Monday, December 15, 2014

Dispatch #31: Violence

by Lupe Fernandez
“It’s catching isn’t it, violence.”
- Jack The Ripper in Time After Time

“Balthazar is a good man. 
But until all men are like him, 
we must keep our swords bright.”
- Sheik Ilerim in Ben Hur

How do I portray fictional violence?
Let’s start with a scene.

Third Person:
“The mall blew up.”
- Anonymous Witness

Police Report:
On May 5 at 1:03pm, we were dispatched to Portola Shopping Mall in reference to a report of a Bomb Blast. Upon our arrival we met with EMT’s Jamie Hu Lee and Franklin Washington of the Portola Fire Department. EMT’s Lee and Washington stated that the Portola Fire Department received a 911 call from mall security personnel and along with Engine Co. 37 responded to emergency call and commenced triage on causalities. Estimated death toll is fifty-two persons.

After inspection of debris field, we consulted with Bomb Squad personnel on site and determined an explosive was detonated at a one location inside the Mt. Portola Mall. We conducted multiple on-site interviews with witnesses and reviewed facility surveillance video.

Preliminary evidence indicates one suspect carrying concealed triacetone triperoxide attracted a crowd and detonated device to achieve maximum damage. Motive unknown. Whether suspect acted alone or in concern with other suspects is unknown. Pending further investigation by FBI and Homeland Security, we recommend increased security at places frequented by the public.

- Detective Carol Reyes #3702
- Detective Arturo Wiseman #4582

First Person:
“There’s a big crowd in the mall, right outside Flynn’s Clothing. I think it’s a performer or something. I hear a little girl crying and then somebody screams ‘bomb bomb.’ Then heat and fire and bodies and glass everywhere. I’m covered in blood. My legs won’t move. I mean it’s a mall for Christ’s sake. Who does that? Who does that?”

Third Person:
She stands alone in the Mt. Portola Shopping Mall and wails. “Help me. Please help me.” A crowd of adults gather and ask, “What’s your name little girl? Where’s your mother? Where’s your parents? Don’t cry? Are you lost?” She’s bundled in a thick jacket with her hands tucked in the deep pockets. “Somebody call security.” The girl takes her hand out of her pocket and grips a switch in her tiny hand. Before the next breathe, she releases her fingers and a vest lining the inside of her jacket blasts the spectators to bloody shards.

First Person:
My name is Esmerila Whitehall De Vida. Today I go into the place where the Devil buys souls. I make a lot of noise to get the Evil Ones around me. My jacket is really heavy and my hand hurts from holding the trigger. I’m thirsty and I wish I had a Cherry Soda. May La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Monte Portola take me in Her arms.

"Americans, it's an outrage that these people our allowed into this God-fearing country of ours and allowed to practice paganism. That's right, folks. I said paganism. They dress it up to resemble Catholicism, but it's idol worship. Imagine, a statue of Virgin Mary in your living room. Not Jesus Christ. Not a quote from the Good Book. Not even a cross. No Americans. These people pray to this statue. The most shocking aspect is they are not worshiping the Mother of Our Savior. These pagans are worshiping the other Mary. Mary Madelaine. The whore."
- Author Ferdinand Porfirio Díaz, Excerpt of Podcast Transcript

"I was saying my Rosary at Saint Portola like I do every Sunday. Then a bunch of those people came in. You know what they're like. Those...animals. They smashed all that statues of The Virgin Mary. All of them. I shouted at them to stop. They laughed and defiled Her name. May God have mercy on their souls."

Third Person
Esmerila is Wai Ming Lee's best friend. They sat next to each other in Mrs. Turline's fourth grade class. Then the bombing. Classmates ask Wai Ming when Esmerila turned into a terrorist. Is Wai Ming a terrorist? Fights at recess. Graffiti on her locker. Wai Ming bears the insults, threats and punches. "I don't understand," she says of Esmerila. "She was nice and loved everybody."

"My Son cried unto his Father, 'Forgive them, for they do not know what they do'. I do not forgive them."
- Non-canonical Gospel According to La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Monte Portola

What happened? Who is to blame? Who can we blame? Who should we blame?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Now what?

Now What?

by Hilde Garcia


I hate deadlines.

The panic that ensues when I know one is fast approaching.  How I start to stress because of all the stuff in my way, mostly the laundry.

And yet, I seem to meet them all, even the late Sunday night scramble to post.

I have no excuses now.  The house is quiet.  Everyone’s asleep, even the dog.  The laundry is done.  My desk is cleared.  No dishes in the sink.  Today, I spent the whole day avoiding this post, so the garage and office are spotless of clutter, as a result, and I finally put away the Halloween decorations.

Talk about a now what!  I should be jumping at the chance to post, to write, perchance to say something of substance, but sadly, I am more blocked than if I had put 8 loads of laundry in my way intentionally.

And why is that?  I will tell you.  Because I finished my novel.  I revised it several times.  I locked myself in a hotel room for 4 days to get through the edits and the polish and then I sent it off and I met my self-imposed deadline.  

And then I found myself asking myself, “Now what, lady?  You are out of excuses.”

Yep, I am.  I did what I said I was going to do and then I hit a slump.  The waiting place.

Sigh.  The clutter in my mind doesn’t go away.  It only makes me crazy because I can’t seem to find any type of organizational system from The Container Store to make it neat and tidy, like my novel ended up being when I finished it.

I know I should be writing something else.  I do have some ideas of what that topic could be, but none of them have grabbed me like my first novel, my first love.  My biggest fear is that I am a one hit wonder.  I will be a hit, no question, my novel is good, but is that all I have?  What is next for me? How do I even start anew?

Beats me, if I know.

 Is it because this story hasn’t flown the coop yet and I am waiting for some type of validation that may never come?  Or if it comes, what does that mean to me?  Do I revise more and focus on that book before I can move on to a new one?

All my author pals tell me they understand and feel the same, but they have tons of ideas in the works, several published books out, and are always writing.  I can't see that being my reality.

I teach.  I manage the household.  I drive kids to cheer and football, but I do write a lot in my head… while I drive… don’t worry, I watch the road.

So let’s start a conversation.  I am pretty sure I have some soul mates out there who understand the panic.  

What DO we do when we finish a novel and have to move on?  How do we do it?  How do you get the hook that gets you going?  How do you conquer the pre-published blues?

To quote Frasier Crane, “I’m listening…”

And check out some sites/ blogs I read tonight to help me figure out what to do.  Seems that I have many kindred spirits.  But now I must go because I have a cupcake waiting for me.  (#10 of 10 Ways to Stay Sane.)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Three Good Books

by Susan J. Berger
Happy first day of December and all the days that follow.

Three good books:

In case you missed the SCBWI blog post, SCBWI co-founder, Stephen Mooser, author of over sixty traditionally published books,  self published his new book, Class Clown Academy.
The books has a wonderful website for kids and grownups alike.
Please take time to visit The Class Clown Academy Website
You negotiate the site by clicking on the school map  -An image located on the lower left hand corner of the picture frame.
Click on the map; go to the Theatre and watch the film, Farts and You. It's delightful. A lovely way to start your day.
Be sure and visit the library to read, Jokes, Riddles and Tall Tales. The Class Clown Academy App is free on iTunes.
I love Steve's marketing plan and I think the website will be a great sales tool. There is a link in the Student Store portion of the website to the book and to other fun merchandise.
The site's a bit difficult for a grown up to navigate, as you have to find the map. I hope his team is planning to make better links to the activities. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid got it's start on a website, Fun Brain. I wish for Steve that kind of success.

On December second, The Hero's Guide Complete Collection will be available on Kindle for the first time. 22.99 for all three books. I love Christopher Healy's Hero series. Our Junior correspondent, Sam Krol, interviewed Christopher Healy last February. Both Sam and Victoria join me in loving The Heroes Guides. Don't wait for the movie. Please check them out. Hero's Guide also has a website
 Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.

 How I saved Hannukah by Amy Goldman Koss is now available as a Kindle book. I own the paperback and I love this story,
From School Library Journal
        Hanukkah is fast approaching, but to fourth-grader Marla Feinstein, it doesn't seem like a very big deal. While all of her neighbors are festooning their houses with Christmas lights and decorations, Marla has to make do with a plain menorah, a plastic dreidel that won't spin, a mom who doesn't even wrap her Hanukkah presents, and a dad who is out of town on a business trip. With her friend Lucy, Maria embarks on a mission to make Hanukkah fun, and soon has her mother making latkes, her little brother winning at dreidel, and the whole neighborhood dancing the hora. The fun and breezy tone and affectionately drawn characters will appeal to readers who will find themselves learning a bit about the meaning of Hanukkah in the bargain. DeGroat's pen-and-ink illustrations complement this warm and funny story.
I am so happy this story has a new life as a Kindle Book. (If you don't do Kindle, it's still available from independent users in paperback.

On a side note. Support your Independent Local Bookstore!
I spent the weekend in Reno, Nevada, visiting friends and I found an independent bookstore. Always a thrilling experience. At home, I have the wonderful Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, and Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose. Grass Roots Books is small with chock full shelves and a fair number of customers. Their prices are unbelievably low for new books.
I always check out the children's section first. I saw many of my favorites, and many new books to check out.

Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza were well represented. But there are so many books and so little shelf space.  Many of may favorite books, - adult and children were missing.
 None of the three books mentioned above were there. I am so grateful for electronic books keeping in print books that I love. Happy reading and shopping, my friends.  Write on.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dispatch #30: The Politics of Politics

by Lupe Fernandez

“I don’t like politics.”

How many times have I heard some a reasonable person, “I don’t like politics.”?

The word politics conjures up many images.

A cramped, windowless room, hidden in a back alley, filled with fat, sweaty, balding men smoking cigars like candy. They wear suspenders and count greasy stacks of money, boasting of who’s on the take. The unions. The police. The sanitation workers. The mayor.

A sterile corporate boardroom filled with attorneys in expensive suits, sipping imported bottled water and speaking the language of demographics, focus groups, percentiles, market shares and stock market index. The click of electronic devices. The hum of air-conditioning.

Fat talking heads on the Propaganda Channel with flashy graphics, sound bites, sitting around a coffee talking, pretending to be ordinary folk with their designer clothes and expensive jewelry, blaming the current administration for the weather, the war and the price of cheese.

“I don’t pay any attention to politics.”

Do you have pets? I have four cats. They practice feline politics. Sugar is the aging President. She’s the alpha feline, but her health is failing. Bella and Binks, opposing senators, jockey for position as the President-Elect. Duchess, the special needs cat, has the same seniority as Sugar but lacks intelligence and ambition to be President. Bella and Binks screech, scratch and chase each around the house. When Binks can’t harass Bella, he torments Duchess, eats her food, corners her in a room. The President intervenes between Senator Binks and Citizen Duchess, but Citizen Duchess often rebuffs the Sugar’s help. President Sugar doesn’t like to share the sofa or the bed with the other cats. She has a weakness for diary products, even though diary upsets her stomach. Bella likes to lay about and purr. She also urinate on beds, blankets, tables and other inconvenient spots.


That’s feline politics.

According to that hotbed of anarchy, The Oxford Dictionary, one definition of politics is The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.

Let’s look at basic story structure.

My protagonist or individual wants via activity, debate or conflict to overcome an obstacle. The protagonist needs courage, knowledge – tools of power – to achieve this goal. The protagonist is governed by family, friends, self-awareness, ignorance, secret organization, school, a king, a queen, supernatural forces or a dystopian society.

“I don’t like politics.”

But vote for my book with your dollars.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Nano Time. Quotes to keep you writing

By Susan J. Berger

It's NaNoWriMo time again.   I am following Dawn Knobbe's lead  and using this years' NaNo to make last years novel into a readable 2nd/3rd draft.
She also did a post on inspirational quotes for NaNoWriMo.
If you've never tried National Novel Month, it's a great way to get a first draft. Deadline is everything . You have thirty days to do it.

This isn't about being perfect. It's about getting the words out. If you get the words out, the story will come. I guarantee there will be lots of surprises.

"Here's the bottom line; writers write. Sometimes words flow easily. Sometimes it's like sloughing through mud. Either way a professional writer keeps writing."
 "A word after a word after a word is power." - Margaret Atwood

Dory and I have so much in common. I often stop to Google.

“Don't worry about what you're writing or whether it's good or even whether it makes sense.” 
Lauren Oliver
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
Ray Bradbury.
Advice from a Hollywood NaNoWriMo coordinator.
"When all else fails, throw in a Zombie."
Will you revise after NaNoWriMo? Of course, but right now the trick is meeting the deadline.
"There's an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”
Chris Baty
“You can't edit a blank page”
Happy writing.