24 September 2009

14 September 2009

Embracing a Whole New World

Since returning from my blogging hiatus, I have alluded to something big happening in the non-writing-world-of-Sam. Finally, I am able to share the news with all of you...

I am moving to Korea to teach English!

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

Embracing My Five

I'm hoping to get back to Freaky Fridays before long, but I thought that this dreary and oh-so-important Friday could use some positivity and hope.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
How can you change your life, and the world, for better in five ways?

10 September 2009

Super-Mini-Blog: Embracing Thought Provocation

Kimberly over at Oceanside Praise posted a very interesting question on her blog today, and I'd like to pose it to all of you:

Are dreams just the opposite of our deepest fears?

(Check out her blog comments for my thoughts, but feel free to discuss wherever.)

09 September 2009

Embracing What's Come Before

Merriam-Webster defines original (adj.) as "not secondary, derivative, or imitative" or as "independent and creative in thought or action".

M-W defines an archetype (n.) as "the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies".

When we look to the ever-helpful Wikipedia for guidance, we learn that Tolkein's beloved Gandalf is an archetypal figure himself, the wizard-as-advisor, of the likes Merlin — who himself was quite possibly modeled after religious authority types (like Odin).

Hold up, JRR Tolkein, the father of modern fantasy, was unoriginal? His main characters had been done before? His venerated series is allegory?

You may be wondering why the Hell I'm giving you a vocab lesson. The truth is, I think that we (writers, agents, etc.) can use the reminder. There is a big difference between the use of an archetype and a lack of originality.

The goal of a work of fiction, as far as I am concerned, is to pull something new and exciting out of those old stories and characters – out of the familiar. That balance of new and old is what makes a great story great, in part at least.

We've got to move past the anything-with-a-school-is-like-Harry-Potter and anything-with-a-butt-kicking-female-protagonist-is-a-Buffy-rip-off reactions. See stories for what they are, and if they're good enough, it won't matter how many tropes the author used.

01 September 2009

Embracing Author Interviews: E Van Lowe

Uh, in lieu of my five and in celebration of Zombie Week, I have brought you a peace offering:

E Van Lowe and his debut YA novel, NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE !

A Little About E:

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!

The Blurb:

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:

Margot is awesomely horrible!! Maybe she deserves a PhD in Horribleness?
  • 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.
Lovelovelove the relationship between Margot and Syb!
  • 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.)
Very, very bizarre, but in a good way!
  • 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!
All-in-all, I couldn't put it down, and that's really the litmus test for books as far as I'm concerned. E surprised and delighted me, and really, what more can a girl ask for? Except maybe a zombie boyfriend. ;)

The Interview:

Writing...is the elixir that keeps me young and vibrant.

My favorite part of the publishing process (so far) has been...seeing my first copy of the ARC. I was on cloud nine.

My least favorite part was...rewrites. I can't tell you how many times that danged book came back. At times I thought it was a homing pigeon.

Without my agent...I wouldn't be a published author. That's for sure.

The best thing my editor suggested was...the summer camp story from the book. It's something that really happened to her. Capturing her pain helped me with Margot.

My greatest writing asset is...my computer? Why do I suddenly feel like I'm back in high school, taking a test, and failing? LOL. That's my answer, and I'm sticking to it.

NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOBMIE is like...Mean Girls meets Shaun of the Dead.

Margot's biggest problem is...that she hasn't gotten over a past hurt. The pain is what shapes who she is in the story, and until she gets past it she can't become a better person.

Don't read this book if...you are a hard core zombie fan, or don't like light-hearted stories.

If I were a zombie and had to choose between brains and flesh, I'd eat...brains. I'm not a meat-eater.

The best zombie movie EVER is...28 Days Later!

Come zombie apocalypse time, I won't be able to live without...books and movies, and pizza.

If I had to be back in high school, I'd...hopefully realize that others are going through exactly what I'm going through. That definitely would make it easier.

If I had to be back in high school, with zombies, I'd...probably try to find a cure. Zombies are not fun, and I like fun!

Zombies...represent the ultimate in getting along and tolerance. Margot says: "...they don't snark at each other, or gossip behind each other's backs, or get jealous when their friends like a cute boy. They have one thing in common–they're zombies. But we kids have a whole lot in common, shouldn't it be easier for us to hang together?" We humans can learn a few things from zombies.


For the record, I would like to state that, though this blogger believes in peace and harmony, if forced to choose: UNICORNS RULE, ZOMBIES DROOL!

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed having E here as much as I did. Class, say, "Thank you, Mr. Van Lowe!"

If you want to know more about E or NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE (in stores now, people!!), his Web site and blog are great places to start.

Please stay tuned for more author interviews in the future, and don't forget to pick up your copy of this hilarious book today!