“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

26 March 2011

Successful screenplay-to-novel conversion!

I am 69 pages into the Epic Screenplay-Novel Conversion, where-in I turn a perfectly good series of television screenplays into an arguably better novel. It may not actually be better. I'm not really sure. But (!) I really had no choice. You see, no network in their right mind would purchase more than three episodes of a brand new series, even if the series were seriously rockin'. I have written those three episodes, under the series title "Shiver", and cannot really justify producing any more. But the story isn't finished! It's not even close to finished! I have so many ideas, and so much further to push these characters. The only sensible way to do that is in a novel format.

Hence, the Epicness.

Anyhow, six chapters in and I'm still chugging along. The novel is still "serialized" in a way, since I'm dividing it into (probably six) parts. These parts are more for my piece of mind than anything else, so they may not end up in the final product. But the first part is done.

Here is a sneak peek of the novel, which I am tentatively calling "Relic". This scene is from chapter four:

     It wasn’t easy faking it every day. She knew Nyah wasn’t buying it and there wasn’t much Kate could do. She’d never needed a lot of sleep but even so, she couldn’t keep going like this forever. She needed rest. She needed whatever psychosis she was nursing to just lay off for a while. Maybe she needed some kind of drug.
     Her floor routine sent her spinning, end over end. Every time her feet hit the floor, she pushed off harder. She wanted to feel exhausted. She wanted to wear out every single muscle. She wanted to lie down on the sweaty mats at her feet and slip in to the kind of deep, dreamless sleep everyone else was taking for granted.
     Kate caught the edges of an uneasy feeling. She paused her routine. “Hello?” she called out. No answer. “Hello?” Still no answer. She thought she heard something off to the left, but it was the creak of an old window casing.
     Her ponytail whipped her in the face as she turned her head, sticking a little to the light sweat along her top lip. Her breath was finally starting to become a little ragged, her lungs finally noticing the strain. She sent her body into another series of barely-controlled layouts.
     There wasn’t any time to react. One second she was flipping herself across the mat toward the dusty mirrors. The next second, she was flat on her back and her entire body had begun to shake. Her skin was rippling, shivering uncontrollably. She sat up, flinging her gaze around the room.
     There it was, lurking in the far corner. That weird, gross wavering in the air. It looked like heat waves rising off over-heated pavement but it was more— solid, somehow. And a hell of a lot more wrong. Just watching it move made her stomach cramp.
     She lurched to her feet, vigilant. Kate had no idea why ghosts were following her. She didn’t want to see any freaking dead people. She wanted to scream at it. She wanted to kill it. If you can kill a ghost.
     It slid toward her. She hated the way they moved more than anything else. They could slide through the air, like oil or fast-moving molasses. They were hardest to see in the dark, when her only warning they were near was the quiver in her muscles. Any time they slid into the light, she couldn’t tear her eyes away. She’d never seen one out in the daylight before.
     It advanced on her too quickly. She could smell something strange— like the air which blows up from an unused cellar. That smell paralyzed her. She couldn’t make her body obey the command to retreat. Her muscles were all seized up and cramping.
     That was when the lights in the gym began to flicker. And yes, it was so B-list horror movie. When they shut off completely, Kate felt the mobility return to her limbs. She took off at a run toward the door.
     The ghost swooped in between Kate and the exit; she turned on a dime and shot back toward the windows. It blocked her again. Kate backed up toward the center of the room. She could feel the paralysis descending again. It never occurred to her to scream.
     The doors of the gym burst open. Frizzing red hair streaked across the gym, landing just in front of her in a voluminous cloud. Kate was hardly in any state to process what she was seeing. The air crackled with some kind of electric energy. Charlie’s voice penetrated the fog Kate was buried in.
     “This ain’t your terrain,” Charlie drawled in the direction of Kate’s ghost. “It ain’t gonna be. Clear out.”
     There was authority in that voice, a backbone of steel. Kate was feeling kind of like she might swoon. At least, she thought this is what swooning would feel like.
     The ghost folded in on itself, origami fog, and when it stretched back up again its texture had changed. Huge, and misty, and human-shaped. It advanced on Charlie slowly, mockingly, as the redhead stood her ground. They were nose to metaphysical nose.
     “Ya don’t belong here, slip ‘n slide,” hissed Charlie. She was practically spitting. “Don’t make me tear out that ephem’ral throat.”
     The ghost rose up, growing in size, and opened wide, hinge-less jaws like a cobra about to strike. Charlie didn’t flinch. Kate heard a dull thud from the direction of the doorway, and then a sound like a gun being cocked.
     The corner of Charlie’s mouth twitched upward.
     “Well, I did warn ya, you stupid shit.”
     Light exploded from the doorway. It knocked Kate to her knees, momentarily blinding her. The most horrific screeching sound reverberated from the gym walls, deafening and sick. When spots cleared from her eyes, the gym was filled with foul-tasting dust. It was as gray and flaky, hanging in the air like cigarette ash. Kate turned toward the gym doors.
     Joe was only a half-step into the room. Some kind of heavily-modified shotgun hung to the floor at his side. He was slack-jawed and big-eyed behind glasses coated in dust. Charlie leapt lightly to her feet.
     “Well, Joey!” She sounded like a little kid on Christmas morning as Joe handed her the shotgun, mutely. Charlie held it up, aiming toward the windows and testing the sight. She was grinning toothily when she turned back to him.
     “I’m gonna call this baby a success!”

08 March 2011

The YA Subscription.

My combined book review of Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure and Trickster's Choice is up on the blog The YA Subscription. I focused on whether or not these titles were appropriate selections for Bitch Magazine's "100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader." They originally selected 100 titles, opened them up to discussion, and then removed three books. Riot ensued. The list is a real hot button among young adult readers and writers right now, mostly because the magazine caved so easily to pressure from (I can only assume) really, really nasty librarians from Texas. Or readers of Bitch Magazine. Whichever.

The books removed (Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, and Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott) were all removed for the same reason: RAPE! Which is apparently "feminist" only if every single woman in the book is mopey and sad and sympathetic toward the victim(s). It was decided (by someone, I'm still not sure who) that listing these books on the Bitch Magazine reading list would "trigger" rape victims and cause them further trauma.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

I'll let you take a moment to soak that notion in.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Look, including them on a list like this doesn't force anybody to read them. It's pretty presumptuous (read: conceited) of Bitch Magazine to assume that their list is so important it might trigger relapses of any kind, or that anyone will turn this into next year's must-read list. And by the way: these "rape books" are GREAT BOOKS. Unlike the staff of Bitch Magazine, I have read all three of the titles removed and most of the others as well. Several authors--Scott Westerfeld and Maureen Johnson, among others--have asked that their books be removed from the list after the scandal broke. Bitch Magazine has not-very-politely declined to do so. They've also replaced the removed titles (to hide their shame and avoid changing their fancy list title) with Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden... Perfectly acceptable titles, if a little on the tame side. So that's where we stand now.

Amy Stern has come up with a proactive way to vent our collective frustration... via blogging! Go to The YA Subscription and check out her excellent reviews of A Wrinkle in Time, Sold, and The Skin I'm In. Join the discussion. Write a review.

Wishing you all the blessings imaginable.

07 March 2011

Prose poem #2.

Without Appropriate Gratitude

In Sunday School,
hands clasped,
heads bowed but peeking, always
peeking up to see who is peeking too,
we listen to someone

tell God how thankful we are.

Praying makes us all seem grateful

when you do it for the group.

I am thankful for my Barbie mini-van.
For my Lisa Frank notebooks.
For the ball which bounced out
of someone else’s four-square square.

I am thankful for the A
on the exam I did not study for.
For the friends who passed on phony secrets
and got another girl in trouble.

For eating lunch at the right table.
I am thankful for sneaking in uncaught after curfew.
For losing three pounds.
For the way he looked at me today.

I am not thankful for God’s ability to
feed thousands
with some bread and fish.

I think bread and fish
sound like prison food.

Someone else’s thankfulness is forced upon me and I think...

well, I find it absurd.

I think that I’ve never really learned
to be thankful

this way.
That right way.