Thursday, September 22, 2011


I feel this title should actually read something like this:
Re-reading or how I avoid the to-be read stack that is a mile high and the 200 pages of right of publicity case law
but that just seems to be a bit too long don't you think? [and you all thought film school was about making film....]

Now, I will say my re-reading stack is considerably smaller than my to-be read pile.  I have a stack of about five books that get re-read at least once a year.  These are books who are either special to me because of when I discovered them or the characters never fail to wrap me in their stories.  I laugh, cry, and cringe in ALL the same places every time without fail.

They are a random assortment of books so YA some adult, some romance others sci-fi, and even a fantasy series or two.

I think sometimes I'm less adventurous than I should be with my reading skills.  I'll pick up all sorts of books [second hand bookstores are my favs!] and they will sit in my stack probably a year before I pick them up.  I always enjoy them, but if push comes to shove I'll reread one of my guaranteed best books.

Now the reason for this post.  When I started my most recent project I realized one fatal flaw, I'm writing a freaking dystopian novel.  If you check out the list below, there is not a dystopian novel on it [and yes for those of you who know my LOVE of the Hunger Games, will be surprised that HG be not on that list--that's another blog post].  

As I worried over how to grapple with this genre, someone suggested I read in the genre.  Well that's easy, but I'm always skeptical of Amazon reviews.  Mostly cause I'm weird and I read all the one star reviews, cause I find people's whiny-ness amusing.  Then by the end I don't learn anything useful about the book  This is where I hope some of my blogger friends will come in.  So I plan to read some dystopian, I mean I will not be allowed to re-read my favs until I have finished these new books.  Which I will say I have a book that ALWAYS gets reread at Christmas so there is a goal.  Plus, let's be honest, I need some variety in my life.

So tell me your fav dystopian novel and why (if your's is Hunger Games please suggest your second fav).  Or one you think I really should check out. Kay thanks!  

My Re-Read Pile: 
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith 
Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn 
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Mad, Bad Duke by Jennifer Ashley 
Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Welcome to Foxtrot's world....

So, today as promised I intend to give you all a taste of my crazy novel-child.  But I feel that just giving you a blurb about it, is not enough (because my current "summary" drives me crazy).  Plus they say a picture is worth a thousand words so here's some "words"  about the world in my novel.

For some sound effects...or songs that get me into Foxtrot's head you can look up the song Still Here by Superchick, Thistle and Weeds by Mumford and Sons, or Down by Jason Walker. (yeah, all those sound real uplifting...right?)

So this is where Foxtrot lives.

This is what the center of her city looks like.

Worst possible out could get infected.

Could there be a cure...

Above all else, one thing that can keep you safe.

So that's a little bit about the world my characters run around in.  I'm pretty sure it's not a place I want to live, but I seem to be spending quite a bit of time there.  My characters make it bearable.

Anyone else feel like sharing a bit about their novel world? (you can share en comments or do your own blog and leave me a link) 

Monday, September 19, 2011

In the beginning....

Right, in the beginning of me being a writer, I wrote and published things that were maybe not entirely my own. That is to say, I wrote fanfiction, and I'm not ashamed to say I did.  (Now keep in mind, I won't tell you which fandoms I wrote in or where these stories may or may not be published.)  But deep within some else's imagination I got my start in creating stories.

Now, I'd written some things up to that point in my life, but most of them were in journals that I buried in my room.

I should and do credit fanfiction with my formation as a writer because the sites I visited were invested in making their writers better.  By the time I left the site, it required at least 1000 words a chapter and they needed to see a semblance of story within the chapter.

I enjoyed writing fanfiction because like most kids who read I didn't want to leave the characters at the end of the story.  I wanted to know what happened next, and more importantly I wanted to be in control of what happened next (yes, I admit I have some control issues).

Fanfiction taught me how to grow characters, taking them on journeys to become the characters I wanted them to become.  Like what obstacles could I put in their way to  make them change.  What would they change for? It was a balancing act between reading and looking for clues within the published novel, and my own imagination.

I can't remember the day I started making my own stuff up. I think it was around the time, I found these pre-created worlds confining.  I wanted to go in another direction but the world wouldn't let me... So I scrapped the fanfiction thing and tried my hand at my own novel.

This has pretty much stuck with me.  Not that I rip off other people's text, but the research part.  I'll comb through huge volumes and webpages looking for some small insignificant detail that could spark a story.  Or I wait for a world to creep inside my head and place characters into it to see how they react.

Currently, I'm splitting my time between my dystopian novel (stick around for Wednesday to hear more about my crazy half fantasy half dystopian love child) and a sci-fi screen play (this is me having fun, because I've never done full screenplays before--sort of like a side project [and no, this will probably not be discussed yet])

Yup, that's my beginning, what's yours?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

TV--or why this week I may be absent.

So you know when mother's tell their kids to go outside and not watch so much TV?

heh....well my mother can't say that anymore, mostly cause it's homework.  No seriously.

Currently, I've been working my way through quite a few movies--again class.  (Sometimes I swear this film school this is BA--and I live in fear of telling other children what I do now for "school" because  this is just plain awesome).

But I digress....

Anyway this week for those of you who may be more cinephiles than tv-philes I'll let you in on a little secret we're in the middle of PREMIERS.  So between classes, watching stuff for class, reading for class (surprisingly lots to read in film school), and catching all the latest shows, I may be a little less than active this week.

(also I promise to catch up blogs I really do)

So for today, what TV show are you most looking forward to returning or starting out this fall?  Me, I'm totally digging Once Upon a Time....twisted fairytales you just can't go wrong!

Monday, September 12, 2011


Last week my friend (hi Emily!) and I had a conversation about the word serious and how it applied to our writing.  On the one hand you have the definition (at least the one I feel applies to writing) of serious as:    
Being in earnest; sincere; not trifling

And on the other, there was me interpreting the word serious as: 
Having absolutely NO fun because you're too worried about being serious.

Here we have an intersection between connotation and denotation.  The denotation being the actual definition and the connotation being my freak out mode when the word "serious" is applied to me.  But my friend insisted, I was a serious writer (which from her is a TOTAL compliment). 

But I had to disagree with her.

I freaked out, cause I don't consider myself to be a serious writer (at least by my definition).

Emily was totally cool at handling my freak out and explained how I was totally and awesomely a serious writer.

 Tiny voice (yes it visits me so often  and it just won't shut-up) came back and in a bit of a snit.  Because I was still thinking of being "serious" in my connotation of the word.

For me being serious, in my mind, is like kissing a kid with chicken pocks and KNOWING the kid has chicken pocks.  Just replace chick pocks with writers block.  It's asking to be sick.  I do what I do because I have fun while I do it.  When I try to make myself be all "serious" as in a set schedules, make outlines, and forcing myself to experience the story, I find my attention wandering.  The story evokes a stale taste in my mouth and Tiny voice comes back, extremely angry, to say WHAT WHAT WHAT are you doing.

I can't put two words on a page that I like.  I can't even put two words on a page that I don't like. So I go back and write like a I do.  You know on the fly, spur of the moment, with three chapters in my head and nothing beyond that point.  I grab some music and my tiny laptop and stand at my kitchen count (cause I can't dance at a desk) and write.

Now I would love to someday be paid for what I write or what I think up, but the main reason I do the creative things I do is not for the hopeful payday, but because  I enjoy what I do.  I like to put words down on a page that make sense when read from left to right (I know, I'm not cool enough to be experimental....yet).  These things I do, in my mind, without seriousness. 

Which is a lie, of sorts.  I don't want you all to think I'm not professional when I write or interact with other writers.  Or that I'm just a frivolous girl out to be a "writer" without any real drive.  I have drive.  I have desire to be better.

That makes me serious, I suppose, in the denotation sense.  I have crit partners, I read, I'm slowly figuring out this whole publishing process.  By the dictionary, I'm SOOOO serious.  

But in my mind, I'm not so at ALL.  If I think of myself like that, I freeze.

Slowly, I am coming around to see myself as a serious writer, but I'm still looking for a better word.  Any suggestions?  Are there words that stop you in your tracks?  How do you deal with them?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The never ending question.

I feel this post has rambled a bit from where I originally started.  Originally I wanted to share my story.  But then I realized my story seems to small and insignificant.  It is not so much my story as where this story has brought me.  You are more than welcome to skip this post, or read here and there as you will. This is my story of that day and my feelings toward what I can and cannot remember.  This is not just about not forgetting, our stories will forever cement that day in our social consciousness.  

Tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 and the question flying both on that day and every anniversary since then seems to be: where were you?

In the ten years since this event, I've answered this question a hundred times and have dissected my actions a million times.

That September I was a teenager, running full throttle through the first full month of school.  Concerned, I'm sure with theater auditions and homework.  In the ten years since the day, I've tried to piece together what I remember.

To put it simply I was in school, walking down a the hallway from my core classes to the gym for PE.  Whispers flew this way and that, snip-its and snatches of what might have happened.  I ignored them.  I didn't have time to get the whole story, because I had ten minutes to get from one end of the building to the other and change for class.

The moment I stepped into the gym--on time--I received my first piece of information.  My teacher asked for a moment of silence because someone had blown up one of the Twin Towers...

...the next thing I can remember is later that afternoon, I was sitting in my babysitter's car (because my parents were supposed to be flying out to a conference--which didn't happen) waiting in a long line for gas.  That one moment on a hot Kansas afternoon sticks out as a lonely island in a sea of obscurity.

I don't know what happened on that day.  Or the events I do remember do not fall into any sort of chronological order.  Even me walking down the hall is the one shining moment before the world changed. I have tried to recall the events from the rest of the that day.  Attempted to bring up feelings or even when I finally got the "real" information.  But for me it's a very large span of time of convoluted emotions--the most prominent of which was fear and confusions nips at fears heels.

I can remember crying and I can remember wanting to see my parents.   I can remember talking to a friend, and the exact placement of furniture in the living room of my parents house.  They bob to the surface briefly and sink back down without any real regularity.

As I'm certain most people in my age group have done, I've recounted this story in a number of classes dissected it for every reason my teacher could want.  But the thing that always frustrates me is my inability to relate the whole story in a way that makes sense.  All that remain are what my script teacher calls "gleaming details."

At least once a year, I pull these details out and sift through them, trying make sense of what happened (then and now) and each time I come to something different.  This year for me it's the loss of time.  The fact that the one day that changed my world, is a day I really can't remember. Do I blame myself, no.  I was thirteen. The mind is just not meant to meant to hold onto those details and I didn't write any of it down.

We come together to share our stories about what happened to remember a day that for many of us will never be forgotten.  This is where I was, and where I go I will carry my stories and the stories I read with me.  They will teach me, hold me and haunt me.  A year from now I wonder where will I be and what will I find among the gleaming details next.

The question I feel that always goes unasked is this: this is where we were on 9/11, where will we go next?  We will always remember, the sheer number of stories being shared is a testament to that, but how will we honor those whose stories stopped that day?

The first time I remember pushing back against the fear was the summer of 2002.  My parents had planned a trip to Washington DC long before what happened on 9/11.  They wanted my brother and I to experience A Capitol Fourth.  We flew out to DC on the 4th of July 2002.  I remember my mother telling me that if I let the fear of getting on a plane keep me in Kansas then the terrorist had done their job.

The initial fear, I feel has morphed, with the new regulations at airports, racial profiling, a war.  We've changed.  And not always for the better.  But not always for the worst either.  Every year we take steps forward and back, but the tally will never equal a time before the fall of 2001.

How will we change the world again?  How do we go forward remembering the tragedy but striving to change to make the future better as a way to honor those who died?  Going forward not with anger or terror, but the small details in our daily lives.  How will your own stories challenge you to change?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Turn Ons

Okay, so before you all think my mind is in the gutter, hold on for five seconds--or five sentences....

Last night on #writersroad chat (for those of you who don't know what this is-- it's a tweet chat held every Monday at 6PM (PST).  It's crazy and a ton of fun!) we talked about taking your writing serious.  Now, we can create habits or just smack words down on to the page, but one thing that always comes out is what if I just don't feel like writing.  If I'm not in the mood, so to speak, should I write?  Because I'm sure it'll be crap and I'll delete it tomorrow.

Now add in me also reading a romance novel last night and it got my brain thinking..... well like other things in life, can we manufacture the mood to make us want to write?

This morning I woke up early--like a whole hour before my alarm.  I thought about laying in bed until my alarm went off then I had the following conversation with myself:

Tiny voice in my mind: Girl, you wanna be a writer, get your butt out of bed and go write.


Ting voice: No, I'm serious!  Write.  NOW.

Me: I don't feel like it.  Maybe later? Like tomorrow?

Tiny voice: You could make coffee and then write.

Me: Did someone say coffee?

Tiny voice: Yes and music you could listen to that music you like...

Needless to say I hauled myself out of bed and sat down at my computer.  For a moment I stared at the screen.  I don't write in the EVER.  I didn't really even feel like writing this morning.  Mostly my brain, I feel just isn't in it's fully functional creative state.  But thanks to Tiny voice, I was doing just that.  So to put myself in the mood, I provided something highly caffeinated, music (to inspire me) and my computer spit out some words.

And nothing happened, I really wasn't feeling it.  But when are you going to find the time? Tiny voice popped in and clearly it didn't get the hint to shut up so it continued, If not now, when?  I go to school and it's picking up work wise, and I gotta prep for NANOWRIMO (my brother's going DOWN...again).  So I put on some music that always screams my story to me and got to it.

By the time the first song wrapped, I was feeling in the mood to write.  In forty-five minutes before my alarm went off I got just under 800 words (and most of them aren't too shabby).

So how to you get yourself into the writing mood? Can you pull it out of thin air or do you wait for it to strike?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Flash-itize me, Captain

So it's the first challenge of the campaign writers and readers!  Rachael has challenged us all to you know write a short tight little piece of fiction.  The challenge as most of you know (because I read your blogs) is a 200 word short that must begin with the words "The door swung open."   I have problems sometimes keeping things small and well, not complicated.  But I think I have managed this.  Hopefully you like my flash fiction.

The Trouble With Glass Slippers

The door swung open releasing me into the night.  A sharp edge on my slipper catches on the fine carpet of the stairs.  The jolt sends me into the marble bannister, searing my blood soaked dress to my skin.

My step-mother constantly informs me I am too impatient, she wants me to learn control.   Washing floors and cleaning house are not my idea of control.  If anything it bred within me the need to prove my skills.  She has no faith in me, preferring her offspring over me.

This assignment wasn’t supposed to be so messy.   The mess has been trained out of me, all I know is slick and silent ways to kill.  I know how to sneak up on targets and divest them of life before they are any the wiser.

Boots pound on the terrace above me.  I don’t suppose I could hope for a clean escape after that escapade.  Who knew a body could hold so much blood or fight back when it had lost so much of it?
I yank at my foot but the chipped glass is caught fast.  I slip off the offending slipper and sprint for freedom.

Wells readers that's can tell me what you think or just read for enjoyment. (And if you'd like to vote/like it I'm number 126) I'm looking forward to popping around to all of the other blogs.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

10 Things You Might Not Know.....

Okay so that's a little misleading, because most of you (most of you campaigners) have never met me or communicated with me on a regular basis. But as a get to know you game (because really name games don't work on blogs....they just don't.) So in no particular order here goes ten random things about me, Gretchen Schreiber.

10. I can do a thumbs up with my toes (yes there is a 90 degree angle created between my big toe and the other toes)

9. At one point (like college freshman year) I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist.

8. Number 9 did NOT happen and I am currently getting my masters in film at a kick ass school (yes I am accepting film rights...but be warned I have no money with which to pay you for them. So we'll need to do a Stephen King.)

7. I feel I should mention this, but if something I write seems off it might be sarcasm....actually it's probably sarcasm....

6. The scariest thing I've ever done was throw a book at a doctor's head....yes, I hit was a high fantasy book....I apologized A LOT.

5. I watch way more reality TV shows than I should.

4. I grew up in a state where the only thing that can catch the horizon is the plains....this is a place also known as Kansas. I kinda like it there.

3. Research intrigues me, especially in subjects like war and fairytales....both of which I've written/am writing about.

2. I have a basket that looks like a duck and it holds my favorite writing block solver, a toy called "tangle." Basically, you can twist turn pull through and it never tangles.

1. I drink Pepsi out of my Santa Clause Coke glasses.

There you have it folks, ten random things from my life. Also bonus fact, I seem to love the ellipsis...

Also, Dystopian people I feel we should talk, or do something....cause we're in a group....and you all seem awesome (also you campaigners in general are awesome)....yeah.