Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rain, Cats, and Memories - Meenanful Life

It's finally raining in Riverside, so Joe​ and I have the balcony door open to listen and smell.

The cats always love it when we do this. They put their faces right up to the screen and spend long hours sleeping near the open door.


I've always wondered what our cat Annie thinks about it. Annie was an outdoor cat when we first found her. We had just moved into a house in Riverside and Annie basically moved into the backyard. At first she was just friendly with us, then we started feeding her, and then one day she just walked into the house and that was that. 

But for the first year of her time with us, she lived exclusively outdoors. That meant when it rained, she had to find shelter in the form of bushes, trees, and on rare occasions, our patio.

I am not the cat you are looking for...
Her food too, was mostly whatever she could catch. We saw several occasions where she caught squirrels and birds to supplement the dry cat food we fed her. She honestly seemed to prefer it.

When we moved, we decided we couldn't let Annie stay behind. By that point, Annie was frequently inside and generally got along okay with the other cats, but she still spent a majority of her time outside.

Much against her will, at least at first, we caught her, put her in a cat carrier, and took her along with us to the new home.

She was scared and mad at us for a while. She hid most of the day and tried to get outside whenever the opportunity presented itself. We had decided though, that the moment we brought her in, she'd be a strictly indoor cat. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives and we wanted the best for Annie.

It took a while, but she adjusted. 

Oh how nice, you emptied the laundry basket for me!
Sorry, couch is full.

The dish has an empty spot in it. Clearly you mean for me to starve.
Annie has been exclusively indoors for almost five years now. She hasn't set foot outside in all that time. So it makes me wonder. Does she have memories the same way people do?

Like, as she's watching the rain, does she think about the days she used to spend sleeping in it? Does she remember that she once had to hunt to make a living? Does she remember the life she once had and does she compare it to the life she has now?

I don't know if cats have the ability to think this far back and make comparisons, but it's an interesting thought. It's certainly something that makes me think back to my old life.

Overall, my life has been pretty good, though I did go through some difficult things during my young life. My father died when I was 12. We were forced to leave our comfortable home and move into a trailer for many years. The church we were going to at the time abandoned us and the pastor spread rumors making it impossible to get into other churches in the area. We really struggled financially and sometimes food was a problem.

But I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. Now I live in a comfortable home with my husband. We're not rich, but we're blessed and we don't have to worry about having enough on the table. God brought us to a wonderful church that feels like home. We have a loving, supportive family and great friends.


Yeah, I had difficult times in the past, but the future is looking bright. =)

I hope Annie sees the same thing with her life.

How has your life changed over the years? Share in the comments below. =)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #9 Prison Cell

It's that time again! Time for another

Ten Minute Freewrite

I swear I'm going to collect the best ones here and expand them all someday. They're too much fun!

Today is (yes) ANOTHER dialogue prompt since these seem to be doing so well with my writing. This one though has some Zyearth attached to it. ;) Let's see what we can do with this one.

WRITING START

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"Well, this is a nice change of scenery."

Jaden eyed his partner. "It's a prison cell."

"I was being sarcastic," Dyne said, rolling his eyes. "You should try it sometime. It might help you face difficult things with a better attitude."

Jaden ran a white furred finger over the back wall of their cell. It came back grimy and black. He wrinkled his snout in disgust. "When I want some therapy advice, I'll ask you. For now, keep your mouth shut."

"Oh come off it," Dyne said. He shook his head, raining water from his thick golden brown quills onto the dirt floor. He slid sideways, trying to get out of the way of the leaky roof, but his new spot wasn't much better. "These primitive morons don't even speak English. They can't freakin' understand me."

"I suspect that's what got us landed here in the first place," Jaden said. "They may not have understood your words, but your body language wasn't exactly friendly."

"Well, neither were their crossbows," Dyne said. "They started it."

Jaden shook his head, his short white quills dripping with water. He allowed himself a smirk. Yeah, the cell might have been a bit of an issue, but he'd seen worse. This was a minor setback at best.

Dyne did some quick stretches against the wall. "So what's the plan?"

Jaden opened his mouth to speak, but before he could say anything, a snag came rolling up. One of the four armed, eight foot tall guards ambled up on their unguligrade legs carrying something in crook of his loose skinned arms.

Jaden craned his neck to see what it was, but the guard held out an electric stick and poked both Jaden and Dyne away from the door. He mumbled something in that impossible language of his, dropped their new friend on the dirt floor, then locked up the door again. 

Jaden reached down to the new body on the ground. Dyne gasped as Jaden flipped the creature around. 

Staring up at them, bruised and broken, was a human.

----------

More fun! =D I might use this one too. ;) 

What should I write about next? Give me suggestions!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #8 Zombie Nightmares

And now it's time for another...

Ten Minute Freewrite


Today's freewrite is another dialogue prompt. Because those are so much fun. It worked out pretty well last time! Let's give this new one a shot.

WRITING START

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"You're one of them now," she whispered softly. "Eric Samson."

And if I had any mental capacity at that moment, I might have been able to figure out what she meant by that. As it was, the only thing my senses or brain gave me was a searing hot headache and the unmistakable smell of blood.

But it wasn't my blood. I knew instinctively, but that kind of comes with the territory when you're a zombie. It's not like it could have been my blood even if I wanted it to be. Which, some part of me in the back of mind wished it could be, but I knew it wasn't.

But then who's was it? And why couldn't I see?

The sound of heavy boots against wet pavement echoed in my ears. I tried to stand and follow the sound but the searing pain followed me.

That was new to me. How long had it been since my body could feel pain? Memories of my change decades prior flashed in my rotting mind, but I had long learned to ignore those moments of weakness. Memories kept me from my mission. It kept me holding on to too much hope. Hope was dangerous when you're a zombie.

I closed my eyes, willing the pain to go away. I don't know how long I sat there, but eventually I felt something warm on my face and the pain went away.

I opened my eyes.

The sun hovered over me. Actual sun. I hadn't seen that in ages either. They say that the zombie curse scared the sun away, as if it couldn't stand to stare at the atrocities on the planet it worked so hard to warm and cultivate. And honestly, it was hard not to believe them. I mean, the sun had been gone for ages, hidden behind clouds that never seemed thick enough to produce rain.

But here it was. The sun.

And I felt it on my skin.

I should have felt elated. I could feel! Yeah, I felt pain, but I could feel sunlight too! Warmth! On my skin! Maybe that lady cured me. Maybe that "one of them" comment was meant to be like, "one of them humans" or some nonsense. Right?

But why did everything feel so wrong?

I stood up and stumbled across the ground, which I discovered was a wet sidewalk. A quick sniff the the glaring sun told me the liquid was blood. Fresh blood. And not my blood.

Why couldn't I remember how I got there?

My brain tried to compile what had happened, but all I could think about was the lady who had spoken to me. She called me by a name.

But it wasn't my name. Sudden panic ran through my body, followed by a sharp blast of adrenaline. Adrenaline was new too. How did I do that with a dead body? Something was wrong. I stumbled over the blood-slick sidewalk, desperate for something that would let me see my reflection.

And then I found it. I glanced into the window of an old office building. But I didn't find my rotted, barely female corpse of a zombie staring at me. No, instead I saw the face of the man the lady named.

Eric Samson. My brother.

----------

Okay, I'll admit I took a little longer than ten minutes to write this one. But it wouldn't let me let it go! I swear this is another one I want to keep up. I've never written zombie fiction before, but it might be fun!

What should I write next? Give me a suggestion in the comments below!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #7 Three Universes

It's that time again!

Ten Minute Freewrites! 


OH BOI.

Today's freewrite is a dialogue prompt. Sometimes those are really fun, but sometimes they're a bit restricting. We'll see which one this is today.

WRITING START

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"Three universes exist," the man said, staring at me from behind the table. "You're not supposed to be in all three."

I blinked at him, trying to calm my hands as I took a sip of coffee. An hour ago I would have laughed about the idea of "three universes." An hour ago I would have scoffed at him, called him a nut job and sent him on his way.

But an hour ago I saw three ghostly versions of myself walk through my kitchen. One made a cup of coffee. One made a piece of toast. I had been making eggs, but what remained of my breakfast now decorated my floor and stove.

My ghostly dopplegangers, to their credit, reacted the same way when they saw me. Coffee spilled all over the floor and who knows where the toast went when one of my doubles threw it behind her head with a scream.

I did what any normal human being should do. I called the police. Turns out, that was not the right thing to do. They literally laughed until I hung up. Must be a slow day at the office.

But fifty minutes later someone knocked and a man dressed in a skin tight, red jump suit appeared at my door. He looked so completely out of place, like some kind of Power Ranger without the belt and helmet, but at the same time, he looked completely normal, like I expected to see him on the street.

Now he just looked weary, staring at me from across my table.

"Are you sure you should be drinking that?" the man asked, pointing to my coffee.

"I need to relax," I said, my voice cracking.

"And I'm sure coffee will help you with that tremendously," he said with an obviously well exercised sarcasm.

I sneered. "Shut up. I need my coffee."

"So does one of your doubles, if what you told me was correct," the man said. "If you're not careful, you might collapse the two universes." I froze with the mug at my lips. He leaned in on the table. "I'll ask again. Are you sure you should be drinking that?"

I put the mug down. "No."

"Good." he sat back in the chair. "As I was saying--"

"Could I really collapse the universe if I drank coffee at the same time as one of my doubles?" I blurted.

The man smiled. He reached across the table and plucked the mug from my side. "No, but I had to say something to get you to take that caffine menace from your lips."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "You're an asshole."

He rolled his eyes. "Lady, if you knew half the things I dealt with on a regular basis, you might be a little more forgiving. Your two doubles are."

A shudder ran up my spine. I had a feeling I was in this for the long haul.

----------

Wow. That was fun! Add this to the list of things I want to continue for a fun short story. =D I challenge readers to write something in response to this post. OR, something that might be more fun, write a continuation to what I've written...

Go do it!



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Writing Composition - Author's Life



Last year, my students did an interesting writing assignment in class. They answered a series of questions which helped define them as a writer, called a "Writing Composition." 

Reading their responses was FASCINATING. I learned several important things. 

One, a lot of my students have a different native language than English. And, oddly enough, they don’t like writing in their native language. They prefer English. Some even admitted that although they can speak and understand their native language, they can’t write in it. They simply do not know how. That really spoke to me. 

Two, high school English teachers are a huge influence in a student’s life. One of the questions asks for the students to name someone who influenced their writing, and almost all of my students named high school English teachers.


This is why it is so important for high school English teachers to be good to their students and really work to motivate them. You never know what it’s going to do for a student’s life.

After reading everyone’s responses, I decided I wanted to give these questions a go!

What have been some of the most important writing events in your life? Consider not only formal writing assignments for school or work, but also emails, texts, and posts on social media sites.

Three events really stick out in my mind.

The first one was a short story I wrote for an assignment in my junior English class. I mentioned it in a writing meme recently. It was a totally ripped story with so many problems I don’t know where to begin, but it did one important thing for me – it caught someone’s attention. Specifically my junior English teacher. She loved my writing and actually submitted it to a contest for high school creative writers. It won an honorable mention and I got a little pin out of it which recognized creativity and imagination. I had that pin for years until it finally broke. From then on, I felt like I could actually write good stuff.

The second one was my first “novel.” I wrote this in high school, my senior year, for the first of only two creative writing classes that ever really did anything me. The novel itself is crap, but it proved to me that I could write long pieces and make it coherent. Looking back at it, it wasn’t the worst thing I ever wrote, and it taught me some valuable lessons as I wrote it.


The final event was my Master’s thesis. One hundred and eleven pages of scifi and gothic analysis. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to write and honestly, I’d never do it again. But finishing that allowed me to move forward with my job and get work at other colleges, which allowed me to reach a whole new level of students. I’m eternally grateful for my thesis, despite the difficulties I had writing it.


What are the most common types of writing that you do? What are your purposes for writing, and who reads your writing? What happens as a result of your writing?

Hmm. My most common types are probably fiction, blogging, and stupid witty things on Facebook and Twitter. Generally I write to entertain, however that might be. Blogging and Facebook are usually for humor, but my fiction writing is usually for some other purpose, like drama or important life lessons.
Results. . . vary. Sometimes my witty comments get ignored, sometimes they’re tweeted all over the place. Blogging, so far, has not been very fruitful. Fiction hasn’t been either, but that’s mainly because I only have two books out right now. Though really, I've reached more than I realized. Between White Assassin and The Stolen Guardian, I have almost 400 books circulating, which is pretty dang good.

What languages have you used for writing? Do you enjoy writing in one language more than another, or do you prefer to go back and forth between two languages? Why?

I pretty much write solely in English. . . Unless Zyearthling counts. XD

Who is the most influential in your development as a writer? How did this person influence you?

Three people stick out in my mind.

One, Ms. Bealey (hope I spelled your name right!) who was my senior creative writing teacher. More than anything, Ms. Bealey inspired me to keep writing no matter what. I produced CRAP for her class, but she was so kind about everything I wrote and she really pushed me to work hard and finish things. I don’t remember much of the specifics that we learned in her class, but she did teach me a love of writing creatively and she always encouraged me to create any outlandish thing I wanted to. She never let me limit myself, which is a lesson I still carry today.

Number two is Mr. Olsen, my senior English professor. He was an amazing teacher and he was one of the reasons why I chose to become a teacher myself. I truly believe my academic writing and my teaching style is heavily inspired by his own teaching style. He made English FUN and integrated everything into English, not just writing. Everything he said and did inspired his students to be the very best they could be, and that’s something I hope to do with my own students. Mr. Olsen also said one of the best lines ever. When I told him on the last day of school that I intended to major in English in college, he told me “Oh my gosh, you’re going to major in nerdism!” Yes. Yes, I am.

The final person who has inspired me is Kessie Carroll. Not only has she put out some amazing books, she’s also done that all while raising a big family! She finds time to write no matter what and has a wonderful imagination in her writing. My creative writing classes taught me very little in the way of craft, but Kessie taught me everything. When she read the first draft of my first book, her first words were “Get rid of the first eleven pages, they’re crap” which pretty much set the tone for our editing relationship. XD She’s got a hilarious sarcastic streak in her editing style, but all the things she’s given me has drastically improved my writing. She’s also bombarded me with books and blog posts to help me improve. I’d never be where I am today if she hadn’t given me that first honest crit. She also introduced me to the wonders of National Novel Writing Month, which helped me pump out my first draft. I owe a lot to her as a writer. =)


Can you recall any time when you felt inadequate as a writer? What was the event? Why did you feel this way? What changes did you make as a result?

I pretty much feel inadequate as a writer every time I start a brand new story, especially if I’ve been polishing a final draft of a different story right before I started the new one. Starting a new story is extremely difficult. You have to allow yourself to write crap. And that’s not always easy, especially since I KNOW I can write better. I want to spend all my time editing what I have rather than actually writing NEW stuff. But I think a lot of authors go through that.

What are three words that best describe you as a writer?

Um… Probably passion, creativity, and procrastinator. I love every aspect of writing and I’m very passionate about it. I’m also a big fan of creative writing and I feel like creative writing can do a lot for people. Finally. . . I am a huge procrastinator and tend to take forever to finish a project. But I sure as hell have fun doing it!

What do you guys think about writing? Are you as passionate about it as I am? I challenge you to answers these questions yourself and get a nice picture of yourself as a writer!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #6 Teenager Powers

Time for another...

TEN MINUTE FREEWRITE

Let's look up a new writing prompt...

Not the greatest image quality here, but that's okay! Let's give it a whirl. 

WRITING START

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My name is Flora and I'm strange. 

Well, I'm not totally strange. Everyone in my world is strange. We've been that way since the Crash, when some strange rod crashed into ground and buried itself into our planet. 

Yeah, really imaginative name, I know. 

Ever since the Crash, which happened God knows how long ago (I don't really pay attention in history class) we've all been given powers.

Don't get excited. This isn't a typical Superman story with leapers of tall buildings and stoppers of speeding bullets. No, our powers are decidedly less exciting. 

Mom, for example, can set her eyelashes on fire. Not exactly superhero worthy, though Mom did say it played a part in her ability to catch Dad. 

Dad on the other hand, can turn sand into blueberries. Sand. Into blueberries. You can imagine he's popular at school when it's time for bake sales, though I suspect our town is sick of blueberry pies and pastries.

My brother is a little more interesting. He can swap genders. I'll still never forget the day that mom came into his bedroom when he was three months old. She screamed that someone had taken their baby and replaced it with someone else. It took almost a week before she discovered the baby was spontaneously changing gender. He usually stays male. Says it's easier to pee. Go figure. He does have a lot more options at Halloween though. 

Me? I'm strange. I have one of the few powers that might actually be considered useful. I can measure how dangerous someone is. 

When I see people, a tiny number appears just above their head, like a rating. It took me a long time to figure out what the rating meant. When I was a kid, I thought it was a hawtness rating or something. Imagine my disappointment when I found out I was wrong. 

Now most people rate low. I've met several people who rate even below a one and have some kind of decimal point. Most people rate between decimal points and a two. 

The highest I ever met was a six. That was the day the policeman visited our school for a bomb threat. I only caught a glimpse of him as he ran by our window, but the six really made me shutter. After seeing ones and twos my whole life, a six practically meant death was staring me in the face. 

So you can imagine my shok when the new kid walked in with an eleven hovering over his head. 

----------

I've been wanting to write something with that for a while. XD It was a lot of fun.

Do you have a writing prompt suggestion? Email me at r.a.meenan@zyearth.com or comment below!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Resolutions, 2015 - Meenanful Life

Yup, it's that time of year again. Time for New Year's Resolutions!

Weeeeeeeee!

Normally I start these off by examining how I did on last year's resolutions, but.... looking through my old blog posts, I discovered very quickly that I have done horribly at them. My summer examination was crap, as seen from this early part of an unpublished post.

#1 - Plan out my day... and stick to that plan.

Ha! ha ha ha ha ha... wait, were you serious? 

Yeah.... pretty much all my resolutions came out like that. I think I'll ignore them and just move on instead. Let's look at some new ones instead! This year, I'm going to try and keep things simple. I always pile on SO many resolutions that it's impossible to get anywhere with them. Not this year. 

#1 - Publish three books. 

Here I am talking about making things easier on me and my first resolution already seems IMPOSSIBLE. Yay! X

So here's the plan. I want to have three different novels going so when I get bored with one, I have another I can work on and still feel productive. I've already got two of them outlined and I'm working on the third. 

Two of the novels are the first books of two brand new series. One of them is revisiting this thing..

I guarantee that logo will be completely redone before the first book comes out. >>

I originally wanted to do this story as a comic book, as I've mentioned before, but my art skills just aren't up to snuff. So I thought I'd tackle it as a book. I didn't think it'd WORK as a book, but the stories I've written for it so far seem to be pretty dang good, so I'm going to give a full novel a shot.

Another one I'm working on is a feral animal story using mythological creatures... including manticores as my primary creatures.

I've just never seen a feral animal story with manticores as the main characters, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The outline just flew from my finger tips so I'm hoping the novel itself will too. 

Finally, I'm giving book two of Zyearth a go. 

Right now book two is tentatively called "Brotherly War" but we'll see if it stays that way.

#2 - More blog posts.

I'm not going to specify how many blog posts a week or anything like that. Instead, I'd like to just write MORE. I'd like to at least keep the Ten Minute Freewrite Mondays but other than that, the rest is just whenever I have a chance.

#3 - Actually lose weight, or at least be more active.

I know I do this one every year, but I'm sick of being fat so I'm going to actually do something about it. Screw this weight!

#4 - Do more art

Again, I'm not going to be specific with this. I just want to do some art, but I'm not concerned about how much and when to do it. I just want to force myself to do more! I'd like to get some busts done for my website, but I'll take my time on that.

And... I think that's it.

I really don't want to force myself to do more than that. I'm teaching full time this semester and I'm supporting Joe while he goes through nursing school, so anymore and I'm going to be overwhelmed! Don't want too much whelm. XD

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Year in Review, 2015 - Meenanful Life

WOW A BLOG POST

I literally haven't written a blog post since the beginning of the semester. You can't blame me. It's been a really long, harsh semester.

So I've seen several other awesome authors do a full year in review before tackling New Year's Resolutions, and since I've been pretty bad on my new year's resolutions from LAST year, I think looking at what I DID accomplish is a better way to tackle the new year.

2015's Biggest News

I published my first book! Yep, way back in October, I put my first book out into the world for all to see. It's available everywhere. Kobo, Amazon, iTunes, and soon to be on Barnes and Noble. Pretty dang awesome! It's seriously exciting stuff.


So far my book has had pretty good reviews across Amazon and Goodreads, as well as a minor celebrity review by Fred Patten of sci-fi and furry fame. Awesome stuff.

On to other things!

Writing:

Quite honestly, this year's writing has not been the strongest. Let's take a look.

- I released one novel this year, The Stolen Guardian.

- I released one short story this year, White Assassin.

- I have three short stories nearly finished and ready for publication

- I outlined two novels and I'm preparing to outline a third.

- I did some website overhaul, which you can see here. Though the whole thing is still under construction, it's at least starting to look respectable.

- I won an Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future for White Assassin, which is one of the best things that has ever happened to me as an author!

- I wrote several Ten Minute Freewrites, a trend which I hope to continue throughout this year. It's been fun and I missed it!

Wow. Apparently I did a lot more writing than I realized! It's nice to have everything put down on paper, in a matter of speaking.

Art:

Okay, so art has not been very productive this year... and in fact, I even neglected to renew my subscription with DeviantART this year since I'm spending so little time on it these days. I might end up getting rid of the thing completely.

But I did do some things. Let's take a look.

- I completed the artwork for TWO short story covers that Kessie Carroll started for me.

The Black Bound cover still needs some work, but I'm pretty pleased with how Izzy looks on Red Wounds.

- I did a few small pieces for Inktober (which I sadly, did not finish)

This one makes me very happy, because it's a picture I've been wanting to do FOREVER for the Song of the Summer King books. I need to color it and modify it to fit properly, but darn it, it was fun.

Random picture of Izzy smiling. <3

- I started, but didn't finish, a picture of Three Gryfon Moon, a parody piece of art for Jess E. Owen's Song of the Summer King books.

I'll finish it someday. Maybe this week. YAY. In the meantime, K. M. Carroll did a version of it based on my lineart that came out pretty dang nice.

- I made a ridiculous parody art piece of Avengers Assemble which took way more time than it should have, but darn it, it was fun.

- In a surprising move though, I picked up physical painting again and started making art in oils. I have five paintings so far, several of which became gifts. My favorite one is shown below.

Gift for Karen and her awesome bird Tai
That's it for art. I actually did more than I thought, but not as much as I would have liked.

Other Things:

- One big thing I did this year was travel! I visited the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Connecticut. I also went whale watching, I went to a baseball game, and generally had a lot of fun. It was a great year for fun trips.

- I also got TWO new jobs! I work at three different colleges now, which is a huge amount of work. But it's fun.

- Among my new jobs was a job where I get to actually teach literature! I usually do some kind of minor literature essay in my normal composition classes, but this new class allowed me to teach an entire novel, which was a blast. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to more opportunities to do that.

And that was pretty much my year! I think this post is long enough, so I'll tackle New Years Resolutions in my next one.

How was your year? I challenge you to do a year in review and post a link in the comments!