On Vacation

A lovely view of Lovell Lake, one of the many places I’ve been since arriving.

I’m on vacation. It’s a good thing right? Time to relax, take a breather, see some new sights, visit a few relatives… well, my vacation has been pretty hectic. I think tomorrow will be the most relaxed day yet, and still I’ll be running around, although a lot less than I have been the last few days.

I’ve been all over the state of New Hampshire, and into Vermont and Maine as well. I wish I had a little more time for reading, but that may come tomorrow. I’ve got several book reviews lined up that I need to write (and to write them, I need to read them).

As for relaxing, that should happen tomorrow too. At least I haven’t been driving, though sitting in the car all day long all the time is not comfortable, which reminds me that I need to do some yoga tomorrow to stretch out. The change of scenery has been nice, and I think sorely needed to help restore some of my creative energy.

Ogunquit Beach in Maine. I got sunburned on both coasts within one week!

I’ve “finished” a story with a second round of revisions and sent them off to be read by a recommender. I hope that it is up to snuff. I think both stories should be (which reminds me that I need to send them out again to more people). It’s coming down to the wire for my personal deadlines. If you want to help the cause, you can sign up for a class at www.kandrewturner.com/courses.

I’m going to keep this short, but I hope you all have a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend!

A Late Post

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve been busy the last few days working on putting my “ducks in a row” for my upcoming vacation and of course, blogging slipped my mind. I’m terrible, I know.

At all the weddings I’ve been to, the men are never this eager to grab the garter. Even the bride is surprised!

I’m heading to New England to visit family and attend my step-sister’s wedding. I haven’t a “proper” vacation in a couple years, so I need one. A change of scene, re-connections, etc. should help me feel refreshed. Over the vacation, I have some work to do, but none of it is really that difficult, and should be enjoyable. Crochet (gonna have some long driving trips, I think), read (which I love to do anyway) and do a bit of revision for my application.

In about three weeks (on Sept 15 to be exact) I’ll be starting a new cycle of graduate school applications. I have one story to finish revising, which shouldn’t take too long, and maybe another pass at some other parts of the application. I’m ready. Like I said last year, I know this application season will fare better than last year. I have two new samples that are much stronger than the ones I submitted last year, and I think my over application is stronger and better. It takes time, and this year I have. Almost everything is in order, just pulling up the last of the money (if you want to help in that department, sign up for a class at www.kandrewturner.com/courses).

I’ll make it a short entry today. I still have a small bit of packing to do, dinner, shower, and a poetry reading before I fly out tonight. A red-eye means I arrive afternoon tomorrow. It’ll be a long night. Until next week!

Summertime is Busytime

Well, this blog is late for sure. Sorry!

I usually write my blogs the night before, and, well, last night was a bit troublesome for me. I try to keep my moodle software that I run my classes on up-to-date, for security and feature issues. I tried to update it yesterday and moodle was very unhappy with mixed php. And so I deleted it all, and re-uploaded everything (a nightmare of a 4-6 hour process). Had the same issue again this morning, so I reverted it back to how it was. Waste of time.

He can play in the sand. I get to play in words.

Anyway, that was occupying my brain last night when I should have written a blog! I didn’t even realize it was Thursday until I started writing the blog.

Oh well. I still need to update my classes online, but if you’d like to take a look at the list of available courses, you can! I currently have 12 posted (though about 4-6 will be updated within the week). Looking for a few ideas on classes. I think they are priced well.

Also, I’ve mentioned working on revisions on the novel. I have about 8 chapters left to go. Then I have two writing projects lined up, and of course I’m researching school information. Whee!

How is your summer going?

Finding Stories

I’ve been asked many times how I come up with my stories. Well, for me there a few ways:

  1. Looking into my own life and creating new pasts and/or futures.
  2. Having an idea or situation in mind (rarely a character for me).
  3. Prompts.
  4. Just making it all up.

I’ll say that the last one is the most difficult, for me. I have a hard time searching for a story to tell when I have nothing in mind. I belong to the camp that believes that stories find me, characters find me (true in the most recent novel that I’m working on). I believe I am the conduit of story, the one to set it down, and more often than not, I do very little creating.

Don’t break a pencil on paper.

Now that makes number 1 and 2 look a bit suspicious no? Well, sometimes the stories that I need to tell are my own. Admittedly, they are few and far between (and I like writing poetry to address some of them). But yes, sometimes the very stories that I’m told to write, are, in fact, mine. And that can be a good thing!

I’ll address how point two and point three are very much related. Which makes both suspicious, right? When asking for a story or sitting down to write, it can be daunting to try to capture one story when many, many can vie for your creative attention. When I have an idea (in one case, a gay jock falls in love with a straight drama guy), the characters reveal themselves, and say, “Hey, that’s me, that’s my story. Lemme tell you.” Whew! That’s a lot less searching! With prompts, I feel the same way. I can ask the storyverse, “Hey, anyone out there have these qualifications? I need a story that takes place at 2 am.” Sure enough, I’ll get a response (in fact my latest short story publication was based on this 2 am concept).

What are some ways you come up with story? I find it fascinating how we all have the same outcome (a story) but the approaches are so different.

Sometimes We Need A Break

It’s quite over here, and that’s a nice thing.

A wonderful guilty pleasure.

Over the last few days, I’ve need a good amount of time to just recover from all the work on the novel I’ve been working on over the last year and half, and from all the family crises that seem to take place every other week. So I watched the entire first season of Teen Wolf and read a book. It is so nice to be able to take a break and let my mind just wander off to other places and observe and feel for characters that seem so real.

I think I have a terrible family gene that has been passed down from generation to generation: workaholism. My grandpa worked for years and years in real estate often from morning to night, leaving dinner to make a deal. When he retired, he worked on joke books, comics from the paper, reading, working on puzzles and playing cards. He could not not be doing something. My grandma works much the same, always days or weeks behind what she wanted to get gone. My dad has the same issue. He would work 10-12 hour days in construction often 5 to 6 days a week (which is by no means easy). Even on his off time he’d work on a website or reading or doing research online. My brother said he is a workaholic as well, and he would have to be to earn a doctoral thesis and work and maintain a life as well. My cousin and aunt exhibit the same symptoms. I think my mom is as well, but less so.

For me, I take on more than I can handle. Right now, I’m working on my MFA application for graduate school (not an easy task for anyone), which includes researching schools, choosing schools, working on personal statements and writing samples and trying to scrape enough together to pay for all the applications (no easy task on a severally limited income). Also, I’m re-writing the novel I finish in December of last year, and I’m half way through. Each chapter takes a day with tons of thinking. I work out and I’ve cut back to three days a week to make time for everything else (I work out to improve my appearance, improve my mood, and to keep me sane). I write blogs, and check twitter and facebook—hey, it’s official work (even though I enjoy it most of the time). I have two writers groups (one of which I’ve missed every time this month because of family things) and poetry readings (which I’ve missed because I have no gas money). It feels like I’m running around and nothing much of anything is getting done, and yet, it is. As behind as I feel I am. Maybe it’s a family gene that tells me I should have my application ready, that the novel should be written and the next half-way done, and maybe it’s the gene that says I should have more publication and I should be writing queries and submitting. (Not to forget the whole trying to date people.) Maybe. Maybe it isn’t.

I sometimes wish I had the time I seemed to have when I moved back home and I didn’t know anyone, and I had all the time I wanted to read and write. Instead I have to live with what I have, love what I have, and find ways to release what I consider my duties and enjoy every moment I have. Because that is what matters.

Book Review: Phoenix Splinter

It took me two days to finish Phoenix Splinter, Branli Caidryn’s debut science fiction novel: it is a fast-paced read. I had difficulty putting my kindle down as I wanted to know what happened next, even though I had read a previous version and I knew how things would end. Keith Groenewald is a young, inexperienced man working for a secret society. He knows little about the workings of Veluz. Keith matures through the book and takes on more responsibilities as he comes to make decisions about his future—something he hasn’t had to do before. Branli Caidryn’s prose is quick, to the point, and easy to understand. Phoenix Splinter has a few minor hiccups in some places, but in no way detracts from the powerful story and interesting, intertwined characters.

A brief summary of the action: Phoenix Splinter follows a young man with more than telekinetic powers as he comes to terms with his place in the real world and within Veluz, a secret society known to few. Keith Groenewald, as he is now known to protect his true identity as John Grant, struggles to maintain a normal life. He attends Centaur College where he has made some friends and feels like he can be just another normal nineteen year old. But that changes as he is asked to train and perform on more and more serious missions out of the protection details he has normal been assigned to. Each mission brings more questions about his past—and he wants answers.

I like that Keith is insecure in his powers, and that he can fail. He is broken, harmed, and shot at.  He faces teenaged drama of a mother falling apart and he watches his family drift away, powerless to hold the once-knit group together. He has real emotions: he is jealous of losing his title at school as the best swimmer when a group of Ivy League students shows up to help add prestige to Centaur College.

Though the action revolves around Keith, as a first person narration, as readers we understand there is more at work, more at stake in the world that just what Keith tells us. Veluz has power and its Elders wield that power and demand more of Keith. Each character feels thought out and alive, even when Keith is not paying attention to them: they have their own agendas and function whether or not he is there.

In short, if you like fast-paced novels with plenty of action, heavy elements of science-fiction, secret societies and conspiracies you will simply love the first book in this trilogy.