Difficult scene in Diamond

Hello readers! I mentioned before that I had writer’s block. Well, I revised a chapter and wrote a few more, and the book is now at 30,400 words. Today was extremely difficult- I had to go through a section dealing with the main character’s violent rape at porn shoot (she was an unwilling victim), and this mirrors recurring dreams I have had about a similar violation.

Still, I am glad to be through that segment, and I am hoping that I can power through the rest of the book fairly soon. The rest of the book still has some trigger points for me, and it’s the holiday season, so I know it won’t be finished this year- but I am hoping to get significantly more done before the end of the year.

I’m very pleased with today’s progress. It’s really interesting to me how writing about my dreams unlocks what feel like me to be actual memories. This has been happening to me a lot since starting Diamond, back in the summer. Today’s revelation, which I will keep to myself and a few trusted friends, is quite interesting. Not everyone remains nameless forever.

Happy Holidays from the Deep State

Buckle up, buttercups- the ride’s not over yet. This card-carrying member of the Deep State (so deeply undercover I actually don’t know if I’m a member or not) suspects there’s a lot more to come soon.

I keep thinking it would be nice to have impeachment cocktail recipes ready just in case- is anyone good at inventing drinks? What might be in an Orange Russian? Tweet me your suggestions at @bent_elizabeth on Twitter, or toot them to me at @Ebent on Counter Social (www.counter.social).

In other news, I have recovered from a recent bout of illness, and while it’s resulted in writer’s block, I feel like I can break through that if I get time to myself this weekend. I expect to go to a coffee shop and barrel my way through a chapter or two just because I need to get my momentum back, and I want to finish Diamond soon.

I’m pretty happy with Infinity– I do not have copies up for sale but I am sharing homemade ebooks with a select few, and of course, my mother is getting a paper printout in a binder because she is special. I hope to sell Infinity and Diamond both, but of course, Diamond is far more personal and difficult to write, and longer- so it will take me a while to finish it.

 

Thanksgiving

This past Thursday was US Thanksgiving (as opposed to Real Thanksgiving which is in mid-October, in Canada). It was a pleasant day and I’ve reflected that I have much to be thankful for.

My life has been a bit nomadic and rootless, not by choice, and I’ve had some help reflecting on that today. I would have chosen a different life if I had been able to see where my choices were leading me, but I think even with the mistakes I made I have had a pretty decent life. I am in a pretty good place now, though of course I’m not content with everything- there are some things I would like to change. But despite everything I’ve managed to make things work fairly well for myself, and I hope in the coming year I’m able to keep making things in my life increasingly better.

May you be safe, warm, happy and loved now, through the coming holiday season, and in the year to come.

So I’m Cinderella

Hey, so I am part of a Facebook group devoted to fighting for better gun control (it was founded after the Pulse nightclub shooting), and I got a little note in my notifications that Samantha Bee has had an episode devoted to gun control. The idea was that we all should contact Sam and thank her for her putting the issue in the spotlight.

So I wrote to the email identified, and I did something a little whimsical. I signed, after my name, “aka Cinderella”.

This name and I go back a little bit, back to 2007 and the LA Writer’s Strike. I was unaware of the strike- I’m a scientist- and I didn’t realize these men and women were exhausted after a day of picketing. I just wanted to go to Starbucks and get myself a coffee. I was annoyed- the patio was full of people that were slouching around and no one moved when I asked to get by so I could get a coffee. I think someone  asked me if I was a writer. I write novels for fun, so I said “yes” and they asked me if I was working. I was working as a scientist, so I said “yes”.

To compound this PR nightmare, I think I met Seth MacFarlane and was very rude to him. I also think he scared me so incredibly much that I ran away from him, and since I was wearing floppy old sandals, they started coming off my feet. I panicked and left one behind, reaching down to snatch up the other and literally run away.

I hid in a couple of stores for a while until I was calmer and made my way back- I don’t know for sure, but I think Mila Kunis found me and convinced me to go back for my sandal- and when I returned it was even more terrifying for me. I was focused only on getting my other sandal back and running away yet again.

I don’t know what happened but I managed to get away from all the scary people- funny story, I think Alex Borstein (or someone that looked like her) showed up and asked what was going on and I thought she was just a concerned passerby. I hugged her  and asked her to protect me from Seth and the others. Wow, right? Anyway, eventually I ran away and someone asked me what I was doing “now” and since of course I have no idea what that means to screenwriters I thought of my job as a scientist and I said I was working on “saving the world.” Something like that. So I wasn’t lying.

That was what, over a decade ago? I haven’t thought too much about those incidents- my primary goal for many years was simply to banish them as nightmarish thoughts- but lately they’ve returned to my conscious mind as something rather funny. I am not sure I can use this in writing- I mean, it is too cliché, me losing a sandal? Granted, it was an old, ugly, probably smelly, leather flat instead of a fancy glass slipper and I was wearing cutoffs, a tank top, and a white shirt instead of a ball gown, but the reference there is clear. I can’t write about this rather comical (in hindsight) encounter.

Anyway, yes, my brush with fame was to insult people, act completely crazy, hide ASAP, and try to stay hidden. I figure I did a good job, and so I’m not worried about putting this little story on this blog- it gets very little traffic, so I’m pretty safe.

If this does get some attention, can someone tell Seth MacFarlane I said hi? I sent him flowers for his birthday, I hope he liked them. It’s a bit annoying, I’ve been trying to apologize for years and I have no way to reach him.

Liz

PS- readers who like my fiction, I’ve finished editing Infinity, my most recent completed novel, and later today I hope to get back to working on Diamond. I have been sidetracked by science project planning (details here) and also by the fact that Diamond covers some difficult subject matter. If you recall, it’s the story of how a woman overcomes incredible odds to triumph over her stalkers, with a little supernatural help.

A few odd dreams, or memories… and #MeToo

I’ve frequently said I base my writing on dreams, or dreamlike snippets of memory arising from trauma.

Here are a few:

  1. Walking down the street near Luvafair in Vancouver (a now defunct nightclub, Seymour St., near Drake), and being grabbed from behind, needle, darkness.
  2. Waking up in the dark, crawling to a door- I find my clothes outside and grab them, run to the first place I can’t be observed, put them on, go outside- why am I in Coal Harbour? The buses are no longer running. I get a cab home.
  3. A wealthy family steps outside a hotel and I walk past them on the street, intent on my destination: one of them, a dark-haired man, looks at me with wide eyes and someone says “It’s her.”
  4. Why does my favourite skirt, the one I was wearing at Luvafair, have a giant rip in it?
  5. Who is this dark-haired man, at a party thrown by strangers, who says he knows me, then  leers?
  6. Vague memory of someone trying to give me a needle- I grab the syringe, force the liquid out, before it can be injected.
  7. Why did my former roommate Marcia mail me two shirts, later ask for them back, and get angry with me when I washed them?
  8. Vague memory of a voice saying “Get her on the boat.”

Little pieces, bits and pieces, but they’re coalescing into an interesting story. I am thinking this might go into a newer story that’s in my queue to write. Title TBA.

Interestingly enough, I have suffered PTSD- not necessarily from this, but the initial recollection of several of these points have been enough to trigger anxiety attacks.

I also know I’ve been raped- maybe or maybe not in Vancouver, but most definitely elsewhere. #MeToo.

Update on progress

I’ve been busy submitting writing ideas to the WGA West registry- submitted yet another yesterday. I won’t list or describe all of them, but there are fourteen, based mostly on dreams I’ve had since February 2013 (though two books are based on writing I did while in high school).

I’ve also been trying to get some work done on Diamond. I’ve given myself a deadline of six weeks to finish it. I streamlined the plot a bit today and I have about 22,000 words written so far. As long as I am not derailed or sidetracked I can finish this project this year. This, plus some edits to my prior work Infinity, will mean I’ve finished two books this year.

 

With apologies to J.K. Rowling

Last year I wrote a very silly short story which I had tentatively titled, “Care and Feeding of Magical Creatures”, but as you can see from the below this is not set anywhere in the Harry Potter universe. It does borrow slightly from those books, though, and so it is with some trepidation I offer this little story to Ms. Rowling as yet another fan fiction tribute.

-Liz

Care and Feeding of Magical Creatures (with apologies to J.K. Rowling)
“What do you mean, the ciders are all gone?”

“They’re not in the fridge. They’re gone.”

“Who drank them?”

Everyone shrugged.

“Well,” David said impatiently, “they can’t just have up and disappeared.”

Everyone looked at Sunni.

“Why are you all looking at me?” she asked. “Just because I drank them last time doesn’t mean I drank them this time.”

“Well, we will just have to get some more and hope they don’t up and disappear again,” David said, sighing.

There was a belch from the potted plant hanging above Mark’s desk. Its long, luxuriant vines rustled.

“What the hell?”

Mark picked up a pen and poked at the rustling leaves at the base of the pot.

A crushed cider can flew up in an arc from the pot and landed on Sunni’s desk, and there was another belch.

Everyone stared at the plant.

A small, fluffy pink face emerged from the leaves. It hiccupped. Tiny rainbow wings fluttered on the creature’s back.

“Mark?” David asked. “Why is there a drunken pink unicorn with wings hiding in your plant?”

“I have no idea,” Mark said, fumbling with his phone.

“No one will believe this,” he said, aiming his phone at the creature.

The unicorn hiccupped again and raised one hoof, pointing at Mark’s phone.

Expelliarmus,” it muttered, and Mark’s phone flew out of his hands and landed next to the crushed can on Sunni’s desk. There was a crackling noise.

“Awww, damn it,” Mark said, picking up his phone. Its face was crackled, broken.

“Now your phone looks like my phone!” Sunni said brightly.

“It’s using Harry Potter magic on us,” David said grimly. “Who here reads Harry Potter?”

“I’ve read some,” Sunni said. All of them were staring at the unicorn, which belched again.

“Not bad considering it must have drunk its body weight in cider,” Mark observed.

“Try Riddiculus,” Sunni suggested. “Visualize it as a stuffed animal that can’t move as you point your wand.”

They all looked at each other.

“Does anyone have a ruler? Or a laser pointer?” David said, finally.

Mark rummaged around in his desk.

“Here’s one,” he said, handing a laser pointer to David.

“Why are you handing it to me? It’s your unicorn.”

“It’s your idea to use a laser pointer,” Mark said.

Accio wand,” said the unicorn, and David yelped as the laser pointer in his hand tugged toward the pot.

“What was that thing you said, Sunni?” David cried, hanging on to the wand.

The unicorn grinned, and David scowled at it.

Riddiculus,” Sunni repeated.

Riddiculus,” David yelled, waving the laser pointer.

Nothing happened for a few moments, then the unicorn grew slightly bigger. It leered at Sunni.

“Bring more cider,” it said in its high-pitched voice.

There was a rumbling sound in the distance- the janitor was making his daily rounds on the floor-polishing mini-Zamboni.

Sunni scowled.

“There are three of us,” she said, “and only one of you.”

The unicorn hiccupped again.

“I’m a lovable magical creature,” it slurred, and hiccupped again.

“More,” it demanded, and fell out of the plant pot. It fluttered drunkenly in the air.

“Get him!” Sunni yelled, and Mark, who was closest to the unicorn, grabbed it. The unicorn made a gurgling noise and escaped his grip. Sunni opened the door to the office and kicked the fluttering unicorn out into the hallway, just as the janitor’s mini-Zamboni was passing by. There was a horrifying crunching sound as the unicorn was run over and pulverized, followed by the scent of bubblegum and strawberries.

The janitor just kept driving along, apparently not noticing anything amiss.

“Don’t steal our alcohol,” Sunni said darkly, looking at the scented pink smear on the floor that once was the unicorn.

“Fucking magical creatures, infesting our office,” David muttered. “You OK?”

He directed this last question at Mark, who was wiping his hands on a paper towel.

“I think it barfed on me,” said Mark, looking disgusted.

“I don’t know about you all,” said Sunni, hugging herself, “but I could use a drink.”

The three students looked at each other.

Eventually, David spoke.

“Do you think there are fluffy pink unicorns in the Grad Lounge?”

“Only if you’ve been there too long,” said Sunni, taking the laser pointer, and crossing her arms.

Black Arrow

I wrote this in 2006. It is about life trajectories- some are more convoluted than others.

Black Arrow

a master archer shot you, black arrow

straight and true into your target

and I, thistledown

wafting here and there on errant breezes

connecting softly with random things

our journeys are very different

and as I spin, and watch you fly past me

I can’t help but notice

you are fletched with thistledown

At work on Diamond, and other things

Hello readers!

I’m pleased to announce that a long period of constantly being barraged with odd ideas is ending for me, and I’ve managed to sit down and puzzle through the different bits of stories I have, and I’ve made a few editorial decisions. Bear with me- I did all this while proofreading my mother’s 120,000-word fairy tale book and she does not speak English as a first language, so that was actually a lot of work.

So I’ve decided to take the concept I wrote about in my last post, that of someone going undercover, and using it with a story concept I am calling Cloak. The plot of Cloak is going to draw heavily on current events with the Trump administration, so I am going to keep watching the news and taking notes. In fact, I need to be taking more notes on recent events.

I’ve plotted Diamond, and I like it. It draws heavily on my alternate lives- episodes I’ve frequently dreamed about, which seem real to me, but which I have no objective evidence for. I’ve been told they are likely to be delusions. If they are, they are non-bizarre (in the clinical sense, meaning they could plausibly happen on Earth- they’re still fairly strange), sometimes frightening, and sometimes completely awe-inspiring. I’ve also drawn from a few real events in my life. I think a lot of people will like the goddesses that I’m choosing to include, and I hope to make them not simply a plot device but fairly important characters in their own rights. I’m waiting a few more days before I try starting to write Diamond since I’ve been changing my mind constantly about what goes in and what characters to include, but I think I’ve got a fairly winning formula now and I think you’ll enjoy reading the book when it’s done.

I did think about messing with Infinity, but I don’t think the scenes I wanted to add will add much to the book- in fact, they may strain the credulity of the readers. I was going to do all sorts of weird crap with black holes, thinking it might be more exciting, but in reality it would be just silly. Not every idea I have while quasi-ill is a good idea. I’m pleased with the book as it stands, though I admit it’s a bit of an odd romantic yarn. I like it but I honestly do not know what others may think, and the people I have reading it now have not gotten back to me about it yet.

Before I dealt with my most recent bout of illness, I had been replotting Anagama and I am also much happier with that new plot. This will be the third time I’ve done this with this particular story. I actually think the new book will be much, much better now, but I still need to write 95% of it (I am only keeping the first five chapters, and may cannibalize other later chapters, but I’m not keeping them as is). I’m kind of torn about which book to work on first, Anagama or Diamond, as I like them both. In the past I’ve successfully been able to write more than one project at a time, and I might try doing that for these two books, switching from one to the other when I need breaks.

And, of course, on top of all of this I’m busy reading about business plans- this is actually easy-sounding, but I’m not really cut out for writing one since my mind keeps wandering- because I’m trying to put together documents that would describe the research I want to do and its potential impacts, social, scientific, and economic, on North America and elsewhere. I’m doing this so I have something to show philanthropists or funding organizations when I start seeking funding to continue with Project: Cancer-Fighting Gut bacteria at UCLA. Because I don’t know how to only do one thing at a time, there’s also a really great project I want to help with dealing with soil bacteria and agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation that I’d basically hand off to my employer’s lab in Canada once I find money for it. I do think the soil work is important, and could revolutionize how we treat soils and manure piles to greatly reduce emissions- there may be economic benefits to technologies produced this way also, if we do things right. I have a cost estimate for what the project would take and it seems reasonable to me.

I’m hoping I can raise enough via Project: Cancer-Fighting Gut Bacteria to get adjunct status at a university somewhere so I can start submitting grants for things like the greenhouse gas mitigation project, also. It bothers me that the current White House administration is so anti-science, since now is the time to be pouring money into efforts to slow and reverse climate change, not ignore the problem until it becomes unmanageable.

So if you were wondering why I am so unproductive as a writer, it’s because I am (a) bipolar and frequently sick, and (b) I’m simultaneously trying to do something which is both important and difficult for me, which is fundraise a significant amount of money for scientific research.

I hope you have a great day!

Liz

Incubating stories

I’ve had dreams and insights hit me hard and fast in the past few weeks, especially yesterday and today. I need to sort through all the story notes I have made for my different books, notably Diamond, and determine what characters will be in it and what they will do.

One idea that I like in Diamond is that the main character goes into an underworld under cover, taking on a different identity in order to flush out rapists who attacked her. I’m turning this one over in my mind quite a lot, and I like it. In order to make the book fit into one novel (or screenplay), I have to be judicious about what details I include, and I think I will focus mainly on the main character’s journey from being vulnerable and victimized to being stronger, wiser, and ultimately triumphant over her enemies. In Diamond the main character is divinely inspired by kick-ass and smart goddesses, and they guide her through her process of transformation.

I’m also working on several other book ideas, but I feel once I have finished with Infinity (I may add extra scenes) I’ll get going on Diamond.