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Sunday, October 28, 2007

I survived a Zombie Invasion!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Exercise: Disappearing Act!

Have you ever just wanted to disappear? Go away somewhere, get away from every one and every thing? Well, you're in luck. Your wish has just been granted. Tell us all about the day you just up and vanished. Where did you go? How did you get there? Did anyone miss you at all? How long were you gone? Are you sorry you came back, if you came back at all?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Letter to Society

Dear Society,

Why do you challenge people to be different, then blackball them because they don’t do as you want them to? Everyone has a unique talent, a special attribute that only they can call upon, but yet, to do so is societal suicide. Can you please help me understand?

Some people like to be alone, others can’t live without a mob around them. Some people like peace and quiet while others live for war zones. Some people cower in fear, staying locked away in their safe havens, but yet still others face their fears, challenging them to the ultimate showdown. We are all different. Nobody should be expected to cater to society’s whims. So why do you expect it?

If I can’t face a crowded ballroom, does that mean I should never receive another invitation? If I don’t like loud noises, should I stay locked inside a bubble? If I get bored to the point of suicide when at a gathering, will you oust me as a potential friend?

I love you, Society, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, and that’s exactly what you do to me. It’s tiring just trying to keep up with you. You wear me down with your hissy fits and societal whims. Why can’t you just let people be people and not followers of your tyrant’s tirade? Not everyone needs to do what you expect them to do in order to be liked. In fact, it’s our uniqueness that sets us apart. So, I implore you to cut us some slack. Let us be our own individuals. The world will become a better place for it.

Your faithful servants,

The People

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Heed the Signs



Heed the Signs



1. Do stop signs and traffic lights apply to bike riders and pedestrians?
a. Yes, definitely. Everyone should heed and follow signs.
b. No, road signs and traffic lights are only for motor vehicles.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Exercise: Pet Peeves

A pet peeve is defined as a minor annoyance that can instill extreme frustration in an individual. An average person has several pet peeves that can aggravate him or her more than others. I would classify myself as above average when it comes to pet peeves. When asked what bothers me, I just shrug and say it's better to ask what doesn't bother me. Hence, I am a very difficult person to live with. :-)

Your assignment is to pick one of your biggest pet peeves and write about it. Fictionalize it, if you must. Give your pet peeve to your character and show us how he would handle it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Road Fury

So I was cruising along on the main road, listening to Barry Manilow because that was the only thing on the radio and I left my Metallica CD in my other car (as if!). The speed limit was 45 mph. I was going approximately 55 in the slow lane and there were no other cars on the road when suddenly the Road Runner zooms up behind me. Now remember, there is another lane and no other cars going my way, but yet Road Runner insists on riding my tail, all the way to the light, which changes to red before I get there. I stop and watch in my rearview mirror as Road Runner makes an obscene gesture toward me. The second the light changes, and I mean the split second it hits green, Road Runner gives me his infamous “beep beep”, so I do what the normal thing to do is. I start up real slow-like, crawling along, barely stepping on the accelerator. I’m happy to see Road Runner speed around me and disappear into a cloud of exhaust.

I up my speed back to the old expressway limit of 55 mph. By now, I have that stupid Manilow song spinning around in my head so I have no choice but to give in and start singing, way off key, of course. I see something hurtling toward me in my rearview mirror. It’s coming at me real fast. I’m wondering if I should pull over, but before I can, a torpedo zips past me. I figured it must have been doing a good 85 mph or so. It’s gone before I can gather the rest of my thoughts. I’m sure I’ll see an accident up the road aways, though, and get a glimpse of the torpedo that caused it.

Now I get stuck at another red light. Traffic is starting to pile up behind me now. At least I’m not alone anymore. A white van pulls up behind me. He’s got his right flasher going. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me, except this buffoon starts honking his horn at me. I’m going straight and last I checked, a red light means you have to stop. Is he color blind or something? I can just see it now: “Sorry, Officer, but I had no choice but to shoot through that red light. You see, the guy behind me had a bee in his car and apparently it must have flown into his pants. He had to get off the road quickly, so I rushed to get out of the way.” Yep, that would go over real good with the police.

Okay, so I finally managed to get off the main road. I’m going 25 mph now on the side street and guess what? Road Runner is back, or is it another one? We’re on the side street now, folks. Kids are playing outside, dogs are running around, and people are riding their bikes. The speed limit is slower, so slow down!

I’m coming up to an intersection. My way doesn’t have a stop sign, but the other way does. I’m a second away from crossing the intersection when an idiot on a bike rides right through his stop sign. Hello there! Do you want a one-way ticket to the county morgue or what?

I’m finally glad when I arrive home because now I can pry my fingers off their stranglehold on the steering wheel and relax. It’s great to get out of the car, at least I thought until I tried to cross my sidewalk and a speeding youngster almost runs me down with his tricycle.

Is there anyone left in the universe who isn’t in a hurry these days?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Exercise: Honor Thy Neighbor (Or Not!)

It seems that almost everyone will have some sort of confrontation or altercation with a neighbor at one point or another in their life. For this exercise, I want you to use that altercation and blow it way out of proportion. Get even with the neighbor that has house parties way into the night, the idiot that takes up all the parking on the street, the rude person that lets his dog bark constantly, the creep that is always treading on your grass but won't allow anyone to step foot on his, or the crazy builder that is outside your window pounding night and day. This town isn't big enough for the two of you, so show us what you would do to people that are inconsiderate of the neighbors around them. Give it your best shot!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Alien Song

Just a little break from the norm. Enjoy this cute little video:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Exercise: Spring Into Disaster!

The first day of spring has finally arrived. Your challenge is to write a scene based on one of the four spring events that turns into a horrible disaster:

1. Spring Training
2. Spring Cleaning
3. Spring Fling
4. Spring Break

Scenes should be no more than 1,000 words.

Have fun!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Death of an American Icon?

Well, it's a sad day today. One of our beloved heroes has finally passed on. Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, has undertaken his finally mission. Apparently, a sniper takes him down when he's leaving a courthouse.

The superhero was spawned when a scrawny arts student named Steve Rogers, ineligible for the army because of his poor health but eager to serve his country, agreed to a "Super Soldier Serum" injection. The substance made him a paragon of physical perfection, armed only with his shield, his strength, his smarts and a command of martial arts.

This ends a long run for our shield-wearing hero, who was created in 1941, but in the comic-book world, death is never really final.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Freelance Writing Gigs Galore!

Hi folks!

I just wanted to tell you about a wonderful site I frequent on a daily basis. It's located at http://writersrow.com/deborahng/freelancewritingjobs.html.

Deborah Ng is a freelance writer herself and has been writing professionally since 2000. She updates this writing list each Monday through Friday. You can sign up for her email list and receive a notice when the list is updated.

Not only does she list freelance writing jobs, she also provides a listing of blogging jobs. If you're serious about writing and looking for some work, you won't want to miss this daily list.

Writing vs. Speaking

Okay, so I love to write. I can collect my thoughts better when I have to write something down than when I have to speak to someone. I was never the kind of person who could think up things on the fly, so yes, I feel pretty stupid when somebody asks me a question and I don't have much time to come up with a good answer. In fact, my mind draws blank quite often due to extreme nervousness when talking to people. Hope I'm not the only one that happens to. :-)

Anyway, apparently there are times when speaking engagements are needed over the written word. Here's a situation I'm currently involved with where my cleverly written arguments just don't cut it.

I have a subscription to PC Gamer magazine. Last year, my niece was selling subs for her Girl Scout council, so I renewed my PC Gamer subscription. I renewed the magazine for $20, which is their usual price; however, when ordering from a third-party company, apparently the magazine doesn't come with demo discs. So I contacted PC Gamer (via email, of course) and asked them why I stopped receiving the discs with the magazine. They told me the reason and they also told me I could upgrade to receive a disc version if I sent them an additional $11. I love my games and I love being able to try out games, so I sent in my additional money. It took over a month for them to receive and cash my check.

My next issue didn't come with a disc after that, so I emailed them again. They gave me some spiel about the address labels already being pre-printed and that my upgraded sub would start with the March 2007 issue. I got a disc with my March 2007 issue, hooray!

In April, my magazine came without a disc, so I emailed them. They responded with saying my current subscription was made with a third-party and doesn't include a disc. If I wanted to upgrade, I had to send them an additional $8. What????? Didn't I just go through that several months ago?

I emailed them and told them I paid $11 to upgrade my sub. I told them to double check their records. I got a response back again saying my current sub NOW does not include a disc. Argh! I tried emailing them one more time and telling them yes it does. I enclosed my previous correspondence that said my upgraded version would start with the March 2007 issue. If they can't understand this, the written word has failed me and yes, folks, I'll have to pick up the dreaded phone and try to sort this out verbally. *sigh*

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Exercise: Top O' The Morning To You!

March is blowing in with greetings from the Irish. On the 17th of this month, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, where everyone claims to have a bit of blarney in them. Well, instead of raising your beer mugs and toasting to your good health, it's time to pick up your writing utensil and spin us a good yarn. The topic this month is "A Wee Bit O' Irish".

Create a horrific fairy tale as if you were the lost Brother Grimm based on an Irish legend, mythical creature, or folk tale. Extra points if you can tie your fairy tale to St. Patrick's Day in some way.

Stories should be 1,000 words or less and sent to me by March 15, 2007.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Smorgasbord of Characters

We live in a world where everyone is free to be different, but yet why is it that we blackball people just because they ARE different? We poke fun at or shy away from people that are homeless, gay, of different religions, jobless, have a physical or mental disability, or people that just don't fit our ideals. I'm a good christian and I was brought up to respect people, even if they are different. If everyone were the same, that would make for a very boring world. So why do we do it? Why do we hold it against someone if they don't have a great job or don't want to come to a party or don't believe in the same things we do?

I have lived on both sides of the spectrum here. When I was in high school, I had this scrawny little "nerdy" guy fawning over me, but he didn't measure up to my ideal boyfriend, so I ignored him. Well, that scrawny little boy grew up to be a very handsome and rich young man. He went on to be a success, while I stammered in my own wallowing and tried to eke out a living.

Now I'm seeing life on the other side. I don't do well in social situations and prefer my computer to a live person. People see me as a loser and one to be left alone. I don't live up to their ideals and to some, even members of my own family, I will be a bum the rest of my life.

Could I be paying for my mean streak as a teen? Is this karma come calling? Or do I deserve to be blackballed by my peers because I chose the life of a loner years ago?

When my family gets together, I listen to them talk and complain about what so and so is doing. That's all they ever talk about -- who is doing something wrong or not living up to their ideal situation. I'm the black sheep because I'm the only one that didn't choose a life of wedded imprisonment and I don't have a good job. Is that a reason to name me a loser, just because I didn't end up like my sisters (who aren't exactly living in bliss themselves.)?

So I ask you. Before you pass judgment on someone for their physical attributes, their mental capacity, their choice of jobs, etc., stop and think about life if the tables had been turned.

Now go forth and be good people! :-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Fiction Genres




1. What fiction genre is your favorite to read?


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Friday, February 16, 2007

Exercise: The Perfect Day!

Write an essay in under 500 words on what your perfect day would entail, starting from the moment you wake in the morning until the time you fall asleep at night.

Send me your links and I'll post them here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, folks! I was going to post a short Valentine story/scene today, but unfortunately, I never got around to writing it. We got a ton of snow dumped on us last night and I was out for most of the day today working due to the weather. Then I had to come home and shovel the heavy snow off our sidewalk so that the mailman could get through. It was a very tiring day. I hope everyone else had a better day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Writing Life

Writing is a lonely profession. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Writers can sit for hours on end, staring at their computers, talking to imaginary friends, creating fictional worlds, and giving voice to their own special characters. They lock themselves away from “real life” distractions in order to master their wordcraft. For most, they welcome this lonely life and they prepare for many nights of being alone with their own thoughts.

Writing is hard work. I know quite a few people that don’t understand what goes into writing. To them, it’s not considered real work, just a fun hobby to pass the time away. But writers everywhere know and understand how much work can actually go into a piece.

One paragraph can take several hours to write. Then when you finally have something down, it most likely will be scrapped and you’ll have to start all over again. Even when you complete the piece, you will have to contend with rewrites and edits. It’s a never-ending process.

Research and/or knowledge are also required for any type of writing. There are certain rules to follow and mastering them can be hard work. Even when creating a completely fictional world, laws of nature specific to your world should still apply. Your characters need some kind of law and order as well or you’ll end up in a pit of paper scraps and misguided notions.

So why do we write?

Because we enjoy it. Where else can we create fictional worlds or control people and their surroundings? It’s similar to the God Complex. Every thought, every action, every place is controlled by the writer. In real life, we would never have even half as much control over things.

For me, I love to share my worlds with other people. There’s nothing better than an elated feeling when someone reads something I’ve written and gives it a thumbs up or asks that wondrous question, “Where on earth did you ever come up with something this good?”

Writing is a chance for me to steal away from reality and spend some time with my fictional friends. It’s a lonely world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Dangers of MP3s

Has anyone heard this news report?

------------------
40 tons of spilled cow intestines close part of I-43

Mess around with your mp3 player while you're driving, and this could happen: You could drive off the road, flip your truck, dump 40 tons of cow intestines and bones on the road and close part of the freeway.

That's exactly what happened to Ryan Engle early this morning as he drove north on Interstate 43 near the Sheboygan-Manitowoc county line.

Engle, 25, of Kenosha, was northbound on I-43 about 2:15 a.m. near Orchard Road in the town of Mosel, about a mile south of the county line, when the truck veered off the right side of the road as he adjusted an mp3 player, according to Sgt. Blaine Spicer of the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department.

Engle drove onto the shoulder and was unable to regain control as the load shifted. The truck fell onto its right side in the east ditch, the sheriff's department said.About 76,000 pounds of beef byproduct spilled into the ditch and onto the road. The right lane of northbound I-43 was closed for two hours as crews cleaned up.

Engle, who was cited for inattentive driving, was taken to St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan with non-life-threatening injuries. The semi, which had to be towed from the scene, is owned by Kenosha-based Birchwood Transport.
----------------

I don't have an MP3 player in my car, but the radio could be just as bad. I remember once when I was wild and crazy. I used to go out driving around with friends, but back then I couldn't go anywhere without listening to my tunes. I was constantly distracted by flipping the radio station. One time when I had my girlfriend and two guys in the car, I was doing my distraction thing when I looked up and saw I was on the wrong side of the road and cars were headed in my direction! Thankfully, I was able to avoid a collision and get back to the right side of the road in time. I've been a bit more careful since then, but wow, what a nightmare.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Cell Phones: A Godsend or the Devil's Handiwork?

What's your take on the cell phone craze? Just like my car alarm, I used to think I could do without a cell phone, but the first time my car broke down, I was thankful to have had one. Now I carry one with me wherever I go; however, it's only used for emergencies. I don't sit there and talk on the phone while driving or waiting in line at the post office, like way too many people do. I never had one when I was in high school or younger, like a lot of kids do these days. What do young kids need cell phones for anyway? And why do people have to talk on the phone while driving? If it's that important, they should pull over before attempting to talk. I've seen and heard about too many accidents involved with people talking on cell phones while driving. It's ridiculous.

Let me tell you a story. When you go to any business, such as the post office or the cable company, they have signs posted informing people not to use their cell phones at the desk. Well, I went to talk to someone one time about our cable bill. There was quite a long line on that day. About three people in front of me was a lady talking really loud on her phone. She got up to the desk and never stopped talking on her cell phone. She ignored the lady behind the counter and kept on talking, while the rest of us had to wait to do our business. When the lady behind her, the next one in line, told her to hang up and do her business, the cell phone user told her to shut up and mind her own business. The lady in line informed her that other people were waiting and that there were signs up on not using a cell phone at the desk. It got so bad that the two women almost got into a fist fight over it. Now how stupid is that?

Are cell phones becoming an extension of people's anatomy? It sure seems like it.

So, I ask you again, what's your take on this subject?

Monday, February 5, 2007

The other day I received an email from Mr. Joe Blogs requesting an interview, so I thought, "why not?" I visited his site at http://mrjoeblogs.blogspot.com/ and found some great interviews there. This could be fun. I jotted down some answers to his questions and voila! I am his Interview #66.

Go ahead and visit his site, say hi, or take a look at some of his interviewee's blogs. There are some pretty good resources there.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Friday, February 2, 2007

Punxsutawney Phil's Predictions -- Fact or Fiction?

Today is Groundhog's Day, which Americans have made a tradition of predicting a future weather season. Supposedly, a German legend has it that if the groundhog does not see his shadow on this day at this particular hour, an early spring is headed our way. That would be wonderful, in my opinion, but considering that temps are supposed to take a turn for the worse this weekend, is an early spring really on the way? According to the weather reports, we might see wind chills from -5 to -15 this weekend . . . brrrrrr! How many more days until the first signs of spring appear? I don't know, but I sure can't wait. Snow and ice is a pain, but bitter cold temperatures is another thing. It sure would be nice if Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, was right on the mark!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Exercise: Be My Valentine or Not!

Okay, since it's officially February, let's do a short assignment related to the upcoming holiday this month. I usually don't mention due dates, but perhaps I should start, so I'll post any links to your assignment if you send them to me by February 8th.

The assignment this week is:

Write a scene involving the worst Valentine’s Day ever.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not So Good Author Categories

I was surfing around the other day and I came across another blog related to writing and publishing. One of the author's posts really caught my eye. It was entitled, "Don't Expect To Get Published With That Attitude." It talked about most writers wanting to learn from others and wanting to write and get published, but then listed some categories that other writers fall into. I actually couldn't help laughing at some of the category descriptions because I've known some of those people recently and this author hits the nail on the head with her observations.

You can view this wonderful blog at:

http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/?p=65

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Mind of Its Own

Okay, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Yesterday, I asked what your favorite car was. Using your answer, turn your favorite car into something “alive”, then create a scene or short story using it as one of your main characters.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Question of the Day

Just a silly question for today:

What's your favorite car?

Mine is and always will be the Lamborghini. :-)

Friday, January 26, 2007

The New Club!

Okay, so I decided to listen to my peers and re-activate The Michigan Horror Writers. We are open to writers (and fans) of horror, sci fi, and fantasy (preferably dark). My aim with this group is to improve my own writing through networking as well as help others with their publishing goals. I want to see all the members have at least one published item under their belt. So why not check us out today? We're online at http://www.michiganhorror.com .

What Makes For Good Horror

In order to write great horror stories today that leave the reader wanting more, we need to understand what it is they want. So I ask you the following:

  1. What are the elements that make for a good horror story?
  2. What ruins a horror story for you?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Change of Pace

Okay, it's time for a little ranting going on. This has nothing to do with writing, just an everyday observation for a winter-weary city in Michigan. I want to talk about how snow and ice piles up on the neighbor's sidewalks and driveways. Is it a crime for people to actually clear their walkways? Will they receive a citation for picking up a snow shovel and digging out a path for the mailman to get through?

This was the first week this season that we actually got some snow and ice and every day that I go to work, I come home all in a tizzy. I deliver newspapers each morning and after traipsing through mounds of snow and slipping several times on icy sidewalks, I'm in a foul mood by the end of the day.

I remember a couple of winters ago, when I first started this job, I had to wade my way through huge snow drifts that were higher than my boots. What's up with that? Are people today too busy to be courteous, or are they just plain lazy? I feel sorry for the mail carriers and delivery people that have to plow through on a daily basis and make their way onto icy porches.

I tell you, I could make a small fortune by bringing a shovel with me and asking my 200+ customers if I could shovel their walkways every time it snows. And that's not to mention the people in my own neighborhood, where every other house is blocked in by snow that you can't even see where their driveways are.

To the good people out there that actually do clear their walkways, porches, and driveways, I applaud you. Thank you very much. But for the rest of you, I hope you burn in eternal agony. :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Simple Wish!

Hello, Strange World! I am the Genie of this blog and I have come to hear your wishes. If you had any one wish in the entire universe, what would it be? Think carefully. You only get one wish. Make it as detailed as possible or the genie might have to fill in the blanks. For instance, wishing for a million bucks without specifying how you want it could result in a loved one being killed in a fiery crash and leaving you a million dollars. Wishing to lose weight without specifying details could result in you losing flesh until you melt into a bloody display of skeletal bones. See what I'm getting at? Genies are detail-oriented.

Okay, so now that I laid down the rules, what would you wish for more than anything? :-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Caught in the Web

Let's talk websites. Do you have one yet? If not, why? They make great promotional tools for writers, or for anyone. It also makes it easier for people to find you and to find out about your writing talents. What good is it to want to be a writer, write a few things in your spare time, and send it off occasionally. No one knows you and you just might remain a nobody until you're ready to do something about it. If you still aren't sure if a website is for you, here are some reasons why you should at least think about one:

  • Interactivity -- You will be able to tailor content to provide for your visitors -- feedback forms, polls, surveys, contests, queries, etc.
  • Promotion -- Had anything published or want to put up something you have written, even if it's just a partial? Then this is the place for it.
  • Articles -- Show off your writing by adding some resourceful articles to your site.
  • Store -- You can sell your books, or anything else you want, right at your website.
  • Information -- Provide your visitors with valuable resources and fun information.
  • Profile -- Let the world know all about you and what it is you do.
  • Writing -- Share your thoughts with your own blog or newsletter.

But I won't lie to you. Having a website can be a lot of work. You can't just slap one online and expect to have a constant flux of visitors or have publishers/editors come tracking you down online. It requires your attention on a regular basis. Even still, I strongly believe that everyone should and could have a site of their own, no matter how small or large it might be.

Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss websites more.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Book Recommendation

I bought this book a couple of weeks ago and only just now cracked it open and after reading the first chapter, I have to tell you I was very impressed with it. The book is Make A Real Living As A Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer.

In this book, she gives advice on how to generate ideas, how to find the right markets, how to pitch to those markets, what kinds of stories are in demand, and more. I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in writing as a career to pick up this book. Click on the book for more information.




Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mini-Exercise: First Lines

Here’s a mid-January challenge for you. Take the following sentence and use it as the first line of a short story. Stories should be anywhere from 300 – 3,000 words. Please do not change or alter any part of the sentence below. The story should be horror, science fiction, or fantasy. Feel free to send me your stories.

Okay, you ready? Here is your first line:

I hated driving at night, and tonight was the worst when my car broke down in the middle of nowhere.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Update and an Invitation

Hi folks!

When I first started this blog, I was the proud founder and president of a local horror writing club, The Michigan Horror Writers. We had been in business for over three years. However, last year, the group took a turn for the worse. I’m not going to accuse anybody on a public board here or badmouth them for causing the group’s downfall because as its founder, I should have taken better care of her and asked the troublemakers to leave a long time ago, but since I’m the type of person to give people chances, I didn’t, and things went from bad to worse in a few short months. The day after Thanksgiving I tendered my resignation and turned the group over to some people who I thought would treat her well. It turns out they couldn’t handle it, and they dissolved the organization recently, which made me feel wonderful having the knowledge that its members were left out in the cold. Well, we can’t have that, so I’ll be starting up a more informal group within the next few weeks. It will be open to writers and fans of horror, sci fi, and fantasy. If you’re interested in joining, please email me and I’ll send you a personal invitation once I have the new domain and website up.

The Michigan Horror Writers site has been cancelled and will be removed soon. Please do not send anything to that group any longer.

Thank you!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Get Smarter in a Week!

Has anyone seen the 'Get Smarter Guide'? Supposedly if you challenge your brain on a daily basis, you should become 40% cleverer within a week. Some of those challenges are showering with your eyes closed or using a mask, walking around your house blindfolded, using the 'wrong' hand to brush your teeth or move your computer mouse, playing games like Scrabble or Charades, doing the daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle, and take your bike or walk to work instead of drive.

Anyone have any thoughts on this or any other brain challenges to add? Should we put it to a test of our own? :-)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What Readers Want: An Interview

Ever curious to know what my readers are interested in, I decided to try my hand at interviewing one. Here is the response I received from one reader, a college student from Iowa and probably one of my biggest fans, Emily. Thanks, Em! I'm always looking for new interview subjects. If you think you might want to participate in an interview to be posted here, please contact me.

--------------------------------

SP: What genres do you like to read?

Em: Horror, Sci Fi, Mystery, and Thrillers.

SP: What is it that you like most out of your favorite genre?

Em: I like the suspense. Any book is good if it keeps you wanting to come back for more. The more suspense that builds up, the more I want to read it....

SP: Why did you pick that genre to fall in love with?

Em: Well, I've always been a sucker for sci-fi, suspense horror kind of things. It just kind of happened, I never have really been into the romantic type of stories. I've read both romance and horror genres, and the horror always interested me more. Of course, a story that has both romance and horror can be good as well.

SP: When you read a story, do you like to identify with the main character?

Em: Sometimes....

SP: If you can't identify with at least one of the characters, does that turn you off of the story?

Em: No

SP: Is there anything you would definitely not want to read?

Em: Call me crazy, but I love the gore aspect. I hate reading anything about animals being tortured. I have always loved animals, and I hate to see or read about them getting hurt....

SP: Would you continue to read a story if the main character was killed off, or furthermore, read other stories from the same author afterwards?

Em: Yes, I would, just to see if it turns out good. However, I prefer for the main character not to die, considering a lot of times, it destroys the story in my opinion.

SP: How often would you say you do any reading for enjoyment?

Em: To be honest, not very much. Books I have read lately haven't been good...I just can't find the right one....I like to read books that start out with a hook and continue to interest me all the way through. Books that are so good that I don't want to put down.

SP: What factors influence whether or not you want to pick up a book?

Em: Definitely the description they put on the back (or inside cover). I always read those, and ones that sound interesting I read. That's my number one reason for buying a book. If the book was really good after I am done reading it, most likely I would then look up other books by that same author.

SP: What, if anything, are you reading now?

Em: A little of both -- fiction and non-fiction.

SP: Do you prefer strong male leads or strong female leads, or does it not matter as long as the story is good?

Em: Doesn't matter to me. Any story can be good with either a male or female lead.

SP: Tell us a little about yourself.

Em: Um, okay. I'm 19 and currently going to college over in Iowa. Taking courses in speech, english comp II, american government and math this semester. I like hockey and Supernatural. My favorite book (I believe is a biography actually), is A Child Called It. Really sad story, a little graphic, but really well written. I have read it a couple times already.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Living the Dream!

Okay, folks, I’m inviting everyone to participate in this post. It’s all about living your dreams. What is yours? Are you living it now? If so, where did you begin? How long did it take for you to achieve what you wanted? What kind of obstacles did you overcome? If you’re not living your dream, what’s stopping you?

My dream has always been to write. Ever since I could remember, I wanted that little place in the country where I could spend my days writing and enjoying life. Well, I’m not exactly living that dream. In fact, I’m not even close. But I have no one to blame but myself. I spend more time researching the issue on how to become a writer than I actually spend on honing the craft and selling my work. I have too much knowledge rolling around inside my head that it gets confusing at times and I don’t know where to begin. But I feel, and I’ve been told as well, that 2007 is my year, so after all this time, I’ve finally found my footing and decided to get serious.

If you write full-time, if you write part-time, if you’re living a dream now, how did you do it? Come on, tell us your story and allow the rest of us to gain some insight into the workings of a successful, happy lifestyle. Do you have some advice or helpful tips for the rest of us?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Blog Review: House of Sternberg

Okay, folks, it's Blog Review time. Let me start off by reviewing the blog of a friend of mine. His name is Stewart and the blog I refer to is the House of Sternberg at http://house-of-sternberg.blogspot.com/ . I love visiting this site. There's always a smorgasbord of information available. I never know what to expect when I go there. And best of all, you'll notice that he adds new posts on a daily basis.

Some of my favorite, most recent posts from him include:

  • The Hall of Fame
  • Interesting and Fun Lists
  • The Death of Literary Classics
  • The Dead Pool
  • Concept Then Plot

Make sure to check out some of his images, where he's put his face on some of the classics. I love his creativity.

So if you ever get bored some day, stop in and visit him. Say hi, post a few comments or two, and enjoy yourself.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Books by Email?

I signed up awhile back to receive free horror book excerpts in my email from the Dear Reader organization. I was introduced to this club by the Horror Writers Association. If you love horror, this preview club is perfect for you. Once you sign up, you receive the first few chapters of a new horror novel every week in your email, and best of all, this email list is free to join by going to http://www.dearreader.com/horror.html . To find out about their other preview clubs, visit their home page at http://www.dearreader.com.

Today, I just learned about another email preview club from Bantam Dell Publishing. It's a mystery and thriller book club called Booked for Breakfast. Each Monday, a new Bantam Dell author/title is featured and you'll be sent a portion of that book via email each day. You also have a chance to win free copies. To join this list, go to http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/bookedforbreakfast/ .

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Exercise: My Character Resolves To . . .

Okay, here is your assignment, should you choose to accept it.

Make a list of ten resolutions for one of your main characters. It could be a list for your hero or villain. Try to come up with some creative resolutions and not the usual humdrum ones we all think up. Losing weight, stop smoking, etc. -- no no's. But how about if your hero resolves to destroy the Demon Lord's den or your villain resolves to kill three martial artists this year? Well, I'm sure you get the gist of it and come up with something more creative. So get cracking. Feel free to comment with your lists.