The Spark That Lit Up a Universe

One of the (many) weird things I’ve discovered about being a writer is the way something sparks an idea in my mind and it grows in ways I could never have expected. Even the things I know will touch me don’t always have a predictable effect. Take the musical Les Miserables, for example, and the Dream’verse.

Some twenty years ago I saw a touring production of Les Mis. It blew me away. I spent the rest of the weekend in a music-filled haze, playing over and over my Original Broadway Cast Recording Double-Length Cassette that I’d begged/borrowed money to buy.

Before that fateful weekend I’d poked at writing. Like many beginners, I had story starts in many sizes and genres, begun on a surge of inspiration and abandoned when the glow faded. Maybe the ideas weren’t fully-formed, the characters flat, the spark not strong enough…who knows. All I knew was that I had a lot of failed stories that I’d cared about once, that I wanted to care about again. The last thing I needed was another false start, but Les Mis took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I had to do something with it, even if it turned to cold cinders like the others. Resistance, as the Borg will have it, was futile. I had to try. (Though Yoda and my character Eve Marcori would remind me there is no try.)

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Honoring My Grandfather

My grandfather passed away on Valentine’s Day.

I am still numb, and the funeral is on Saturday.

Gramps was my last living grandparent, and he was a WWII veteran.  His greatest accomplishment in his life was serving in the war.

He even earned a Purple Heart.

He was 97.

His health was really good, almost perfect, for many years.  But a few years back, he took a fall and that changed everything.  He steadily deteriorated.  About a week ago, we were told to see him because he wasn’t going to be with us much longer.  He hadn’t been eating and was being fed intravenously.  It was time.

Hubby and I went to see him the day before he passed, but due to a miscommunication, and quite possibly my stupidity, we didn’t end up in the right place.  Apparently, my dad was there at the same time.  He said we went to the wrong place.  I’m not sure how, but the fact remains: I didn’t get to see him before he died.

I will carry that with me forever.

So, I will write Gramps a note.  And hope that wherever he is, he will see it and understand.


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Ssh! The Maestro’s Devolving!

Music is important to me.  Perhaps too important.

My wife loves the movie Ladyhawke.  Beautiful, romantic, blah blah blah.  I hate it.  Why?  The music.  Modern, electronic music in a film set in a time before electricity was discovered and domesticated.  Geez, Richard Donner, I know it was the 80s, but really?  Electronica????  Completely pulled me out of the story. 

Most recent Star Trek movie?  Like it, but didn’t love it.  Because of the music.  Not that the soundtrack is bad; on subsequent listens, I have to admit it’s pretty decent.  But the trailer music was, in my opinion, much better, and I went into the movie expecting that music, not the actual soundtrack that accompanied it.  Major letdown that colored my first impression of the movie.

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Genre Writing and Identity

Hi, I’m the author of this month’s Turtleduck story, “Lonesome Hearts”. Cool, right? There’s just one problem. My bio says I write science fiction and fantasy (also known as speculative fiction). I identify as a genre writer. So why isn’t this story speculative fiction?

The original idea for the story was to combine folk music and fantasy. I wasn’t sure what the fantasy element was going to be, but I knew I was aiming for a story in the tradition of the wonderful anthology The Horns of Elfland and the music-related portions of Elizabeth Bear’s beautiful Blood and Iron. When I started writing, I had a strong sense of place and character, an idea of the situation, and a vague sense of the plot. I wrote half the story and still no fantasy element had shown up.

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Dreams Can Come True

I’m no pretty-handwriting-in-a-pretty-journal-while-sipping-tea writer.* I like coffee in big mugs that make a statement on the side, and I use 70-sheet, one-subject, twenty-notebooks-for-a-dollar spiral-bound notebooks. And I eat pretty stationery for breakfast. (Okay, not really.)

Christmas 2005, an acquaintance gave me a lovely journal. It had an iris on the cover, and music notes, and gold writing. It wasn’t my thing, but it was too pretty to give away. So when I felt the need to do something different, that journal was near at hand.

On 1/15/06 I wrote inside the front cover the date and the title: Dreams to Truth Journal (Yes, I felt the need to write that it was a journal.) Below that, I wrote Because I am an excellent writer and I deserve to be published.

I needed to say that, to tell myself that. I felt stagnant. Stuck. Another vacation had slipped by without my accomplishing anything I meant to do. I needed accountability. I needed to write it down. The goal was some progress recorded every day. Every single day–I felt I’d waited long enough to get my butt moving.

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Believe in Yourself

When I was a kid, I was made fun of by other kids.  I don’t know what I did to them.  I was always nice to everyone, and I was painfully shy so I kept to myself most of the time.  But for some reason, people found things to laugh at.  They also pulled some horrible pranks on me: once, they locked me in a closet (and to this day, I’m terribly claustrophobic); another time, someone tried to set my long hair on fire.  These weren’t harmless pranks, and they hurt me badly.  For years, I existed as a joke, not a real person with real feelings.

As you can probably guess, my self-esteem was non-existent.  When I was fourteen, I contemplated suicide.  Going to school was traumatic and not fun.  I had no real friends, no one to talk to or to care about me.  I was nothing.  I was worse than nothing. 

I was a freak.

All I wanted was to be accepted.  To be acknowledged as a person and not treated like crap.  I wanted people to look at me and see me, not the girl who’s the butt of jokes or my imperfections.  I was convinced that I’d never find that, that it just wasn’t possible.

Enter Job’s Daughters. 

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Ten Things We’ve Learned About Collective Self-Publishing

This month marks a milestone that’s being celebrated all over the world: it has been six months since the idea of Turtleduck Press was first floated. Oh, and it’s 2011. Happy 2011, readers! Here are just some of the things we’ve learned in our first six months:

1. When the time is right, things start to happen very quickly. The idea was first proposed on July 8. Within a week, we had our own venue for private discussion. In less than a month, we had three (already edited) long works going through our approvals process.

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