Friday, May 31, 2013

LET'S FUCKING DO THIS!!! 21 Day Challenge Starts.....NOW!!

Are you ready for this?



Tomorrow is June first, official launch day of my 21-Day Challenge!! If you'll remember, I'm challenging myself to DAILY WRITING. That's writing of any kind: blogging, journaling, fooling around with writing prompts...whatever. The plan is to cement daily writing as a habit again. Once upon a time this was a no-brainer, but I lost my writing mojo and I'm trying to get it back.

And, hopefully, all this random writing will either inspire a new project or rekindle a love of one of my ongoing WIPs.

Because today is Day 1 of my #Staycation I did a little sneak-preview writing exercise. Brandon kindly picked out a writing prompt from one of my books, and I sat down and gave it a whirl.

Here's the prompt:

The headline in this morning's paper reads: “Road to Nowhere Set for Repaving”

And here's what I wrote:

Two mayors ate tough steaks and drank stale coffee in a diner off route 13. Mayor Orange was from Somewhere, Mayor Blue from Nowhere. They ate in a companionable silence. A newspaper lay on the table, folded so that the headline was visible: “Road to Nowhere Set for Repaving.” Mayor Orange paid the paper no mind. From time to time, Mayor Blue threw the headline a sour glance.

Mayor Orange's ample belly threatened to burst the buttons on his shirt. He belched affably and wiped gravy off his chins.

“This highway project will bring jobs and hope to your town, Blue. And if you don't mind my saying so, those are two things that are sorely needed in Nowhere. I don't understand your objections.”

Mayor Blue pushed his plate away with a scowl. His bony frame suggested that he'd pushed many full a plate away in his time.

“The citizens of Nowhere aren't looking for jobs! And they sure as hell aren't interested in hope.” He spat the word out like it tasted bad.

That's all that I got before I had to take The Teen to work. But I kinda like it as a start. It leaves me with a lot of questions: Who are Mayors Orange and Blue? What are Somewhere and Nowhere like? It sounds like Nowhere has been left to decay without jobs and reliable roads. Why? And why is the Mayor not happy with the coming improvements? If the citizens of Nowhere truly aren't interested in jobs and hope like he says, why not? What are they interested in?

I just may explore this one further during the Challenge!!

UPDATES WILL BE FORTHCOMING!! And look for my upcoming review of the Nancy Drew mystery series!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

BOOK REVIEW The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum

In space, no one can hear you scream...except, of course, the two adorable kittens that skulk the halls of the Extra-Galactic Observatory where young Vivian Skye landed an internship to further her studies of quantum informatics.

Ever hear of quantum informatics? Neither had I. Sorry, we're just not on Vivian's intellectual level. Suffice it to say, quantum informatics has to do with super-duper, high-end, near-sentient computers. I said near sentient. In the distant future that author Thea Gregory (or T. Gregory, as she is identified on the book jacket) describes, Earth has already had a run-in with malevolent sentient machinery, and is not about to let that happen again...hence the laws set forth in the ABACUS Protocol.


I've long been a fan of the science fiction genre. I've watched Star Trek, in all its incarnations, since I was a little girl. I grew up reading Douglas Adams and Greg Bear and Ray Bradbury. I love the deep intellectual romanticism of science fiction. In my opinion, the genre at its best is about humanity finding itself and defining itself against a foreign backdrop (space) and against unbelievable odds (aliens, malevolent supercomputers, etc.). Gregory's debut novel more than lives up to this ideal.

Vivian Skye hails from Aurora, a gorgeous agrarian planet that had long ago been colonized by humans. Like all the best science fiction protagonists, she's a bit of a misfit. Most Aurorans never leave their planet. They prefer farming to computer technology and leave the space travel to other, more intellectually curious, races. When Vivian enrolled in the only university on Aurora that taught quantum informatics, her family essentially disowned her.

So as nervous as she was to be traveling off-world for her internship on the Extra-Galactic Observatory, Vivian knew that she had been alone for a long time. And she was strong enough to face that. Besides, working with quIRK--the observatory's quantum computer--was worth it.

What can I tell you about quIRK? As Vivian explains to a fellow traveler as she prepares to leave Aurora for the first time:

"The Q and U are for quantum, and IRK is an inside joke about how irritating the system was to design."

So quIRK is an irksome quantum computer. A computer with a penchant for sarcasm and an affinity for the color antiblue (wish I could get a look at that!), and the company of kittens. quIRK shocked Vivian with his near-sentience at their first meeting  and her awe only grew as their working relationship deepened.

But Vivian's internship doesn't go swimmingly. The Observatory is run by Bryce Zimmer, an egomaniacal man from Caesarea, one of the only remaining planets that is still run with what is essentially a feudal system. He has his own political axe to grind, and a strong racist streak against Aurorans. So when strange accidents begin happening to Vivian, she doesn't know what to think: are they really simple accidents? Is Bryce plotting against her? Or is it quIRK, with his burgeoning self-awareness and his unsettling memory gaps?

The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum is an adventurous tale of one young girl making her way in space. But it's also way more than that. It asks questions, like: what does it mean to be sentient? Does mere self-awareness make one an individual? Can a thinking computer feel? Could a thinking computer ever be equal to its creators?

Author Thea Gregory first caught my attention with her Zombie Bedtime Stories (buy them on amazon!). What I liked so much about her zombie stories was how she got me to think about this almost overly-played-out genre in an entirely different way. And she did that by writing stories that presented questions, like: what if zombies remain themselves even after they've changed? What if they're sort of captives within their zombified bodies? Are they still human?

I love a good story. And I love a good thoughtful discussion. The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum (and indeed all of Thea Gregory's books) provide both.

Read and enjoy! Meet the author:


Sunday, May 26, 2013

21 Days in the Life of This Grrrl


It's May. It's the end of May. June's fucking breathing down the back of our necks!

I don't want to say that 2013 has shaped up to be a literary failure of a year for me, but, well...

In 2011 I self-published 10 short thrillers and 1 memoir.
In 2012 I self-published 2 short erotic tales and 1 memoir.
In 2013 I embarked on a YA novel that sort of petered out, and then fell into a pit of blinding writer's block.

Draw your own conclusions.

I know, I know. It's not all about the numbers: numbers of books published, or numbers of books sold. It's not. My endlessly patient, loving and sexy boyfriend Brandon (Follow him on twitter!) tells me that whenever I get down. And I know he's right. But I'm a writer. Which means if I'm not writing, I'm just not myself. The world doesn't look the same. I can't think the same. I get all mentally constipated and cranky. It's uncomfortable for everyone around me.

But there's a bigger problem: when I get all stopped-up in the noggin, it's like I lose my inner story-teller. He's replaced by a flashing neon sign behind my eyes that says WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE?!?!?

I explained this to Brandon a few weeks ago, and because he's so incredibly thoughtful and believes so much in my writing he bought me a couple of books of writing prompts. (You can download them for your kindle!) I was sooooo excited! And I dove right in, promising myself and Brandon that I'd do a writing prompt each day until I got my spark back and could begin an actual project again.

It worked. For a few days. But then I got all lazy-writer again. And that's what brings me here today.

I've recently learned about a theory: The 21-Day Theory. It says that it takes 21 days to break or make a habit. That's it. Struggle through 21 days, and then you're Scott-free. Whatever habit you wanted to break will be broken. And whatever habit you wanted to make will be made.

Well I want to make a daily writing habit. I need to make a daily writing habit. I need to break this mental constipation. I need to see the world the right way again. I'm a writer, for fuck's sake. I live through WORDS. Stories. Tales.

So this is my grand announcement! Beginning June 1st (because it's my birthday month and because starting on the first of the month will just makes some sort of calendar-sense) I, Shana Hammaker aka @LiteraryGrrrl, will be doing a 21-day writing challenge!!

What will I be writing? Whatever. Certainly I'll be playing with the writing prompts. Sometimes I'll blog. I'm sure I'll do a bit of journaling. We all know how much I like to write about myself.

Of course I'll write between now and then. But the serious, down-and-dirty, I'm-gonna-fucking-do-this-because-I-mean-fucking-business begins June first.

And hopefully the mental constipation will be all cleared up by my birthday!! (That's June 25, y'all! Get ready!)


Saturday, May 11, 2013

More Writing Prompts!

This prompt was provided to me by Nick Gator on twitter:

When the Pope asks you to whack a guy, you whack a guy.

And here's what I came up with!

“You're being such a dumbass,” Sheila said.

“I don't have a choice,” Kevin said.

“Of course you have a choice!” Sheila was getting loud now.

Kevin rolled up the car windows. “You're gonna get us caught!”

I'm gonna get you caught? Oh that's rich! You're gonna get your own stupid ass caught because you don't know what you're doing! And for what—to impress that asshole Frankie. Notice he's not here? Hmm? He's not going down with you Kevin!”

Kevin had noticed that Frankie wasn't there, but he preferred to believe it was because Frankie trusted Kevin to get the job done by himself. Of course there was no arguing with Sheila. But that didn't stop Kevin from trying.

When the Pope asks you to whack a guy, you whack a guy.”

“Frankie isn't the Pope. And we're not talking about you whacking a guy. We're talking about you holding up the Walgreens.” She nodded toward the building out the window.

“Just shut up,” Kevin said and opened his door. He slung one leg out, planted that foot on the ground, then slung the other leg out. “I've gotta do this, Sheila.” He said in a less-than-convincing tone.

He stood, tripped over his laces, and fell face-first into the pavement.


“You're such a dumbass, Kevin,” Sheila said.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Writing Prompts

Nearly seventeen years ago I brought The Teen into this world. 
In celebration of that, my awesome-and-handsome boyfriend Brandon gave me two books of writing prompts a couple days ago, to help cure my recent bout of writer's block.

Isn't he awesome?

So I've decided to share some of my experiments with these writing prompts with you, my adoring fans, I mean my friends in the blogosphere. Not every one, just the ones I particularly like.

Here's the first. Enjoy!

Prompt: The briefcase was heavy in his hand and the gun tucked into his waistband felt awkward.

Here's what I came up with:

 The briefcase was heavy in Tim's hand and the gun tucked into his waistband felt awkward. Who the Hell did he think he was kidding? He was no G-man. What the fuck was a G-man anyway? Did anyone even say that outside of 70s-era Bond movies? Relax Tim, he told himself. It's all gonna go down nice and easy. In and out in 15 minutes. Just collect the money and go home and bang Shannon.
An image of Shannon popped up in his mind: she was bent over at the waist in their walk-in closet, reaching for a pair of heels he'd purposefully moved out of her reach so he could get a look at her juicy ass.
“Dammit!” She'd said. “Why do my things always move? It's like they're playing tricks on me.”
“What are you going on about?” He'd laughed then. “Your things don't move.”
“Yes they do!” She waved the heels in his face. “These were in front, by my flip-flops. Then all of a sudden they're way in the back by my suitcase. Now why would I put these heels by my suitcase?”
Shannon flipped her unruly curls off her forehead and added, “Hmmm?” Her cheeks were rosy with indignation.
Tim felt himself get hard. He could've taken her right then: just bent her over the bed, ripped off her teeny white shorts and taken her, but Shannon would never allow that. She'd just scoff and tell him to be a man. That's what she was always saying: Be a man, Tim!
That's what this job was about, wasn't it? Proving to Shannon that he could be a man?  

Some People Call Me a Space Cowboy: Writer's Block and Other Disasters

Most of life is rush, rush, rush.
                        Work, work, work.
        Bitch, bitch, bitch.
With some periodic breaks for sleep, sleep, sleep, and, if you're lucky:
                                          Laugh, laugh, laugh and love, love, love.

Here's the rub: you can't live like that. Living like that is a recipe for insanity.

I've been struggling with a shit ton of writer's block lately. Hence the existential angst. Do you write? Have you suffered from writer's block? Are you engaged in other artsy-fartsy-type creative endeavors? Can you relate to the Writer's Block?

I'd love to start a conversation about this. Who the fuck do we creative types think we are, getting all angsty about having to live real life without a creative outlet? Are we really so special that we have to invent crazy-ass syndromes all for ourselves? Or is the creative mind just a bit, oh, let's say, unique (read: insane) and thus really does need a creative outlet?

Talk to me! Leave a comment and tell me how you've worked through your own creative constipation! Or, if you think writers are full of shit when we talk about writer's block, or struggle with our muse, tell me that! I won't bite!

And follow me on twitter!