Friday, October 31, 2008

What I Almost Missed is Great News!

Yesterday I was going through my email, looking for the workshop guide attatchment my professor sent us a couple weeks ago. As I sifted through my "Read" pile I noticed a email titled "Literary Magazine."

I had sent in two short stories to my university literary magazine about two months ago and had been wondering when I would hear news of my rejection or acceptance.

I have no idea how that email got into the "Read" pile. I suspect my Mom read it and forgot to tell me about it. But it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter because... one of my stories was accepted!

"In the Belly of the Whale" - a modern Jonah tale - about two subway passengers, stranded below the city when the train breaks down at 3 a.m. They can't help but bicker in the blindness. Each has something that can't work without the other, but are not willing to give it up. The chain-smoking young writer and the crusty old security guard eventually address where they are going when The Whale finally spits them up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Writer's Block hath no fury like a... Oh forget it.

I had determined that my next post would be a creative response to one of my many writing exercises. But, alas! Wedneday last week I was hit with a stomach virus. Saturday was the worst - in fact, I haven't been so sick in a long time. But, alley-oop and all that.

I don't know about any of you, but I just cannot write while I'm sick. Something to do with being emotionally as well as physically deflated. I have a story I'm trying to mold together right now. But, more about that later.

But, now that the demon named Virus is being beaten down and my mind is quenching its thirst, I had a story idea that just might be worth fleshing out.

Have you heard of taste aversion? Here's the Wikipedia link (I just love Wikipedia - it doesn't have to be true for a fiction writer, ;D) for it:

It's when your mind associates something with throwing up... and since I was on the verge of throwing my head in the toilet the past few days, I felt this relevant.

My idea is this: a young writer becomes very ill. Thinking she'll/he'll take advantage of being home from school/work and write, she returns time and time again to her computer to try to write.

Unfortunately, her head is in a daze, she gets dizzy at every attempt, and she has to make several trips to the restroom to... ahem, relieve her stomach.

When she recovers, she goes to write again, but finds that she gets sick when she tries to write.

I'll have to spend some more time with this. But, first I want to finish (including start) Bedhead, my next short story.

Hope I didn't make anyone sick! Ja ne!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ignorance can be taught, but stupid is forever...

Stupid headlines or stupid people? Who's responsible for this? I can only shake my head.
There are hundreds of stupid news clippings out there. If only people would learn from their mistakes - or at least from each other's. The donkey and the fox.
For more funny headlines, check out:

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'd Never Let those Kids Plan my Future

Wednesday night I had my AWANAs Trek group do a simple (writing, although they didn't know it) excercise. It was a blast! What you do is divide them into partners. The partners should know each other pretty well or it won't be as funny. Each person writes their partner's future.

You see where I'm going here?

For those who aren't familiar with AWANAs, Trek is made up of 6-8th graders - and if you know anything about 6-8th graders, you know that they are so social and love to have fun.

Mix a room of social, funlovers with thoughts of each other's futures and there are tons of possibilities.

We have one set of siblings. The brother sent his sister to prison. We have a boyfriend/girfriend pair. They got married. We had two BFFs. They gave made each other pop stars with 15 cars. Another boy made his partner work at Burger King, earning $2/hour.

"Ah, all the things you can think!"

- That's what I wanted to say to them.

Nobody planned my future. We had 10 kids, so everything was nice and even. Still, I wonder what they would have written. You never know with these kids. Considering the all the children they gave each other and the crummy jobs and going to prison for life, maybe it's better that they didn't. ; )

Monday, October 13, 2008

All through the Years...

This is one of my favorite exercises. What you do is, select a character - one you especially like or one that needs some more flesh - and pick a few ages for the character (i.e. 6, 14, 32, etc.) After that, create life events that happened for that character at the given ages.

Let's have some fun! I'll do an All through the Years for Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh to show you.

Age 3: His mother gives him a ribbon for his tail on his birthday

He pretends a rock is his pet and talks to it.

Age 10: His father teaches him how to build a house out of sticks - without much luck

He sees a myserious bouncing creature with a long tail in the woods at night, but doesn't know what it is

Age 25: Decides that his favorite activity is staring at the clouds; Pooh, Piglet and Tigger worry about him, but Eeyore tells them it makes him happy.

Follows Christopher Robin to school and becomes the first 100 Acre friend to multiply

Age 40: Tries to write a book on the things he thinks about, but ends up just thinking about them more and never writing them down

Rabbit leaves to visit family and Eeyore is asked to tend his garden. Eeyore accepts reluctantly but finds he likes planting and the smell of dirt. Eventually spends more time with Rabbit, taking care othe the garden

Age 70: Because he's too old to stand the elements, Christopher Robin prepares a place for Eeyore to live in his house.

The gang starts meeting every day at Christopher Robin's for honey and tea and to talk, at Eeyore's suggestion

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blogs are our friends!

I just read a very informative article on "blog marketing for writers" by Camy Tang (whose blog appears on my blog roll.) I encourage fellow writers to read it.

Here's the link:

In fact, I'm capitalizing on one of her pieces of advice right now: add whitespace and only have 3 or 4 sentences in a paragraph.

Blogging is becoming the friend of writers. Because of the expanse of the internet (you can find anything!), it's very easy find authors to network with. My professor told us that finding mentors is a very important step for writers - writers remember each other and can vouch for each other to editors.

She also told my writing class to keep in touch with each other. Get your writing classmates' Facebook or Myspace - or blogs!

"Your blog is your unedited version of yourself."

Julia Knispel (), a professional freelance writer who spoke to my class told us the best way to get people to view your blog is to leave comments on theirs. "It's an unwritten rule that if you comment on their blog, they have to comment on yours." That's the common curtesy of the blog c0mmunity.

Of course, you want to be careful about which blogs you want to put on your blog roll. If your goal is to put your work out there for editors and the like to see, then you don't want to see your dirty underwear, so to speak. Mrs. Knispel says to create another blog for your personal diary and keep it separate from your work.

And, another piece of Camy Tang's advice is to add pictures - and I'll add to that: use quotes!

"A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list."


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Sidewalk Chalk Alien Legend

The Sidewalk Chalk Alien Legend
By Emily Lawrence

The blue and pink powder from the sidewalk chalk Bik had given the kindergarten class was getting all over Chul’s hands so that they were painted just as heavily as the concrete in the school compound. He always rubbed the chalk too hard, hiding every gray spot of concrete, and through the day, the chalk was worn down to little stubs in his palms. Green and yellow stars, red and purple planets, big as Chin-Hwa’s bicycle wheels, and a kingly rocket ship, blue and red with a huge orange tail of fire. Literally a universe of chalk.
Mi-Ok sat on her pink strap-on shoes. She had a beautiful new four-leaf clover barrette in her coal black hair. The other girls, who couldn’t afford one of their own, had admired it all day and told her how pretty she looked and Mi-Ok blushed shyly. She watched Chul drawing his rocket, quietly, with her finger in her mouth. Jae Eun’s voice could be heard as she made up a story to go along with the illustrations of a picture book from the classroom. She was sitting by the cage where the class rabbits were stored.
“Chul,” Mi-Ok called, even though she was only inches from his ears.
“What?” His fat fingers scraped the chalk over the rough concrete, undistracted.
“What’s that black thing with the sharp teeth?”
“An alien.”
“I thought aliens were green?” She bit her thumb bashfully.
A group of running feet swept their backs. “Mi-Ok likes Chubby Chul! Mi-Ok likes Chubby Chul!”
Chul took a break long enough to shake his fist at them. “Don’t walk on my drawing!” He was met with laughter. “Shut up, baldy!”
Mi-Ok scooted closer to his side. “I don’t mind what they say.”
Chul bent back over his snarling black alien, letting her snuggle where she was.
“Be quiet, I’m trying to read!” Jae Eun shouted.
“You can’t read!” The school yard laughed.
Jae Eun ignored them and went back to “reading” to her little brother, Dak-Ho, who was more of a plush toy than a brother. She saw that he had slipped down, so she propped him back up.
“I wonder what Bik’s bringing for snack today.” Mi-Ok wondered out loud to Chul. He only continued yellowing the monster’s teeth, but she didn’t mind. “Chul, do you believe aliens exist?”
The wind picked up in a sudden gust that blew off Jae Eun’s glasses. Colorful dust flew into Chul and Mi-Ok’s face. The children chattered lowly for a moment. Then, a racing sound was heard and, as if she were blown in by the wind, an older girl sped into the school compound on shiny black rollerblades. Violently turning, she tore her blades against the concrete to a halt on top of Chul’s chalk universe.
She wore a high school Gyobok; the skirt brown plaid, deep brown tights and a burgundy jacket, but also she wore knee and elbow pads comically over her uniform and a sleek helmet with a sticker of a rose and blue guitar. Her raven hair streamed out in two long pigtails from inside her helmet. In her hand was a long street hockey stick.
Huffing and puffing a little, she addressed the two children at her feet: Chul and Mi-Ok. “Oi, you two, I’m looking for someone; you’re going to tell me where this person is, alright?”
“Nobody’s allowed in the school compound, eonni,” Jae Eun said. The other children came to see what the big girl could want at their little private school.
Seeing them crowd around her seemed to make the big girl happier. “I’m called ‘June Bug,’” she declared. The children marveled at the English words. June Bug. Bik hadn’t taught them those words yet in their English hour.
Mi-Ok whispered to Chul, “What’s ‘June Bug?’” But Chul didn’t answer; he couldn’t because he didn’t know either.
“I need you kids to help me. I’m hunting someone.” June Bug paused for effect and surveyed her audience’s faces.
“Who are you hunting, eonni?” Chin-Hwa ventured.
June Bug chuckled and smiled so widely, her mouth was lost in her cheeks. “An alien.”
Chul stared up at her with his mouth open. Mi-Ok clung to his arm, frightened a little, but still paying close attention. Jae Eun had picked up Dak-Ho and carried him over, his cheeks hanging over her arms. “Is the alien here in the school?”
June Bug smiled again and held up her cell phone. “That’s what my boss said when he called me.”
“Are you a space policeman?” Chul asked, letting out more enthusiasm than he wanted. “Just like Super Sentai?”
“Something like that – I’m an alien bounty hunter.” June Bug said. “This alien was kicked out of her home-world because of heresy.”
“Are you going to use that hockey stick to beat up the alien?” Chin-Hwa asked
She looked at her hockey as a weapon for the first time. “Maybe. My boss does that kind of stuff, though. I just tell him when I’ve found them.”
The questions started pouring out.
“Do you have a space ship?”
“How many aliens have you caught?”
“How do you become an alien hunter?”
The children were having a great time. June Bug got annoyed and tried to bring them back to focus. “Quiet, quiet! Look, I want to hurry and catch it, so –”
Jae Eun interrupted from her seat on the ground, “What does the alien look like?”
June Bug slumped down and looked her audience in the eyes. “Just like us.”
“Ahhahhh!” The kids squealed in interest.
“Like a human?”
“Yes. It looks like a high school girl. Like me. Only, she’s Chinese.” June Bug told them. “Have you seen a Chinese girl? Her name’s Chin-Lan, but she may be using another name.”
Mi-Ok murmured to Chul. “Bik’s Chinese.”
“Shhh.” Chul, who had become a little put off by June Bug’s rudeness and wanted to hunt the alien himself, told her to be quiet. Mi-Ok nodded and buried her head in her shoulders like she was attempting to become a human safe.
It was no good, though, because the other children thinking the same and revealed it to June Bug. “Bik is.”
“Who?” June Bug demanded, now with a darkening look.
“She’s a girl who helps out in our class.”
“What does she do?”
“Um… She teaches us English…”
“She bakes us sweets.”
“And teaches us songs.”
June Bug perked up. “Does she carry around a big book? Or tell you stories?”
Jae Eun suddenly stood, and, taking her brother, walked away from the group and into the school building. June Bug watched her go with hard eyes then turned back to the other children.
“Does she?”
The children looked at each other. They didn’t understand. Suddenly they lost interest and drifted away. June Bug got angry at this; with her hockey stick pointed at him, she pinpointed Chul, who had gotten up, followed by Mi-Ok. “Oi, you. Does that girl tell you stories about an ark or a man being thrown into a pit of lions?”
“You mean Bible stories?” Mi-Ok asked, momentarily forgetting herself.
“Bik’s not an alien” Chul said nonchalantly.
June Bug scowled at him, then shot a look at Mi-Ok, who hid behind Chul. “You kids are so stupid.”
“Excuse me!” From the school building, a kind voice trying to be authoritative caught June Bug’s attention. Chul and Mi-Ok looked back and then ran to Bik, a tall Chinese girl with very short hair and a bad patch on the lower side of her left cheek. Jae Eun was with her, but Dak-Ho had been left inside. Bik confronted June Bug. “Outsiders are not permitted into the school compound unless they are family to one of the students, please.” Bik suddenly recognized her. “Hong Hanuel? You’re a player on the high school street hockey team, right?”
“I didn’t realize it was you.” June Bug sighed. “What a surprise.”
“What are you talking about –”
“Liu Chin-Lan.”
Bik was silenced immediately. Chul and Mi-Ok looked up at her quizzically. Then, Bik met June Bug with an even gaze.
“God, why did it have to you?” June Bug, or, Hanuel flipped open her phone and began hitting keys.
Jae Eun tugged Bik’s skirt. “What’s going on, eonni?”
The children finally caught the urgent atmosphere. “Who is this person?” Chul asked.
Mi-Ok was tearing up, “Who is she, Bik?”
Bik bent down, “It’s okay, darlings. There are some people who want me not to be in Korea. But, I’m not going anywhere.”
“We’ll see about that.” June Bug said.
“Jae Eun, go get Mrs. Park.” Bik said and Jae Eun dashed away.
“Why do they want you?” Chul’s eyebrows trembled.
“Don’t go!” Mi-Ok was crying now and hugged her legs. “Don’t leave!”
Bik wobbled. “Don’t worry, kids. God’s protecting me.” She looked at June Bug. “My citizenship should be finalized now.”
June Bug had her phone to her ear; she stared back at Bik stiffly.
“So, I’m afraid you won’t be getting any money.”
Chul couldn’t stand it any longer. “You’re not an alien, are you?”
A startled look swept over Bik’s face then she laughed. “We all are in this world, Chul.”
“Did you do something wrong?” Mi-Ok asked.
“Some people think so.” Bik replied, putting a hand on Mi-Ok’s head. “But I don’t need them to think what I’ve done is right or wrong. And even if they somehow take me away, it’ll be okay. Because they didn’t like my Father, either, but He still beat them in the end.”
For writers: I wrote this story in response to a writing exercise. The instructions are to write a story in which one character is lying to or misleading other characters who believe what the liar is saying. Happy writing!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Words, Words, (shrug) Words

Yesterday I realized that although my short story for my class is due next Tuesday, I have to email it a week in advance. Oh, no! ... So, I called Caleb, the co-teacher for my AWANAs Trek class and asked him if he would teach. "I'm so sorry - it'll never happen again." Of course, he didn't mind; he's going to school to be an art teacher. I'm going to school to become a writer. So, it worked out.

However, with the loud television shows and writer's block, things were not looking up for me. I was staring at the Word document, and let me tell you, I had nothing! Finally, I X'ed out of that story and went looking thorough My Documents for some shred of remaining hope: a story I could finish in one day.

I knew my chances were slim. You see, about two years ago we bought a Vista. More than 2,000 dollars. Of my student loan. Do you see the mistake, here? My old computer won't start anymore, though, so I couldn't get the stories I had saved on it. I could only lean on my Vista.
But, lo and behold, I found it! A lively little stories told completely in a chat room - a little too random, but I straightened it up in time to watch a couple episodes of Maison Ikkoku before I went to bed.

Something is bothering me about the story, however. The way it ends leaves the reader to decide the right course of action for each character. But, I'm afraid the reader will interpret it as both points of view are correct in their own right. That's not what I mean at all!

What I want to show is that both characters are wrong and they'll need to take responsibility for their actions. You see, one is a teenage girl who is constantly bullied because she has cleft palette. Her parents are strict and don't believe in surgery; they believe God made her the way she is and she doesn't deserve the right to "fix" her condition because is would an affront to God.

By the way, here are a few websites for Cleft Palette organizations:

The other character is another teenage girl who lives almost inside a theme park. Unlike the first girl, she's very high-maintenance, ADD, OCD, and rough and tumble. She was born to teenage parents who tried to raise her, but due to emotional problems caused by both she and her parents, they were forced to leave her int he care of her grandparents.
I still feel a little guilty about how she talks. Because of her tough attitude and poor background, she uses foul language. Not as much as real people with her personality, because I cut it down, but there are vulgar words in my manuscript.

How does a Christian writer deal with that? It can't be denied that that's the way it in this world. The world is sinful and people use profanity. And to try to act like they don't, by not presenting the world the way it really is, causes Christian work to appear idealized. Non-believers would accuse us of being selfish if we acted like everybody says "what the hey" instead "Hell." But, the scriptures say "Do not cause anyone to stumble..." 1 Corinthians 10:32

Leading by example or leading by denouncing sin? Showing the world what is wrong and then showing them a better way. Perhaps this is how Christians should approach this issue. But, you should decide for yourself.