Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No post today (except this one)

Right, so I've had a bit of a busy day on my hands. As a result, you don't get a post today except for this one telling you that there won't be a post today.

Which I suppose means there actually was a post today after all. Huh. Circular logic makes my head hurt.

Oh, and my Ten Word Novel Contest ends at midnight tonight by the by. So head over and enter it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Contest Winners!

Two weeks ago, I announced my first contest ever here at the Archives. I am very happy to announce today that we have our winners!

Chosen by, the winners are...

Adam Heine and Melanie McCullough

Congratulations!! Because both of them told me who their favorite Harry Potter character is (both chose Snape - coincidence, or maybe Snape is among us?), I am going to grant first pick of prizes to Adam because he was the first one chosen by

Winners, please email me at keriannmartin726 [at] gmail [dot] com with your mailing address and prize choice! (See the original post for prize choices)

In case you all were wondering (you were, right?), my favorite Harry Potter character is Hermione Granger. Mostly because I can identify with her the most. She's a worrier (me). A peacemaker (just ask my mom). She's a great friend (I try!). But most of all, she keeps the trio together when the boys are being childish. She keeps them moving forward and working toward their goals. Without her (spoiler alert!), they would have NEVER found all the horcruxes. She is the smart one in the bunch. I love that she's a book nerd too (totally me). Don't get me wrong, I love Harry and Ron! But honestly, they could be so immature. Hermione RULES.

Have a great week! <3

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Wracking of Nerves

I'm not going to lie, friends. I'm a worrier. Like, a clinical worrier. I literally can't help it. I overthink a lot of stuff because I already have an analytical mind. Couple that with serious worrying and you have the recipe for stress (and disaster).

I've learned a few coping strategies over the years. But sometimes something just consumes me so fully that I can't think of anything else. And that's why today I'm writing about this instead of... writing. It's a gut-wrenching feeling, deep inside, that just unsettles you.

I'm very unsettled right now.

See, this time next week could be my last day at my wonderful, lovely, amazing job.

Re-reading that post helps a little, to see my attitude about it six months ago when I started this whole adventure. But still.

One week left.


What's driving me nuts is that I STILL don't know. They still haven't told us if they're keeping us or not. Which, to me, doesn't exactly speak well for the possibility. I mean, if there was good news, you'd think they'd want to share it as soon as they had it.

I've heard some rumors that they will keep a few of us. Rumors coming from people who are close to people who would know. But rumors bring me little comfort. (Read: zero). I won't believe it til I hear it from the people who make the decisions.

But the people who make the decisions were supposed to do a short follow-up interview with each of us before making those decisions. They were supposed to know by the end of the month.

That's Wednesday.

Most of those people aren't even at work the same time as the staff they need to tell these things to until Friday or Saturday.

At this point, I'm a little afraid that when they publish the schedule for next week on Wednesday evening, we just-- won't be on there.

Here's a funny little snapshot of my neuroses. At least, I think it's funny. I sent my boss a "happy birthday" text this afternoon, apologizing that I won't be able to make it to her party later tonight. She wrote back "Thanks. We will miss you. :("

I, of course, was fine with that text for about a moment and then the panic set in. Miss me TONIGHT? Or miss me FOREVER?


I think it's safe to say I'm going crazy. In the mean time, at least I have work (for now) and school to keep me busy. And you guys.

And that, my friends, is why I don't have a real blog post for you today.

*Longest Apology Blog Post Ever*

Friday, August 26, 2011


When I was a kid, I read a book on how to take care of home aquarium. I know: gripping stuff, right? Probably 'cause the dictionary was already taken or something. But the one thing I do remember from the book was this:

When you're bringing home a fish from the store and introducing it to your tank, the best thing to do is let the new bag o' fish sit in the existing aquarium for a while, THEN dump the new fish in. That way they don't flip over and die of new water shock right then and there.
(Or something like that.)

The last few days in Japan, we've had the opportunity to acclimate via bag, i.e. spending time on a Navy base (little America, pretty much) and venturing out into the city as needed/desired. I'm a new fish in an old tank, but I'm doing really well. No stress, no freak outs, no nothing. And coming from me, the queen of random stressy freak-outs? That's saying a LOT.

So, let's direct this back to writing. A lot of times, our plot may tend towards a classic "fish-out-of-water" story, or at least a "fish-in-a-new-tank" story. How do you ease your character into his new tank? Do you let him sit and acclimate slowly? Or do you dump him in without warning? Does he die of new water shock? (I think I made that up) Or does he adapt and survive?

If you ARE letting him acclimate slowly to the new world (maybe having a helpful guide tell him what everything is, things neatly labeled, I don't know) what other sources of conflict are out there threatening him? Push those stakes a little higher. Does this kid REALLY need an all-knowing guide?

There's a reason Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda die (oops...spoiler alert?). There's a reason Marty can't find Doc Brown during those REALLY important moments. And there's a reason you shouldn't let your main characters sit in a pet store bag for fifteen minutes before dumping him in new water. It may be relaxing and stress free for someone moving overseas, but since when did anyone want to read a book where the main character leads a delightful and stress free life?

Sigh. After writing this, I realize I've got fifteen metaphorical minutes to cut out of my latest WIP. If you'll excuse me...

 How's your little fish out of water doing?

P.S. You have 24 more hours to enter MY CONTEST and your odds are VERY GOOD! Stop by and comment and win  a prize pack from Japan! (THE PEN, DEAR MOTHER, THE PEN!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why Blogging is Like Having Tea and Twitter is Like a Cocktail Party (and contest results)

Sometimes I like to read books about manners. I think it has to do with my facination with human behavior and the age old dihlema of whether one ought to look out for the one or the many --give into society and its demands or make their own rules. Such thoughts are stuffed full of things to chew on and rich flavors for fiction. So sometimes I read books about manners, wondering how, why, and if any of them are actually followed.

One such book was Judith Martin's Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. A section of it described in detail the Victorian ritual of having afternoon tea with freinds ("Afternoon Tea" not "High Tea". High Tea was for the poorer classes, served at six to replace lunchen and dinner rather than at four as a social event and snack between those meals.)Ladies of rich houses would choose one or two days a week to be "at home" for tea and their friends would know they could stop by any week during those hours to say hello. Likewise one the days a week they were not "at home" for tea they would visit two or three of their friends who they knew were.

Blogging has always reminded me of this. We browse through our reading list and visit various friends to see how they are doing. Some days we make a lot of visits and some days only a few. We know which ones are likely to be "in" with new posts and have semi scheduals in which others know we will be "in". And we get to chat a little and be social about something "normal" people don't know how to talk to us about.

Another section of Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior discusses cocktail parties. Miss Manners doesn't like cocktail parties as much as she likes afternoon tea. She feels it is a more rushed, new fangled way to make sure all of one's friends are mingled with from time to time. Everyone is invited all at once inseat of continuously throughout the day. The parties are held once every six months or so instead of every week and not nearly as much qualitiy, leasurely conversations are had because everyone is talking at once.

I'm not sure I share Miss Manner's opinion about coctail parties (partly because I am not of the higher social classes who had tea in the Victorian age and throws cocktail parties in this one) but I notice a similar difference between blogging and twitter.

I'm new to twitter. I'm still trying to figure it out. I haven't decided if I like it yet but what I do notice is that much less is said. More people are reached at a time but the messages must be brief and to the point (you know that student who always got marked down for essays that are too long? That was me). When I get on to check my feed I feel so overwhelmed, like everyone is trying to talk to me at once. Like I'm in a room full of chatter and it's so much harder for me to decide who I am going to visit with today. If I am going to meet new people or stay in the corner with my champaigne and chat with my friends. Or if maybe I would rather have stayed home today and curl up with a book by the fire . . .

I don't think I would do very well at real cocktail parties.

But like I said, I'm still figuring out twitter. I will probably eventually find a plan of attack that works for me.

So what about you folks? Have you ever had afternoon tea? Do you like cocktail parties? Do you prefer twitter to blogging? What are your methods of exploration? should we adhere to the needs of the one or the many?

And now for the reason you really decided to have tea with me this afternoon . . .


The ARC of MONARCH and signed copy of SILVER PHEONIX will be sent to J.

Here is her winning entry:

She sat alone, feet dangling off the edge of the world. The wind tugged at her hair, teasing long strands of spun gold from the braid hanging down her back. She could feel tears trailing down her cheeks, leaving cool wet tracks in their wake, but she made no move to wipe them away. She preferred to embrace her grief.

It would be so easy, she thought. So easy to scoot forward several inches, to keep scooting until she toppled off the precipice and ceased to exist. But that would go against everything he had taught her. She could hear the words as clearly as if he’d been speaking directly into her ear. “The best things in life are the hardest. Fight for what you want most.”

She closed her eyes and inhaled, holding tightly to her most secret desire, visualizing it as if it had come to be. She exhaled, releasing her doubts and inhibitions on a tide of carbon dioxide. Carefully, she scooted backward and stood up. She had some fighting to do.

Congradulations J! Very well done.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why So Serious?

Purists annoy me.

Particularly the ones who get their dander up whenever you try to take things in fun and quirky ways that they don't feel is "respectful" to their beloved topic. Whether it's grunge, steampunk, cyberpunk, or anything even a little interesting in its uniqueness ... there's always going to be someone who complains that something's "not real xxxx." In particular, I started thinking about it after this discussion on the Great Plains Steampunk facebook group, where after deciding to do something fun and entertaining in a Steampunk outfit the original poster was told the idea "wasn't real Steampunk."

The folks at GPS (myself included) immediately told Sarah (the thread starter) that the complainer needed to stop taking herself so damn seriously already. We loved the idea of Mr. Mochi and embraced the fun aspect that Sarah was bringing to her love of that crazy thing called Steampunk.

I've seen this similar complaint in a lot of avenues by the way. People say "oh that's not real xxxx" and then the creator gets upset that they're doing something wrong. In reality, the person doing the creating is most likely putting their own spin on things and should be left alone.

Mind you, this is distinct from someone doing something thoughtless like cultural appropriation of sacred objects such as Native American tribal feathers or other items that are of similar importance to a culture not your own. In the case of Steampunk, I also throw the "slap a gear on it" type of person into this camp. Only if they never progress past that point though. If the point of slapping a gear on something is enough to get them into the subculture, then by all means I invite them to start exploring.

For the fans of a topic, like myself, who've spent the time to really get a handle on their beloved subculture though? Give me a freaking break with the rhetoric. I'm involved in Steampunk and my other interests because I think they're fun. I don't want to take myself seriously all the damn time. Too many people do that as it is and forget to have fun as a result. Oh, and my favorite thing is that those types of serious folks get offended at images like this:

Or this:
 And this one is particularly offensive to those folks too:

You know what I say to those people who think these images aren't "real" Steampunk? Well it's the same thing I generally say to anyone who says something's not "real xxxx".

Stop being a buzzkill.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Up?

Last night, hubs and I watched the animated film "UP". First of all, what a sad movie! But also beautiful. And hilarious. I love the relationship between Carl and Ellie (it reminded me of my relationship with Hubs - aww). Russell cracks me up, OMG. This movie is such a mix of wonderful emotions and meaningful life lessons. If you haven't seen it yet, you should.

This movie made me want to be a better writer.

It's rare for a story to make you stop and think "wow". It's something that we strive to do every time we sit down and put the story in our heads down on the page. What are those elements in a story that cause it to affect you on a deeper level?

To me, it's the relationships. You can have the coolest, most interesting world but the characters are what bring that world to life. A boy and his nemesis (Harry Potter). A man and his dog (Marley & Me). A girl and a vampire (Twilight). These are the stories we remember. The stories that stick with you after you've reached "The End." (Sorry if you hate Twilight. I happen to like it, OK?)

So how do you create a memorable relationship? There's no real answer to that. There are endless possibilities as long as the relationship feels real and powerful. It should be something that the reader can somehow relate to.

What stories made a lasting impression on you? What do you think creates a memorable relationship in a story? Do you think there are other elements that make a story stick with you?

REMINDER - This is just a friendly reminder that my contest ends tonight, so get those entries in!! Click here for the details.