Six Sentence Sunday

Turbo and I are off to Utah to visit friends and family this week, so an early, easy post is on order: Six Sentence Sunday!

Another excerpt from my thesis because, well, I’m still embarrassed by most of the writing in FRACTURED RADIANCE. Which I totally need to get over, seeing as it’s first draft writing, but still. These are the interwebs, you know? NOTHING ON HERE DISAPPEARS!!! dun dun dun

Aaaanyhow, here’s another six sentence excerpt from RED SKY:

It’s hard not to let my temper flare up. I usually have it under rein, but sometimes it slips away from me. My therapist says it’s a symptom of post traumatic stress disorder. Until my therapist said I had it, I’d only heard of war vets suffering from PTSD. Sometimes I like to speak in a grizzled voice and tell Graham about my days in ‘Nam. He thinks I’m strange.

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Six Sentence Sunday

I was talking with a CP recently about how she knows that one of her books is the best she’s ever written, and she feels deep down that it might be the best she’ll ever write.

I immediately thought about my thesis. I can say, without a doubt, that it’s the best book I’ve ever written*. By a long shot. I won’t say that it might be the best I’ll ever write, because I’ve only written one other full book besides it, and then my current WIP (which is almost finished, wee!). But I love this book. It is intensely personal to me in so many ways, and I really ripped my heart out and wiped it all over the pages. Kinda messy, often painful, but the result is something that I love.

Anyhow, my goal is to finish it next month, after I get FRACTURED RADIANCE all ended and off to my CPs. So, to show RED SKY a little love, I thought I’d feature it in a Six Sentence Sunday.**

I take a long hot shower, smelling the salt water afresh as it slips off my body. When I get out, the storm has broken. Thunder shudders against the walls. The rain slaps against the windows, begging to be let in. I cocoon myself in oversized sweats and lay on my bed, watching the lightning outside. I feel like I’m still in the water, the rolling sensation of the waves trapped in my muscles and marrow.

This was kind of a random choice, though perhaps inspired by the fact that I miss the beach like crazy (and this is right after a day spent at the beach). I’ll also admit that I’m proud of this little bit of writing–I can admit that, right?

Do you have a book that you love beyond all reason? Do you feel strongly about any of your novels that they are The One? Or are you still searching for that story?

*Yeah, it’s not quite finished yet, but it’s still awesome.

**Idea stolen from another fabulous CP, Kitty!

Kris Atkins, MFA

So, I have this weird thing (perhaps not so weird, I dunno) where I don’t announce online whenever a) the Mister is out of town or b) we’re both out of town. I feel like doing so is announcing to the bad people of the world, “I’m/My house is vulnerable! Come rob us!”

So that’s why I didn’t warn y’all I’d be out of town the last week and a half. That, and I was hoping I’d get at least some time in for blogging. But it was not so.

I flew back to South Carolina to officially become an official Master of Fine Arts. Yup, I walked. I was hooded. I received my degree. It was pretty surreal, let me tell you. Getting my Master’s degree has been a lifelong goal since I was in middle school or so. So, to see it come to fruition … pretty gnarly!

You said you want to see pictures? Okay!

Photo Op!

Blurry hooding action shot!

luk at us weer smart!

That’s my friend, Lindsay. We met on our very first day of our first residency over two years ago, and have been friends ever since.

There’s something awesome about friends who are also fellow writers. A shared passion that creates a tight bond. I love Lindsay for lots of reasons (she’s an awesome person), but one of my favorite things is that she gets the whole “living in your head with made up people” thing.

And she writes YA, which makes her even more awesome.

So, YAY, I have my degree! Now to just get the agent and publishing contract … ^_^

What Say Ye?: In Your Face!

We had an interesting conversation in my book club a few months ago. The topic was characters’ appearances and how much each of us as readers envision the characters in our mind when we read. The responses ranged from very detailed and realistic, to a body with the character’s name in place of their head.

For me, I like enough detail about a character that I can envision them, but I don’t need every single detail given to me. With that much detail, I’m going to miss something. However, I don’t mind if there’s too many details given, rather than not enough. I really do “see” the characters in mind’s eye( and what not), and want to have some idea of what they look like. Unlike last topic with details/texture, I don’t mind “random” bits about how a character looks, because to me those are necessary for me to get the most out of my reading experience.

In my own writing, I try to follow that same idea. Just enough detail so the reader knows what the character looks like, but leave a little to the imagination (’cause I’m a tease like that). However, in RED SKY, there’s a point where the protag describes Graham, her best friend, in great detail:

His arm curls around my shoulders and pulls me closer. I can smell the traces of spearmint gum on his breath. I look at his perfect nose, his thin lips, unattached earlobes, high cheekbones. Everything but those disconcerting, clear eyes.

I did this on purpose: to show how well Audrey knows his face, and to show how closely she’s inspecting him right now (which fits with the scene).

Something else I try to do with every character I describe is include something unique about their appearance. This advice came from my professor, Marlin Barton, and I’ve really latched onto it. If a character looks interesting, then I’ll be more likely to flesh them out and make them three-dimensional, no matter how small the character. This isn’t something I can do in the first draft–heaven knows FRACTURED RADIANCE is littered with flat minor chars right now–but it’s more a job for revisions. My next prof, the fabulous Leslie Pietrzyk, even made the comment (without knowing Bart’s advice to me) that even my bit characters were vivid and lively.

So what about you? What kind of details of a char’s appearance do you like to read? Do you need a complete play-by-play, from hair length to the grooming level of his nails, or would you rather have a blank slate, so your mind can play?

This Post Was Way Too Fun to Write

All of my fellow graduating students have received their beautiful, bound theses except me! A week later! Every day I watch for the mailman. When all he delivers are Thai restaurant fliers and credit card offers, I’m all:

Then my mind starts working, fueled by caffeine, and I start to worry.

So then I get online to distract myself, and come across this post: The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World

And this is one of my favorites:

My response:

(source)

My decision:

And I am content.

But Mailman?

Which of those stores is/are your favorite/s?

So … I’m done

And it’s kind of a weird feeling. For the first time ever in my life, I could be done with school for good.

(I say ‘could’ because I haven’t ruled out the possibility of a PhD. I’m crazy, I know.)

But it’s also an AMAZING feeling. I technically don’t graduate until May, but I have completed everything, all requirements. I’ve even already applied for graduation. Now I can just relax. (Hah! Yeah right. I have books to write and an agent to hunt down find.)

Both my lecture and my thesis reading went well. The Mister even flew out for my reading on Saturday night! And my parents and younger brother drove up. All of the graduates (8 of us) did a fantastic job, and once again I felt so lucky to be included in such a talented group.

And now, a few pictures!

Reading from my thesis

Converse May 2012 Graduates!

(Actually, from this angle you can’t see one of the poetry graduates. She wanted to stand behind us, and somehow managed to disappear. Silly Kathleen.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am so glad I had this opportunity to get my MFA, and even more grateful for the incomparable instruction I received at Converse College. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say it changed my life.

Life will calm down now and I’m looking forward to that. I’ll be back up to my normal at-least-3-posts-a-week posting schedule this week. And I’ll be able to really read all of your lovely blogs! w00t!

And perhaps the biggest thing is I have a goal to finish the (new) first draft of SPARKS, which actually (finally) has a new title: FRACTURED RADIANCE. I’m aiming to finish it by the end of this month, so I need to get writing. Weee!