Friday, July 31, 2015

Moments of the Week: Auto Shops and Traffic Stops

Happy Friday, everyone! Am I ever glad this week's over. It's been a long one. Plenty of work, plenty of running around, not much time to relax. But the only thing planned this weekend is a viewing of Ant-Man with a bunch of friends, so I can do whatever I want. Which will probably be "read." You see, on Friday and Saturday, the friends over wanted to watch our copy of The Color of Magic with David Jason, Sean Astin, and Tim Curry (with the late legend Christopher Lee as the voice of Death). Not the most faithful reproduction, but good enough for a short miniseries made out of two books. Then, Monday, with the desire to reread The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic already planted, I realized it was exactly one month until the release of The Shepherd's Crown, the very last Discworld book.

So I decided to do what any reasonable obsessive fan would do when faced with the end of her favorite series.

I decided to read them all.

It's only 41 books. Shouldn't take TOO long, right?

But what a way it'll be to say goodbye.


  • It was time for an oil change. Well, my car was also making some unnatural noises, so first thing in the morning, I rolled into my usual auto shop and found myself looking down at an ambulance and a police car idling in the parking lot. Clearly, they were here on different business than vehicle work. I skirted the ambulance, parked, and headed inside to ask about the work and what in the world was going on. I'm nosy like that. Luckily, the men at the counter were happy enough to provide the story. A man had recently been released from the hospital. Or had walked out, as they said something about him still having a bag or IV. Either way, he'd just recently had bypass surgery and was ambling down the road probably a several mile walk from the hospital. Smoking a cigarette. He came down the hill the auto shop, finished his smoke while leaning against the building, then came in and said, "Call 911, I think I'm having a heart attack."
  • On the way into work, I was thinking how I hadn't seen much for moments this week. Aside from the oil change story, there wasn't much to see out and about. And then the light I sat at turned green and, with a number of other drivers, we crested the hill in front of us to a view of a veritable sea of flashing red and blue lights. The entire road was closed off by emergency vehicles, and as one, every single one of us U-turned as one solid swarm of "Nope." Despite looking it up when I got to work, I couldn't find a single report on what happened. It was as if there was no problem at all.
So that's it for this week! Hope you all had a good one, have a great weekend, and keep an eye out for your own moments.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Okay, This Looks Bad.

I've been reading a lot of trade paperback comics lately, particularly Hawkeye stuff. Mostly Matt Fraction's. I have a shameless girl-crush on Kate Bishop. I mean, just look at this chick.

She's a great character and Fraction just writes her fantastically. But this isn't about Kate and awesome female characters, although I certainly could write a whole blog post on Marvel's recent leading ladies and how people can take notes as writers.

This is about things looking bad.

I've got three of the trades, a dozen issues combined, and mostly, they have one thing in common: at some point, sometimes at the beginning, sometimes in the middle, the Hawkeye who is the POV will say "This looks bad." It's the first line in the series (pictured to the right, here.)

Midway through the third trade, L.A. Woman, and playing a few more games of "Spot the 'This Looks Bad,'" I realized something.

"This looks bad" is practically the mantra of a story.

At some point, whether it's the beginning, middle, or at the peak of the climax, there should be at least one moment where everything just looks bad. The hero falls towards the ground from far above survivable. The heroine finds the bloody knife in her bedroom. The couple's bridge of trust is seconds from collapsing. The walls of the trash compactor are getting closer. The bomb has a minute left.

It's that moment of seeming hopelessness. When the actions of the next few seconds or minutes make or break the entire rest of the story. And it doesn't have to be the climax, although that is the moment we tend to associate with things being just that bad. At the beginning, it's a hook. It draws you in and makes you wonder how the characters are going to get out of this. In the middle, it's a promise of trouble to come, keeping the reader moving. And at the climax, well, it's the climax. Everything we've been working towards is about to come together or fall apart

It's got to look bad. Where's the fun if it doesn't? Where's the tension?

Take a look at your works in progress. Where are your moments when the leads can pause the moment, look around and think, "Okay, this looks bad"? If you can't find one, why not? It might be that that's what's missing to bring the whole tale together. Find your "this looks bad" moments, and if you can't find 'em, add 'em, cause if things look bad, it's probably gonna be good.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Moments of the Week: Tires and Spiders

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you all have had a good week. I'm still in "wish I were still on vacation" mode. It takes a few weeks to get back into the swing of things.

I spy a lot of moments in the car, I realize. It makes sense. If I'm not in my car, 90% of the time, I'm at work or at home. Life goes on usually where I'm not. Luckily, my route and my area are filled with eclectic people doing unique things and living unique lives.

This week's moments:
  • If you've been in a car, you've probably noticed other people's license plates, and if you've noticed license plates, you've probably noticed how hard it is to tell the difference between 0 and D, 1 and I, or 8 and B in the font they use. You may have even seen this comic:

    Would someone actually do that, though? Make a purposefully impossible to read license plate? Answer: yes, they would and yes, they have. Somewhere in my town there is a red two-seater sportscar with the license plate BB8B888B. or something like that. It was kinda hard to read. 
  • Another encounter at the public school football stadium and track: At one side of the football field, a large, muscular black man was training with a giant tractor tire. It had to be almost as big as he was when it was standing. He started with the tire flat on the ground, then lifted it up onto its edge and let it fall forward. Then he'd lift and repeat, all the way down the field, I assume.
    Halfway across the field from him was a little girl, dressed in pink, girly clothes, her hair in two round pigtails, lifting and rolling a tire her own size, just like Daddy.
This week we've got a contribution from my friend Agent at God of Ephemera.
  • Says Agent: I was walking into my house when I saw what looked like a curl of smoke frozen in mid air between the wall and overhang.
    It was a huge goddamn spider web. And in the center was a giant black spider with big orange spots.
    You would have loved it, creeped the fuck outta me. (What can I say? She knows me.)
    A little bit of research into spiders in her area, and it sounds like she had an encounter with a Argiope aurantia, also known as a garden spider or, humorously, a writing spider.

That's it for this week! Remember to keep an eye out for your own moments, and as always, feel free to share. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Dragon's Loyalty Award

I always like these little blog hop awards that go around. They're fantastic ways to find new blogs and share the ones you love, and a great reminder that people actually read this stuff and maybe even like what I have to say!

So thank you, Lilian Brennan at Petticoat Peddler for choosing the Quille as one of your recipients. Now you all get to find out some random facts about me that aren't all related to writing.

Here's how this particular blog award works:
  1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
  3. You must share 7 things other bloggers may not know about you.
  4. Nominate up to 15 bloggers for Dragon’s Loyalty Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
  5. Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.
Okay, some things about me.

1. I love databases. Like, I was legitimately disappointed when I found, because it meant I didn't get to design and implement the video game tracking database I wanted to make for myself.
2. I used to be the cartoonist for my school newspaper. I was not a remotely good artist, but I was the only one willing to do it because all my friends drew and I was jealous of their ability.
3. I am not picky about anything. I like every kind of music, I'll try most foods, pet most animals, read most genres. 
4. I'm a huge gamer. I worked for years at Gamestop before I graduated college. So did Mr. Maxwell. Between the two of us, our video game collection is as big as our book collection.
5. My first paid job was behind-the-scenes work on plays at the local theater. I helped the lead actress on quick changes between scenes for the first show, and ran the sound booth for the second.
6. I do not own a single pair of shorts or a skirt. Slacks and jeans only, dresses are special occasion only. This has been my wardrobe for years, and I grew up in Central Florida.
7. And for one writing-related one: my to-do list is currently 58 novel ideas long, with a few of those including sequels that I don't count separate. Some of them are WIPs, but mostly, it's a big to-do list. If I stopped coming up with ideas tomorrow, I'd probably still be set for life. One of these days, I'll finish SOMETHING.

So that's a bit more about me, probably more than you really wanted to know. Blame Lilian. And now for my nominations!

My buddy Lillith at Eclectic Little Dork
The wonderful AJ Clarkson at ClarksonPunk
My co-conspirator Agent at God of Ephemera
and the fabulous writing blogger Mandy Wallace

Tag, y'all, you're it!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Moments of the Week: Maine!

I apologize for not having anything last week. Friday was our busiest day of the vacation, and immediately after that was travel, night at a hotel, 5AM flight home, and two days of crashing. At home recovering. Not in the plane.

Also, I apologize for not having pictures as I said. Due to tight spaces with packing (checked baggage? Pbbt) and lots of planned time on boats, I decided to leave my camera at home. Do I ever regret it. The things we saw and experienced, I wish I could have documented. So much beauty and grace and-

Baby seal.

Yeah, that's really it. I wanted to take pictures of a wild baby seal. Don't get me wrong, Maine is beautiful and an experience I've never had before, but I really just wanted pictures of baby seal.

All the same, there were still moments which I am happy to share with words even if I can't back them up with pictures.

  • When you go whale watching, it's a gamble. The condition of the seas, the boat, the experience of the captain at the wheel, all of them can make or break your experience. On rocky waters after a storm, with all the whitecaps breaking around you, you wonder how you'll ever spot anything. How can you tell the whale's identifying spout from the break of a wave?

    When you see it, you know it. When you catch that first blast of water shooting out of the sea, you know. There's a rush of adrenaline when you spot it, a question of if you were seeing things. It was just a moment, but it had to have been a spout, and when you call it out, everyone on board rushes to your side, straining to see what you saw.

    For an hour, we tracked and watch a pair of fin (or finback) whales, a mother and calf. The fin whale is the second largest animal behind the blue whale and are endangered. While we never got to see an iconic tailflip as they dove or even managed to get very close, it was still amazing to see these giant, powerful creatures as close as we did. 
  • Baby seal! (Can you guess my favorite part of the trip?) Twelve miles out to sea, Monhegan is a small island of less than 75 people living there full time, 9 of which are children. It's a lovely little place with artists a plenty and walking trails leading all over the island to overlook the rocky coast from 175 feet above the sea. If you take the ferry out to it, you have a few hours to explore, buy, eat, and drink (Monhegan has its own microbrewery with amazing root beer) before the ferry offers a 30 minute tour around the island to see the small islets around it, often occupied by seals.

    As the boat took to sea, we were greeted with a completely different view of the island, outside looking in. The captain directed our attention to the various cliffs and a rescue boat long wrecked, and near the end, we finally started to see the islets. The first one, a gentleman loaned me his binoculars to see some seals, but the focus was too poor for my eyes, and I couldn't make anything out. On another one, the captain announced there was a bald eagle sitting on top, so we'd be slowing down and keeping quiet to not startle it. As we drifted by, the eagle sat unperturbed, barely noticing us. As I watched it, a seal swam by in the water, and just above it, a little seal face popped up from behind the rocks. Then it crawled out, and I realized it couldn't have been more than two feet long from head to flipper, much, much smaller than its swimming counterpart.

    I squealed. I squealed loudly.

    I MIGHT have startled the eagle away. But it went over to the island on the other side of us, so we didn't lose sight of the majestic bird. My attention, though, was on the baby as it flopped and wiggled its way down the rocks. My last sight of it was as a wave rolled up on the rocks, and the baby wiggled and flapped its flippers in glee as the water raced around it. The cutest thing I've ever seen.
  • On yet a third boat trip, we passed a small, privately owned island with a single house on it, engulfed by trees. But the bottom of the island was barren of trees, ending in a small plot of grass and tapering off to a rocky point. On the grassy plot, there was a single, empty bench, waiting for someone to come, sit, and watch the boats sail by.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip wherein I bonded with some cousins in a way I've never had the chance to because all our previous times together, I was a child and they were adults. Now, as all adults, we had a fabulous time. I've been back to the grind for a week now, and I miss them, and Maine, already. I can see why writers and artists make such a place their home. If it didn't have such abominable winters, I might actually consider it myself.

Next week, we'll be back to normal, everyday moments, as well as a response to an award from my long-time reader Lilian. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and if you've had some moments this week, please, as always, feel free to share.