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Book Review – Wool by Hugh Howey

Wool (Wool, #1)Wool by Hugh Howey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I see what all the fuss is about! Not only is the writing smooth-as-butter flawless, but the premise of Wool is just flipping genius. I totally didn’t see the ending, or the final ending, coming and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

My only complaint is that I wanted more after that last page. Good thing I know there are more Wool books to be devoured!

(Don’t let the simple cover dissuade you– there is a brilliant gem hiding under that plain gray cloth!)

View all my reviews

Other Creative Outlets for Writers?

This past weekend, an absolutely goregous spring day, I photographed my sister and her fiance. Out of the blue, it hit me. ——-> I needed to get my expanding-can outside more often and be creative. As the shutter on my camera clicked and clacked, my brain untangled plot holes, drafted the next novel in my subconscious, calmly listed the things I needed to do for the promo of my upcoming release.

Now, you might be wondering why I had the above epiphany? It’s easy, really. Doing a non-writing creative thing unlocked my brain, allowing for thoughts to flow more organically.

I’m not just a writer. I’m a photographer. A graphic artist. A fine art aficionado. A Pinterest freak. A painter, a crafter, a gardener.

It’s all those creative endeavors that make me the quirky gurl that I am. I just have to remember that writing all the time doesn’t work for me. I need to pick up a paint brush, dig in some dirt, click that shutter– so that my muse likes being with me enough to stick around for a good long while!

So, what do you do to stoke the creative fires between writing sessions? I’d love for you to comment, post, or show off your artistic creations!

Oh, NaNo Muse, Where Fore Art Thou?

So it’s already day 5 of NaNoWriMo and I’ve only managed a couple of hundred words on this year’s project. I should be at least 8,000 words into the blasted thing by now. Sigh.

So what’s the hold-up you say? Okay, so maybe you didn’t say, but I’m going to tell you anyway. In list form:

1. The first two weeks of every November (when NaNo runs) I have a house full of family up from South Carolina. They come for the opening of Hunting season, so I am overrun with Camo, Ammo and testosterone. And very little free time.

2.I’ve been a busy-little Photog the past few days. Last night I spent a few hours photographing a local salon, Vanity Hair, who had recently relocated and needed a photogallery for their website. I got home and began editing right away, and didn’t find myself headed to bed until close to 1 a.m. Then, I headed out again to the same Salon to be the “model” photog for a Princess birthday party. And for the rest of this evening I was once again strapped to my desk editing images.

3. My muse is a little scatter brained. She’s torn between finishing/ editing a Paranormal novel that’s near completion, and moving on to a new story for NaNo. There’s also the 3 partial manuscripts also demanding her attention. Not to mention that after watching the entire first season of the Walking Dead on my iphone while editing last night, I now have another potential novel idea (came from me dreaming all the night long about Zombies trying to eat me!)

So I’m stuck. My creative well runeth dry. And that frustrates the heck out of me. So, tomorrow I’m locking myself in my bedroom with a liter of Coca-Cola, a package of processed sugar (probably in cookie form) and my little writing set-up (ipad, keyboard) and just write. Who cares if it’s crap? Who cares if I bulldoze over most of it when the editing process rolls around? The important thing is that I just Get To It, Already! Isn’t that the whole point of NaNo anyway?

It’s Almost Time For NaNoWriMo!

The time is near for writers everywhere (or wanna-be’s) to cast off their daily responsibilities, shun family and friends, and do the unthinkable- write a complete novel in just 30 days. Not possible, you say? Of course it is, and thousands of writers prove it every November!

 

What is this organized chaos I speak of? Why it’s NaNoWriMo of course. For those not in the know, that quirky little abbreviation stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every Novemeber writers pledge to write a novel, which in this case is defined as having at least 50,000 words. That’s actually a “thin” novel by traditional publishing standards, but it will give you solid bones to work with when the edits start later.

The sponsoring site, NaNoWriMo.org let’s you create a free account, input a little info about yourself and effectively gives you a novel page where you can update your word count ticker, view the progress of your friends and scour the forums for support, inspiration, or answers to the ever-cropping-up plot problems along the way.

I’ve participated in NaNo two years, one of which I “won” or crossed the 50,000 word mark and the other (my first year) it never really got off the ground. That’s probably because I tried to write as I normally do, from the seat of my pants and lost steam quickly. My second attempt went much better because I had an outline of sorts.

For my second attempt at NaNo I used Scrivener, which let me draft index cards for tentative chapters so that when I sat down to write each evening I had a clear path charted ahead. That was extremely helpful considering that I always have family up to visit from South Carolina for the first two weeks of the month. And then there’s the distraction of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas prep. Yes, I know. That sounds like a lot to cope with.

It is. And it also isn’t.

To reach your goal of 50,000 words you must churn out 1,667 words per day. I have emails that are longer than that. The trick is to meet that daily goal each and every day, lest you find yourself like I was last time- with three days left and still short almost 20,000 words. I barely remember that weekend.

But I made it! And there’s really nothing like pulling it off. Who knows, you might even get a marketable novel out of it! Now, time to start plotting my NaNo project 🙂

I Should Be Writing (a new form of procrastination!)

So I’ve developed another method to avoiding all that I should be doing. It’s addictive. It’s amazing. It let’s you snag all your favorite things from around the net and organize them into cute little pin boards for your viewing pleasure. It lets you gather idea for the upcoming holidays, remodeling jobs, organization, fashion, or whatever else interests you.

What am I talking about? Why, Pinterest of course! You can see my profile here 🙂

If I could figure out how to grab a screen shot of it, I’d post one here just to show you how Fab it is.

My little Mock-Up will have to do:

But I’m burning daylight here and I’ve got 1,235, 998 projects calling my name. Ciao’

Weirdness Warning: Photoshop, True Blood and Arabian Horses

Life, as usual, has been getting in my creative way lately. I’ve been busy working on more post for you guys, crafting a story collection, finishing up a novel that I’m very excited about (as well as about five other literary projects) and then there’s the non-writing time-sucks:

1. Photoshop: In addition to gearing up for a Maternity photoshoot this weekend (love me some pregger’s bellies!) and a Senior portrait session with Firetrucks after that, I also have gotten some design work done.

While I do spend a fair amount of time on these things, it’s not all wasted minutes. Crafting cover art (like the mock-up below) allows me to focus a story more tightly, and often gives me the kick-in-the-pants that I need to complete it.

{I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments you have on this cover!}

2. Television: I don’t have Showtime, despite some of my favorite shows airing on that channel. Californication, Weeds, Dexter, The Real L Word… and of course, True Blood, but that goes without saying. And it’s literally killing me to not be able to watch them. Seriously. I spend hours lamenting my sad state of cable subscriptions and cooking up elaborate schemes so that I can bask in the glow that radiates from Eric Northman. I wish I was joking.

3. Parenting Lethargy: I spend so much time trying to accomplish things that sometimes it is overwhelming. Then all at once, I’m bombarded by the things I should be teaching/ doing/ sharing with my children and I want to poke June Cleaver in the eye with rusty scissors for making me feel like a crappy mom. Case-in-point: My daughter has mentioned numerous times that she wants to take horseback riding lessons.
Now, I totally understand. I felt the same at her age and thanks to my own Mother-on-a-pedestal, I rode and showed horses competitively right up until I got married and moved away. I think about getting back into it, but who has the time?

(My horse-days were before the digital era, but my Egyptian Arabian “Clyde” looked like the above.)
But back to my daughter and her equine interest. I’m scared (she’s extremely accident prone- she broke and lacerated her finger WHILE getting a school physical at the Dr’s office!), I’m not rich (lessons and attire and tack, oh my!) and I’m busy enough as it is. So I put it off, and then I feel like crud for not doing it for her. I really need to get on that, and the million other things on my lost To-Do list.

But I can’t start now. It’s late and I’m going to bed.
Until next time!
~K.

Flash-N Fridays – Recycled

 

Welcome to FLASH-N FRIDAY’S. In case your mind is in the gutter, you won’t find any naughty pictures in this segment. Just down and dirty flash fiction writing.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The art of Short Fiction is severely under-rated. If writer’s, and readers, stop to think about it for one minute, they would see that not only is writing a complete story with few words very hard to do, but it also can be used to hone a writer’s skill. In flash fiction you’re working with limited real estate, and each word chosen must work overtime.

 ** Maximum word count is 300. I’m not even limiting it to genres. (well, maybe erotic is out, but everything else goes 🙂 Also, I have found that a great way to jump-start these little flash sessions is to browse for inspiring images like the one posted below the story. *******

Recycled

 I don’t think I understand.” I brushed the bagel crumbs aside and memorized how the sun reflected off my small, hopeful, diamond ring. He circled the kitchen, one eye on me. Vulture.

Are you even listening to me?” He stared at me with a blank face, like I was not anyone he cared about at all.

I always listen to you.” I hated when he did that. Like he was trying to find words that my simple brain could comprehend. Like I was a child. Like I was beneath him.

Of course, I had been beneath him. I had been on top of him. I had been beside him. Through it all– his divorce, the bankruptcy– I had been there. I had thought that was enough.

Deena!” He exhaled deeply, his frustration curling out from his mouth like a long-held plume of cigarette smoke. “DO YOU GET IT?”

He spelled it all out for me again. He was leaving me for another woman. That, I didn’t get. How could he leave his “other woman” for another woman?

The logic was warped. Of course, I was no longer the other woman. His original was discarded last year, like I was being trashed now. Recycling…save the planet and all that crap.

We’ll see.” Images of the two of us flashed into memory. On the trunk of his sedan. My favorite panties–silk with pink flowers– on his rear-mounted antenna.

 Now I am parked outside his apartment, my motor rumbling like a hungry kitty.

I’ll wait until he comes out, watch him drive off, then I’ll follow him straight to hell. When he comes to the sharp corner on his way to her house, I’ll get mine, pulling over to listen to the hollow-tin echos from below.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into my quivering cerebellum. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming!        ~Karen

Flash-N Fridays – July 22

 

Welcome to FLASH-N FRIDAY’S. In case your mind is in the gutter, you won’t find any naughty pictures in this segment. Not unless you count this:

Now, I truly believe that the art of short fiction is severely under-rated. If writer’s, and readers, stop to think about it for one minute, they would see that not only is writing a complete story with few words very hard to do, but it also can be used to hone a writer’s skill. In flash fiction you’re working with limited real estate, and each word chosen must work overtime.

 So, without further ado, here’s the inaugural Flash-N Friday’s post. I do hope you become inspired to try your own hand at the abbreviated art form!

************

 Free Floating

The day was a glorious one; the kind where everything is right in the world, down to the gentle breeze rippling the surface of the blue-green lake. The sun warmed Allison’s shoulders as she sat on the dock, trailing her toes through the cool water.

It was her first day off in months. Hal, her boss at the diner, didn’t give a hoot about tan lines or vacations. Nor did Allison, really.

A woodpecker’s knock echoed through the tall pines. Minnows darted past her toes, silver glinting in the late afternoon sunlight. The marsh grass rustled, lulling Allison into a comfortable peace. That blessed silence, that was what she’d been missing.

Allison sighed and stretched slowly, then stood and pulled off her shorts and threadbare tank top. She tugged at her bathing suit and stepped to the warped edge.

A raven squawked and took flight as Allison dove in. She disappeared below the surface, concealed under the murky cover. Second ticked by and the lake smoothed to liquid-glass. She floated in the inky water, weightless, until her lungs burned for oxygen.

She kicked towards the dock and blue sky, bobbing to the surface. Drawing a breath and shaking the water from her face, she reached for the dock’s ladder and climbed. Water rolled off her in sheets, tinkering to the water below.

Bet I can hold my breathe longer than you can.”

Allison froze halfway up the ladder, the voice creeping over her skin like spiders. He was huge, disheveled, and had large, yellowed eyes shadowed under a prominent brow. His left hand twitched around a pistol as he crept closer, forcing Allison down to the water’s edge. He licked his lips and she knew.

There would be no last minute kick to the water’s surface this time.

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I’m toying with the idea of opening this segment up to guest pieces. I’ll see how well I can keep up with the feature first. Even for myself though, there are rules. Or mainly one rule: Maximum word count is 300. I’m not even limiting it to genres. (well, maybe erotic is out, but everything else goes 🙂 Also, I have found that a great way to jump-start these little flash sessions is to browse for inspiring images like the one posted below the story. Okay, I’m done. Back to your regularly scheduled programming!        ~Karen

 

 

Living with Creative Purpose

I am trying to do this,I swear. It’s a struggle, but one that pays out in dividends if you can manage to pull it off. 

So what am I talking about? Go back to the title, re-read it if you have to. Ahh! There.

Now, allow me to explain. I’ve discovered, through months, if not years, of cycling through “dry” non-creative periods and “overflowing” creative times, that life is so much more worth living when one can look at it through the eye of an artist. Instead of the depressing winter landscape, one sees a time of dramatic beauty, hard lines and complex moods. Instead of feeling the oppressive heat of summer, ones takes a moment to sit against the bark of a tree, feeling the kiss of filtered sunlight while birds and squirrels chase each other around the branches above you. 

Am I making any sense? If not, I mean to say that by becoming more creative, you can alter your entire life. I know this is true, but still, keeping my artistic vision isn’t easy. Life, as it often does, will get in the way. Kids will get sick, and of course, then I get sick. 

Knowing how my creative juices permeate the rest of my life, I must make an effort to keep stirring the pot. And I will, now that I know what I know. Forget Prozac,just give me some oils and a canvas, or even a camera.

I’ll leave you with a few parting shots, of some of my favorite shots:

All of these, and more, can be seen at my Fine Art America Page… you can find the link up on the right hand side.

Getting Creative, Even if it Kills Me

So, once again I find myself railing against the mundane, normalcy of my life. I get up, I go to work, I herd cattle (I mean kids), and I clean my never-clean home. I miss the beauty of life, the joy in the creative. So i must find it again.

I’ve been shooting pictures for a long time, and every now and then I manage to capture a gem. You know, one of those photos that you return to again and again because it is just so moving– to the one who took it, at least.

So I’m trying to get pseudo-serious this time. I’m going to try. So that I could keep my better shots organized, i created my own Photography site– Karen Fowler Photography. If you have a sec, check it out!

Meanwhile, here’s a taste!

Little Boy Bass This one is “Little Boy Bass”, a.k.a my son holding his very impressive first catch of the season.