Just started reading “The Little Book of Hygge” this weekend. So far it’s all about candles (which I can’t stand) and lamps/lighting (which I love). So, a mixed bag for me. It’s a cute book though, with cute illustrations and beautiful print quality. Borrowed from the Salem Public Library, West Salem branch (which can be very hygge when a rain storm is pounding on the skylight and you’re surrounded by all those lovely books).
It’s supposedly pronounced “hoo ga” but I’m going to go on calling it “high gee” because I’m stubbornly phonetic like that.
I was given the James Patterson writing Masterclass for Christmas, and enjoyed the class. Part of the class involved a contest to become a co-writer on a James Patterson book, and a lot of people took a stab at it — including me!
Since the 10 semi-finalists have been announced and I’m not one of them (insert sad violin song here) I get to share what I wrote for the contest! It was really fun coming up with something that might fit the James Patterson style. I didn’t quite succeed (I’m a little too snarky) but I like my concept and definitely had fun writing the chapter. Keeping it short was the hardest part for me since I tend to write long, but both the blurb and the sample chapter had very tight word count limits.
The title (which inspired the whole idea): Dead Date In Hipster Paradise
Here’s the blurb I wrote for the book:
“Hipster in Paradise” was a killer idea for a reality dating show — only it came with a real killer! The murder of a contestant right after she won the first challenge (maple-bacon donut tossing and espresso chugging) is initially assumed to be unconnected to the show. But then contestant Jolie Sanders has her own near-death experience, and she begins to wonder if someone in the cast (or crew) is hunting for the perfect mate, or for the perfect victim.
And here’s my sample chapter:
The explosion threw us backwards, directly into the balloon wall. I don’t know which sound drew the rest of the show contestants and the crew — the booby trap on the pretty blue box when we opened it, or the sound of two bodies popping hundreds of balloons. (I was too deafened by the explosion to hear the balloons at the time, but I later convinced one of the crew to play it back for me from the day’s raw footage, and it was quite impressive.)
The first people bubbled out of the extremely narrow stairs leading to the 2nd floor passenger area of the train car and came to a stop until pushed by someone behind them, who then repeated the stop and get pushed routine. I sat there blinking and listening to the ringing in my ears as two crew members pushed through, camera and boom mic in hand, then rushed toward us. All I could think of was that this probably wasn’t a good look for me. I reached one hand up to check, and yep, I definitely had balloon hair. I turned slightly and saw Jayson doing the same.
“That really sucked!” I bellowed. At least I think I yelled it. I could feel myself yelling, but still only mostly heard ringing. The train jerked around a corner and everyone swayed, grabbing at the wall for balance.
“Wh-ap-ed?” I almost heard from the crew member with the boom mic. I pointed at the remains of the box. Jayson was yelling something at the camera man, and pointing at me.
“The box said “open me if you dare” so we did,” I said, in a more normal tone. “It’s part of the show, right?”
Twenty minutes later Jayson and I had been checked out by the medical staff from the crew car and then abandoned along with the other contestants. Every single crew member was in an emergency meeting, and we’d all been moved to yet another train car.
The small office area with a single desk and two chairs was too small for all 23 of us so some were stuck standing in the hallway between the crew sleeping cabins. Barbie and I managed to elbow our way in together. Scott (the librarian, not the lawyer) and Pruett were trying to quiet us down by vigorous hand waving and polite “Oh hey now” lines when Sam whistled loud enough to wake people three towns away. Most of us quieted and waited politely for someone to play leader. Patricia, Scott and Alison began to rock-paper-scissors as Pruett asked if anyone had any straws.
Meanwhile DesiLynn was trying to look everyone in the eye without actually moving her ‘good side’ too far away from the single visible camera high up on the far wall. “The train…is a deathtrap. We must be…on our guard. And never…alone.”
Barbie mumbled “Asthma?” my direction. I shook my head and whispered back “Shatner school of acting.” A snort from behind me let me know I was still a little too loud.
“Shouldn’t we, you know, try to leave? I mean, explosions. And like death. That’s really not cool.” I couldn’t see who spoke but I could see frowns on other faces.
“Leave now? Before the elimination round? No way. I’m not going to give up that easily.” I couldn’t remember the redhead’s name but she was an accountant-slash-singer from Portland who wanted to find someone who enjoyed the same things she loved in life, like coffee, protest marches, and bicycle riding in heavy traffic.
“I’m still alive, so I’m staying,” I found myself volunteering. People twirled to see me, and some eyes moved over my shoulder. Without turning I knew the snort I’d heard was from Jayson. I put on my brave-yet-soulful expression (version 1.0) and lifted my chin a notch. “The crew might be panicking, but I don’t actually know that someone was trying to kill Jayson and I. It might have just been a dirty trick and unrelated to Karalee’s death. The police seemed to think her ex was involved in that, and there’s no reason for him to be on the train coming after the rest of us.”
“I heard rumors that the whole show has received threats from people who weren’t picked during the auditions!”
“All reality shows get threats,” suggested another voice, and a few heads nodded. We all looked at Kristen and Bradley. He smoothed his fluffy mustache and nodded while she looked wise and world-weary as she flipped her long brown hair back over the shoulder of her fur-trimmed denim vest. I’d seen each of them yesterday evening when I was sneaking around, and they’d definitely been practicing those same Wise Elder looks and poses so I didn’t buy it — but a lot of the other contestants looked like they’d just been blessed by the pope of Reality TV.
I made a mental note to try to separate the two of them the first chance I got, before they gained super-couple status, since that would ruin my chances of winning this. A quick glance at Barbie made me suspect that she was having similar thoughts — she had that dangerous half-smile going and had tilted her head just like I’d seen her doing during the first competition event. She caught me looking and her mouth twitched. It was too darned bad we were competitors on this show — I was really starting to like her.
Pruett cleared his throat and tugged on the bottom of his grey vest. “Folks, I hate to point this out, but we need to discuss the elephant in the room. Karalee’s murderer could be one of us.”
Yeah, like we hadn’t all already wondered that. It put quite a nasty crimp in the dating part of the contest. Instead of the cut-throat competition we’d been promised we all now had to worry about, well, throat cutting. Definitely not cool.
There was an interesting discussion in one of my Facebook writing groups today, about whether a fantasy novel needs to call a horse a horse or come up with all new beasts and names. The original poster wanted to know if it was OK to use Earth animals rather than coming up with her own. There were some great points about the differences between sci fi and fantasy, and also about how some writers name every single object with some new fancy name and how that slows down the reading.
Here’s what I had to say on this: “In the Little Fuzzy books (H. Beam Piper) the planet settlers were creative, and named the items they discovered on the planet Fuzzies (latin-esque name Fuzzy Fuzzy Zarathustra), Damnthing (as in “one damn thing after another”), and Sunstones. This was sci fi, not fantasy, and it worked because it shows the psychology of how people name things. Here on Earth a “deer” wasn’t a deer until a majority of us called it that and stuck that word in the English dictionary. Call your riding beasts runnerbeasts (as they’re called on Pern) or some fancy name that matches other words in some “native” language if you really need to differentiate that they aren’t horses in order to show something to your readers. For example, you might describe them in the detail they’re described by CJ Cherryh in her Foreigner series if the pain of riding them moves the plot along. But if they’re just part of the scenery, the way carrots, beer, and fountain pens are, then don’t bother jumping through hoops.”
I’m very stuck on “does it move the story” logic right now. I’m trying not to edit myself as I write new sections in my main WIP, but every time I check something already written for consistency I find myself paging back and forth through all sorts of things and writing notes to myself about whether or not to remove certain things. It’s a pretty good thing to be hung up on. Now if I could just get hung up on finishing the last few chapters of that WIP….
Another interesting bit of conceptual development from the NaNo worldbuilding forum.
1. What is valued most in your Society? (Money, Family, Love, etc.)
Tesh (my main character) isn’t sure what her people value since she’s lost her memory; as the story progresses she realizes she values independence and knowledge. The La’an race values their Goddess, personal strength, magical/political power, and most of all control. The races that lived in the city where the story takes place before the disaster seem to (from what Tesh remembers and sees of how the city is designed) value beauty, freedom, art/craft, and trade.
2. What is the main cause of conflict in your society? (Is there war? Is there a group of people that no one likes?)
The La’an feel their Goddess has told them to take over the city. Some of their people (accidentally?) caused the magical disaster that flattened the city center and turned most of the city to rubble, and now the ruling council of the La’an trying to find out what exactly happened so they can harness that same power to rule the world. Tesh (main character) wants to get away from the La’an and finds herself trying to prevent them from getting access to the magic. Meanwhile the power/destruction has created monsters called The Twisted (and a killer Plant as well) who want to eat everyone.
3. What is your climate like and what grows there? (You can’t build your characters house out of wood, if you live in a barren wasteland where nothing grows.)
The city before the disaster was the cultural and trade center of a thriving country. Semi-rainforest in most of the country, with hills loaded with trees and beautiful well-watered plains for growing food. Loads of natural resources, fast growing plant varieties (each home had tiny hanging gardens of beans and hemp), and great trade deals with neighboring countries. Now the entire city is flattened, and the Plant is what grows there, feeding off of anything it lures close enough to catch.
4. What do the people there eat? How do they get their food?
What food and water the few people still alive in the city can find is suspect because it’s been heavily dosed with magic.
5. What in our world threatens your main species? (Is there Famine or an Epidemic? Is the planet dying or is there wild predators? No one is completely safe)
It’s more like “What isn’t a threat?” in this story. There are three major visible threats (the La’an, the Twisted, and the Plant), rubble and buildings falling down, no untainted food, no untainted water. It’s only been three days since the disaster, so who knows what sort of diseases will be a threat as time goes on. The Twisted suck out all the magic that makes people/animals live and what’s left is just an empty shell that survives for a few days and then falls over and turns into dust. The Plant lures you (with scent), then stuns you and absorbs you. The La’an will sacrifice you if you get in their way (or maybe just because you don’t look like them, or worship their Goddess). And don’t look now but the magic in the heart of the city seems to be growing…
This year I stumbled on thread on the NaNo forums where you were challenged to write your plot like a Pixar plot summary. The Pixar pitch goes like this:
1. Once upon a time there was …
2. Every day …
3. One day …
4. Because of that …
5. Because of that …
6. Until finally …
Example: Finding Nemo
1. Once upon a time there was … a widowed fish, named Marlin, who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo.
2. Every day … Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away.
3. One day … in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into the open water.
4. Because of that … he is captured by a diver and ends up in the fish tank of a dentist in Sydney.
5. Because of that … Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, enlisting the help of other sea creatures along the way.
6. Until finally … Marlin and Nemo find each other, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.
What a fun way to summarize a plot! But it is tough to fit to this year’s Nano outline, since 1 through 4 is basically the first few paragraphs, and the rest of the book are items 5 and 6! Here’s my Pixar’d plot:
1. Once upon a time there was a city that was destroyed when a magical bomb exploded, leaving the city a ruin and full of twisted magic.
2. Every day the magic spread and grew stronger, creating monsters (and monsterous plants) who were non-living and magic eating. And they began to leave the area where the bomb went off.
3. One day soon after the explosion a mysterious group came hunting for the cause of the magic, hoping to use that power to take over the country. But instead they found Tesh, who had lost her memory during the explosion and who seemed to instinctively know how to deal with the magic-eating plants and zombie creatures.
4. Because of that the rescuers find a small boy trapped in a magical plant, and as Tesh frees him the boy warns them the monsters are coming. And the monsters come, with the rescuers, Tesh, and the boy barely getting away. The rescuers then blame the boy and Tesh for the danger they’re in.
5. Because of that Tesh and the boy run away from their “rescuers” and try to find the source of the twisted magic themselves, in hopes of preventing more monsters and preventing their rescuers from taking over the country.
6. Until finally there’s a big battle with the monsters, the rescuers, and Tesh and the boy, where Tesh remembers a few things and she and the boy work together to stop the magic-eating zombies, slow the spread of the magic, and drive away the rescuers (who are now revealed as the group who set the bomb).
It doesn’t really fit…but it did help me tighten up my rambling 10 point outline into something sleeker.
It’s day nine, and I’m at 7,500 words (about 7,500 below where I need to be to hit the 50K target).
More rubber stamping for paper clip art last night, this time on strips of fabric with black StazOn ink.
Bought two colors of plain cotton fabric in fat quarters at Walmart for $.97 each and used my pinking sheers to cut strips. Strips are about 2cm (just over 1/2 inch) wide, and about 3.5 to 4 inches long. Going to angle the ends and seal with Fray Check then use these on my cookbooks.I may give a few for xmas as well.
Dinner/lunch/breakfast word stamp is a Technique Tuesday stamp set, the little star-flower dot is from another set that I think was all Technique Tuesday.
They’re a lot floppy-er than the ribbon clips, but I like how easy they are to read…wonder if I can use spray starch to make them less floppy? Hmm, I may have to go buy some tonight and see.
A couple of FB friends have asked how I made the double-layered ribbon paperclips I’ve been using in my planner, so I took a few cellphone shots last night while I was making one. Here’s the scoop.
Step 1: Pick out two ribbons that coordinate, with one ribbon at least a slight amount narrower than the other. The “skinny” ribbon will be the one in front on the final paperclip. Cut a length of each ribbon about 2.5 times longer than your jumbo paperclip.
Step 2. Layer the skinny ribbon on top of the fatter ribbon and fold in half.
Step 3: Slide the folded end of the ribbon through the paperclip. Make sure the two halves that clip onto the paper are pointing downward — you’ll be attaching the ribbon to the part that goes on the top.
Step 4: Grasping the ends of the ribbons in one hand (left for right-handed people), poke open the folded area.
Step 5: Reach through (with your right hand for right-handed people) the open fold and grasp the ends of the ribbons between your finger and thumb so you can pull them through.
Step 6: Pull gently. You may need to assist the ribbon that wraps around the clip to lay flat with your other hand.
Step 7: Once the ribbon is tight around the clip you may need to adjust the two ribbon ends so they look nice and flare out. Pull the ribbons tight once you have it how you want it.
Step 8: Trim the ends of the ribbon to the length you want — shorter ribbons will stand straight up, while longer lengths may arch or flare (depending on the stiffness of the ribbon). I usually trim at an angle. You can optionally use a sewing tool called “no fray” liquid on the ends of the ribbons at this point.
Step 9: If your ribbon is very slipery and seems like it’s starting to untie itself, pull it tight and flip over the clip. You can put a tiny bit of some kind of tacky glue right where the ribbons meet in the center of the clip arch to keep the ribbons from slipping.
Let the glue and no-fray dry (if used) and your clip is ready to use! You can decorate it further by gluing a button on the front area where the ribbon is wrapped flat across the clip, or use it as it is.
If you have any questions about my how-to please let me know! Thanks for reading.
I’ve developed an addiction to decorating my planner. I currently use a red cloth DayRunner with the monthly insert that came with it, and some printables. Here’s my latest creative bit: a custom laminated “dashboard” for the front page of my planner.
After cutting the paper to size I glued on the hand-painted items on the front side page. All the items were painted with Twinkling H2O paint which has a metallic sparkle. The geometric shapes were from my pattern design class last summer (the Jewel lesson) and the crown and dress form were ones I’d painted in the past but never found a use for. The flip side is solid orange-red scrapbook paper. I laminated with self-stick laminating sheets and then trimmed and hole punched the dashboard.
I’ve also made myself a laminated time zone chart (which you can see and download here) and am working on a few other pages as well as tabbed dividers for the major sections.
Planners are definitely a lot “prettier” than back when I used one in the 80s and 90s, and I’m enjoying using washi tape and stickers on the calendar pages and to-do/note pages as well.