Archive for November, 2009

Saturday night, folks from my writers’ group came over for a RockBand/Guitar Hero night.

Writers’ Rocksgiving.

I never knew we had so many headbangers and fist pumpers in our scribbler’s gang.

And of course…Scarlet Whisper made an appearance with her signature encore: Helter Skelter on Beatles RockBand.

I lose all inhibition (and dignity) wailing Helter Skelter. Imagine a tone deaf Paul McCartney in Janis Joplin drag performing a Vegas Style lounge act rendition. That kinda sums it up.

Can’t stop myself. I love that song. It’s become my writing anthem.

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and turn
and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again

Revision after revision after revision. You edit your manuscript until the sight of it makes you want to hurl all over your Chuck Taylors. And then you work on it some more.

Do you don’t you want me to love you
I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you

You waver. One day, you believe you possess a glimmer of talent. The next (after your query incites a chorus of crickets), you embrace the enormity of your writing suckage.

Tell me tell me come on tell me the answer
and you may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer

You turn to your beta readers, your crit group, your spouse and your second grade teacher (or worse, your mom) to analyze what is wrong with your book.

I will you won’t you want me to make you
I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you

You put your manuscript aside. You start a new project.

Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer

You play the waiting game with agents. You persevere.

Look out
Helter skelter
helter skelter
helter skelter
Yeah,
Look out cause here she comes

And one golden day, you get a manuscript request (or two, or six). Maybe it’s a partial. Maybe it’s a full. You’re back on the roller coaster.

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and turn
and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Well will you won’t you want me to make you
I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you

Look out
Helter skelter
helter skelter
helter skelter

Rejection? Maybe. Who knows.

She’s coming down fast
Yes she is
Yes she is
coming down fast

I can’t stop. The ride makes me hurl sometimes, but it’s too much fun to get off and walk away. Yep, I’m hopping in line again.

Here we go.

Tell me, dear ones, what’s your writing anthem?

Hungry for more? Writing junkies will enjoy my Black Magic Cake

Black Magic Cake

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, cut into pats

3/4 chocolate syrup

8 Milky Way Bars (2.05 oz. each), cut into chunks

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp. lemon juice to one cup regular milk)

1 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa (dark choc. Hershey’s is best)

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cup bundt pan. Put butter, syrup, and Milky Ways in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 5 minutes, whisking once halfway through cooking time. Whisk until smooth.

Add sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs. Then add in flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.

Pour batter into bundt pan. Set bundt pan on a cookie sheet to catch any accidental spillover. Bake for one hour. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting cake from pan.

Glaze with frosting. To make frosting, melt three more Milky Way bars with 3 tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 stick butter.

Overdose, erm…binge.

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This past weekend, I picked up Another Faust, a YA novel by siblings Daniel and Dina Nayeri. I’m inhaling it late at night. I should be folding laundry instead, but this contemporary retelling of the classic deal with the devil story won’t let me go.

 Five troubled children disappear. Five years later, five gifted teens crash New York’s a list scene at Marlowe Academy, a school for the crème de la crème of Manhattan. Is their benefactor, Madame Vileroy, all she seems? What price will they pay to purchase their dreams? 

Another Faust is full of black desire, broken souls and twisted illusions.   

Oh, yeah. I’m in.

 Interested? Check out the Authors’ Web Site. They are sponsoring an Another, Another Faust writing contest. Submit your own Devil’s bargain story (3,000 words or less) and you might a win signed copy, a handwritten deleted scene, a feature interview and article, and the opportunity to get your work in the hands of publishing professionals.

If Another Faust whets your appetite, check out these sites highlighting other retellings of the classic Devil’s Bargain story.

What do Little Shop of Horrors, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, and Ghost Rider all have in common? Explore the roots and retellings of Faust at: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Faust

Old School Faust Legends: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/faust.html

Read about the granddaddy of them all: Goethe’s Faust

http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/hum_303/faust.html

Hungry for more? Try my Devil’s Food Caramel Cake. No blood pact is required to bake this sweet treat.

Devil’s Food Caramel Cake

Ingredients:

1 box Devil’s Food Cake (Duncan Hines is best)

1 cup buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp. lemon juice to 1 cup regular milk)

½ vegetable oil

3 eggs

7 to 10 oz. package of milk chocolate covered turtles, chopped

1 tbsp. cocoa (I like Hershey’s Dark)

½ cup caramel topping

Your favorite chocolate frosting (homemade or from a can)

More turtle candies for garnish

 Grease two 9 in. round baking pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, buttermilk and oil. Add the eggs. Beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in the turtle candies and the cocoa. 

Pour batter into baking pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pans. Spread caramel between layers. Frost cake with chocolate icing and sprinkle additional turtle candy bits over the top of the cake.

Binge!

I hear marijuana is a “gateway” drug.

After a few “harmless” puffs, you soon experiment with prescription uppers. Then, you move one to harder street drugs. Before you know it, it’s nine a.m. on a Tuesday and you’re smoking crack in the alley behind Whataburger.

Suddenly, you’re a meth tweaking, rufie gobbling maniac who hallucinates about killer unicorns.

All because of a little “harmless” fun.

I kinda think books are the same way. You read a few books as a child, and suddenly…you’re a book freak on a leash.

So what if those childhood reads are a little kooky, a little subversive?

For example, one of the first “Gateway” books I remember reading is The Lonely Doll. I scored this checkered beauty by conning my parents into buying it from Weekly Reader.

Thelonelydoll

I should have known the book would ensnare me. Anything written by a siren named “Dare Wright” is bound to be narcotic. (Say that name in your best throaty movie trailer voice. Dare. Wright. See what I mean?)

Then I opened the book. Such adventures. Such intrigue.

The Lonely Doll, Edith, pines away in a big empty house. She prays with all her heart to meet a special someone.

Two forbidden strangers appear on her doorstep. Mr. Bear and his sidekick, Little Bear.

Does Edith say, “Who are you? Get off my porch, you fuzzy freaks!”

No. Edith claps her hands with Joy. “You must have found me because I wished so hard,” she cries.

Mr. Bear swoops in and takes control. He watches over her, coerces her to do her lessons, scolds her for getting dirty or venturing too far from home.

LonelydollstalkMr. Bear stalks Edith.

And when he leaves for the afternoon, Edith sneaks into the Big Girl’s boudoir and plays dress up. She puts on makeup, slips on high heels and scrawls lipstick on the mirror.

Mr. Bear comes home. He takes Edith over his knee and spanks her. See how little bear covers his eyes? He can’t bear to watch…

lonelydollpunished

So, then Edith tells Mr. Bear to get out of her house, right?

No. Of course not.  “Oh, thank you, thank you, Mr. Bear!” cried Edith, hugging Mr. Bear. “I do just love you…please, will you promise to stay forever?”

lonelydollend

 

 

A little subtext goes a long way, dear ones. Curse you, Dare Wright.

At age four, The Lonely Doll became my “Gateway” book.

At fourteen, I read Wuthering Heights. Heathcliffe makes a nasty Mr. Bear.

At twenty four, I read Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy makes an irresistible Mr. Bear.

At thirty four, I read Twilight. Edward Cullen makes such a sparkly Mr. Bear.

It took Breaking Dawn to push me over the edge. I hit bottom with that one. After a quick stint at Literature Rehab, vapid, controlling stalker types no longer haunted my bookshelves.

So, dear ones, what about you? What were your “Gateway” books? I’d love to hear which books influenced you the most as a child.

Well, gotta go. Mr. Bear (erm…I mean Mr. Martin) will be home soon.

Hungry for more?

I’ll leave you with my recipe for Hot Stuff Chocolate Cake. It’s Narcotic. So sinful, but so easy to bake.

Hot Stuff Chocolate Cake:

Get a box of Duncan Hines chocolate cake. Bake in a 9 by 13 pan according the directions. Remove cake from the oven. While cake is still hot, poke holes all over the cake. Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over the top. After the cake cools off, spread Cool Whip on top and sprinkle good stuff on top. (You can use choc. chips, nuts, toffee bits, chocolate syrup and/or caramel syrup.) Binge now, or allow to chill. The cake gets even better after a day in the fridge.

Binge!

First order of business:

Congratulations to Cat Woods. Her new ending to the short story “Guessing Game” is deliciously ambiguous. Cat, drop me a line with your snail mail address at mathmartin@tx.rr.com and I’ll send Half-Minute Horrors your way!

Half minute horrors
I also have other winners to announce. Jemi Fraser (Just Jemi), a fellow writer and blog goddess, awarded Book Binge a “Kreativ Blogger” Award.

Cool, huh?

kreativ-blog[1]

Of course with great power (giggle) comes great responsibility. I now have the pleasure of passing the award along to seven other Binge-worthy blogs.

I’m also required (by an eternally binding Kreativ Blogger blood pact) to share 7 things you might not know about me:

1.) In 2nd grade, I won a “Mother’s Day” writing contest. I scored a $25 checking account and dinner for my family at K-Bob’s Steakhouse. All because I plagiarized the lyrics from Mary Poppins’ “It’s a Jolly Hollyday with Mary” and scrawled them onto the entry form.

2.) I worked part time nursing homes during my college years. I now vow never to send anyone I love to a place which reeks of pee. Never.

3.) I grew up in a tiny town nestled in the armpit of Northwest Oklahoma. “It’s a great place to raise kids” = “There is a magical forcefield between our cattle feed lots and civilization which keeps us safe from new-fangled places like Starbucks.”

4.) I have a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas. They stamped my diploma as I crossed the stage. I’m sworn to secrecy regarding the mystical powers of Librarians. I’d tell you about it, but I’d have to “shush” you. Permanently.

5.) I moonlight as Scarlet Whisper, International Jewel Thief.

6.) I have a freaky phobia about food safety. If I see you lick the spoon or double-dip in the guacamole, I’m outta there. Potlucks make me break out in a cold sweat.

7.) I like (love/adore/fetishize) the Beatles. Yeah, you knew that, but did you know I enjoy jumping on the couch and shrieking the lyrics to “Helter Skelter” on Wii RockBand nights?

Enough about me…Here are my picks for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

Picking recipients was tough. There are a lot of wonderful established agent and writing blogs I love (Rachelle Gardner, Mary Kole, Janet Reid, etc.), but they don’t need accolades from me. Also, I’m intentionally not passing the award to my blogger friends who have already received this award. That knocks out a lot of cool blogs, but I’d like to give a shoutout to new folks whose writing I respect.

So…here goes:

1.) Ginny Martyn’s “Finding Humor in the Mess” at http://www.ginnymartyn.com/

If you like a good laugh, you’ll ADORE Ginny’s blog. Her posts and tweets resonate with a kind of wacky zen. I’ve often snorted in my coffee whilst reading her posts. Ginny’s a writer who brings the funny. (Plus, maybe I’m her evil twin? Maybe we’re even THE SAME PERSON! Jenny Martin = Ginny Martin). Just sayin…

2.) Jamie Harrington’s “Totally the Bomb” at http://totallythebomb.com

True confession. Jamie is a friend from DFW Writers’ Workshop and she is one of the most HILARIOUS, CRAZY fembots I know. And she can write. Although you fully bask in the glow of her raditude by reading her blog, (you’d have to go to IHOP with her for that…) you’ll want to skitter on over to her site  and congratulate her for signing with a LITERARY AGENT(!)

3.) Sonja Cole’s BOOK WINK book review podcast site at http://bookwink.com

I love Book Wink. It’s a wonderful site for YA and Kidlit fans to connect with books and get a feel for interesting titles. Check it out, you’ll be impressed.

4.) Jason A. Myers at  http://jasonamyers.wordpress.com

Jason is another DFW Writers’ Workshop regular. If you read his blog and follow his tweets, it won’t take long to figure out he knows good writing. His posts offer solid advice and he is a ninja critiquer. He’s on the short list of peeps whose advice I take to heart.

5.) Robert K. Lewis’ “Needle City” at http://needlecity.wordpress.com/

Robert is one of my Tweeter/AQ buddies. Watch him, folks; his star is rising. He an agented author of  thrillers, so expect to see his own unique brand of noir on a B&N shelf in the not so distant future. Robert K. (AKA “Thrownbones,” renegade assasin) gets extra props for being a guitar aficionado. Cool reads and hot licks. (psst, Robert: The AQ girls can’t wait to see the flowery Kreativ picture on your black on black blog.)

6.)  Peter Steinberg and Eric Mueller’s “Flashlight Worthy Books” at  http://www.flashlightworthybooks.com/

I recently stumbled onto this gem through a mutual tweeter. FLW showcases reviews of exceptional books. The books are posted in categorized lists. You’ll never run out of inspiration for your next read at FLW.

7.) Karen Quah’s Modern Day Storyteller at http://moderndaystoryteller.com/

Karen Quah is a journalist, playwright, screenwriter and script editor. Who blogs. And tweets. And builds up the writing community. And starts thought provoking discussions on funny, cool, amazing and heartbreaking things. If you like storytelling in all its forms, visit Karen’s blog. You’ll thank me later…

Oh, my dears ones, there are so many more good blogs. What are your favorites?