Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's on my dining room table today

My dining room table is the major clutter magnet of our household. My guess is that it's some kind of gravity well formed because there's a wide flat surface which only has a purpose a couple of times a day. Objects from throughout the house are mysteriously drawn to it and have to be removed before dinner can be eaten.

Today, there's:

  • a cat purse
  • vampire fangs
  • a treatise on German longsword
  • a bar of soap shaped like a brain
  • a bug jar (thankfully sans bug)
  • a Tribble
  • Christmas ornaments
  • a ten foot balloon (not inflated)
  • a lego catalog
  • two boxes of tissues
  • hair detangler for kids
  • a taekwondo class schedule
  • several books
  • an ad for the library's book sale
I love my family. There's a lot of awesome here. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Follow Fest 2014

Blog button designed by Carrie Butler.
I’m happy to participate in Follow Fest 2014. It's always good to make some new blogger friends and learn about their work. Here is a little bit about me and what I am working on.

Name: Samantha Bryant

Fiction or nonfiction? Fiction

What genres do you write? Women's Issues Fiction, Historical Fiction, Speculative Fiction (superhero and weird science fiction)

Are you published? My first book, Going Through the Change, will come out with Curiosity Quills in early 2015. I've also got some stories, poems, and essays out there.

Do you do anything in addition to writing? I'm a mom and a teacher, so when you add writing to that, too, there's not time for much else. I do like to bake and hike though, and watch old movies.

Tell us a little about yourself. I'm a small town girl at heart, though I've spent time in some large places. I've got the heart of a wanderer, but the pocketbook of a schoolteacher, so I don't get to travel as much as I'd like. I married into gaming and find that I love it (we're marathon-gaming for ExtraLife again this year). Like my character, Patricia, I'm fond of a good graphic organizer.

What are you reading right now? Like my friend, Elizabeth Hein, I'm always reading several things at the same time, in a variety of formats. On audiobook, I've got Dracula by Bram Stoker going right now. On Kindle, I'm starting Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. In paperback, I've got The Book of Bart by my fellow Literary Marauder Ryan Hill. My younger daughter and I are reading the Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel together. I'm also beta-reading a couple of novels for my writing friends. If you'd like to talk books, let's meet up on Goodreads.

Which authors influenced you the most? Neil Gaiman, Patricia Clapp, Oscar Wilde, Amy Tan, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Seth Grahame-Smith, Charlotte Brontë, Tom Stoppard, Diane Ackerman, Stan Lee, Jean Rhys, Li-Young Lee, Garth Ennis. I'm an omnivore when it comes to literature. I love mixing of genres and work that plays in the spaces left by other writers.

Where can people connect with you?
Is there anything else you’d like us to know? I'm the Grand Poobah of a fantastic novelist critique group (Works in Progress). I participate in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group the first Wednesday of every month. I recently joined the Women's Fiction Writers Association and am very excited about getting involved with them. I love a good blog hop and supporting other writers, so let me know if you've got anything going!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Met my MC, Now Meet Theirs

Last week, I participated in the Meet My Main Character blog hop, introducing you to Patricia O'Neill, one of the main characters in Going Through the Change, my superhero novel that will come out with +Curiosity Quills Press in early 2015.

I tagged some of my CQ colleagues and their characters are pretty darn awesome, too. In fact, the more of my CQ colleagues' work I see, the more I am thrilled to be included in such rich company.

Come, meet Ann M. Noser's Jake Cunningham. Sure, he's dead, but that doesn't mean he's not a kick in the pants

Vicki Leigh's Daniel Graham is dead, too--but that doesn't keep from also being a Protector of the Night.

Hmmm .. ..I'm sensing a theme here. There aren't any dead guys in my book . . .at least not until the sequel, but there's a lot of fun to be had all the same. In the meantime, you can read Vicki and Ann!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Meet My Character: Patricia O'Neill

My writer-friend +AmyBeth Inverness (bio below) invited me to participate in the Meet My Character blog hop. Of course I jumped on the chance. What author doesn't want the chance to tell you about their characters? We're worse than RPG gamers that way! You can see Amy's post here.

I have a book upcoming with Curiosity Quills in early 2015, so I'm dying to tell you about it anyway. Thanks for the excuse to talk about Patricia, +AmyBeth Inverness 

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Patricia O'Neill. She's fictional, but very real to me.

2. When and where is the story set?

The story takes place in 2013, the year I was writing it, or some nearby year, in Springfield. Springfield is my made-up town with a very nonspecific geography, in the tradition of comic book towns like Metropolis and Gotham and Central City. I named it Springfield because nearly every state in the United States has a Springfield, plus, I like The Simpsons. My Springfield is a medium size city surrounded by suburban neighborhoods. 

3. What should we know about him/her?

Patricia is fifty-eight years old when the story begins. She loves her single life, running her corporate department with an iron fist. When she starts having skin issues, she doesn't think anything much of it. After all, she's a natural redhead. She's always had skin issues!  But this itchy patch between her shoulder blades is truly driving her crazy, and her doctor has not been able to give her any relief. So, she goes to see her lifelong friend, Dr. Cindy Liu, who specializes in women and aging. 

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The short answer? Dr. Cindy Liu.  Cindy gives Patricia a cream to apply, and not only does it not help, it causes some kind of chemical reaction. Before long Patricia is covered in scales and armored skin that can deflect bullets. Obviously, this puts a damper of some of her other life plans. As the story moves on, we learn that there's more going on with Cindy than it first appears.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Patricia is one driven woman. In the course of this novel, her immediate goal is to understand and deal with what has happened to her. When she meets up with other women who have developed comic-book problems/powers, she wants to stop Dr. Liu before someone gets hurt. 

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

I've also blogged about the process of writing this one quite a bit. 

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

I'm under contract with +Curiosity Quills Press  and everything is going swimmingly so far. I don't have an exact release date, but expect to be able to send you out to buy it in early 2015.


Thanks +AmyBeth Inverness for tagging me.

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice, and an outcast of Colorado by temporary necessity, AmyBeth is a creator of Speculative Fiction and Romance. She can usually be found tapping away at her laptop, writing the next novel or procrastinating by posting a SciFi Question of the Day on Facebook and Google Plus. When she’s not writing, she’s kept very busy making aluminum foil hats and raising two energetic kids and many pets with her husband in their New England home.

I'm tagging some fellow Curiosity Quills writers. Check them out next week!

Ann M. Noser
Vicki Leigh
Clare Dugmore
Jori Mierek

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: Balancing the Writing Tasks

So, my writing life has undergone a lot of change in the past month. It's been positive (book contract!), but it's requiring me to reconsider how I spend my writing time.

I can usually spend 1-2 hours per day on writing tasks and still hold up my end of the household responsibilities reasonably well. With my commitment to a daily writing habit, I've been much more prolific in the past year than in all the years previous even with limited time.

What's leaving me feeling insecure this month is figuring out how to keep that mojo going while taking on the new tasks that my good fortune has given me: editing, marketing, social networking. I've been considering allocating certain days to certain things. Editing Monday, Social Networking Tuesday, Writing Wednesday, etc. I'm already feeling the strain now that school has started. I know the best thing I can do for my book is to finish the sequel and get it out there, stat.

How do you all balance the non-writing parts of a writing life?

This posting is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To check out other posts by writers in a variety of places in their careers, check out the participant list. This group is one of the most open and supportive groups of people I have ever been associated with. You should check them out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Flash Fiction Keeps it Fun
I'm really glad I finally made a serious commitment to my writing. It was my birthday gift to myself the year I turned 42--a promise to give it a real go. It has made all the difference--I've finished things, and now I'm even starting to see them published and might make money from it. So, please don't think I'm complaining when I say that sometimes writing is more work than play. 

See, before I was serious about my writing, I wrote only when I felt like it or when I felt like I had time. There was no pressure to finish anything. If I lost interest, I abandoned it and moved on to something else. I didn't work at it; I played. 

Sometimes I miss that playfulness, that toying with an idea and then letting it go. Creating something small that pleases me in the moment and not worrying about whether it ever amounted to anything. 

That, my friends, is why I love flash fiction. 

Flash fiction, for me, is like playing a game. When I do it, generally someone else gives me a prompt--a photo, a line, something. Then, I run with it.  I don't worry much about where I'm going with this. It's like poetry writing has been for me in that it is succinct--about capturing the feeling or moment, not telling the whole story. I try to be creative, subvert it, do something that surprises me and my reader. I have fun.

This is really different than how my other writing ideas develop. Those are usually some nagging voice or scene that just won't leave me alone and pulls at my subconscious until the conscious starts paying attention, too. Those are more like obsessions. Flash fiction, is a passing fancy. 

My favorite flash fiction lately has been on Google+ in the Writers Discussion Group. Some of the moderators, often +Amy Knepper, choose images and post them. Different writers in the group write pieces and members of the community vote for the "best" one by adding +1's. I've written some fun pieces that really please me in these exercises, and I really love reading the variety of pieces that is created each week by the community. 

Here's a link to this week's "contest."  You should play along. It's fun. And here's what I wrote for it this week. I called it Garden Shed

The floor smelled pleasantly of dirt and drying rain. Elmer gathered fistfuls of the damp soil and formed it into balls by spinning it around in his palms like playdough, then crumbled them and let the pieces fall from his fingers. He liked to imagine he was actually forming the chunks with his hands like some kind of elemental warrior.

His aunt was probably going to be angry about how dirty he was getting, but it was worth it. The quiet, darkened garden shed was the only peaceful place he’d found so far. His cousins were friendly and nice enough, but they were noisy and there were just so many of them. Elmer had always been an only child, and he and his mother had lived alone, far away from neighbors and family. He found the whole thing overwhelming.

Even now, he could hear his cousins playing, though he couldn’t see them through the open door. Only a gnarled and knotted tree was visible through the square of soft afternoon light. The tree felt old, but kindly, and Elmer thought it approved of him. The sound of his cousins’ laughter was pleasant in the distance, but Elmer had no desire to join them. He was happy to have some few minutes alone.

When she was better, Elmer would show this garden shed to his mother. She would invent a story for him about how it was really the secret lair of a notorious thief and how no one suspects the treasures hidden within it. No one except for one boy, the special one. (There was always a special one).

It started to rain again then, and Elmer heard his cousins squeal and run. He stayed where he was, watching the rain hit the puddles that quickly formed on the ground outside the door. Some drops were absorbed and others seemed to bounce out and turn back into rain. He was still there when his aunt came looking for him, peering into the shed from beneath a giant umbrella. She smiled at him, and held out a rain jacket.

He put it on, though it made him sad to do so. If it had been his mother coming to fetch him, they would have danced in the warm late summer rain together, laughing into the sky.