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Flash Fiction: Fright Night

Posted by Rachel on October 28, 2016 in characters, discovery, reading, writer's sketch, writing |

He works long hours in the fields. Back-breaking work, he says each night, but still he returns to the fields every sunrise. I’d help if I could. That’s out of the question now, however. An unfortunate tractor injury has kept me inside, confined to canning and prepping our harvest for market. But those fields aren’t going to tend to themselves…so we’ve hired help.

I watch the group of them work, laboring under the hot sun. Sweating enough to fill the horse troughs. Something about the glistening, sun-soaked bodies makes me miss it. Their muscles tense and taut, as if they will nearly burst apart their skin. That’s where I belong, to be honest–after all, canning has never been for me. I’d sooner trade my life than willingly put myself through another season of this. I’m not sure what’s worse, the waiting while each batch is bubbling, or feeling like I’m losing my mind by misplacing jars and tops, never to find them again.

Come to think of it, more than just the jars have gone missing. My great-grandfather’s boiling pot isn’t on the top shelf where I last put it. And the other day I couldn’t find any packets of jello left. They’re my husband’s favorite. I assume the hands we hired have sticky fingers and empty stomachs. Either way, I’ve made due. Although, boiling jars in a substandard pot means boil overs burns are far more likely.

No surprise when one such boil-over nearly peeled a patch of the skin on my hand right off. I’ve been sentenced to bed rest as per my husband’s orders. I told him this burn didn’t require that kind of rest, but I obliged to sooth his worries. Yet each day, as he tends to the fields, I swear I hear someone inside the house. I’ll call out, but there’s no response. From the nearby window I can see the field hands outside, but still the clanging and chiming of noise downstairs carries on throughout the day.

After so many instances, I can’t take it anymore and check from the top of the stairs. I call out to whoever may be down there, but like always there’s no reply. I tell my husband at night someone has been in the kitchen. Chopping. Boiling. Canning. He tells me the stress of not meeting our quote has gone and spoiled my thoughts. He tells me after tomorrow’s day of work, he’ll prepare a meal for me himself, to calm my worries this time.

I wait the entire day, shuddering at each jingle of noise from downstairs. I can’t count everyone in the field like days before. Someone is missing this time. Perhaps that explains to noise. Perhaps my dearest is getting a jump on tonight’s meal. Finally, he appears in the doorway. He has an apron on and a smile like nothing I’ve ever seen. Dinner is served he says. I make my way down, one stair at a time, to witness a holidays worth of food spread across our dining room table. Fruits of our labor, he says.

Seated under the flickering light of the dining room, we tuck in. He scoops spoonfuls of deliciousness onto my plate, filling it up until no piece of the china remains visible. He is careful to watch me as I consume the meal. Each mouthful I take gives him a sense of glee, something that shimmers–but not a twinkle in his eye, rather…in his teeth, almost.

As my plate is cleaned, I peer across the table to the shelf above the fridge where new cans lay filled. Their contents a deep earthen red, tightly packed inside the glass. I cannot place what vegetable could create such a meaty hue, but my husband is more than please with them. His smile breaks so wide his face appears to split.

It is then I’m asked, How does he taste?

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2016 Fall TV Round Up

Posted by Rachel on October 12, 2016 in current event, discovery, review |

I usually review half a dozen or so new shows each fall but this season didn’t have many that drew my attention, but these four are captivating ideas I had to check out. Here are my 2016 Fall TV Reviews:

The Good Place – The concept is super clever. A woman finds herself dead and in “the good place” but her identity has been mixed up with another and she doesn’t actually belong there. It’s incredibly funny and brings up a lot of fun questions about how you evaluate someone’s life. On top of that, the actual good place is designed to reflect the most ideal neighborhood imaginable, complete with froyo on every corner! Moreover, everyone meets their actual soul mate and there’s a an on-call service like Siri who can answer or provide anything to you. I think this show has solid ground to stand on and could develop into something fantastic but despite the comedy and twists in the first few episodes, I’m not completely convinced. I’ll keep watching to find out!

Designated Survivor- The idea of a designated survivor becoming the President after a terrorist attack is certainly interesting, but the execution feels a little short sighted. The newly appointed President faces troubles from the remaining congress-folk as well as many constituents not backing him after the attack. It feels like there’s almost too much drama, inevitably making the twists is a little obvious. The overly dramatic story continues to bank on said drama without really looking too far into potential future development which leaves the concept feeling lack-luster and wrapped up already just after a few episodes. I probably won’t stick around, I have much stronger political dramas on my list already, but it could be fun for the right viewer.

Timeless- The opening is a little slow to this new speculative drama, but as a big lover of spec fic, I was inclined to push through. To begin with, the concept of needing to go back in time to save certain catastrophic events by keeping them catastrophic is wonderfully tantalizing. How would you handle being plopped into history knowing something awful would happen? The team knows their present isn’t perfect but needs protecting, which means protecting the mistakes of the past. However, the whimsical plot suffers from a cliched villain, a cliched soldier trope, and an episodic feel that ultimately will grow tiresome. The main characters, Lucy and Rufus are awesome, so perhaps they can save my interest in the show but I’m not sure this one will stick around long if they don’t make the problems harder to solve.

Pitch- Well, folks, this is the show I was born to watch! Yes, it’s that good! Despite some personal triggers this show creates that makes it a little tough to watch, I’ve powered through in favor of supporting such a much-needed concept. The story grabs your heartstrings from the get-go and is a heartwarming, realistic view of that a sports story should look like in this day and age. The tension is smart, and propels a very important gender discussion that it handles with class and care. Ginny is an inspiration and her challenges can be felt at all levels of the story. This is a show families can watch to help address gender stereotypes and hopefully break down walls between each other. Can’t wait for more. Must watch!

What shows have you been tuning into this fall? Anything I should put on my radar?

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BiWeek Bibliomania

Posted by Rachel on September 20, 2016 in characters, current event, reading, romance |

This un-bi-lievable list is brought to you by my endless search for bi stories. So haters can say bi, bi, bi, and all the cool kids can hoard these bi-utiful stories till their hearts content *bi-five* Sorry not sorry but my sexuality has the best puns 😉

Before proceeding, let’s clear up what bisexuality means to me:

That’s the bestest way for me to describe it. Got it? Swell, let’s move on.

I’ve read a crap-ton of these stories and you know what I’ve found? While the characters and myself identify as bi (or under said umbrella), we are all very different people and I don’t connect with every single one of them. Some feel like I’m reading in front of a mirror. Some I see pieces of my life, my actions, my personality but not the whole. Others are unrelatable to me because I don’t feel what they feel at all. YAY! Why yay, you ask? Because this proves there is no one single bi story out there or one single way to be bi. Within pieces of the queer spectrum there is an even deeper spectrum. Think of it like the rainbow, there are main colors but within those colors are additional hues and tones. I think that’s awesome.

For this wonderful week celebrating this wonderful piece of the rainbow, here are some incredible stories you should bi (buy) and read:

 

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Coda by Emma Trevayne

Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Just Girls by Rachel Gold

Love in a Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Over You by Amy Reed

Pantomime by Laura Lam

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

 

Bi the way, there are many others I would categorize as having bi characters, but since those do not explicitly state they are bi, I’ve kept them off the list. This is by no means a comprehensive collection, either. Please check out goodreads or ask around for others because there are a lot I’m still digging to get through on my TBR. And thankfully, in the months/year to come there are a bunch of new bi books to explore! Be sure to keep an eye out x) Happy #BiVisibilityWeek, everyone!

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Mastering PitchWars

Posted by Rachel on September 1, 2016 in current event, editing, outline, plot, query, structure, voice, writing, writing tips |

Yay! You’ve won PitchWars! You were chosen by a mentor and everything is awesome, right?

WRONG.

No, just kidding, it is pretty awesome! But the work has only just begun. There’s two-ish months between now and the showcase and there’s a lot left to do. When I was a mentee in PW14, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I’m willing to bet a lot of you are feeling the same way. I know it would’ve been super helpful to know what I’d actually gotten myself into, so here are some tips:

Make a plan: Whether this is something you sort out with your mentor(s), with writing buddies, or by yourself, make sure to create a plan around how you’ll attack edits. Know when you’re available to write and stick to it!

Listen to your mentor(s): They are doing their best to help get your book into better shape so it’ll not only be ready for the showcase but whatever should come after. Listen to their suggestions, take their points into consideration, be open to investing a lot of time to make your book the best it can be.

Talk things over: Whether you’re pumped about edits or really confused, make sure to get in touch with your CPs or friends from the PW group to see if those changes resonate them with as well. They’re the perfect sounding board to help you decide what’s best so use them 🙂

Don’t worry about others: Surely you’ve connected with other PitchWars peeps by now, and perhaps you know what their mentor(s) suggested for fixes, but don’t worry about it. Don’t compare yourself to them. If they have much less to do or much more to do, the situation varies by book and by team so don’t over think it.

Do the scary thing: If you’re hesitant to cut a character or add new scenes, do the scary thing. If you’re not sure about changing the dialogue or removing that sentence you love, do the scary thing. Do it!

Listen to your gut: Remember, though, trust your gut. If something feels off, you’ll know it. If something feels right, you’ll know that too, even if it scares you. Make sure to remember this in all steps of this process.

Take breaks: Time is precious in PW, but so is your health and sanity. Don’t push yourself to the breaking point. Don’t overdo it because you think otherwise you’ll fail. Give yourself time to write and time away from the project as well.

Perfect your query: While your manuscript is obviously the most important piece of writing you want to polish, don’t neglect your query. As you improve your novel, write new versions of your query to match. This will keep you prepared and ready for whatever should come.

The showcase isn’t the end all be all: Take a deep breath when the showcase comes around. Those two months go fast. If you get ten requests, one request, or none, just consider it another step in the process. Don’t build it up to be the end all, be all of your career. Live it, learn from it.

Keep working: After the showcase closes, a new chapter is beginning in your writing journey. The varied paths in front of you all have different demands, but whatever they are, keep working. Keep writing. Make the most of what you learned from this adventure!

Even though these tips were written for those who have been chosen for PitchWars, they are easily applicable to people who were not chosen and have to organize the next step of their journey as well. Hopefully everyone found these helpful (maybe?) and is now even more excited for the next steps! If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!

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