Monday, March 28, 2011

Villains and the Muppets

Villans. I have been working on a particularly nasty grandmother in my W.I.P, Dark Stardust, and it has been an interesting walk towards making her who she is. Do I make her so evil her eyes seem to shoot laser beams? Do I take the more subtle, passive aggressive route to amplify her motives/feelings? 

I spent many hours of my childhood with those four dudes in the picture above. Four horrible, awful villains - characters of abuse and horror. They also happened to be Muppets (so I guess that made it all ok). On a side note, I have no idea why so much of children's programming is terrifying to children, even today. 

So, we had this video disk player and I played the Muppet Musicians of Bremen over and over. And over. These guys abused their animals in terrible ways - the fat one even wanted to eat his animal. OH and they were also some kinda band of thieves. Lots of scary close ups of those dudes later,  the animals get their revenge in the end (literally for one of the meanies). 

A real villain has to have a motive - a reason to be awful. Truth be told, everyone thinks they are justified in their actions, no matter how horrible. I remember a story about Al Capone - he said he was doing the community a service by providing jobs. Justification. There are always two sides to every story, especially with villains. 

(Let's look at this clip from Caleb Siles view point - that cat isn't doing much to control the rat population! She deserves to be thrown out for dancing and singing with the vermin!)

A big thank you to Kristen Bower, an incredible writer of The Vesuvius Isotope, a brilliant story that I absolutely love (her W.I.P), for helping guide me towards the much more vile subtle Grandmother Catherine. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paint it Purple Blogfest

Whoa, my first blogfest ever! I am very excited to participate in the Paint it Purple blogfest held by  Erin Kane Spock, author of the Hold On To Your Bloomer's blog and Elizabethan era historical romance.

Since I am new, please forgive any newby mistakes!

The premise:
1) Post a short segment (a paragraph or two, really no more than 100 words) of your work-in-progess.

2) Paint it purple with enough metaphors, similes, and poetry to gag the most die hard beatnik.  This version is sure to be much longer than you original work (hence the word limit for the first selection).  Feel free to run wild, spitting in the face of good taste, genre norms, and Occam's razor.

Here is a pre-purple paint paragraph from my work-in-progress (with a work-in-progress title of Dark Stardust), told in first person by the seventeen year old protagonist, Cat. Her dreaded dress is lavender, so this passage seemed fitting for Paint it Purple. 

      Five minutes until the wedding. I took a deep breath and looked at the dress again. It was only a dress, right? I could put it on, I thought. It seemed like a simple act, a seemingly easy decision, but it pulled my mind into the abyss of a hundred caves of thought. I slowly changed into the lavender strappy tangle of a dress, catching it several times on the army of bobby pins warring with my hair. A pair of matching dress sandals rested in their box - obviously meant for me. I pushed them back in their place and left them on the dressing room table. Looking up I caught my reflection in the mirror - wondering for a moment, who is that girl?

Bring on the purple paint version:

    Five minutes until the dreaded wedding. I took a long, deep breath, like a passenger on the sinking Titanic just one moment before hitting the icy surface of the sea, and forced myself to look at the dress again. It was only a stupid, ridiculously-not-me-dress, right? I could put it on, I thought, wading through the sticky globs of molasses in my mind. It seemed like a simple act, a seemingly easy decision, but it blasted my mind into the abyss of a hundred thousand caves of thought. I slowly changed into the lavender strappy tangle of a dress, each moment lasting an eternity of eternities. The straps seemed to grow mischievous fingers, pulling and catching endless times on the army of bobby pins warring with my hair. A pair of matching lavender sandals rested pleasantly in their box, like two pretty little corpses, meant for me to wear with the dreadful dress. I pushed them back in their place, a little too forcefully - and left them on the dressing room table like a plate of grey-green broccoli.  Looking up I caught my unfamiliar reflection in the mirror - wondering for a split second, who is that creature? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Right Time to Write

Ok, so maybe the pun is a little silly, but throughout my life, the utopian "right time" to write just hasn't existed. Well, maybe when I was eleven years old, stuck at my parent's office after school each day, writing my mystery series starring Detective Ready (oh, to be bored again...sigh.).  But certainly not anytime recently, with university (even though I was a writing major...huh...), the teaching career, and now raising two little boys (four and two) taking the heavy load of time in my life.

The writing seed, resilient like a weed, kept trying to grow throughout my life. Too bad I am such a terrible gardener. The lovely little seedlings that managed to sprout, routinely got trampled, or pulled prematurely, or simply just neglected after they became too needy. Writing is so needy - it takes so much brain power, enveloping the writer in heavy blankets of whip quick hours, tapping on the keyboard.

In the five or so minutes I spent writing down these quick thoughts this morning, my two year old came to me crying over some offense his brother committed, our huge OUTDOOR dog Tex ran through the house with wet paws from the morning mist, being let in by the four year old intent on doing his 'chore' of putting the dog in and out of the garage, and again by the two year old demanding his juice. The sun had barely come up, and no more than half of page longhand was allowed to come through the pen to pad.

How can anything worthy or clever come out of me when the ambient input drowns out my whispering writing mind? I need volume control.

A few lines more get written on the page when my two year old finishes his juice and starts mimicing Darth Vader with the dribbles of liquid left at the bottom of the cup, and my four year old discovers daddy's hazelnut cookie stash, the ones he had been snacking on while watching t.v. after they finally went to bed. So the little boys and I take a cookie break at six a.m. - why not.

I really feel sorry for my writing seedlings - they have been living in a tough neighborhood inside of me, but maybe this tough little seed has finally had its fill of being neglected - like Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors, demanding blooood.

So when is the right time to write? There isn't one time any better than the rest - the challenges will always come around, so why not make now the right time at last?