Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Supers FLASH





Elizabeth Seckman is celebrating the release of her newest book: Bella's Point! To celebrate, she's hosting a blog challenge.

You can go here to sign up!



Bella's Point
A historical romance.
Bella has the spirit of Scarlet O'Hara and the heart of Melanie Wilkes. A former debutante surviving in the fallen South....

Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way she knows how. She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella’s affection. He rejected her then, and he’s still not sold on the idea of marrying her now. Sure, she’s pretty, but he remembers too well how even a glance in her direction got a man of his low standing ridden out of town. No, Jack’s more sensible now, not to mention he might still be betrothed to another woman.

It’s complicated.




Here's my entry into the blog challenge. Flash fiction featuring a super family:





It was the year 1865 when someone last mopped that floor.

Well, that might be an exaggeration, but the house was a wreck—not an actual super-villain-smack-down wreck—but two kids and one husband sure made a mess.

I’d say it’s because they’re all supers, but my neighbor has two kids, too. She says her favorite cleaning method is to whip out a hose and spray down the kids and the family dog. And her kids never accidentally bring home genetically modified bugs—cast offs from an actual super-villain-smack-down.

“Honey, have you seen the PALEO transponder?”

“Have you seen the dishes, dear?” I called back.

He leaned around the corner. “The what?”

I turned away from him and flipped the transponder to silent, but it never failed. If I tried to talk distribution of domestic chores, there’d be an All Call. Life was predictable, if occasionally cruel. I slid the beeper into my pocket and picked up the magazine like I’d been reading it. I hadn’t read one in years. Emergency in North Carolina. Super plot in Argentina. Emergency in the bathroom—it was all the same. Divert disaster and clean up. I did as much crime busting as my husband, and he still managed to go play golf and poker with the guys. Why was I the one stuck cooking dinner and vacuuming? Was there something in super powers that prevented the male of the species from noticing things like full diapers and dirty dishes.

“Dishes, you know, flat, porcelain utilized by most people to holding food prior to consumption. When left unwatched for mere seconds, they bread into mountains covered in partially eaten food. Often the only evidence of teenaged inhabitants—ring a bell?”

His solemn face grew longer as he tried to fathom what would come next. “Are you suggesting that my work is somehow less important than doing the dishes?”

“Are you suggesting that you don’t remember how you were going to ‘step up more’ and ‘take on more of the housework’?” I crossed my arms and cocked my head at him.

He swallowed. “Well, I just meant that—uh, I would—um. You know, I think I hear the locator beeping. Maybe I should take it to Bob to have him see what’s wrong.”

He turned to walk away, but I teleported in front of him. “Oh no you don’t. ‘You cook, I’ll do dishes,’ were those not your exact words?”

“Sweetie, that was years ago—before the meltdown in California.”

“Oh, so Super Villains plotting against humanity is some sort of excuse to get out of doing the dishes?”

He swallowed. “Do you hear yourself?”

“I asked for a maid, and you said—“

“Not the maid again. Honey, we can’t have a maid. She might figure out our secret identities.”

I tossed him my phone. He caught it with one hand, perplexed. I ground my fists into my hips. “You tell PALEO, they’re one hero down until the dishes are done. They have enough pencil pushers, I just want someone to do dishes and vacuum once a week. We save the world. I want a maid.”

I checked the transponder, and sure enough, it was already beeping. His eyes lit up. “Honey, we have to—“

“Get PALEO on the line.” I pointed at the stack of dishes. “I’m lifting off, and if those aren’t done before I get home, I’m going to burn the house to the ground.”

I stalked towards the door, but I heard Jessica slink into the kitchen. “Does she mean it?”

My husband’s voice held the proper amount of fear. “I’m afraid she does. You’d better clean up your room just to be sure, sweetie.”

Jessica gasped then whispered, “Poor villain, he’s never seen Mom mad like that.”

I stepped onto the front stoop and took to the sky. To emphasize my point, I hit the area with a super sonic boom.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Forbidden Love


Today I’m going over an old manuscript. And not just any manuscript, the manuscript Liz with Aliens told me to not give up on or she’d hunt me down with a pointy stick until I got it published (I don't forget that sort of thing). I’ve written this story several times. Sweet Mother of Mountains, I have lived this story (well, not in the I-followed-the-fae-through-the-portal literally sense, but the laid awake at night hoping and dreaming about it).

This is a good representation of my Portal Feels.
The only problem: It’s a story with portals. Confession, when Glados said “Now you’re thinking in portals,” I laughed. Portals are my very favorite subtype of fantasy. Person from our world goes and has adventure in another world. I never stopped thinking in portals. As a kid, I dreamed and wished that I’d cross under a rainbow, or find a magic wardrobe (I didn’t even really know what those were because we didn’t have them in the US). The premise for most of the media I consumed as a child was “Young person finds way into magical world, has adventure, gains self esteem, and returns to this world a better stronger person.” Unicorns featured prominently.

Portals are my first love. So it’s no surprise that I have a portal story (an epic quadrilogy, to be exact).

It’s also no surprise that my story hasn’t really been the top of my “Polish this up and send it off to agents” list because I always try to keep market in mind.

It’s a portal story. At the end of the day, no agent is going to want to pick up a portal story because they are universally panned in the world of publishing. There are so many, after all. And what makes mine so special--that's actually a long story, but it starts with a jewish girl from a small town. Oh, wait, that's not what they mean. They mean how is it different from all the other portal stories. 

Did I mention the MC is Jewish? right, religious representation isn't enough because it's a freaking portal story. 

Sigh.

There are so many portal stories, that I’ve been sitting on this manuscript for almost two years. It’s just been rotting away on my hard drive. There’s a part of me that says that’s where it should stay, but the little girl inside me who dreamed about catching rainbows so she could go to where the unicorns live wants to pull this story out and take it for another ride.

So why do I feel so guilty working on a portal story?

What about you guys? How do you feel when you are in love with an unmarketable idea? Do you chase it down and watch it bloom, or have you mastered the cold places in your heart and put your zombie-unicorn-portal-dystopian into the morgue where all the publishing peeps says it belongs?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hobbies are healthy, some are even low in calories!

Briefly, I'd just like to mention that hobbies are healthy. I know a lot of people say things like "writing is my hobby," but I'm here to say, that might not be enough.

I know plenty of people who love their jobs. I also know plenty of people who are writing with the hope of having writing become their job. If you're writing to become a paid writer, you need other hobbies because your writing has crossed a magic barrier: your writing has become a second job.

Think about it. Yes, it is a passion. No, I couldn't stop even if someone ordered me to. But if  you had a second job that you were passionate about--say making blankets for the homeless, or sewing dresses for needy girls who just want to have one storybook moment in their life--you wouldn't consider your second, yet very passionate, job to be your hobby. It would just be another thing that you do. You'd still find time to tend a garden, or play golf with friends, maybe sail or relax on the lake.

When we write, we are passionate about it, but sometimes, we write to the exclusion of all else. Don't do this. Relax, enjoy the summer around you. It may be that I am particularly guilty of this right now, so this warning is more about me getting out to smell the roses than me admonishing all you lovely people to remember to do other things with your time besides hole up and write books.

With that being said, I think I'll go walk around the garden before jumping back into the writing cave.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

This is not the Insecure Writer's Support Group Post You were expecting.

Insecure Writer's Support Group posts on the first Wednesday of every Month. If you don't know what I'm talking about, visit the ninja captain Alex and hop on the Linky.

This month's co-hosts are Krista McLaughlin, Kim Van Sickler, Heather Gardner, and Hart Johnson!


Okay, I had a whole Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post all lined up (even clocking in under the prescribed 300 words—please, I can’t even sneeze in under 300 words), but you know what? Screw it. I’m going to tell you what I’m really insecure about right now:

Commas.

Yeah, you heard me right. I don’t use commas well.

It all started twenty years ago (Yeah, you know you’re old when you can start stories like that—Oh, and Crap, I’m old! I Can start stories with “two decades ago…”). Right, so two decades ago, I signed up for a correspondence course. A writing course. I’ll even admit that it was the first—AND LAST—fiction writing class that I ever took. It may have colored my opinion a bit. I should maybe try another, you know, just in case the one from twenty years ago was anomalous, but I digress. Twenty years ago, I was told that I used too many commas.

Specifically, I was told that I “clearly did not understand the proper use of a comma.” 

Granted, I probably was somewhat lacking in that particular aspect of punctuation (you should see my dire lack of hyphenation now!). Regardless, I was mocked. I was not yet twenty, but the correspondence teacher didn’t know that. It was a college level course after all, ergo, I was a college student. He mocked my comma usage, and from that moment on, the comma had EXACTLY one use: to join independent clauses with a conjunction. That. Is. IT. For years—DECADES even.

Fast forward to some of my earlier work. One nameless reader of my early work once quipped “What did commas ever do to you?” Well, they were the vehicle of my humiliation, so nothing personal comma. Don’t expect to find yourself unnecessarily inserted into my sentences.

I’ve been informed that commas come where you would take a breath if you were reading aloud.

Let’s face it: some of us are longer winded than others.

I’ve been informed that commas are only for lists.

Commas are for separating ideas.

Commas are for lists, but never use them on the third, or serial comma. It is confusing.

Commas are for dependent clauses, but not independent ones--as if emancipation of a clause mandated its comma usage.

Commas are to ensure the unsplit nature of infinitives.

Commas are poorly utilized in the English Language.

After two decades of bumbling around and studying this grand language of ours,  I now have opinions on commas. And because I am insecure about them, I will now foist them upon you. Remember, I had to be mocked into this tacit list. Ignore at your own risk, but by no means should you take my word for it.

The oxford comma is—in my opinion—non-negotiable. Use it. It will clarify numerous issues, including, but not limited to, whether JFK and Stalin were strippers

Use a comma before the conjunction joining two independent clauses.

A comma is appropriate to set apart a prepositional phrase, particularly at the beginning of a sentence, but it is, on occasion, discretional.

A comma is always appropriate following dialogue that precedes a dialogue tag. It is also appropriate prior to dialogue when a period would be awkward.

If you have an aside—an interjection, per se—consider the ‘m’ dash instead of a parenthetical comma.

Utilize commas at your discretion when joining a dependent clause to an independent clause.This one will take finesse and, dare I say, discretion.

Which brings me nicely to my last comma rule: if you can break the two clauses with a period, do so. There is nothing finer in the English language, than the finality of a period. End. Stop. (bonus points if you have a bloody clue what an end stop refers to).

So, what about you? Have any hard and fast rules on punctuation? And just so as we’re clear, I’m serious about that Oxford comma.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday got away from me or GO SEE MALEFICENT!!!

As the title might imply, I went to see Maleficent. And IT WAS AWESOME.

Allow me a moment if you will, to explain why... without spoilers.

I've always had a thing for villains. In fact, most of my stories start with the villain. Sometimes, the most interesting person in the room is the villain. For Real, especially for me.

Part of this was because I never quite fit in as a kid. I liked the frilly stuff the princesses wore, but it was impossible to wear those dresses and ride a horse, so out went the dresses. I could beat the guys at all my favorite sports games, but I was never invited to "be one of the guys." The girls thought I was weird because I was all sporty, and the guys thought I was strange because I WAS a girl.

And for this: I was outcast.

And you know who is always the outcast? The villain. I saw it early on, and I chose the villain's path (shakes fists at those fools at the university). I've even claimed that Peter Pan is a tragedy told from the very unorthodox POV of the antagonist's sidekicks.

And Maleficent did something very beautiful with the Villain. They gave the villain the opportunity to not only be redeemed (I'm a BIG Zuko fan, FYI), but to also get to have a complicated relationship.

Also costumes. And badassery.

So yes, a well told story that hit all the feels (and well), and managed to take a classic story, spin it on its head and make something really beautiful. Now, don't mind me, I'll be seeing what I can do to reproduce a set of those horns!

(hey Disney, can we get a retelling of Chernabog tale next?)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Princesses or Roller Coasters

An opportunity came up. I took it. With less than 48 hours notice, I planned and packed my family up for a trip to Disneyland.

I love the mouse. I'm sorry if you aren't a fan, but it's my jam.

So we're driving over the grape vine, when I notice: hey, my throat is a little sore. Maybe I'm allergic to LA (yakno, with all the smog and stuff). But never you mind, we are on our way to D-land. By five o'clock on the day of Disney, it was clear: I have a cold.

We had a blast. When asked what her favorite part was, my daughter said "Meeting the princesses!" So that was totally worth it. After getting off Big Thunder Roller coaster, she said "Well, if we can't go meet more princesses [fantasyland closes for the fireworks], then we need to get on a roller coaster!"

Yup, that's my daughter, inadvertently summing up my life. So, words of wisdom from a five year old.

And just one picture, because, like I told Marry Poppins as I was taking the picture, I wish I was the one in it!

Practically perfect in every way.


(someday, I'm going to go to Disneyland with my own autograph book and take pictures with all of my favorite princesses)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pitcharama

Title: ACNE, ASTHMA, AND OTHER SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE HALF DRAGON

Author: Rena Rocford

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 70k

Synopsis:



Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, Allyson just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon's fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures who hide within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he's been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson has to choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.