If you want to write, read. Like the kitty.

cat-readingA wonderful blogger and writer, Jodie at Words Read and Written, had this reading kitty gif on her blog, where she said read read read is one of the five things she does most. She inspires me. I remember at WonderCon, where various fanboys were gathered around a Marvel Comics editor (or some such). He told those asking how to write a good story, “Read something besides comic books.” I LOVE comic books, but that is still very good advice. To do it ALL in text is really crafting a story. At least it is for me.

Why is Holly white?

HOLLY EYES Reviz 2At a recent open mic, after I gave a couple young guys my Holly business card (see the business card pic to the left), they asked why Holly is white. They liked my reading, but they looked a little disappointed at Holly’s skin tone. They looked Chinese-American, or Japanese-American, or something along those lines.

I answered, “Because I’m white.” I’m Swedish-American. I’ll dip into some Swedish-American culture (think Prairie Home Companion) and the horror of lutefisk. I put a lot of myself into Holly: my taste in movies, my love of comics and coffee and boogie-boarding and comic-cons and indie-authors, my efforts at writing, and my temper which I control a lot better than Holly. Or maybe Holly is just a lot stronger and braver than I will ever be, I have never gotten into a fight in my life.

I did not mean to disappoint those two guys. If it is any help, my character Kittygirl is Japanese-American. A few writers who reviewed the scene where she first appears thought Kittygirl was asian even though I did not mention her race, I had no idea what her race was. Now I might do cute manga-anime references. I like Kittygirl being Japanese, she gets a cool first name: Katsuko! I just like the sound of that!

I want to put Keef Knight (African-American) and Justin Hall (Gay-American) into my stories, those guys are too cool to not use (they are fine with me doing that). I wonder if they will be harder for me to write? I know them. I think I can write them.

Oh, I have such a great scene for Justin, a scene to make the audience stand and cheer. I hope it survives my outline editing in preparation for nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month.

Zymbol magazine’s fundraiser with a neat writer incentive!

zymbol-3-coverJames Hanna of The Siege asked his writer friends to pass this on. I am one of them.

Zymbol, the magazine of surrealism and symbolism, is doing a fundraising drive. James says, “Zymbol is one of the prettiest, splashiest journals I’ve ever seen. And they like symbolism, fantasy, and surrealism.”

I am sharing this link to Zymbol’s Indiegogo fundraising site. Please consider helping Zymbol out. Note to aspiring writers (like me!): at the $60 level, you can get a manuscript (up to 75 pages) reviewed by a Zymbol editor. In other words: GET YOUR WRITING REVIEWED BY A PRO FOR A GOOD PRICE!

P.S. James has a story in Zymbol: The Guest. Thumbelina with a twist.

Meeting short filmmakers!

As in they made short films: the filmmakers I met Sunday at the San Jose Short Film Festival were not physically short. I like meeting filmmakers. They appreciate their audiences. They will talk to them. I like their creative minds.

whenfishflyLisa Rose Snow did When Fish Fly. She said the lead girl in the short got the part when Lisa asked her to emote (not speaking) being sad that her cat had died. Reminded me of when Gene Simmons of Kiss got a part when the director said convince me you want to rip my heart out without saying anything. Lisa is a nice lady with a great taste for color; When Fish Fly has colorful houses, cereal, balloons, and fish.

fosterdogLisa Alonso Vear did Foster Dog, with an adorable dog in the lead. Lisa told me she directed him with laser pointers (I had thought that was a cat thing!). The film has voiceovers for the dogs, and the voices fit perfectly. She said that she is looking to make a feature film. Lisa and the doggie deserve that. I asked if the dog’s agent might demand a raise: bigger laser pointer, yummy doggie treats. That discussion veered slightly into my thoughts on power: I believe power does not corrupt, it just makes you more of what you already are. She felt that power could corrupt, in that we all had some things in us that are, well, kinda icky. It was a friendly discussion. Probably because neither of us have much power.

wildandprecious2Cusi Cram did Wild and Precious, a comedy about family. All the actors were fun to watch, but two really stuck out: the 12 year old girl, and the older, leather-jacketed, uber-tough&cool grandma with the younger biker boyfriend (a nice switch on the older-guy/younger-girl cliche). I have come to love tough female characters since I created Holly Hansson. I think Cusi said this was her first film, and she did GOOD! Please make more, Cusi!

intothedarkLukas Hassel did Into The Dark, a SciFi short with a twist ending. He also was the lead actor, and did the entire performance while strapped to a metal grid. Now, THAT is something to put on the resume! He said that a big theme for the short is the five steps to accepting death, and that we might think we are independent but we all need people. By the way, I did not recognize he was the actor until he said so: he is much taller and less scruffy in real life. He says he made it to help open the door to full-length screenplays. I identify with that, having switched from my novel to short stories. Try to prime the pump.

Several of these wonderful filmmakers gave me cards. I gave them my Holly cards. Now I’d better get my short stories out. If they can get on big movie screens, I can get onto Kindles.

Hellyfish RULEZ!!! (I HEART the San Jose Short Film Festival!)

hellyfish_posterI’ve been at the San Jose Short Film Festival Friday and Saturday. Short films from around the world. Smart, funny, scary, thoughtful, and I’ll be there tomorrow also. My faves so far:

HELLYFISH! Radioactive-mutated killer jellyfish! A tough Russian lady! Dumb surf guys and almost as dumb beach babes! A crusty old salt! FUN! I met the filmmaker, Patrick Longstreth, and his wife. I asked if he was inspired by older horror movies. He said, yes, and that Jaws and Piranha and beach horror movies start at night. Patrick did most of the special effects, and his killer jellyfish are funny and KEWL! He gave me a sticker and a card. I think I’ll put it on my iPad, since I do a lot of writing with it. He mentioned that he liked Sharktopus better than Sharknado, and I agreed. I gave him my Holly card. He and his wife liked it. I think there is a connection with indie people.

Other shorts that fit me nice and tight:

Gear. Blade-Runner-esque, except Gear keeps the story tight. The filmmakers said they kept the story focussed on Mazzy (the girl hero) and her relationship with the robot. The story structure, foreshadowing, and character development were perfect.

Cooped. Cartoon of doggie who really wants to go out. Plympton-esque hilarity.

Rabbit and Deer. Long at 17 minutes, and it held my interest the whole time. Plays with 2D and 3D animation, and how Rabbit and Deer maintain their love through the third dimension.

Shotgun. Three girls burn rubber and toast film cliches.

One Armed Man. Starred Charles Haid, who played Renko in Hill Street Blues. This guy is a great actor. During a Q&A (and between my coughs, still had a cold), I said that writers get advice like show don’t tell, write what you know, and so on, and I asked if there is such advice for actors. To thine own self be true, he said, find the emotion in yourself, and also get your SELF out of the way. He was more elegant about it. He teaches acting, he directs, this guy was GOOD.

Catch trailers for The Gunfighter, Rabbit and Deer here.

Kittygirl: Second draft.

You will notice a big change: I rewrote the beginning entirely because I wanted Kittygirl’s older brother teasing her. An older brother would do that even if little sister has superpowers. A theme in the story is Kittygirl thinking boys can be stupid. Anyhow, this beginning is more like draft 1.5, whereas the rest of the story is draft 2. (I found some typos just pasting this into the blog!) The story is out to my critique group now, and I will get feedback tomorrow. I’ll be doing the third draft soon (the beginning is draftier and will need the most work), and then it will be just minor cleanup. In the past few months, I have been sticking to a three draft limit. I have to finish a story SOMETIME!


A couple dozen furious fangirls bounced angrily in their folding chairs. “We wanna see the Holly comic!” “You’re MEAN!” “I’m gonna tell your mommy!”

As for the president of the Super Holly fan club, the fur raised on the back of her neck. Kittygirl extended her front claws, which could slice through steel like a hot knife through butter! “Give it back, give it, GIVE IT!” She showed her scary sharp fangs! “HISSSSSS!!!”

Johnny was not impressed. No thirteen-year-old brother on Earth was scared of his eight-year-old sister, even if she had superpowers. He held up the Holly Hansson comic book just out of reach. “Careful! You’ll rip it!”

Kittygirl retracted her claws. Johnny had just gotten more teasing lately. Well, Kittygirl had gotten the proportionate strength and speed of a kittycat! She pounced!

And missed? How had Johnny pulled the comic away just in time, HOW?

Johnny leaned down and whispered, “Your kittycat eye pupils get real big just before you pounce. Better not let supervillains see that!”

Kittygirl blinked. When she grew up, she’d fight lots of supervillains! And Johnny would cheer her on. But this eye thing, maybe she could … her super-sharp hearing caught a faint whoosh. Her pointy ears swiveled toward it.

Johnny saw that. His smile got really smiled goofy. “Kat? Is it Holly?”

The sound of the WHOOSH whooshed close enough for normal human ears! One fangirl pointed up. “Look! Up inna sky!” Other girls joined in. “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!”

And Kittygirl squealed, “It’s SUPER HOLLY!”

And a blonde woman in a red cape and a blue, long-sleeve supersuit with a yellow up-arrow chest logo meteored out of the sky and landed at Kittygirl’s side.

The fangirls stood and clapped.

John looked at Holly, starting at her feet, then up her long, strong legs, then to her yellow arrow chest logo. His eyes got a little bigger. “Wow!”

Holly put a finger under his chin and tipped his head up. She said softly, “My eyes are up here, young man.”

He handed Holly the comic book. He was still smiling so goofy! “Nice seeing you, Holly! Really!” He ran into the house like he was embarrassed.

Holly winked at Kittygirl. “I think your brother likes me.” She faced her fan club, her red cape and long blonde hair ruffling in the breeze. Holly was so tall and strong, so beautiful and brave. Her beaky nose gave her a fierce eagle look. Or maybe fierce rocket: when Holly got really mad, steam came out her nose. Kittygirl had always wanted to see that.

It would not be today. Holly looked really happy as she held up the comic book. “Faithful fangirls, this is the first print of my latest comic book! It’s about—”

A loud tune played. A tinny version of Turkey in the Straw. The girls squealed happily, jumped out of their chairs and stampeded around the house.

Kittygirl tugged at Holly’s cape. “I’m sorry, Holly, that wasn’t nice!”

Holly laughed. “Even I, the mightiest super on Earth, can’t compete with ice cream.” Holly got a twinkle in her eye. “Maybe he has strawberry!” She picked up Kittygirl and jumped over the house.

Upcoming story: The Wicked Word Witch!

In this year’s Scripting Change, I will have a Holly story. It was inspired by an english teacher way back when I was in high school, before internet and smart phones, but not before jerks. He made our class’s resident flower child do another book report because her report on a Dark Shadows novel “sounds like a sex novel to me!” The whole class groaned at that. Jerk. I guess this is my revenge, several decades late.

Click for a sample from The Wicked Word Witch.