Monday, May 30, 2011

Does "Happy" Memorial Day Sound Right? Hmm...

As I was leaving the arena on Friday, a couple of my students yelled out "Happy Memorial Day!"  I waved and answered in kind, but as I got into my car and thought about why we Americans have a Memorial Day in the first place, I began to feel a little weirded out by the wording.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm both proud and touched we've designated a specific day to honor those who have fallen to protect our country and its allies. 

I'm just a little iffy on being "happy" about it.

South-Central Texas is deep in military country, so just about everyone I know either has someone in the military or knows someone who's serving.  For a lot of people here, Memorial Day isn't just an opportunity to watch some Indy car racing during a three-day weekend, or a chance to plop your face into a batch of barbecued ribs cooked out by the pool.  It's a time to remember those who have given their lives to protect our way of life.  There are so many -- too many -- who must wince when they hear "happy" Memorial Day.

Don't worry -- I'm not going to get all melodramatic or preachy.  I just wanted to express how grateful I am to those who serve and make the ultimate sacrifice.  The truth is, I am not happy there is a need for a Memorial Day -- no one is.  But I am touched, and proud, and awestruck by the unbelievable sacrifices our men and women in uniform make every single day to keep our world safe.  So thank you to our fallen,  thank you to their families who sacrifice just as much, and thank you to those who continue to fight.  You are not forgotten.

Have a safe Memorial Day, everyone. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Art - It's In The Eye Of The Beholder... Or Something Like That

A super fantabulous thing happened last week – I got to meet up with my favorite llama and dedicated nudist, cozy mystery writer Hart Johnson and show her my neck of the woods (otherwise known as a little place called Texas :P)

The first thing all visitors to Austin should see is the city’s version of Bourbon Street -- legendary 6th Street.  But since it was the middle of the week in the middle of the day, not too much was happening, so it was time for a minor change of plans.  We marched up to the State Capitol, where I noticed a lovely little fountain right out front.

That’s when my mood for art appreciation bloomed.

At juuuuust the right angle, this cherub-themed fountain looked like a baby boy, erm, relieving himself (and quite proudly, I might add *snort*).  So naturally I had to take a picture of it.  But little did I know that this was just the beginning of an art-appreciation filled day.

On our way back to Hart’s hotel, we passed the Austin Museum of Art – AmoA.  Come to find out, there was a special exhibit of local artists going on.  Some were FABULOUS – Hart especially liked the ash-embossed dead-body imprints depicting Mexican border violence taken directly from news photographs.  Other exhibits, though… well, I’m going to be honest.  I personally did not see the artistic value of a tarp on the floor.  Seriously y’all, there was a frickin’ TARP on the FLOOR. 

Le Tarp

Since we could hear construction work going on behind the scenes, we assumed that tarp was a part of it.  But it wasn’t.  Nor was a dust-covered piece of old insulation.  It was scrapped construction material which the artist said was a metaphor, designed to inspire a person to think about our throw-away society.

I took one look at it and was inspired to sneeze myself into a coma.

Okay. Maybe it is art

But it did get me thinking.  In both writing and in on-ice choreography, in my own way I’m also a creator of art.  Some people might look at my writing (or the unforgettable Moulin Rouge skating routine I put together complete with corsets, fishnets and for one skater, a riding crop), and think it’s smut.  The fact of the matter is, it really is in the eye of the beholder, and no amount of debate on whether or not a romantic work of fiction is “worthy” literary fiction is going to change some minds.  But I’m okay with that.  Ultimately, when it comes to the creation of art, the creator has to believe in their work.  And I do.

Monday, May 16, 2011

HA! LITBM Blogfest -- Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Thank you Leigh, for coming up with this idea!  To have so many bloggers sign up for a day of laughing it up shows just how needed this was.  Thanks also to your partner in crime, Lydia Kang, whose blog I've linked to for the list of participating bloggers. :)

Laughter really is the best medicine, and it's so wonderful to have a Blogfest  that involves sharing the things that make you chuckle the most.  I had a hard time choosing between a couple of things that make me laugh so hard that milk comes out my nose -- even when I'm not drinking any milk.  Then I thought, why choose?  No need to be so stingy when it comes to the giggles, right?

So, here we go, my new #1 time-waster -- DAMN YOU, AUTOCORRECT! XD

Yeah, those words are so close.  Uh-huh.  And then there's this one:

 It's like the phone was out to make the poor guy look like the biggest creeper who ever slimed his way across God's green earth.  And then of course, it gets worse:

Mom?  You there?  I swear I'm not a perv.  Hello?

I hope you all got a laugh out of these lovely little gems, and if you're wanting to read more, you can find it here -- .  One word of warning:  This website sucks you in.  Before you know it, not only have you lost time on the scale of an alien abduction, you also may have wet your pants.  Enjoy! :D

Linky to list of fab bloggers participating in LITBM today:)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Writer's Goals -- What Are They?

If you pose this question to a dozen writers, you’ll get a dozen different responses.  I do know one thing – if you don’t know what your own goals are, it’s kind of hard to achieve them.  So with that in mind, I recently made a list of what my personal writing goals are for the upcoming year. J

Too bad this isn’t the animal kingdom.  If it were, all I’d have to do is pee in a corner or two and that would be that.  We humans, though, are a bit more complicated (not to mention hygienic), so that means it's time to put on my big-girl pants and be aggressive in getting my name out there.  Name-recognition is an absolute MUST, according to just about every veteran in the publishing biz.  After lots of brainstorming on how to go about it, I've decided my way of attaining this glorious name-familiarity thingie is to…

So yay – I’ve gotten my foot in the door with a couple projects at fabulous Samhain Publishing.  But ultimately… big deal.  There are plenty of one-hit wonders in the world, but I’m determined not to be one of them.  Every day I review the business announcements from all the romance publishing houses on Twitter (how I love social media!).  When any of them have an open call for submissions, I’m on it like white on rice.  Example: I’ve just completed a 33K-word steampunk romance entitled TICK-TOCK GOES THE CLOCK (no Ke$ha jokes, plzkthnx), and will be sending it to Carina Press later this week, limbo-ing in under the May 15th deadline.  Who’s Carina Press?  They’re the fledgling digital-first division of Harlequin Books, the number-one selling publisher of romantic fiction. (At this point, I’d like to give a humongous THANK YOU to my beta reader Hart Johnson, aka the Watery Tart.  Thank you so much, Your Tartness, for putting another pair of eyes on TICK-TOCK.  I <3 you more than my ice skates ^_^). 

I’m also getting ready to ship out a 60K contemporary romance by the name of MOST LIKELY (also to Carina Press), and it’s the first book in a loooong series I’ve been working on since forever.  When I finally get MOST LIKELY landed somewhere, life is going to be good, since there are so many other books in the series ready and waiting to follow in its footsteps.

Last on my plate (at least for the next couple of months) is a superhero-themed project for Samhain.  I have to admit, I’m nervous about attempting this one.  I’ve even considered not trying for it at all.  Why?  Well… remember when I said I keep a sharp eye out for any open calls for submissions?  When Samhain announced they were looking for novellas with a superhero theme for an anthology on Twitter, the site blew up with enthusiastic (and nationally best-selling O_o) authors who are going to go for it.  Only three submissions will make it into the superhero anthology, whereas everyone else… well, they will have had fun writing about men and women in masks and spandex.

In the end, I’ve decided I am going to go for it.  Not because I have a hope of making it (I’ll always hope, but I’m realistic about my chances), nor because I’m doing it for pride’s sake.  Like any writer who wants to be taken seriously, a huge part of my job is to get my name out there.  I need to prove I can produce a steady flow of high-quality product.  My goal is to make the name Stacy Gail familiar, so that when any editor reads my work for possible publication, they will be comfortable putting their faith in my abilities.  Which leads me to my last goal for the coming months…

This seems to be a bit of an obstacle for a lot of writers.  Maybe it’s because writing is such a solitary thing; maybe it’s because writers live so completely within their internal world, the real world (understandably) becomes less important.  I suspect I’m one of the lucky ones.  I have a great group of friends both IRL and online who keep me on top of my *cough*spazzy*cough* game.  I love meeting new people, talking to people, and sometimes (though I don't mean to) scaring people with my wow-she-should-be-medicated antics.  So I’m going to play to my strengths.  My goal for the coming year – meet as many people in the field of romantic fiction as possible!  I don’t care who they are – would-be authors, veteran editors, avid readers, savvy reviewers.  Anyone who has a passing interest in books is someone I’m ready to get to know.  After all, these are people who love the same thing I do; who wouldn’t want to meet with peeps like that?

Zig Ziglar once said a goal properly set is halfway reached.  The goals I’ve set for myself are totally doable, and each one supports the other.  Now that I’ve written them out, I’m hoping Zig was right. With any luck, I’m halfway there. J

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Worldbuilding. I Haz It.

Confession time – I’ve made more than a few booboos as I’ve gone through the process of getting the cyberpunk novella, ZERO FACTOR, out of my brain and onto Samhain’s launching pad.  The first misstep was not really knowing what cyberpunk was, so I hopped on Wikipedia and let my fingers do the researching.

Lo and behold, I knew all about cyberpunk.  I had read William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” when I was a kid (I believe I borrowed it from my brother… and can’t remember if I ever gave it back).   One of my all-time favorite movies is “Blade Runner”, and I’ve seen just about every episode of “Ghost In The Shell”.  So, yeah.  I knew cyberpunk.  The question was, could I do it?  To create a believable, complex cyberpunk story, you have to fashion the frame for it, flesh it out, and make its rules of operation.  In short, you have to do some serious worldbuilding.  Cyberpunk occurs in a future not yet written, after all.  It can be anything you want it to be; the only limit is your imagination.

Believe it or not, that was a big worry for me.  My imagination is, shall we say, moody.  When I need it to do one thing, it shoots off and does something else.  For instance, I had wanted ZERO FACTOR to have a dark, gritty “Escape From New York” feel.  Instead, it takes place in the sunny desert of Nevada (seriously, I STILL don’t know how or why it wound up there).  My female MC, Via Brede, was supposed to be a med tech, but when she rolled out of my brain she wound up being an Agridome bubble farmer.  Come to find out, putting Via in a bubble made all sorts of AWESOME sense, but… it wasn’t what I had planned.

You see why I thought I might not be up to this?

In order to create a futuristic world, I eventually put myself through a pretty weird mental exercise (I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, so either I’m a genius, or I’m the worst kind of time-wasting goofball).  I made myself go through an entire day taking ordinary events, and putting a futuristic spin on them.  Example: the brushing of teeth became fast and simple with a mere swish of Denti-Wash.  Cars with combustible engines became superlight Maglev vehicles that ran on cold fusion.  Who needs cameras or x-ray machines at security check points when you have a cyborg equipped with cyberoptics and a computer for a brain?

The one thing I couldn’t possibly change, though, was how two people with chemistry hot enough to melt Pluto can and will fall in love.  I am a romance writer, after all, and as much fun as I had building the future world of ZERO FACTOR, the one deliciously familiar touchstone for me was the crazy, wide-eyed hope that love brings to the lives of those who embrace it.  I don’t know what our world will look like a hundred years from now, but as long as there are people brave enough to take a chance on love, I’m thinking it’ll be pretty much like it is now. 

Except with jet packs.