Category Archives: Lilly grant

New Year, New Me? (Nah)

archer-wiki_characters_archer-vice_skinny-pam_01Well, after my flurry of November activity/NaNoWriMo, I sure did taper off on blogging, didn’t I?

And since today’s New Year’s Day, it’s a perfect time to resolve to blog more in 2017!

Among other resolutions, of course. But don’t worry, no “new me” stuff — as Pam says, I really like me. Continue reading New Year, New Me? (Nah)

Everything Old is New Again

This morning I went through the closet in my old room at my parents’ house and pulled out some old toys for my son: some Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures, a Harley Quinn doll (with two hyenas!), and a very perplexing Jonny Quest figurine (Hadji in… a mech suit? With a machine-gun arm?). The kid is pretty dang into them. And that’s not the only connection between past and future that’s going on today.

I haven’t really written much (any) sci-fi before, but one of my current WIPs is “cli-fi,” aka “climate change fiction.” It’s about as sci-fi-y as The Hunger Games, in that I’m aiming for a world that seems basically like ours only after some kind of disaster, with some technology that’s basically magic and just there for plot reasons (sort of like in Star Wars, only there’s no Force. Yet?).

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Countdown to when these looks are back on sale at Forever 21

Obviously even when you’re writing something set in a contemporary world, you have to do worldbuilding: small town? Big city? What details of technology give the setting? Buffy is contemporary to when it aired (and boy do the outfits look hilarious nowadays, except for the ones that are somehow back on-trend) but still has tons of worldbuilding around the magical/supernatural elements.

 

BURN NOTICE -- "Breaking and Entering" Episode 201 -- Pictured: Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe -- USA Network Photo: Dan Littlejohn
Oh, he’s real. HE HAS TO BE.

Something like Burn Notice has a world built up of some real places and organizations (Miami, the CIA, the IRA) and lots of fake people (all of the characters except Sam Axe, because I refuse to live in a world where Sam Axe isn’t real).

 

Worldbuilding for a world that’s not our own is trickier… but pretty fun.

Continue reading Everything Old is New Again

GO TEAM!

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Go, team! (Not to be confused with The GO! Team, but they’re also excellent)

I’m really loving the posts that Jenny Crusie’s doing about “Story Teams” over on her blog. She’s analyzing why they work (or don’t). She analyzed the teams from Leverage (LOVE it), Person of Interest (tried to like it because she loves it and writes such interesting analysis of it, but…), and Legends of Tomorrow (uhhhhhhh) in preparation for troubleshooting the team she’s building in her WIP.

Reading her posts made me think about some of my favorite TV teams (Burn NoticeChuck, and Buffy being standouts, and White Collar too, although that’s a duo with support more than a team most of the time, and, of course, the Quest Team/Venture Brothers–Oh, and I guess Archer?).

So I want to analyze these teams the way she’s doing it, mostly for fun but also for comparison to the team I’m trying to build in my Lilly grant novel (YA cli-fi starring Anika, as-yet-untitled).  I listed too many, so I might just pick a few from the list.

Of course, that requires me to a)do that analysis and b)figure out what the heck is going on with my team.

And tonight’s not the night for that; I’m going to go to bed and sleep on it, and see what thoughts manage to crawl across my mind in the tryptophan-haze that is post-Thanksgiving relaxation time.

But teams make a pretty satisfying story unit. I’m excited to dig into this more!

strugglebus

Some days you're the flaming bus... and some days you're the motorcycles.Spent two hours making “garbage soup” (made of whatever leftovers are around) and writing a paltry 531 words.

Ugh.

Well, tomorrow’s another day…

I did have fun listening to my “inspirational” Pandora station, although it doesn’t seem to be very inspiring atm.

The worst part is that this brings me to five pages over two months for the project I’ve been working on with my crit group, IndyScribes.

Sigh.

…Tomorrow??

mixing it up

At the writing date I had last Wednesday with two friends and fellow writers, my internet-friend-from-way-back-who-recently-moved-to-Indy Chel brought her CD wallet in. This mystified Chelsea, who is enough younger than us that a giant CD wallet full of burned mix CDs struck her as a charmingly old-fashioned item.

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kickin’ it old-school: CD binder edition

Chelsea and I have talked before about making soundtracks as a writing tool; it’s something I’ve been doing since I was in high school (the earliest ones were cassette tapes, but my dad was an early adopter of new technology, meaning we got a CD burner when they were still rarities). Chel and I have been exchanging fanfic and mix CDs with our friend Meach since the 90s, and I used to put a truly amazing amount of time into creating WinAmp playlists (uh, and skins) and mix CDs (often with “cover art” that I drew myself, first-person notes from characters, and on-disc art).

Since having a kid, though, the time I used to put into this seems to have mysteriously evaporated, so I’m extremely rusty; plus, I’ve had a computer upgrade but the new computer doesn’t have an optical drive. But I’ve been using Shazam to identify songs I like and then I’ve been using Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube to follow up. Continue reading mixing it up

Blast from the Past

Well, while The Baby is napping, and C’s off feeding a friend’s cats and picking up his brother’s dog, I thought I’d try to pop up a quick entry. I’m working on finishing up my grant report for the Teacher Creativity Grant that led to the creation of this blog (fellow educators, GO APPLY!) and will post that shortly. I’ve also been doing some literary archaeology and re-reading the big, sprawling, terrifying novel draft that I was working on with a friend for several years (but no updates since… yikes, January 2015!).  Continue reading Blast from the Past

Imitation and Inspiration

spoon river anthologyLast week in American Literature we did one of my favorite projects–unearthed from the vault, so to speak–based on Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. It’s a collection of poems, each written from the point of view of a former resident (now deceased) of Spoon River. The poems are intertwined, revealing the connections between the lives of the Spoon River-ers, showing town life from various angles.

What could be more fun, for a roomful of high school students, than to imitate that?  Continue reading Imitation and Inspiration

What’s in a name?

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That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet…

Today at Janet Reid’s blog, they’re talking about pseudonyms. The discussion was brought on by a particular case in which a man published poetry under a pseudonym that was deliberately chosen to sound Asian (the man is white). Sherman Alexie, one of my faves, writes about the situation here, in case you’re interested in more info.

So, the commentariat at Janet’s place are now discussing the issue, but from the perspective of writers seeking representation: should you use a pseudonym? If so, should you tell your agent?

I was planning, actually, on setting this blog up and writing under the name M.P. Larkin. Much like J.K. Rowling, L.M. Montgomer, L.J. Smith, and, yes, okay, fine, E.L. James, I was going to do the lady-using-two-initials-to-maybe-pass-as-not-a-lady-but-maintaining-plausible-deniability thing. Recently one of the writers at Jezebel realized this might still be helpful in getting published, just like the Brontë sisters had do to… Continue reading What’s in a name?

The Notebook*

*No, not that Nicholas Sparks novel. Or the movie version.

When I attended Bob Mayer’s Write on the River last spring, I took a lot of notes. In a notebook that I had grabbed at random on the way out of my classroom. Because I was driving from school to Tennessee while seven months pregnant. Because I am a genius.

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Me, appx. 12 hours before I drove to Tennessee and learned that 5.5 hours is too long to drive in one stretch if you are seven months pregnant.

Anyway, if you’re impressed by how ill-prepared I was then (at least I remembered clothes? I did forget a toothbrush, but Bob gave me one.), guess what happened next? Continue reading The Notebook*

Midwest Writers Workshop 2015

20150725_130355The third and final of my Lilly-grant-funded adventures this year was the Midwest Writers Workshop (#42, certainly an auspicious sign!).

This workshop was AMAZING! I got a ton out of it and it really had the most breadth in terms of a writing conference that could meet the needs of people at all levels, from novices just starting their novels to published authors looking for networking opportunities. Continue reading Midwest Writers Workshop 2015