Monday, November 7, 2011

Mysterious Ways

There are a few teachers over the course of my educational history who made a real impact on my life.  I'm lucky to have that many.  Quite a few occurred in college: Dr. Downs with his direct, no bullshit approach to teaching who gave me many of the sayings I still try to live by and laughed at my Lucille Ball moments.  Dr. Wink with his sonnets and letter-writing.  Dr. Root, my advisor on The Signal, the college newspaper, who handled all my crazy with the same even coolness.  Another one was my high school English teacher, Miss Allen.  Because of her, I gave up my plans to move to London after high school to become a waitress in a pub and went to college instead.  She graded my quizzes at my desk when she knew I had aced it, got me a retest after I fell asleep during the TAS test and convinced whatever higher-up that I should be in AP English.  She also used music to teach poetry.  It was that lesson that introduced me to U2.  She laid out on the overhead projector a list of lyrics, though at the time didn't know them to be part of a song.  It was about a boy named Johnny and his sister the moon.  And I fell in love.

Within this same class we had studied Greek Mythology.  I've always been a huge fan of mythology of any sort--Greek, Roman, Norse, the Old Testament--ever since I picked up a book on Mythology at an elementary school book fair (gods, I loved book fairs!)  I loved the myths because they were filled with interesting, flawed, twisted characters driven by the basest of human urges and needs who just happened to have special powers that gave them that extra flash.  My favorite of all was Apollo and Artemis.  I loved the dichotomy of the twin deities; one of the day, the other of the night.  Apollo, the sun god, lord over Science, medicine and learning in his blazing golds, tan skin and blonde hair.  Artemis, virgin Goddess of the Moon and the hunt, childbirth, protector of wild animals, and secret lovers in pale, silver light, marble skin and dark hair.  One feral and wild, the other enlightened and reserved.  So this poem struck a chord in me because it metaphorically personified the moon.  Then Miss Allen played the song and I was hooked.  I had never heard of the band before, or if I had, I think I had formed the opinion they were some scary punk band with long hair and black eyeliner.  After reading their songs as poetry (such a novel idea to me at the time) and approaching it from that way, I sought out everything U2 I could which was hard given this was before iTunes and Amazon.  You had to order by phone or go to Wal-Mart and hope they had the tape you wanted.  I would stake out MTV and VH1 for the video and as soon as I first watched the one for "Mysterious Ways," I wanted to become a belly dancer.

My grandmother had given me a couple pairs of my grandfather's pajamas.  They were huge on me.  With the bottoms hanging low on my non-existent hips, I would tuck my shirt up, stand in front of the mirror in my bedroom and try to belly dance like the beautiful, exotic woman in the video.  Since I had no belly, no butt and no hips, it ended up looking more like a prepubescent boy playing a jerky hokey pokey.

This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the release of Achtung Baby.  It's been twenty years since Miss Allen set those lyrics out for our class and played the music that accompanied them.  To mark the occasion, Q Magazine has released a tribute album titled AHK-toong BAY-bi with covers by Jack White, Damian Rice, The Killers and Depeche Mode.  Jack White's cover of "Love is Blindness" is moving.  I think that man is innately music - anything he does is genius.  I think if Neil Gaiman were to add an eighth Endless, Jack White would be the anthropomorphic personification of Music.  Click the link to see what I mean.

The album's sold out.  I'm getting on Amazon's list for it.  And maybe I'll break out those old pajama bottoms.  Gods know I've got the belly and hips for it now.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

The End of the World

It's hard to write with a big German Shepard's head beneath your elbow.  I'm currently using it as an arm rest.  I feel a little bad, but he won't move.

I've been away from this blog doing...well, life stuff.  Currently painting the kitchen cabinets which has turned out to be way more of a tedious undertaking than I imagined.  Especially since Sharif insists on doing it right and taking all of the doors off the hinges.

Tuesday was our three-year wedding anniversary.  We've been together nearly ten years, but took almost seven to take the plunge.  Not that commitment was an issue at that point; we had already outlasted most marriages.  We both kind of felt, "Why eff with a good  thing?"  And now we're moving toward the decade mark.  That's quite an accomplishment considering the divorce rate in America.  I bring this up in light of this whole Kardashian divorce thing.  I've never watched one episode of any of those shows (they are not reality!  there is nothing realistic in any of those people's lives,) and yet I know who they are.  I know the one girl, the one with the big butt, became famous after a tape leaked showing her letting a guy pee on her.  That's what people in this country are idolizing now.  The same people who rail against same-sex marriage.  The same people who insist on god and the church having a hand in state matters.  The same because it's the majority.  She's making millions!  But it's not even the disgusting hypocrisy of it all that bothers me.  It's not even the blatant disregard to the scam these scammers have going.  It's the fact that this was even considered a marriage at all.  Sharif and I have been through some crap and have fought through it and for each other for nearly ten years - that is a marriage.

And it's the fact that actual, REAL Americans are being blackened and bloodied by rubber bullets and gassed in their respective Occupy WS locations and yet the NEWS is this freaking sham, CON of a marriage/divorce from some chick who likes golden showers.  Please.

Sharif's going to the Mesquite Gun Show this weekend because, "2012 is almost upon us, Kelly.  You'll thank me when the zombies come."  Indeed.

Been trying to get my book out to people in book clubs and reading groups, hoping for a review.  If you know anyone in groups like these, let me know.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Was Not Was

Apparently through the course of man's evolution, someone thought it a good idea that he have a yearly physical.  If you're a woman, that yearly physical includes more than just gagging on a popsicle stick and having your temperature taken.  I come from a line of healthy people.  Well, poor people who never had insurance and so if you had to go to the doctor, it better be worth the money.  This is just a theory, but I think it made us healthier.  We had to rely on our immune systems to fight whatever ailment plagued us rather than on medication.  I went to the doctor about a year ago because my migraines were getting out of control.  I've actually had insurance consistently for over a decade now, but I rarely went to the doctor's office (they smell of rubbing alcohol) and never the same one (they can't follow up with you if you're gone.)  This recent doctor asked about shots and when my last physical was ("Uh...high school?") and so promptly scheduled me another visit.  And it turns out never going to the doctor made me a very healthy woman.  I did manage to avoid the girly parts of that visit.  This year rolled around and they called wanting another physical ("What, again?  Didn't I just have one?!") and this time I couldn't avoid the full exam.

That brings us to today where I had some sensitive bits biopsied.  It wasn't pleasant.  It hurt.  They were wonderful; the nurse was very nice and comforting, the doctor unwaveringly professional, which I like because he's a freaking doctor, not a comedian.  But I kept trying to talk and they would fall silent.  The problem is, if I don't talk, I can't stop the voice in my heading screaming, "Get out, get out, get out!"  Results come in 10 days, until then I've curled up in a ball on my couch, succumbing to a 30 ROCK marathon on Netflix.

When I first started writing, one book that made a huge difference to me was Stephen King's ON WRITING.  It was informative and entertaining.  It gave you enough clear-cut do's and don'ts that I feel really improved my writing.  One of those don'ts was using "was."  King recommends you don't as much as you can manage; like no "The night was dark and stormy."  It's a tense thing and he feels you can use your sentences to more effect without it.  And I have really tried to adhere to his rules with was.  I try to use it as sparingly as I can.  It's kinda hard, actually.  And then last night I started reading THE GUNSLINGER, the first in his Dark Towers series and I'll be damned if that whole first paragraph wasn't wased to hell with wases.  Bastard.

Tonight I'll be cursing my T.V. as the Rangers try to win their first World Series and writing with all kinds of was, while trying to hunt down a drug dealer to hook me up with some black market hydrocodone.  Typical Friday night.    

Kindle 3

Those of you looking for a great site to find books, check out Kindle 3

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mind the Reality

The thing about getting away from the every day and visiting someplace like Oklahoma, where you hike and play outside or relax on the bench swing in the evening, is that it pulls you out of your head and anchors you back in reality.  This is good for those people in my life who do not like having a conversation with me only to have me reply halfway through with, "Huh?" because they had lost me somewhere in the talk to the world inside my head.  Sharif has become adept at seeing the signs that I'm no longer there--the eyes tend to glaze over, the face loses expression.  He calls it "Kelly's World" because it has become that tangible in our lives.

My imagination is on constantly, breeding fantasies, holding conversations between characters who I've either already created or, apparently, will create.  Sometimes something he or someone else says will trigger it.  For instance, there was this time while I was in the middle of writing my as-of-yet unpublished urban fantasy that I had been sitting on the couch, writing and watching TV, when he came in to tell me about some UFC match or something and I started out very much paying attention to him.  But then the way he described one of the fighters--I loved the way he described him--and my brain just switched, like a flipped light, and it went to that made-up world and saw one of the characters and it was the perfect way to describe that character and so while he continued to excitedly rant about this fight, my mind was implementing his description of the UFC fighter into a story about elves.  It happens quite a bit.  So when I have moments that can distract me enough to not hover the wordly lines and plant my feet firmly here, I do appreciate it.  For myself and those in my life.  It's nice to experience life without being on constant observation and scavage.

However.  There then comes a time when I need to go back to that world.  I have to be fully immersed in it if I'm going to write about it.  That same urban fantasy--I'm in the process of re-writing it.  I want it to be the next book I publish.  And I have to get myself back into those characters' lives in order to do so, but Oklahoma and hikes and zoos and family have locked the door to the imagination world.  So while I very impatiently wait for it to re-open, I've been reading and cleaning and cooking dinner (on time!) and everything else that I should do while I'm away writing.  Playing catch-up, I guess.  But I'm growing impatient waiting.  Waiting for whatever it will be that will trigger it--another crazy description, a song that inspires, a lanscape.  And then I'll be wandering around glassy eyed and focused on a world you can't see.  But don't worry, I'll come back again.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Kindle + Book Giveaway

Hello All!

Suki Michelle, the co-writer of the upcoming debut novel "The Apocalypse Gene," is having a huge Launch Party Giveaway with the Grand Prize of a Kindle.  Check out the link below for more information.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

The World Before

We did a lot of walking this weekend.  That's usually part of the agenda any time I visit my family in Oklahoma.  Lots of activity, spending time out doors, telling stories, laughing.  What's not part of the agenda: computers.  It always surprises me how much I enjoy time disconnected from the rest of the world.  Life goes on without me needing to know everyone else's every step.  The world can continue turning without Facebook and Twitter and Reddit.  And then I return home and feel a little anxiety as soon as I pass this laptop sitting on the desk.  But while in Oklahoma hiking the trails around the lake I grew up on, there's a return to the life that existed before all the technological connection.  And it was nice.

I brought along my camera.  It was a gift from my father-in-law.  I know nothing about it.  I should really read the manual.  It received compliments from fellow photographers at the zoo who appreciated its features and advancements better than I.  Anyway here are my first attempts at photography.

 I hadn't yet figured out the focus.  There were quite a few like this.

 My sister took this one.  She's better at this than I am.

 Hey, I figured out the focus!  Turn it to auto and let the camera do its job.

 The next hurdle in photography is seeing the photo.  Seeing the image beyond what is just in front of you.

 This guy was blurry but I loved the colors.

 Elephants.  They make me want to cry every time I see them.  I made everyone wait until these two came back out.

 My nephew, Behr.  Such a stud.

 These two looked kind of stately.

 Caught him mid shake.

 I took way too many photos of the bears.  But they were hamming it up for the crowd.

 While I was taking this photo, a little boy came running up with his mom, asking her, "Mom, is that a werewolf?"  I laughed.
 I loved the strong colors in this.
 Not an attraction of the zoo.  I just liked this image.

 I loved the colors in this picture.

 I turned around as we were all crossing the bridge and lifted the camera up, she stopped mid-step and posed.  A total professional.

 My sister actually found this tree and said, "That would be really cool in black and white."  So this is for her.

 Barnabas.  Much like my niece and nephew, is very photogenic.
Barnabas and his brother, Magnum.  Not until they run would you think they were from the same litter.

Hopefully the more familiar with my camera I become, the more my photography will improve, with a little depth and variety.  I think, though, the problem is, some people can look at a woody landscape and see a photograph, while I look out at a rotten bridge deep within a wood and see little fairies flitting around, or an injured elf knight barely hanging on as his horse trots along the mossy, muddy trail, some dangerous fate following after him.  The hardest part of learning photography, will be seeing beyond the images I create in my head, to capture of magic of the realty around me.  

Take care.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Obsessions and Overdoses

I have been obsessed with the Kings of Leon lately.  To the point that it's become disturbing.  I'm not, like, mapping out stalker routes or anything, but they are on in my car, playing on my iPod, on my Spotify.  I've looked up their music videos and DVRd festivals they performed on; it's obscene.  This is what happens with me, though.  I find a topic of interest, some random bit of life that happens to fascinate or intrigue me and I DE-VOUR it.  I go on this Indiana Jones-style quest for any information I can get.  This happened when I discovered Weezer.  This happened with the Romanovs, with the Romani (Gypsies to you laymen folk.)  This is why my husband says I'm the dumbest smart person he knows.  Don't get so aghast, I suppose it's meant to be a compliment - the whole intelligence versus smarts argument, or whatever.  But this need to know everything about one thing is why I am filled with a library's worth of knowledge on certain topics, but couldn't tell you how to turn the thermostat to cool.  Seriously.  It's happened.  "Why's it getting hotter in here?" I cried, staring at the switchy-thing set to heat.

So my Kings of Leon obsession really took off after walking in on Sharif watching their documentary "Talahina Sky."  I only caught the tail-end of it and was confused as hell, but something about it drew me in.  I already liked their music.  I already had almost all of their albums (thanks mostly to the dad-in-law dumping his musical library on my computer.)  So it wasn't like I was a total bandwagon jumper (ha! puns!)  Anyway, I went back and watched the whole thing from the beginning.  Or tried to.  Something stopped me halfway.  So it wasn't until the third viewing that I finally saw it all the way through, but seriously, it helped because it was not done in chronological order and those four boys all looked alike, it was confusing enough and required three tries to get it straight.  But after that, I felt a connection to the band.  Being born in Oklahoma and growing up in the South sort of sets you a part from many people and automatically builds a connection with others from the South as well.  Especially if you're from Oklahoma.  There's just a feel to living that is different.  And these boys, with the way they were raised and the way they changed, fascinated me.  Especially the middle one.  His drinking, drugging and rambling was the highlight of the documentary.  But like all obsessions, eventually you OD and I think I've hit that point.

So I've been thinking a lot lately about character creation.  What is it about some characters that make them just stick with you?  And how does the writer, their creator, make them that way?  It plagues me because I think it's a very important part of writing.  Yes, you can come up with a story that makes up for a lack of character development, but it's usually the characters that readers fall in love with, not the plot.  You don't see teen girls wearing "Team Redemption" shirts or walking around talking about how much they LOVED that plot line!  So how does it happen?  One of Aubrey's favorite literary characters is Touchstone from Garth Nix's "Sabriel."  She said she loves him because he's so flawed.  In "Bird by Bird," Anne Lamott discusses the same thing, if not a little further, in her chapter on characters.  She says you should hurt your characters; put them through some shit.  Because it's the trials and tribulations and their human way of dealing with them that creates that connection to the reader.  One of my favorite literary characters is Howl from "Howl's Moving Castle."  He is so vain and selfish and cowardly and flashy.  And wonderfully funny and fun to watch.  (Yes, watch, because I see it all in my mind.)  And in the moments that he is not vain, but brave and sacrificial, he becomes the character you love because you know what he had to overcome to make those sacrifices and courageous choices.

A lot of my characters are based in some way on people in my life.  Those closer to me tend to be secondary or minor characters.  Some influence, in superficial ways, major characters.  It helps me flesh them out and make them real to base them on actual people.  I think the reader can tell the difference.  I bet Aubrey could easily tell you who is based on a real person and who isn't, strictly by which character she is more attached to.  The ones based on real people tend to connect more.

So that brings me back to Kings of Leon (See what I did there?  That's called coming full circle.  That's the mark of a good writer.)  The middle one, Caleb, is full of flaws and yet has all of these good characteristics that makes him an interesting character and I think in my mind he's bullying his way into a story.  I just don't know which one yet.  I have one in mind, but I'm not sure.  Maybe I'll create something up just for him.  We'll see.

Go listen to their song Trani and tell me you don't see a character waiting to go through some torture and hell and redemption!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Home is what you make it

I have a follower!  And it's my sister.  Family's awesome.  They're the only people, I think, who we talk smack to their face and praise behind their backs.  At least that's how it works in my family.  Compliment each other, what foreign speak is this?

I've been thinking about locations.  Location in writing, in a fictionalized story can take on the role of a secondary character if done well.  You basically have two choices: set your story some place real or make one up.  The advantage to using an actual location is somewhere, well, that where, there will be people who will feel an instant connection to your tale because they, too, are from said place.  And you've made their home a little more magical by choosing it for your story.  But you really have to know this place, get the facts and details correct or you could make enemies of those same people.

Then there is the created setting and with that, you have total control.  You can make it up as you go along and are not beholden to whether the Quick-E Mart was on the left side of Main Street or the right, the high school could have any mascot of your choosing, the seasons could be anything, get the picture.  But with that, you really have to define everything or your reader will have a hard time picturing it and who wants their characters walking around in a white mind void?

So far, I've done both.  Always Me is set in an unnamed town in Southern Arkansas that bears great similarity to Arkadelphia, AR.  Another book is set in Venice, another-my hometown, Kingwood, TX, and then there's the book I'm working on, planning to publish next, that's set in North Carolina.  Again, unnamed town, but everything around it is real and I have to rely on Google Maps and other people to get the details.  I don't really know which is better, but I know using what I'm familiar with is a lot easier.  I guess once I've published enough, you can decide the winner.

Speaking of that book, I really should be working on it, rather than blogging, but I'm in the process of changing the whole thing, right down to the title.  Going from first perspective to third is a daunting task and so anything to distract me is welcomed.  But of course YOU'VE GOT MAIL is on and why is that a distraction for me??

Anyway, back to it.


Always Me

As soon as I figure out how, I will have a permanent link to this.  In the meantime, click on the link...
Always Me

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

Well, I think the title says it all.  For someone who writes as much as I do, you would think I'd have no problem writing on a blog, but well, just the word BLOG sounds so blah.  If you say it over and over enough, your shoulders will slump so much you'll fold into yourself.  So this will be a blog for the non-blogger as I attempt to find a topic blog-worthy.  Maybe photography, maybe book and movie reviews (those are actually a lot less maybe and a lot more likely,) and maybe a few short stories here and there.  Hell, I may even pick up cross-stitch just to see if it's worth blogging about.

But first, a quick introduction and such.  My name is Kelly Riad.  I graduated with a BA of Communications from Ouachita Baptist University in 1999 (that should give you an idea of my age without me having to actually write out the number.)  I live in the Dallas, Texas, area with my husband in a house overrun by pets.  I have no children because as far as I know, society still frowns upon sticking children out in the backyard with a bowl of food and water or in the garage with a litter box.  As of quite recently, I am now a published author (self-published) and have even sold a few books through Amazon UK which makes me an international published author; yeah, that sounds way cooler.  I love to read and write, I dabble in art when I need to feel like a better person and we won't even get into my day job because you will fall asleep from boredom before I finish explaining what I do.

Here's a not-so recent picture of me, to celebrate the 70's (or maybe 80's) which are apparently making a come-back.