Quirky Monday

I’m a little late getting the writing prompt out today. Last week was INSANE and I took this morning off from blogging to work on a crazy-intense scene from the sequel to Demon’s Heart. So now that Scout’s awake and throwing her binkie out of the crib, I guess I better hurry to get it posted:

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What’s your character’s quirk? Write a scene where it’s prominent.

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If you’re looking for a good resource on character quirks, check out this post over at Inkcouragement.

And don’t forget to link up! If you post a response on your blog before Friday, link to it in the comments of my blog and I’ll post it on Friday.

Happy Monday!

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To Make a Thief

Write a scene from your villain’s childhood.

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The teachers called it an accident. They even blamed Aubrey–indirectly, of course–for playing soccer with a bunch of boys. It was her fault that her glasses were broken and a bright red gash underscored her left eye.

What they didn’t know was that Aubrey had stolen the ball from Jon and outpaced him effortlessly to score only minutes before. They hadn’t seen Jon zero in on her and throw an elbow before she even touched the ball I had passed to her.

I wasn’t big enough to take it up with Jon behind the classroom–he was the biggest fifth-grader in the school and could easily pound me into the pavement. But as I sat in the back of the classroom that afternoon, watching Jon text underneath his desk on his new iPhone, an idea occurred to me, a crazy idea that grew both wilder and more plausible through the last two hours of class.

As soon as the bell rang, I watched Jon stuff his iPhone in his jacket pocket and head for the door. I gave him plenty of space until we were away from the classroom and crossing the fields. Increasing my pace, I caught up to him just a few yards short of the gate. In my haste to get past him, I tripped on an uneven patch of grass, stumbled with arms flailing, and crashed hard into Jon.

I scrambled to keep my feet, hanging on to the strap of Jon’s backpack until Jon shoved me away. Throwing out a hand to break my fall, I rolled away from the kick he aimed at me.

“Watch it, turd,” Jon growled, “or you’ll end up like your breakable four-eyed girlfriend.”

I remained lying on the ground until Jon was out the gate and across the street. Letting out the breath I had been holding, I rolled over and extracted my hand from my pocket. Jon’s iPhone buzzed once, as if in indignation at being separated from its master. I grinned, slipped it back into my pocket, and took off for home at a run.

Family History, I Am Doing It

You know where you can find some really amazing stories?

Your grandparents.

Your great-grandparents.

And so forth.

I’ve been up to my elbows in family history work lately, formatting a life history of my grandparents, typing up various life sketches from generations back, translating German letters from my aunt’s ancestors, scrapbooking, and exploring the endless documents available on Ancestry.com.

The longer I work, the better I get to know these people who came before me, and the more interesting stories I find and file away to tell my children later. The boy who stole his teacher’s whip during church and chopped it into tiny pieces, the man who was shot through seven times and survived to pass on his faith to his family and countless others he served throughout his life, the woman who kept a tenuous balance between association and enmity with an aggressive Indian as she established a home on the plains.

If you’re looking for some good material to hack apart and reform for your own creative purposes, take a look into your own family history. Talk to your parents and grandparents, great-grandparents if you’re lucky enough to have them. Take a look at family history websites. Google people. You’d be surprised what you can find about your ancestors in this day and age.

Have you done much looking into your family history? Any good stories that you like to tell? Anything you’ve stolen from ancestors past for your creative writing?

He for She and She for He

I’m always hesitant to post about highly flammable topics, but Emma Watson has convinced me that the term “feminism” is not so repulsive as it has come to be for me. Here is a look into my change of heart.

First, let me explain why I have shrunk from describing myself as a feminist:

  • “Feminist” websites collecting stories of how stupid men are. (Turnabout is not fair play. It’s rolling around with the pigs in the mud.)
  • “Feminists” pushing for sameness, rather than equality. (If you need to know the difference, go read A Wrinkle In Time.)
  • “Feminists” who insist that women cannot relate to male characters.
  • “Feminists” who spend their lives worrying about the fact that strong female characters differ from the portrayal of their ideal feminist in one or two minor details, rather than doing something about child brides and limited educational opportunities.
  • “Feminists” who count how many female characters there are in every book they’ve ever read. (I accept the need for strong female characters, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying Harry Potter because there are two male leads and only one female lead.)
  • “Feminists” who insist that the only way for a woman to be equal with a man is by becoming a scientist.

There are others, but those are the major issues that have cropped up over and over and over again. But then Emma Watson came along. She delivered a heartfelt, passionate speech about feminism as mutual respect. She pressed the urgency of understanding one another, of letting each person be true to him or herself. She invited everyone, men and women, to pledge to stop forcing unreal expectations on each other. She addressed real issues, rather than sniping and name-calling and gnat-straining.

So this is why I am now tentatively okay with calling myself a feminist:

  • I believe that men and women deserve equal respect.

Really. That’s it. There are so many problems in the world caused by the utter lack of respect. Ladies and gents, take a step back. Take a deep breath. Stop looking for ways to be offended or ways to offend. Stop worrying about the twigs at the end of the branches and go back to the root.

But don’t ever, ever stop insisting on the respect that you deserve. Fight for education. Fight for genuine portrayals of women. Fight for the right to walk down the street without being sexualized and humiliated.

And you know what? Fight for men, too. Fight just as hard to remove the idea that men want Carl’s Jr.’s revolting commercials as you fight to remove Carl’s Jr.’s sickening portrayal of women as meat. Believe in men. Believe that there are men who respect women, who want equality as much as women do. Believe that men are better than the media would have us believe, just as you believe that women are.

Because it’s only when we’re united in our respect that we can achieve equality.

You can see Emma Watson’s speech below, or click here. Make a commitment to mutual respect at HeForShe.org.

Villainous Children

I’m super excited for this week’s prompt! I’ve actually cheated and already written my response to it, and I may write another one because it’s that much fun. For those of you just joining us here, I post a writing prompt every Monday meant to help develop your characters, your world, your plot, etc. by exploring outside the realm of what is included in your novel. You can participate in two ways:

1. Post a response on your blog and link to your post in the comments here.
2. Email your response to bumblesbooks at gmail dot com.

On Friday, I’ll post all links to participating bloggers, along with any favorites from the emailed responses, and possibly (most likely, this week) my own response.

Okay, ready for the prompt?

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Write a scene from your villain’s childhood.

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Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Friday Frog-hunting

Friday is here! There were far too many sleepless nights this week, between deadlines, presentations, and a sick baby, but exciting things are on the horizon! Stay tuned for some fun announcements in the next week or two.

I know I just posted one of these last week, but Rachel Carrera was kind enough to interview me over at her blog. Rachel is one of the most consistent and entertaining bloggers I’ve encountered, and she is so great at interacting with her followers! Head on over to take a look and participate in the fun games she’s posting this month.

And now on to this week’s writing prompt responses! I had two wonderful bloggers post their work in response this week:

writersdream9: Nostalgia
Emily (A Cup of English Tea): To the Grave

No email responses this week, so you’re stuck with another of mine. Happy weekend, everybody!

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Find a place that fills one of your characters with nostalgia. Write a brief scene showing why that place is so important to him or her.

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The twins were teasing Jean again. Dan knew that his mother was working in her office, knew that he should go collar the twins before Jean starting up with her dramatic sobbing; but, just for once, he didn’t want to be the one in charge. He wanted his dad to have a normal nine-to-five job instead of working twelve-hour days to keep his company afloat. He wanted his mother to take a turn keeping the twins under control instead of spending her days filling orders from her home office. He wanted Jack, brilliant, perfect Jack, to come home after school once in a while, to spend a day with his family instead of always getting ready for another stupid conference.

Digging to the bottom of his desk drawer, Dan retrieved his sketchbook and slipped out the back door unnoticed, cutting around the side of the house and making his way to the park down the street. He plopped down beside the mucky pond, listening to the hordes of tiny frogs chirping cheerily in the late afternoon light.

One fearless frog hopped onto the sketchbook lying beside him in the grass. Dan scooped it up without thinking, then froze as he exchanged stares with the curious little creature in his palm.

He had been eight the last time he went frog-hunting here. The end of summer, a hot day that smelled of sweat and sunburns and mischief. Dan had raced Jack all the way to the park and not cared that he lost, he adored his big brother that much. They were making the most of their final hours of freedom, embarking on one last expedition before they were trapped behind hard metal desks in the classroom.

One last expedition before Jack was recruited to spend every waking hour as a child prodigy instead of a brother.

Dan dropped the frog into the grass and wiped his hands on his pants, snatching up his sketchbook and turning back toward home. Jean was no doubt in tears by now, and the twins were probably wondering why Dan wasn’t kicking them out to the backyard yet. They needed a big brother as much as he did, and Dan couldn’t let them down the way Jack already had.