31 October 2009
Over the past week, I've been put in some pretty stressful situations (not the least of which was navigating a two-day airport adventure), and it made me think about stress -- specifically how people act when they're stressed.
Some people lash out, becoming irritable and rude. Some people crack and curl up in a ball to cry. Others spiral into depressions and resort to lethargy and solitude to get by. Still others bottle up the stress, seeming to thrive under the pressure only because they are adept at compartmentalizing.
None of this is news. But, it's important to remember that not all of these reactions come from the people you'd expect. The toughest of men become weepers, and the meekest of children become terrors. Too often, I think, authors fall into the trap of stereotyping (or worse, completely ignoring) the reactions of their characters to stressors -- which, lets face it, are the majority of the elements that make up a story.
No two reactions are created equal, and sometimes the diversity of humanity comes from the surprising ways people have of coping with various situations. Keep that in mind the next time Jane Protagonist goes out on a date the same week she finds out her dog died and then has to give an important presentation at work the next day. I know I will.
25 October 2009
We'll be back to the regularly scheduled program before long. In the meantime, check out my updates regarding Korea over at Dear Korea...
Ciao for now!
Or rather, Annyong kyeseyo!
24 September 2009
14 September 2009
Let me preempt one question I know you're all wondering; I don't know when or where I'm going, as I have not yet secured a teaching position.
However, I do know that I've given notice at work, I've told my apartment complex that I'll be out by October 31, and I've told my family.
What does this mean for Wuthering Life? Nothing. I will still be here, and I'll still be writing. If anything, this experience is only going to make my writing life richer.
If you are curious about my Korean adventures, please feel free to stop over at my new blog, Dear Korea..., and check out my letters to the land I will soon call home.
If you're not interested, I'll see you back here for more adventures in Wuthering Life.
11 September 2009
What better day than the anniversary of a national tragedy to begin my journey to making a positive difference in the world?
So after much delay, I present my five:
- Encourage others to pursue their dreams. Of all the things that I'm grateful to my nearest and dearest for, this is the one that tops the list. Having the faith and support of those around me has made a greater impact in my life than almost anything else. I know that I would not be where I am today with encouragement and kind words. I want to do that for others, and to do it more often.
- Lead by example. It may not seem like a particularly philanthropic goal, but it might very well be the hardest of my five for me to live by. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Too often, we forget that it's only by allowing ourselves to be happy and prosperous that we can even begin to help others to achieve the same.
- Pay more attention. When I begin to think about what I can do to help – to help the world, to help the impoverished, to help the distraught, to help the hopeless – I realize how little I know. Because of the pessimistic, never-point-out-the-good-in-life nature of news (particularly American news), I avoid it almost completely. But if I want to make a difference, I can't tune out the bad. I have to pay attention in order to spot an opportunity to act.
- Be mindful. Every day I ignore opportunities to reduce, recycle, or reuse. I know all of the little tricks that can lead to less energy or water consumption, to less pollution, to less waste. It's time for me to take those extra few minutes to take my recycling out. It's time for me to find places to donate old clothing/equipment/furniture/etc. instead of throwing it out. It's time for me to do what I know I should be doing anyway.
- Reach out. Whether it's an e-mail from a long-lost friend, a phone call from a relative on a non-holiday, or a compliment from a perfect stranger, it feels good to make connections and be acknowledged. I don't do that nearly enough, and I plan to change that.
10 September 2009
09 September 2009
01 September 2009
Bronx-born, LA transplant, E Van Lowe, began writing at the age of 10 and hasn't stopped since. A graduate of Lehman College and the University of Southern California, E sold his first short story to a romance magazine while still a student. He has gone on to write for many award-winning TV shows including: The Cosby Show and Even Stevens. He also co-wrote the Academy Award nominated short film, Cadillac Dreams.
A Little About the Novel:
NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE is E's first teen novel, but it won’t be his last. E still has lots of important, and weird, thoughts to share with readers. It hit shelves August 18!
On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, m
ost important, have boyfriends. Three years later they haven't accomplished a thing!
Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize this could be the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. Now all they have to do is stay alive...
The Assessment of Yours Truly:
- Translation: As a protagonist, Margot is an incredibly refreshing twist on the shallow, but unnoticed, teen who wants nothing more than to have it all. Instead of being empty and "what adults think unpopular teens are like," Margot was conflicted about her increasing bad girl behavior almost from the start. But she did horrible, mean girl things anyway – a sad, but true fact about some teenaged girls, and executed very creatively.
- Translation: While Syb is the basic sidekick, less-dominate character, the genuine sweetness and goodness about her was the perfect compliment to Margot's increasing selfishness and self-delusion. They worked together very well without feeling over-the-top or like a "because I said so" relationship. (Sub-translation: When an author decides that things "just are" and never really shows the hows or whys.)
- I wasn't sure what to expect, but with a title like NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised by some of the things Margot did. It read a lot like a situational comedy, and that was something I wasn't used to. It's something I love about television and didn't realize was missing from books...until now!
31 August 2009
26 August 2009
25 August 2009
20 August 2009
19 August 2009
22 May 2009
19 May 2009
- stormed out of rooms when I wanted them to stay and have a conversation;
- gone to one locale when I wanted them to go to another;
- revealed things I didn't want revealed;
- betray characters I didn't intend for them to betray; and
- killed characters I didn't intend for them to kill.
18 May 2009
15 May 2009
14 May 2009
13 May 2009
12 May 2009
11 May 2009
08 May 2009
07 May 2009
06 May 2009
05 May 2009
29 April 2009
28 April 2009
27 April 2009
24 April 2009
22 April 2009
21 April 2009
- I wrote the first draft in 4 weeks.
- A hand-drawn map of Anjidia, gifted to me by beloved beta reader, Kim Bowen, hangs in my bedroom.
- Earliest beta readers formed two vehement camps regarding Aryli's love interests.
- I hoped one of those camps would blow the other to smithereens, because I couldn't decide who Aryli should end up with.
- In the end, the characters made the decision for me.
- Two of the main secondary characters were never supposed to exist.
- Another of the main secondary characters was supposed to be a redshirt.
- My mom took news of the death of the character named after her fairly well.
- I cut the original opening and rewrote the original ending of the novel.
- No one other than those early beta readers will ever read that first draft.
- The Redwood National and State Parks, which I visited after I finished the first draft, inspired one of the locations in Anjidia.
- I'd written off ANJIDIA six months before I started writing it in earnest in favor of a story that has since been shelved permanently.
- The names of the protagonist and antagonist began as placeholders and were an inside joke between one of my best friends and myself; they wound up fitting.
- I've planned a prequel and a sequel to ANJIDIA.
- Both the prequel and sequel would explore the stories of secondary characters.
- My first query for the novel garnered a partial request.
- Flyleaf's debut cd, Flyleaf, was a key source of musical inspiration for the novel.
- There are 37 songs on my ANJIDIA playlist, and they range from Josh Groban to Metallica.
- One of the major plot twists originated from a conversation I had with beta reader, Kat Kuhl; I don't think I would have had that "D'oh!" moment without her.
- I only pulled two all-nighters while writing ANJIDIA — one while writing a key climatic scene, and one while writing the last three chapters.
- The amazing Sci Fi (excuse me, I mean SyFy) mini-series Tin Man greatly influenced ANJIDIA conceptually and visually (in my head).
- One of the secondary characters who was never supposed to exist is named after a character from a poem (styled after medieval lais) that I wrote for my Medieval Lit class in college.
- My favorite line from the book is probably: "Blind faith is an incredible thing — an incredible, scary thing."
- One plot twist earned me death threats from beta readers (though I'm sure they were issued in jest...probably).
- Star Wars is referenced three times in the course of the novel.
16 April 2009
15 April 2009
09 April 2009
14 March 2009
It was great to hang out with other writers and feel the metaphorical burn on my long-neglected writers' muscles. You guys are a great group, and I'm glad to get to know you all.
I got over 3,000 words written on my new WIP, AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD. And I couldn't have done it without all of the encouragement and peer pressure. I hope you all feel as accomplished and motivated as I do.
I will definitely be doing this again. So stay tuned!
If you are writing today and want some camaraderie, come join us!
We'll be here from now until late tonight/early tomorrow (depending how well it goes):
Just remember that if you are going to participate in the madness, manners and kindness are a must! I'm not afraid to use my administrative powers for good.
See you on the other side of several thousand words.
...now if only my roommate would wake up and volunteer to go on a Starbucks run...
13 March 2009
12 March 2009
11 March 2009
Since I've heard that you should never ask others to do what you are unwilling to do yourself, I'll go first.
WIP Working Title: AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Alice is one of the Undead--clones whose originals have "returned from the dead" (aka awakened from their comas, been found after they've gone missing, returned from war after being listed KIA, or in Alice's original's case, been reunited with her parents after surviving two years of captivity).
- The setting: Near-future? Alternate universe? Contained to Earth (or Earth-like world)? Inter-galactic?
- The company's name
- What is happening at the company/to the company? What causes Alice to suspect Heathcliff is behind those things?
10 March 2009
- VWI stands for Virtual Write-In. It is a virtual writers' retreat for writers unable to get away from it all physically.
- Any writer interested in participating will find a link to the private chatroom I will create by 9am on Saturday, March 14 via Meebo here on Wuthering Life that morning.
- Meebo.com is a Web site that allows people to sign in to whatever instant messenger platform they use and communicate with users on other platforms. If you're participating, you might want to check out the site beforehand to avoid technical difficulties (as I just found the site last week and won't be able to offer any advice or know-how). But, it seems simple enough.
- The point of participating in the VWI can really be whatever you want. Although I can be a bit dictatorial at times, this will not be one of them. However, there are a few reasons that I'm doing it. Feel free to borrow them if you'd like.
- I've been stuck in the ruttiest of ruts for the past...many months, and I need something different and extreme to jump start my WIP (work in progress).
- I find that writing with other writers present (if only via Internet magic) activates the competitive and prideful areas of my brain, which prevents me from procrastinating or losing focus.
- I like making new friends.
- I don't have the money/time to go write in a castle in Ireland like some YA authors I could name.
- I need to distract myself from the fact that I'll be finding out if I made the ABNA quarterfinals on Monday.
- Write. If you choose to participate that's really the only requirement--that you give up a Saturday to put your nose to the grindstone and write for a (mostly) uninterrupted 12-hour period.
- However, if you want, you can encourage, challenge, and support fellow participants by answering questions, offering suggestions, and seriously abusing emoticons and exclamation points. I mean! :D
- Um, quality time with yours truly? Sadly, I don't even have the design prowess to create cute little widget/icon that you can post on your blogs and Web pages. BUT, that doesn't mean that the VWI isn't worth your time or that you won't be getting anything out of it. It just means that what you're getting won't be...material. Here are a few things that you could get, though:
- A novel - If you write 10,000 words per hour for the whole 12 hours, then it's absolutely possible.
- A soul mate - Hey, you never know who might be joining us!
- A cookie - Just send me a request with your preferred type of cookie along with an SASE...
- All joking aside, you'll be getting to have the minds of however many writers join us at your disposal (temporarily, of course). If you get stuck on a new character name and need a suggestion, we'll be there. Not sure if a description will give readers the correct impression? We'll be there. Work well under tight deadlines and need a push? My word sprints will be there. As I've said before, this VWI will be what we make it.
- I'll send my hitman after you.
- OR I'll send you an extra cookie per friend you bring aboard, provided you send me the extra SASEs of course. ;)
- Seriously, I can't say this enough: SEFEVWI is open to one and all. Tell as many of your writing buddies as you'd like, and feel free to meet up with them in person if that works for you. Just don't let them distract you!
Don't forget to pick up your copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH today! Borders will definitely be my first stop after work. Click the book cover to buy it from Amazon.com.
Critics are saying...
"...reminiscent of the paragon of the genre, George Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead...Ryan's vision is bleak but not overly gory; her entry in the zombie canon stands out for how well she integrates romance with flesh-eating."
"Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere...Fresh and riveting."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"A post-apocalypse romance of the first order, elegantly written from title to last line."
—Scott Westerfeld, author of Extras and Leviathan
"Intelligent, dark and bewitching, The Forest of Hands and Teeth transitions effortlessly between horror and beauty. Mary's world is one that readers will not soon forget."
—Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments trilogy
"Opening The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like cracking Pandora's box; a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out. This is a beautifully crafted, page-turning, powerful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it!"
—Melissa Marr, bestselling author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange
"Dark and sexy and scary. Only one of the Unconsecrated could put this book down."
—Justine Larbalestier, author of How to Ditch Your Fairy