing a novel in one month! It’s a completely crazy idea, of course, but that just makes it more lovable in my world. Once past the original excitement, you find out that the real idea - more or less - is to write a serviceable first draft of at least 50,000 words in a month.

That’s a little more do-able. Still totally crazy, though. For that pace, you’d need to crank out close to 1,700 words a day, every day, during the course of a month. Got a job? Too bad, you still need your 1,700! Need to sleep? Not an option unless you’ve already offered up your 1,700 (or even better, 2,000 to get ahead of the curve) to the NaNoWriMo Muse. The “official” NaNoWriMo month is November. I’ve never actually participated, because every November since I first heard of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been deep in the thrall of working on one of my two completed novels, SHADOW POINT and HEAVENLY MOVES. This November could be my chance, though, if I could just finish up that pesky third manuscript, ROMEO FAILS.

One of the “rules” (and I use that term loosely - please see www.nanowrimo.org for their highly entertaining info) of NaNoWriMo is that you start the month with a brand new novel. You don’t use the month to finish an existing project. That’s a good rule, I think. So I apparently must finish ROMEO FAILS in October if I want to jump into NaNoWriMo this year. And I’d love to try it, at least once! I’ve even got my story idea all picked out...

So... OctoWriMo? I WILL finish ROMEO FAILS, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. It’s actually kinda sort of close to finished, in that it’s around the 70% mark. Unfortunately for me (and, I hear, for many other writers), the dreaded 70% mark can all too often signal the entrance to the doldrums, or, as I like to call it, The Swamp.

At the 70% mark, I know exactly where I am in the story. And I know exactly how the story ends. I even have a pretty good idea how I’m going to get there. But somehow, I have wandered into The Swamp - a horrible morass where my plot bogs down, my dialogue dries up, and my brain keeps fruitlessly reviewing what I’ve previously written, over and over again. The mosquitoes are pretty bad in there, too.

It’s a horrible place, that Swamp. But I always get out in the end and I will this time, too! This is when one of the most important writer’s tools must be used. Creativity and a way with words have gotten me this far - now it’s up to my perseverance to get me out of the swamp. If you want to be a writer, you must write. Every day, pretty much. You may have written your way right into that swamp, but you will write your way out of it as well. And then you can take a day off and go to the beach.

Which is not to say you can’t use a few tricks, as well. Whatever works to get you out of The Swamp! For me (this week), that includes writing in a different physical place than I usually do. Maybe a change of scenery will kick start my brain. Also, I’m setting some very tight time goals for certain scenes. The scene I’m currently deep in the quicksand with is a Saturday morning breakfast scene. (criminy, I am SO sick of that breakfast scene!) I’m literally setting the kitchen timer (hmmm, coincidence?) and giving myself ten minutes to finish that one, then I’m moving on to the next scene, NO MATTER WHAT. Take That, Swamp!

And then I’ll come back later and rewrite, since I’m a perfectionist, but for now, Time Marshes On. I mean marches. OctoWriMo Rules!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Trailer Director's Cut

OK, not really, but here are a few fun insider glimpses at the book trailer and at SHADOW POINT itself:

1) The letters C, B, and F are important in this story and pop up in more than one place. A leitmotif, if you will... (once a music major, always a music major!) Those three dissonant, insistent notes you hear repeated at the end of the trailer? You guessed it - they are C, B, and F. Probably nobody other than me cares about this level of detail, but, hey, I have to amuse myself, right? Right.

2) There is a quick picture of me in the trailer. (HINT: It's NOT the one with the bikini. :-))

3) There is also one photo of the "real" Shadow Point, aka Point Loma in San Diego, California. It's the hillside shot taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery of a very large Navy ship heading out to sea from San Diego bay.

It's tough to get everything that's needed in a less-than-two-minute book trailer, especially when the book doesn't fit in one easy box. SHADOW POINT is a ghost story, but it's also a romance and a mystery and (I think) laugh-out-loud funny! I hope readers will find it entertaining on a multitude of levels.

Saturday Quote-O-Rama!

"Some say she's from Mars... or one of the seven stars that shine after 3:30 in the morning... WELL, SHE ISN'T!"

The B-52s