Monday, June 17, 2013

Indies in Action

When tragedy strikes, we often feel helpless to do anything but sit in the safety of our homes and watch the devastation and heartache play out on the news. We want to help, but we may be too far away to rush into the fray. Or we don't have the training to offer immediate aid, either by search and rescue or medical first aid. In the aftermath, we may not have the skills to help those who've lost everything rebuild. We want to do something, but don't know how.

Indies in Action, a group of writers, poets, and artists from around the world, have gathered to help those touched by tragedy. In May of 2013 storms and tornadoes ripped through the mid-western United States leaving destruction and desolation in their wake. IIA swiftly put a call out for submission of written works to be used in a charity anthology that has become known as Twist of Fate. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Twist of Fate will go to benefit tornado victims through the May Tornadoes Fund managed by the United Way. I'm very proud to be a part of this project. I may not live near Oklahoma, or have the skills to help rebuild homes torn apart by the wind, but I can put words on the page, offering my support and encouragement to those who have lost so much. Twist of Fate is now in post production and should be released as an ebook later this week, with the trade paperback soon to follow. Look for it online wherever books are sold. We can help those in need.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What Was That?

Where I grew up, there were a lot of trees and not a lot of people. There were roads without any streetlights and few houses. Driving down them, a person could only see as far as her car lights would reach. There were animals too. Dogs, cats, squirrels, possums, snakes. Sometimes something big would rustle the foliage. Most of the time the driver would dismiss the sight. Trust me, a squirrel can make a big rustle.

 Except maybe that was more than a little squirrel could do. Big dog? Local out walking in the dark? Serial killer looking for his next victim? (Quick, make sure the doors are locked). Sometimes the imagination would take a left turn, and the driver would start to wonder. Just how big a dog would it take to make that much noise? A person wouldn’t be walking out here in the dark, no matter how familiar they were with the territory, or what nefarious scheme he was plotting. So what could make that much disturbance in the trees and undergrowth? Maybe a bear down from the mountains? A bobcat or mountain lion? Or was it something else? Something different. Something truly scary? Maybe a bigfoot, or a werewolf? No, those things are just figments of somebody’s imagination. Right?

There are stories of mythical creatures in every culture and every tiny corner of the world. Stories of large furry critters that are human-like, or are humans who change form, are very common. There are many psychological and sociological theories as to why this is. Then again, maybe all those theories are our science-minded society trying to explain away something our ancestors understood as simply part of our world. Maybe, just maybe, they understood something we have lost contact with in our quest to be civilized. Real or not, maybe creatures we don’t understand are things we as human beings need. Maybe we’ve lost our ability to see beyond the obvious. Maybe we no longer know how to see the magic in our world.

So tonight, if you think you see something that can’t possibly be there, think about what your great-something grandparent would believe.

Be careful out there!

Friday, June 7, 2013

&@#^*@!: or, why I can't wait for World War Z

Summer is the season of movies. If you avoid sunlight, heat, non-walled natural spaces, and the beach (*shudder*) like I do, the escapism provided by summer blockbusters is even more anticipated. Forget the lazy river, a bucket of popcorn and a medium movie theater soda (which, incidentally, contains as much liquid as the typical lazy river) is all I need to get me through the dog days until fall.

At the top of my Must See list this summer is, no surprise, World War Z.

Words cannot express how excited I am about this movie, so I generally resort to high-pitched monosyllabic utterances and flailing. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, which may be a bit silly since I’ve read the book several times. But, this is one movie that can’t follow the book closely. Not just can't, shouldn't.

I’ll admit, I can be one of those people who have a hard time enjoying movies that diverge too far from the books on which they are based. My level of frustration tends to coincide the degree of love I have for the book and how necessary the divergences are from a story point of view. Stardust? Some grumbling ensued. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? CAPS!LOCK RAGE. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Let’s just say there was an “incident” during which “things happened” and I was “escorted from the theater," and leave it at that.  

But, I’m keeping an open mind about World War Z. This is one of my favorite books of all time (in the top 3, easily). It’s just amazing. If you haven’t read it…well, what are you still doing here? Stop reading and go buy it NOW. Seriously, I've embedded links to the top 4 ebook retailers. Come back after you finish what will be one of the most emotional and satisfying literary adventures of your life. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Glad to have you back. Are you okay? No? I understand. Crying is all right, we all cry sometimes. Was it the whales? I bet it was the whales. That got me, too. No, I can't even talk about the dog story. The feral kids? What are you trying to do to me over here, huh? It's all right, we'll get through it together. Come on, bring it in.
Group hug! Let go of all those zombie-induced feels.
As I was saying, I’m keeping an open mind about World War Z the movie, because if they tried to make the movie exactly like the book…it would be a catastrophe. World War Z isn’t a story that has one central character moving seamlessly from beginning to middle to end in a linear fashion. That’s not how Max Brooks shambles rolls. It’s more a series of vignettes (a word I just recently realized has a SILENT g *facepalm*). There is a beginning, middle, and end, but each section is comprised of many stories from different people recounting their experiences from the initial outbreak, the middle of the war, and/or in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. From the first signs of the undead in China, to the pandemic hitting African villages, to the Battle of Yonkers, and, finally, the energy expended by the living to take back a world that was overwhelmed. Seriously, the book is a ride. It hits all corners of the world and covers people from all walks of life, recounting their stories from different periods in their lives. Some narrators are reliable, some are not, and some have an agenda they're trying to push. All of the stories are fascinating and very few are connected. That’s why it wouldn’t make a good movie; not in its original state.

Movies are visual media, and the time we spend with a movie is far less than the time required by a novel. From the trailers (I’m avoiding internet spoilers, but figure the trailers are fair game), it looks like the movie will be following a main protagonist (Brad Pitt’s character) as he navigates the zombie-torn world in search of something that will save him, his family, and the rest of the planet. I think this is a great way to stage the movie, by giving audiences a core hero through whom we can experience the world.

Seriously? I’m counting down the days!

Are you looking forward to World War Z? How about any other summer blockbusters (Man of Steel  or This is the End, perhaps)? What are your favorite book-to-movie translation (Jurassic Park and The Green Mile are at the top of my list), and which ones completely missed the mark (here’s looking at you, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Inspired by friends, new ideas and good times—The 2013 Write Touch Conference

This weekend I was privileged to attend the 2013 Write Touch Conference at the Olympia Resort and Conference Center. Please bear with me while share 13 of my favorite moments from the event.
Header courtesy of samulli

1.      Michael Hauge who is a renowned story consultant, best selling author and awesome teacher, and our keynote speaker shared his story mastery coaching methods to help us improve our plots.

2.      Molly, who is in love with the 1940’s, taught Elizabeth Poteet and I how to pin curl hair.

3.      Here’s Molly in one of her period dresses.

4.      Lots of people won the literacy raffle baskets. Barb received one full of Inspirational reads.

5.      Maureen snagged this one.

6.      Kate won a bag of books.

7.      A big and exciting part of the conference is getting to pitch a manuscript to an editor or an agent. I was fortunate to get to pitch my story to Elizabeth Poteet and Sarah Younger. They were both gracious, kind and approachable.

8.      Joe Fraser, Wisconsin Romance Writers' vice president and my critique partner celebrated his sixtieth birthday at the conference. Here’s the cake for him.

9.      Liz and Molly lit the candles.

10.  Joe blew out the candles and we all ate cake. 

11. We connected with old friends and also had the chance to make some new ones.

12.  Many of my favorite authors and friends brought books to sell, which they also offered to sign.

13.  We had a chance to honor Fab Five and Write Touch Contest Winners. Casey Clifford’s stories finalized in more than one category. Cheryl's Romantic Suspense made it to the finals, too. 

The 2013 Write Touch Conference had many highlights and fun moments. If you want to see more pictures you can find them on this link.
2013-06-05 2013 Write Touch Conference

Have you been to conference? What kind? What did you like best? Please say hi or leave a comment. I always look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Oh, and while I’m thanking people, I’d like to give a big, “Atta girl,” to Anne Parent, Karen Miller and Barb Britten, who put in long hours working on the conference.

Also, I want to acknowledge Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for Thursday's Children blog hop.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How Do Super-Heroes Look For Employment?

By Eilis Flynn

How do super-heroes look for work? As super-heroes, that is. We’ve seen plenty of panels in comics that involve said characters, in their secret identities, perusing the want ads in newspapers. And websites, in later issues. (There’s nothing much in the newspapers these days, of course; but then, there aren’t that many newspapers either.)

So for their day-by-day lives, they look for jobs the way anybody else does. I’ve always assumed that their interviews are somewhat awkward. Because those interviews are always awkward, sure, but think of the part when Our Heroes are asked about relative availability: “Oh, 24 hours a day! Except when I have other obligations.” Questions about the kind of obligations will be asked. Lies will be told. Good recruiters will smell something fishy. Good super-heroes will stonewall or lie through their teeth. Fortunately, there are many bad recruiters and managers in the world. Still.

Yeah, unless they’re tech geeks or health care professionals, those unemployed super-heroes are not going to get quick nibbles for decent employment. If they’re reporters, journalism jobs are pretty thin on the vine. Maybe if they’re scientists, they may have luck looking for work, depending on their specialty. Academics? Are they tenured? If they are, they don’t have to worry about a new job, but if they’re not, their jobs are in constant peril, and it’s hard to battle The Big Bads if you’re worried about where your next paycheck is coming from. If they’re in retail? These days, never a steady living, probably made harder because as a super-hero you’re always vanishing to battle thugs and a super-villain or two. Although they’ll be able to find temp work around the holidays. Overall, sooner or later all these super-heroes would probably get employment, but it’s not going to be an easy job (yes, deliberate wording, and yes, I’m sorry). Only a few Bruce Waynes or Tony Starks around, after all.

Most super-heroes have to earn a living somehow. I assume if they’re in an organized, well-funded super-hero association of some kind, they can live at the clubhouse (see: the Legion of Super-Heroes’ clubhouse, the Justice League’s watchtower, or the Avengers mansion, and so forth). So if need be, rent’s taken care of. But they have to pay for those uniforms—the cleaning, the replacement, the equipment. Their day-to-day clothing (or, their civilian clothing when they’re on vacation or on a date, say, but neither are likely to happen). Bills. Alimony, maybe. Child support. There’s a reason Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark would be super-heroes: The dilettante rich can afford it. And if they’re dilettantes, well, they don’t have much else to do, anyway.

Anyway, back to my original question. How do everyday Joe super-heroes look for employment? The easy way, naturally, is to hit up one of the dilettante rich super-heroes for a job. But that doesn’t seem to happen that often, indicating that super-heroes also have pride, which is stupid, because they’re out risking their lives battling super-villains or large monsters or hostile aliens from outer space. Surely it wouldn’t be out of the question to have a stable job so you can keep saving the world. If nothing else, so you can make repairs on the uniforms and to be able to have a square meal once in a while.

That’s their lives as super-heroes, though. In their lives as civilians, though, it’s a whole ‘nother sit. There are no boundaries they can’t challenge. Except acing that interview.

Eilis Flynn can be found at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at Since she was laid off recently, she’s also looking for a job, which is why she started to think about super-heroes and employment. Right now, she’s working on short stories about her super-heroine Sonika.