Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Waste Time Productively - Part 2

Again, I say, diversify your hopper. What you put in to your writer's brain is as important - MORE IMPORTANT - than what you get out.

Of course reading is the number one food for your writerly brain. You need to be omnivorous in your habits. This morning, I read a small (incredibly sad) piece in the NY POST about a veteran who died after being left in an excessively hot jail cell on Riker's Island. I remembered that Riker's Island is near the location where book two in my trilogy takes place. And one of my supporting characters has a rap sheet. This reminded me that I need to research Riker's Island. And veterans. And anti-psychotic drugs.

All of this from a short piece in a newspaper I would normally not read.

So, in this installment of Wasting Time Productively, let me see if I can introduce you into something that you would not normally read - and hopefully it can spark creativity for you too.

Alta Obscura

Is there anything more evocative in writing than location? Place can be character, mood, voice and more. Alta Obscura is brilliant for discovering weird, wonderful, unexpected and REAL places.

The Catacombes of Paris

The Hidden Tunnels of Los Angeles

The Ghost Cities of Chernobyl

And of course, one of my favorite places, Philly's own Mutter Museum. Been here many times and it's a disturbing, awe inspiring visit. Plus the medicinal plant garden in the summer is heavenly.

If you are in the Philly area you should really visit the Mutter this spring, particularly to see this exhibit:
Image from Mutter Museum website, courtesy of Patrick Awa

Grimms' Anatomy

Magic and Medicine: 1812-2012

The bodies of fairy tale characters are rarely ordinary. They may be injured through acts of violence, healed or harmed by medicinal potions, or altered by magical transformations. Though many fairy-tale bodies belong to the realm of the marvelous, some have real-world counterparts. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, this exhibit will present real-world examples of the sometimes gruesome or grotesque fairy tale bodies, along with instruments from and rare illustrated editions of these stories. On view in the Main Museum Gallery. Free with Museum Admission.

Go forth and waste time productively!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How To Waste Time Productively Part 1

Want some advice you don't need? Don't have internet access while writing - you're sure to get sucked down a Pop Sugar Wormhole, blinking in surprise when your writing time has dwindled to zero before your eyes - and all you have to show for it is knowledge of red carpet fashions.

Grab on to your garters, though, because my writing THRIVES on time wasting. In fact, when I get stuck while writing, I often turn to the interwebs for a shift in gear. I grant you, my mind is weird. I do best in a high stimuli environment. Writing in a cafe, listening to music, taking breaks to play Candy Crush - it all adds to the impetus. I'm not a monastic writer. 

But even I have my standards (though, since I already name checked Pop Sugar and Candy Crush, you probably have your doubts.) For the next couple of posts I'm going to share with you the BEST sites to cruise through when you're taking a break from your writing. Guys, I am opening up my SECRET stash of awesome sites. I almost don't want to do it.

Particularly with this site. SCOUTING NY.

Every time I visit SCOUTING NY, I feel like I'm opening a present.
I spend A LOT of time on this site, run by Nick Carr, a film scout with a bone deep love of New York and all its quirks. He finds the most amazing gems. A haunted house in the Bronx. The last decorative remains of an art deco pool from a long-defunct hotel. Ghost train lines in Van Cortland Park. SCOUTING NY does more than peak interest, it actually feeds my writing mind. I read a lot of Nick's posts on the Bronx while writing my last book and it just added to my existing memories and images. 

I warn you, visiting SCOUTING NY will suck up your time - but it will also spark ideas and get your writing juices flowing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



It's gorgeous isn't it? Sharon Bayliss' new book DESTRUCTION comes out on April 14th (and surely you know Sharon's debut book, THE CHARGE?) and the cover is pure brilliance.

I love the motif of the butterfly - something so delicate causing so much destruction. As Sharon says,

"The butterfly will show up on the cover of all four books in the series, as a symbol of redemption, hope, and re-birth. Despite the dark themes in the series, I believe that the most important themes of the series are hopeful ones, such as love, family, and triumph against adversity, which is why the butterfly is in the center.

The broken glass surrounding the butterfly rather obviously symbolizes the concept of destruction, which is also a central theme. The title Destruction refers to the fact that dark magic is inherently destructive, but also refers to how a person can be destroyed, in body or soul.

One thing I was sure of, I wanted the word, Destruction, to be in "pretty" letters. I loved the contrast of having a dark and violent word look beautiful. This also fits the theme, as I wish to show the beauty in darkness and destruction, and the good in people who are supposed to be evil."

Here's a little bit about the book:

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. 

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Make sure you add DESTRUCTION to your Goodreads books here and check out The December People Series Facebook page. 

I'll be reviewing DESTRUCTION soon. I can't wait to delve into this world of Dark Wizards!

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