Contributing to the Lunacy of Minors

Back in July, a bunch of Apex authors received an email from Jason Sizemore outlining another one of his crazy schemes. He was all excited, jumping up and down (one can imagine), frothing at the mouth (one supposes), and going on and on about how great this e-anthology he’s come up with is going to be. He’s offering nickles for reprints and dimes for originals, but it’s going to be available almost instantly for pennies. The stories have to be horror, just horror, no other constraints. It will be a great avenue for promoting Apex and her authors (I always think of that Alien Head as the Queen) and please send Jason something by the end of the month, thanks.

I chuckled as I closed the email and set it on the back burner. I write fairy tales and dark fantasy and the occasional ghost story, but I’ve never just written horror. Hmmm.

I told the Fairy Godfamily about Jason’s email on the way to the beach for the 4th of July weekend. I heard a similar “Hmmm” from Ariell in the backseat. She and I had previously discussed doing a collaboration. Perhaps this might be the venue? I told her I’d forward her the details when we got home. Perhaps we could think of something.

Two days later, Ariell and Kassidy and I were lying on sandy beach towels in massive amounts of pain, having been stung by stupid jellyfish. Tomo, who skedaddled when we spotted the first jelly, was attempting to distract us with a story of some girl in high school who got crapped upon by a seagull and was called an unfortunate name (think “craphead”, only worse) for the rest of term.

“We could write a story about a boy who gets crapped on by a seagull and then kills everyone who laughs at him,” I thought aloud. “A summer teen slasher short story. Why not?”

“You could kill all the kids from Awesome Porch,” offered Kassidy, who is never at a loss for victims.

“I could write the death scenes,” said Ariell, who knows my weakness when it comes to writing. I just don’t get gory.

“We’ll call it ‘Life’s a Beach,'” I said. I pulled out my little yellow notebook and we all decided who should die and how. Ariell took the notes and emailed me the death scenes when we got home. Then she hounded me for days asking if I had finished the story…because Ariell knows all my weaknesses when it comes to writing.

I finished it. For her. We read it aloud to Kassidy, who approved. We sent it off to Jason and crossed our fingers. He responded, highly amused at what we’d done and said it would be perfect for the anthology.

The last time I spoke to Jason, he didn’t even have a title for the anthology yet. I guess he got one quick — Apexology: Horror — as well as a cover, ’cause it went on sale yesterday. Go on, order it. Support Ariell’s first professional sale! For only $2.99, you download a .zip file with all the epub fonts and pdfs your little heart desires. Scanning the ToC, I’m not sure which stories are originals and which are reprints, thought I recognize a few. All I can tell you is, if you’re up for a silly teen slasher story, the one Ariell and I wrote is definitely worth $2.99 all by itself.

Thanks, guys. And congratulations Ariell!

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Calling All Junior Arborists

I was going through some old pics to post on my shiny new Facebook Fan Page, and I came across this one. It’s from the tree at Gypsy‘s house, located roughly halfway between Awesome Porch and Awesome Garage, and I love it. Its flowers look and feel like magnolia flowers (apart from being pink), but the leaves are soft and not waxy at all.

What is this tree? Does anyone know?

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From the Garage

Facebook is a funny thing. Greg Hall (yes, that Funky Werepig we all know and love) posted this morning that he has 500 friends, and intended to celebrate by buying them all breakfast. Kelli and I were sitting on the green couch in the garage at the time, dutifully hammering away at our keyboards. We know Greg, and we know he lives like ten minutes from the Porch O’Awesomeness (which has, since the blizzard, graduated into the Garage O’Awesomeness), and we were hungry, so we told him so.

Just like that, we had a werepig in the garage bearing sausage croissants and tater tots. It was cold and cloudy and rainy outside those doors and neither Kelli nor I had woken up this morning feeling any kind of spectacular, but we laughed  in this garage like none of us had laughed since…oh…Mo*Con, anyway. There were Tweets and acronyms and interpretive dance and protective boyfriends and princes on mountaintops and death threats against evil banks…and the kids were home and Greg was walking back to his car all too soon.

What started out as a crummy day ended up as a really, really good day, and we have a chivalrous werepig to thank for it.
And, I suppose, Facebook.
Darn social networking sites making people all…social. What’s up with that?

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X Amount of Words

Last night I was editing a story I hadn’t looked at in a while — it needed some TLC and the 10% cut (you know, the rule about trimming 10% of the words…that’s a GOOD edit). I dug it out because it was one of those rare times when a magazine was in the market for A, B, X, and Q, and I just happened to have a story that hit all those points…one so specialized that I had effectively trunked it. Never say never.

In looking over the manuscript, though, I was startled to find the constant repetition of one word: extract. Not the typical word of choice for most “I abuse this word too much” lists. For most normal people, those words are things like: “then” and “just” and “that.” If you are Dean Koontz or Stephen King, those words are “preternatural” and “ennui.” And had I not written the word FIVE TIMES IN THE FIRST FOUR PAGES, it might have escaped my notice altogether. (As it was, it had already escaped Gypsy’s red-pen edit.) There was a checkbook extracted from a purse, hair extracted from under something heavy, an item extracted from a pocket, a candle extracted from inside a jack o’lantern, and cat’s claws extracted from an arm. (I kept the cat claws, but extracted all the others.)

It makes me wonder what frame of mind I was in when I wrote the story…what subliminal message I was trying to tell myself. Was I in a situation from which I needed to extract myself or someone else? Perhaps the word was an earworm, mentioned in a movie or on the street and spun on quiet repeat in my memory banks. Perhaps it was just coincidence. Whatever the reason, I’ll be reconsidering the next time I write the word “extract” in a sentence.

Unless it’s Scrabble, in which case I’ll happily take ALL those points.

Do you have a word or phrase that haunts your writing?

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A Rigabamboo

Patented by Princess Pat — I believe this is something I, as Princess Alethea, should look into.

In the meantime, check out these awesome pics from last night’s Girl Scout Talent Show in Red Lion (click on the pirates). It was short and sweet, but a lot of fun. It’s just a shame the battery on Qwee’s camera died…

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Brownie Points

In Scottish folklore, brownies are hobgobliny imps that will do housework for you (and things like keep your milk from turning sour) if you treat them well and leave them proper tributes like bowls of porridge and honey. In America, Brownies wear chocolate miniskirts and beanies and sashes with nifty patches sewn on them by overwrought mothers. They go door to door with their little red wagons (or, at least, they used to before they set up a folding table in front of the Wal-Mart) and hock their cookies (they used to be called Peanut Butter Patties) and go to a camp (where they did not practice archery or learn how to make fires or rockets or model airplanes, because that is what BOY Scouts do). Easy or not, these little brown ducklings yearn to one day be green.

I never made it that far. And green is my favorite color.

Due to a series of unfortunate events at Summer Camp — which my mother never forced me to return to and we shall never speak of again — I quit Brownies after one fateful year (just long enough for Della to catch lice from trying on my beanie, apparently). It’s a shame — I was at an age when I really could have used a place to belong. Honestly, had Girl Scouts been a little more like Boy Scouts, I think I would have fit in a lot better. I’ve heard a lot of things have changed in the last…um…27 years (holy CRAP I’m old). For instance, Girl Scouts now have TALENT SHOWS. And the local troops here in PA have graciously asked me to be their MC. I said yes, of course. I sort of feel like I owe them.

The talent show is tonight at the Red Lion Junior High School, 200 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA 17356-8637, 6:30 p.m.  Cost is $5.00, and all proceeds are being donated to the Family Partnership Campaign for Red Lion troops (aids in Girl Programming, Camp upkeep, etc).  EVERYONE is welcome to attend.

Performing will be: Troops 20443 and 20508 from St. John’s UCC in Red Lion, Troop 21027 from Bethany UMC in Red Lion, Troop 20692 from Bethany UMC in Red Lion (with special accompaniment on the drums by a troop dad),  Troop 20491 from Zion UMC in Red Lion, and Troop 20692 from Bethany UMC in Red Lion.

There will also be a silent basket auction…and you know those baskets are always full of some really cool stuff.

If you’re in the area, please join us!

(…and so help me god, if there are no Tagalongs, I may just walk right out. Again.)

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Return of The Ladies

Back in December, right after Christmas, my little sister sat me down with a paintbrush and a piece of gessoed masonite and said, “Paint me one of your ladies.” It was a lot of fun, and reminded me of something I should be doing…that I *haven’t* been doing. Not because I haven’t wanted to or needed to or had the time to, I just haven’t been focussed where the art is concerned.

The awesome thing about that, is that IT’S ART. You’re welcome to play around and do whatever you want to get your ya-yas out. Doing so is a lot of fun. Having a venue to show them off (like my artist’s table at Mo*Con — you’re going, right?) is a fabulous motivation. And having your friends all around you saying, “Hey, can I do art too?” is just wonderful. Because we all know: Magic is much better when shared.

This week I got a bazillion fun pieces done for Mo*Con, and I wrote my reviews for IGMS, and I showered (a few times) and packed and got everything pretty much cleaned up and ready to go. Which meant that last night was a freebie. Last night wasn’t work, it was just for me. I could play around and goof off and have the freedom to screw up and take as much time as I wanted doing so.

So I did what my sister asked me to do (and has still been asking me: “Lee, you should just do some! They don’t take that long!”) four months ago. I painted some Ladies. I finished them up, and will be proud to display them at my table. Hooray!!

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How ’bout *them* apples?

Carson: Who wants to play “Apples to Apples”? [the Junior Edition, because he’s six]

Lee: Me!

Chloe: Not me.

Everybody Else: (grumble)

Lee: Somebody has to play with us. Two people can’t play…

Gypsy: Justin will play with you.

Justin: Sure, okay.

(Rip-roaring game of “Apples to Apples” ensues. Did I mention I freaking love this game? Wackiness and hilarity, people. Eventually, we get to the final round.)

Carson: (the judge of this particular round) The word is “Sour”.

Justin: (plays his card) Tee hee!

Lee: (plays her card) *giggle*

Carson: (consults the cards completely straight-faced) Hmm. “Play Doh” and “My Grandma.” (pauses.) Wow. That’s hard.

(Justin and Lee burst into a fit of giggles.)

Carson: (after serious deliberation) I’m going to have to go with “Play Doh.”

Lee: YESSSSSSSSS! All mine, baybee.

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The Art of Screwing Up

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
~Scott Adams

I screwed up one of the pieces I was doing yesterday. I had originally achieved the affect when prepping a rainbow-colored butterfly on a scrap piece of paper, and Gypsy and I both loved how it looked. My goal was to recreate that same butterfly above a sea of little black butterflies. The black butterflies came out great. The rainbow butterfly looked like trash. I tried to fix it. It looked worse. I wasn’t pleased, and said as much.

“You would just tell me that’s art,” said Gypsy.

She’s right — she’s been out in the garage tinkering along with me for the past two nights. Every time she complained about something being crooked or not the way she imagined it to be, my response was always, “That’s art!” and an encouragement to keep at it. The Hippie made a great analogy for her — one that a fellow writer would understand. Just as the written word is the tool you use to tell the story in your head, the pens and brushes and glue and glitter are the things you use to translate what you’ve got in your head. At first it’s rarely (if ever) the same thing. You just have to work at it. Just like writing. Gypsy frowned at us, but she kept at it, and I was glad to have the company.

But I was not happy about this piece, and I wanted to do something about it before that globulous layer of crap dried forever. I had seen some words on another piece of scrapbook paper, and I ferreted them out. “There lived a beautiful princess,” the words said, and I grabbed my scissors to cut them out. It seemed a bit tougher than usual, and when I snipped the last corner of the strip I realized why — it had been stuck to the page behind it. I had snipped the exact same similar strip out of the page behind it, a dark wine-colored print.

“Hmm,” my brain thought, and as I clipped the words into pieces, so did I clip the strip of wine-colored paper.I wiped off the offending glitter and pasted my new pieces right over it. I was so happy with the result I immediately did two more pieces in a similar vein.

“Look,” I said to Gypsy, showing off the finished piece. “That’s art.”

She stuck her tongue out at me.

For the rest of the gallery of artwork I’ve completed this month, click here and just arrow forward. I’m adding new pieces every day until Mo*Con! (And then I’ll remind myself how to do that Etsy shop…)

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Suitable For Framing

Not only do I have the honor of AlphaOops: H is for Halloween being a Junior Library Guild Selection, but now I have this awesome lapel pin and a certificate suitable for framing.


This is *so* way better than making the honor roll.

Don’t forget — the release date is July 13, 2010. The publisher may sell out before Halloween (I say that because the first one sold out before Christmas) so be sure to preorder yours today!

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