Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nearing the End and Inspiration Rant.

Yeah, I am wiped.
So wiped.

I gave myself an hour today to write for fun.
I wrote ... nothing.

Man, I cannot wait for these exams to be over ...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We Interrupt Exam Studying for ...


My friend, Smithy (who better remember me when she's all famous and stuff) has made it to the next round of an Agent contest - so she is this close (imagine I am holding up a forefinger and a thumb, they are very close) to achieving all her dreams - and I couldn't be happy for her!

And this in the midst of the worst exam season ever!

Congrats, girl - you deserve it! And I will b3 right there with the balloons and the I-told-you-so! :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Little Writing Demon ...

There once was a philosophy tutorial I was in. It was my first year at the UofT, my first philosophy class and it was quite intimidating: there were plenty of people older then me, lots of richer kids too, with their Macs and their faraway looks. Needless to say, I walked in with my three year old bag, jeans and old Catholic school uniform sweater, and I about died from nerves - though I was also intrigued. All these people had a story, after all. James - the only Oriental in the room (trust, if you knew UofT you would know how rare that is), with his dyed red hair and green contacts; Rick, the typical ginormous WASP with his blowy blonde hair and lashes and these sick looking blue eyes; Benjamin, with his spectacles, briefcase and top hat. The list goes on.

Loren was our TA. She quickly put me at ease when in the first ten minutes, she responded to Rick (who apparently was trying to assert that he was The Awesome) that "Not all of us have little black turtle wearing existentialists on their shoulders telling them all they need to know about the universe."

We all laughed that off then, but over the years, it has become, in my warped
way of thinking, near true. I have two crowded shoulders.

I have the little Historian with her smudged spectacles and unruly hair that sits on one side of me, gently prodding me with a nail bitten hand to look around and appreciate the history of life - the colour that abounded in the past.

Then there's that existentialist - to be honest, my only "Him" - not sure why, maybe because whenever I think of existentialists, I think of Jean-Paul Sartre (aka JPS) with his awkward momma's boy body, and round glasses and balding head. Every time I come to the facts of life - the inevitability of my own existence, he kicks me. Literally, right near where my collarbone meets my shoulder, the little trenchcoat wearing, pipe smoking existentialist kicks me into action.

Of course, I have Tellulah - that's the name of my inner hippy. She sits to the left of my inner go-getter (I call her Beth), and they argue over whether that fiver in my pocket ought to save the whales or buy a blackberry (as if a fiver was ever enough to do either ...)

And then I have my little writing demon. Sometimes she's Ammy Belle - all sorts of bouncy sugar sweet cuddly goodness and support. Other times, her face changes and she becomes A. Isabel - and then she's dark and broody and into highly erotocized steam scenes. And then at other times, she's sleeping and she's just me - out of ideas for the moment, but sure to rock back into action soon.

And that's the thing, I guess. It's like that saying about wearing many hats, or that all the world's a stage - at times, there is always a need for one of my little demons - and I have tonnes more then the ones I just talked about, but all they do is reflect an aspect of me, and I think there is something scary and interesting in that.

Anyways, what do you all think?

Have I made a profound statement on the existence of personality? Or, are these exams getting to me? :P


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Secured Transactions and Writing for Fun

Hello everyone - Happy Saturday.

I am currently in a bit of a bind. I have an optional secured transactions essay I want to finsih before Monday, but reading sentences like this:
"Except with respect to rights to proceeds, where a financing statement or financing change statement sets out a classification of collateral and also contains words that appear to limit the scope of the classification..."

and writing sentences like
"there are two problems posed with intellectual property as a security device, as defined in Canada, both in the Ontario PPSA and the various acts concerning regulation and formation of intellectual property:"

I find myself being distracted and writing sentences more like this:
Luna looked into his eyes, reached his soul, she didn’t pull back, but suddenly found herself reaching for him, pulling him into her, pushing her mouth onto his with the intensity of everything that simmered between them. Her hands fisted in his jacket and she insistently tugged him closer, though there was nowhere for him to go. He braced both his hands on the island on either side of her body, allowing her to consume him, she knew, at her own pace"

So the ultimate question this weekend: What will win? Secured Transactions or Writing for Fun?

Friday, November 26, 2010

I conquered NanoWrimo!

Boo yeah! Yes I did! 50k words in one month - OWNED!
Okay ,,, this study break is brought to you by Pwnage! And now I'm done ... I think ... The point of this post (asides from the jubilant glee that is my cheering myself on!) is to assess NANOWRIMO as a concept and a reality - and see what I have taken out of it this year.

But first! For all those still writing, a little bit of love from Toronto Nanos!

(I really need to learn how to upload vids ...)

Yeah, that made my day, too.

Anyways, for those not in the know, Nanowrimo was established in 1999 as a month-long venture, where aspiring authors would strive to finish an entire novel length piece (that's 50,000 words more or less). Ensure chaos, right? Right. And sort of, wrong. Or maybe all right? The point is this: I have participated now twice running, and finished .... three novels and a short story between the two Novembers.

I kind of got ahead of myself, but what I want to express is that Nanowrimo is a great idea, and a great reality - even if it doesn't turn out my best work. There are many reasons for this: first off, a month is a lot of pressure. For those of us who do well under pressure (thank Goddess, or I would be funked out in law school right now), this may suck - I mean, the BF for all the good he can do, sucks with deadlines. He gets all anxious and OMG-OMFG! like, and then is useless. I, on the otherhand, buckle down, with coffee and lemon pastry to do what needs to be done! (And avoid studying ...)

So for those like me, Nanowrimo is ideal - it's better then a self-imposed deadline (I hate those, I always try to trick myself, it never works). For those like the BF, maybe not so much ....

Or maybe ...

See, here's #2: It forces you to do more then think about a book you want to read. It makes you actually, you know, write it. And there is something to that - even if it is the most craptastic book in the world - there is something about getting it all down that makes sense. And I think that, more then anything is the dealio with this.

Finally, #3 - it's a helluva lot of fun! I mean, you get into competitions with friends and there are videos like the one above from your community - it's just fun! And fun means more work gets done in an enjoyable way!

Now, there are critics of it - namely I have read anti-Nanowrimo from Maggie Stiefvater and Eric Rosenfield - and I encourage you to read and get their POV. I just don't agree with them. In fact, as much as I liked Shiver and Linger, I think as a novelist, Ms. Stiefvater is kind of ... well ... a tad narrow minded / short sighted. Great writer (though a tad too introspective for my tastes) but not such a great ... um ... visionary?

(Please don't pitchfork me ...)

I did like this article here, and I think everyone considering the anti-nanowrimo camp should think more about it, then not.

Besides, who wouldn't want one these beauties?

I know you're interested ...

Well you have 11 months to prepare for the next one! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I am writing ...

It's just not very fun.

Instead, I am writing papers - lots of them. One for secured transactions asking the hypothetical argumentative person on my shoulder: What does it mean, in a legal sense, to use intellectual property as collateral? (So far, nothing good). A Copyright paper on the new bill being pushed through the Canadian House of Commons (I will post about that soon - with links!). An essay on international law and the Basque Country (Yeah, my professor didn't know where the Basque Country was either ... sigh), and some other things that include hyptotheticals where Mary Jane and Peter Parker have legal issues pertaining to the purchase of the Wayne Mansion, etc.

Anyways, this is all to say that: I have no abandoned writing!

It's just the not-fun bit of it right now.

Though I am NANOWRIMOing it up! And nearly at the finish line - the problem is, how to get inspired when all your brain thinks about are things like liens and lines of credit and the CISG?

So, yours until Dec!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Short Story Contest Entry

So I entered a Contest - and my favourite kind, too! I got to write a super short story with only a headline for inspiration - my oh my, though, what inspiration it was!

Below is my entry - what do you think? :P

*Disclaimer: I suck at Shorts. *

Human hearts with couples’ photos pinned to them found in Colma cemetry.


She read the caption with mixed feelings, and scanned the rest of the page. Santeria. They thought it was a practitioner of Santeria? She scoffed and her eyes narrowed, her thoughts suddenly angry and tired all at once. Angry for the assumption and tired with the realization that she would have to continue her work all over again - once her clients found out that their jars had been removed.

Shifting her rotund figure to her feet, she waddled towards the door of the cafe, her skirt swishing softly against her bare ankles. The air was sticky with sweat and heat, and she knew this brought out the crazies. Moving into the night air, she absorbed the sounds around her, the chatter of people on the patios with their beers, the whispers of lovers, shrouded in the shade of the alley while the world spun around them.

She grunted and pushed open the door of her shop, the jingling of the bell above her eerie in the silence of the interior. Flipping on a light, she glanced around, made sure everything was in its proper place, and made her way to the back, where the magic happened.

How many hearts were buried there? She thought as she counted in her mind. 6? No ... more. Her old mind faded in and out of her own memories and she became lost in her own musings, her hands on a jar of salt, the room closed around her.

Of a sudden there was a wind where no wind should be - the gale bursting forward from the center of the room to tickle her greying scalp and carry the aroma of dirt to her. Her skin prickled and her eyes widened, her fingers clutching to jar for protection. Holding her breath, the smell of the earth overpowering her, she whirled to face whatever threat manifested itself.

But there was nothing.

She studied the room, the stillness of it and reviewed the sensations she had felt: no longer was there a wind, no longer was the smell of earth in her nostrils.

She shook her head, willing herself to believe she had imagined it all, and brought the jar of salt to the table. Opening it, she scooped out the grainy chunks of sea salt and stared at it. The mound felt heavy in her palm - a heaviness that came from something sure and protected. All was still for a moment more, then just as she brought her hand up to throw the salt at the four corners of the earth, the wind came again, knocking her to the floor with its strength.

She yelped and scrambled to her knees, her eyes searching the room for whatever force had pushed her - but the world stayed calm. She stared at the spilled salt on the floor with dread. How was she supposed to protect herself when her shield from danger lay vulnerable on the ground?

Quickly, with sudden choppy movements her stubbed fingers gathered the salt grinds, her lips whispering the prayers of her ancestors, prayers of protection - no longer could she convince herself that nothing was amiss - they were after her; the hearts. They knew they had been disturbed and now they were after her.

She felt the wind again a moment before the smell of earth pressed in on her. She bent her head down against the wind, her fingers busy gathering, her lips praying, until a shadow slanted across her. She stilled and watched the shadow as it was joined by other shadows. She caught her breath, her whole body tense and unmoving, feeling the wind at her back, the smell of earth - the pressure of the glares of the Hearts as they penetrated her.

Slowly, she raised her head, her eyes wanting to close but kept stubbornly open all the way until she met the unseeing eyes of the Dead around her. They stared back with empty sockets, their corpses swaying in the wind of their own arrival. ribs and bones poked through insect eaten clothes and clumps of dirt and she bit back a strangled cry as she realized what they wanted from her.

Her, who sought to help - her who tried to ease the pain of the ones left behind by burying the hearts of the Dead in jars with recipes for freedom and letting go. Now, she would pay for her own actions.

She thought of the work she had performed and the life she had lived, and slowly stood, their stench overwhelming, the saliva filling her mouth. "I am ready." she whispered.

And they reached for her.

Monday, September 13, 2010

When you get it, you got it!

Or something along those lines...

I am currently (see prior post) editing the hell out of the first novel of a trilogy I hope to submit to everyone and anyone who is in the YA market. Added to that, school just started (groans, here) and of course, everything seems to pile on at once.

That being said - I started watching "Luther" on the BBC (Love the bloody BBC) and fell in love with it and it's theme song - brilliant theme song by Massive Attack, called "Paradise Circus". Now, I was studying, promise I was, but when I got lulled into that song, I suddenly realized I wanted to write. Like now.

So I went to my laptop, booted up the third novel and began typing.

Ends up that I edited and rewrote a lot of one scene that I had previously not been happy with. I am more happy with it now. Amazing isn't it?

Music, I mean.

It has such sway over us, such possibility ... it truly amazes me.

So, as I write this, with more ideas for he third novel crowding in my head, I am listening to my endless playlist:

Aron Wright - Song for the Waiting
Massive Attack - Paradise Circus
Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
State of Shock - Pieces of You
3OH!3 - Don't Trust Me
Kings of Leon - Sex on Fire
A Fine Frenzy - Almost Lover
Deborah Cox - Beautiful U R
Marie Digby - Better off Alone
Mads Langer - Breathe Out
Superbus - Lola

What are you all listening to that inspires?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Notes from Hell.

aka. Notes from someone who is at the moment editing their first real novel and instead of being productive has danced around in her underwear to Shawn Desman, ate a scoop of low fat icecream, and ... apparently wright really long "aka"s .. yeesh ...

Anyways, this topic is .. well predictably, about the editing process and how much it sucks - for a myriad of reasons.

1) I second guess EVERYTHING. No seriously. Like, everything. Every word, every scenario - what would a publisher think of that line? That syntax (or lack thereof)? Is it coherent? Do I really need to add the word "strong" nine million times - they get it, the bond, it is strong! etc etc etc.

2) I DID NOT write that ... did I? No ... but ... oh crap, I might have. What the hell was I thinking? *blushing at this point* Gak! This will not stand (fingers poised at the keyboard with an insane light in my eyes that betrays me true tendencies)! And this goes to ...

3) Massive rewriting! Like, as in, that is ... massive. When I edited one of my highschool stories (for future reference, that is any story I finished in highschool - I started near 30, but I only finished ... 6.) It went from 114 pages single spaced, to 230 pages. When I overhaul, I overhaul ... with very careful snipping.

4) About that snipping ... Why, oh why? Why can I not make this scene work!? Why? Crap ... BUt... maybe I can save it!? No ... but yes! No! Yes! *brain wars with heart, usually wins*

5) Midnight phone call that goes like this:
Boyfriend: "Hullo?" in his sleepy cute voice.
Me: " I am in the depths of despair!"
BF: (Pause) "F*ck. You're writing aren't you?"
Me: Depths. Despair. A la Princess Bride - save me! What should I edit?
BF: (Sheepishly, or at least I would like to think so) I ... uh ... read more Moving Mars last night, haven't
finished, your ...obviously brilliant masterpiece ... uh yet....
Me: WTF, mate? (Phone disconnects mysteriously, after somehow ending up on the other side of the room ...)

6) (After reviewing an entire chapter, I make my notes and changes, go to the next one and discover there is a disconnect.) Blasphemy! (I scream this at my characters) Doth thou not knoweth of the timeline, dammnit! (After much griping, I finally fix this, but then see problems 1 through 5 on repeat until then).

7) Success! For a time. Because then someone else reads it and realizes I have a million "teh"s ....

And the process begins again!

Shoot me? Please?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Inspiration!

Yes that elusive silly muse ... She beckons and calls and then I follow into the tangled swampy abyss that is her mind, to float on those puffs of ideas, until, sadly and predictably, she leaves me high in the air and turns the gravity back on. Of course, I fall on my ass, look around in confusion and wounded pride and try to figure out how to get back up on those idea puffs.

And this is what this post is about - not that muse, the one that allows ideas to flow through my brain so potently and so quickly that my fingers grow numb from the late night typing, and the scribbling on napkins at bars, but the inspiration that comes slowly and haltingly, and from the strangest resources.

Take for example, this past weekend.

I went over to my friend, J's apartment in the ... er ..., well, if Toronto Ontario had a red light district a la Amsterdam, this would be it. But anyways, the rent is cheap and she's close to downtown - and besides, nothing wrong with a bit of skin, right? Regardless of the tangents, I was over there and we were sipping coffee and irritating her cat and boyfriend, and chatting and at 4am,I decided, hm - best leave, since I need to be up at 7:30, no? So I went downstairs and got into my car and pulled out onto Carlton Street. As I waited for the guy infront of me to choose whether or not he was going East, West or just fucking with me, I watched a skinny, tall girl walk up the street I was on. I noticed her originally because her skirt sparkled - it was that greenish blue that is almost turquoise, but misses it due to a little too much blue. Anyways, I glanced at her, and then my gaze was held, because she had the darkest, biggest eyes I had ever seen and I was just caught by how beautiful she was, in that instant, her stripper heels glinting in the lamplight, her hands alternatively feeding herself a cigarette and pulling down her blue belly top. And I realized, dimly in the back of my mind, she was a prostitute.

And that would have been the end of it, any other night. She walked past my car, towards J's building, then cut through it towards Jarvis, and Out of my line of sight. THe guy infront of me realized, I guess, that he actually wanted to go North and attempted to three point turn arounf me, making me slightly irritated before I blew past him and into the thrum of early (very early) Sunday morning traffic going Westbound to Young.

But as I approached my own house, the girl kept scratching my the creative little nub in the back of my brain, and I kept seeing those tragically lined dark eyes, and all I could think of was - there's a story there, a story about how that girl got to where she was (and more then why she was a female prostitute in the Gay district where most hookers were actually tall in heels with fake breasts and adam's apples), and I wanted to know it.

I had this irrational urge to get back in my car, turn around and find this girl (I had dubbed her Peacock Girl at this point because of the colour of her outfit). And I just wanted to sit next to her and ask her where she came from and what happened to her in life. And yet, I knew it sounded crazy, and vaguely paternalistic.

But then the stories started in my my own head, the little nubs of ideas that grow into sturdy stalks of stories. And I realized that I suddenly needed to write. And so I did.

A short story, not very noteworthy, except for the fact that I wrote it in the throes of what I thought was writer's Block.

Anyways, food for thought - Is there actually inspiration in everything around us? And to notice it, do we just have to be in the right place and the right time, with the right perspective to see it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, Authonomy!

For all those would be authors out there, there is a site that collects us all - and allows us a test audience complete with such things as rating systems and comment boxes. I am Ammy Belle on the site, and I put my first book, tentatively titled "By The Night" on it to now 31 reviews and a few "backings".

I would highly recommend this type of site for aspiring authors, after all - the bigger your test pool, the more likely you will be able to edit and mold your book into the best book - and that is what we all want, right? (Asides from making piles of money while living in a cottage in the mountains, I mean?)

Anyways, my experiences have been pretty fair with Authonomy, though there is a tendency to just back people who back you without reading their own works, which doesn't work for me - I read everything, which is probably why I am so slow to back things. "Backing" is a way of rating the book - basically, when you back a book it means that you would have bought it - it's that good. And then it gets put onto your bookshelf.

I like this idea, again because of the myriad of reviews and comments you can get - but also because it feels like a step in the right direction - and that's an important feeling.

It's almost like NANOWRIMO - this is a contest held in November to write a novel. I entered it last year after a friend, Smithy (who will guest blog here soon) told me about it and encouraged me to go in with her. The prize for finishing: Publication of your novel at Createspace. So we finished, and we got the prize - and when my novel came all prettified in the mail and I held it for the first time, I thought to myself: "Yes! This is how we do it! This is what I am meant to do!" (Then I saw all my spelling and typing mistakes, and realized I had a lot of work ahead of me).
The point is that these small steps are small for a reason: they are the mini boosts that keep you focused. It something so gratifying when you see the manifestation of the story in your head, that it keeps you grounded and just a bit giddy (Okay, a lot giddy - I think I showed everyone I knew... heh heh).

So, if you're a struggling artists of any kind and want feedback and encouragement - I would highly recommend these sites and more! And if anyone else had sites to offer, leave a message in the comments!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Short Story to a Screenplay

Good morning everyone!

I have a friend who wants to direct, and she called me on Sunday in a panic that she needed a short story she could adapt to script so she could begin filming next week... was I busy?

Well ... I am, but I can't say no to her - I have known her since we were eleven years old, stuck in Catholic school together, her a new Polish student who was angry and suspicious, and me, an attitude ridden crazy person with an underdog complex.

So, now I am writing.

Here is a preview:

The red sweater was sitting on the bureau like a beacon to her. Slowly, her old bones creaking under the strain of movement, she rose from the soft pink chair and made her way, slowly and painfully, towards it. Her wispy white hair didn’t hang around her head so much as float around her sagged skin in puffs, as if what little hair she had left had been electrically charged, so that it stuck up at odd angles, in uneven bunches. Her wrinkled fingers were spotted with brown sunspots, from years of working in the garden, her once strong hands gripping weeds and pulling from the ground, feeling the tense strength of the roots give away to the former dexterity of her fingers. Those same hands looked different now – as if they belonged to someone else, but still she outstretched them with a practiced air, reaching for each milestone on her journey towards the red sweater.

Halfway there, she thought of the pain in her lower back. It throbbed, she knew, from decades of bending over ripened tomatoes and scrubbing stubborn floors. She knew also that its twin: the pain that throbbed in her upper back, was from years of sitting at the sewing machine, her shoulders curved downwards, her tired eyes straining in the half light to mend and stitch the expensive clothes of those who were far richer then she thought she could ever be.

Nearly there now. She thought, and felt the pull of a smile on her lips, but her gums were red and angry looking, so she rarely opened her mouth anymore, preferring to remember the days when they were pink and healthy, and coupled with two rows of strong white teeth.

The question is: Can this be the basis for a viable script?
What does the internets think?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Death of an iPod.

So here at work, something odd happened.

At 10:03, my iPod skipped.

It was just a flutter of a skip - the heroine in the story saying "Come on -" before getting cut off with a strangled sound that I am pretty sure she was never supposed to make (unless there is an adult rated version of this in the fetish aisles of the XXX store down the street).

I glance at my iPod, annoyed to be taken away from my typing work, and note that the little silver apple is on the otherwise black screen.

Oh, Shit.


I pick it up and shake it - lost as I am to the clutches of this Apple techno craziness, I still don't actually understand any of it. I probably look ridiculous to the IT guy who is still trying to fix a coworker's computer (he's in here about three times a week, just staring at her monitor wondering what he did wrong in school to end up at that exact moment).

Shaking it, of course, does nothing, so I raise an eyebrow and look inquisitively at it, willing it to show me what's wrong with it - and preferably, how to fix it. Afterall, it is my bloody property.

Obey me. I will.

It stares back at me, this time without the metallic apple for a visual and does nothing.

I glare.

It sits in my palm, heavy and irritating.

I sigh and press the two buttons on it.

Finally, the painted Geisha (my screen display) winks into view and I suppress a yell of triumph.

It winks out again.

"Curses!" I whisper at it, then purse my lips and consider my options. The Apple Store is like a vacuum of evilness built from wall to wall with people who halfheartedly but earnestly want you to spend more money on Apple products that will break or infuriate you into walking back into the store to buy more products that ... well, you understand - it's a vicious cycle of evilness.

Gmail blinks at me from my computer screen. It's the Boyfriend. Aha! Thinks I. My saviour! I quickly tap tap tap on the keyboard and tell him my problem.

He scoffs (yes, I can hear a scoff on Gmail chat, it's sounds like "dur durp dee durp" which is what he is really saying out loud when he types "ORLY?"), and tells me it's probably one of my pirated audio files.

Check the other files.

I frown and consider this, then slowly attempt to resurrect my screen. Gaily twinkling at me, the Geisha appears. Fudgeknuckles, yeah? Fine. I think and proceed to select another track.

So far, so good.

Give it another hour.

Damn Apple.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A new Blog!

Yep, this blogging thing is addictive - captive audience and all that.

This will be my new blog, all about how I am a struggling author, trying to get out in the world.

Please join me for my adventures!