Enchanted Forest, INC. – Novel Excerpt

Yesterday, probably yesterday, who knows with exams being the way they are, a few people expressed some interest in reading my fiction.  What follows is an excerpt, the prologue from my novel Enchanted Forest, INC.  It is Terry Pratchett-esque fantasy/humor/adventure/snark.

There comes a point when a yipping dog has to be put outside or locked in a room or just generally shut up.  With muscle relaxants, sedatives, wine, whatever is on hand and easily administered.  To Malin’s mind, this point had come some 20 minutes previous.  Malin was not a dog person.  No, he was definitely catlike in every sense — rude, apathetic, interested in hunting things weaker than himself, graceful, and scornful.  If cats could talk, and would bother long enough to answer, they’d agree that Malin was very much one of them.

At the moment, he was sitting outside of a window on a turret of a very tall, somewhat foreboding castle.  The wind was picking up and it had begun to rain a very annoying, misty sort of rain that offered very little in the way of atmosphere but a lot in the way of damp.  He was waiting.  If he’d had a tail, it’d be twitching impatiently.

And Princess Gertrude’s dog would not stop barking.  She and her handmaiden had been trying to calm it since he’d arrived — dogs didn’t like Malin.  Nor did they like intruders, so it was really no surprise that the dog was having a fit.  The surprise was that the princess hadn’t sent the creature away long ago.

Still, nothing like the thrill of the hunt, eh?  Normally he was easily bored, but tonight, no, tonight he could wait forever.  Happily.  Well, not happily so much as willingly.  And maybe the dog was getting on his nerves a bit.  And maybe it was a little bit cold.  And probably the rain and wind weren’t good for his skin…

He glanced through the window.

The window had sheer curtains, he couldn’t make out features, but he could see the slender figure of the princess and wondered off-hand how many liberties one could take before a princess no longer counted as innocent.  The search for a maiden princess of marriageable age had taken a very long time, but maiden was a very specific requirement that one could easily work around. With her permission, of course, who didn’t love a scoundrel?

The somewhat larger shape of the handmaid was wrestling with the small dog. If they’d understood dog language they would have heard, “Hey, there’s a man outside your window.  Let me at him!  LET ME AT HIM!”

Of course, they didn’t understand the dog. The handmaid finally managed to get the dog outside. The door closed behind and Malin waited a beat to make sure they’d gone.  He opened the window without a creak, and delicately landed on the floor inside. Really, astonishingly like a cat.

The princess turned, and they both froze in horror.

When you think princess, you’ve got certain expectations: slim, blonde, blue eyes — and the princess certainly had these but… her eyes were small and piggish, her hairline was receding, and she had spots on her abnormally large nose.  She would have been merely below average in the looks department had she not decided to remedy the situation by using as much makeup as possible.  Cartoon round spots of red on her cheeks, drawn on lips and eyebrows, and that hideous shade of blue eyeshadow.  Her teeth, well, they were the teeth of the greatest monarchs worldwide: horsey and a bit frightening.

The look of stupid surprise wasn’t doing her any favors.

Malin pulled out a locket with a portrait in it.  The girl in the portrait was stunning — flawless skin and a tiny nose.  He held it up and compared the two for a moment.

“Are you Princess Gertrude?”

She smiled.  This, Malin decided, was worse than the “O” of surprise she’d been offering before.

“Of course.  What can I do for you?”

Princesses are not, generally, good at self-preservation, their default position being polite rather than, say, running and screaming.

“Are you sure?”

“Well, I certainly have been up to now.”

“Right.  It’s just that I have this portrait,” he walked over and showed it to her.  “Is this really you?”

“Oh yes, I remember Hans the Elder painted that not a year ago.  I do think it looks so remarkably like me.  Are you returning it?”

“By all means, keep it.”

He snapped his fingers and she fainted into his arms.  He carried her out of the window and disappeared into the night.

Moments later, the dog burst into the room.  What a dog of his size could have actually done under the circumstances remains unknown, but he was pretty sure he’d have had it under control.

New Co-Blogger: Kate Donovan

Exciting news!  Kate Donovan, known for her writing at Teen Skepchick, Friendly Atheist, and other places, is going to be joining me here as my co-blogger.  JT Eberhard accidentally announced this early, so I’m going to post it without her official blurb or anything because I AM NOT PATIENT.

I’ve been somewhat slack on keeping this updated the last few weeks thanks to the difficulty of finishing up my summer classes, starting a new semester, a new job, preparing a talk for Dragon*Con, and being really sick.  It then occurred to me that I could get someone else around here to pick up the slack for me since I am doing that whole “getting a PhD despite my better judgement” thing.

I don’t know Kate as well as I know a lot of others in the movement, but her writing is well-loved by others here at FtB, I’ve yet to read a post from her I didn’t enjoy, and, as I’ve befriended her on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve seen a kindred spirit.  She is sarcastic, but upbeat.  She has a sense of humor and a sense of outrage.  She can criticize without being mean.  And, importantly, she is different from me and will be bringing a different focus with her.

Let’s start with she can bake and juggle.  These are things I do not do… maybe some day we can make a video where I play the ukulele and she juggles to the music.  With our powers combined we could be mildly amusing.

She’s also much younger than me, which is weird, because I don’t feel terribly old.  She was apparently raised to think alternative medicine was real, which is difficult for me to imagine.  I was raised by being given all of the medicines that there were to keep me from dying of asthma and allergies, so I can’t imagine the alt med universe as given credence by not crazy people.

She hasn’t even bribed me with cookies to give her this space, so I must think she’s OK, right?  Here’s what JT said:

Still in college (leading the secular group at Northwestern) and already starting to get noticed for her abilities as a writer and for her work exposing the bullshit that remains in the field of mental health.  Her project, the Psychology Program Database, helps steer students toward schools that teach only evidence-based therapy.

SO BE EXCITED Y’ALL CUZ I AM.  I am so busy I don’t even remember researching all this information about her, hopefully it’s accurate.  She can yell if it’s not.

Interview with “Supernumerary” Producer Alexandra Creswick

Supernumerary, a film that showed recently at the Newport Beach Festival and garnered a great review on TFD News, is a 26 minute long short that was produced by an old friend of mine from High School, Alexandra Creswick.  Though I call her Alex, but IMDB tells me it’s Alexandra…

1. A brief description of the film itself?

“Supernumerary” tells the story of Sally Nuart, a projectionist that locked herself in a film booth for four years after the loss of her father and completely immersed herself in cinema.  One day, an ‘extra’ in the film comes to life and they begin an unlikely romance.

2. Who is the creative team behind it? Do you have “day jobs”?  How did you get together initially?

This film is a production of the Wake Forest University Mafia, LA chapter.  Just kidding…kinda.  The director, cinematographer, and two producers are all WFU grads, and most of us met through some sort of Wake connection.

JS Mayank and I took a screen writing class together at Wake when I was an undergrad and he was getting his first master’s.  (We all assumed he was the TA and it wasn’t until a year or so ago that he told me he was a student.)  He’s a full-time screenwriter and an adjunct professor of screen writing at Western State College of Colorado.

George Reasner, the DP, is also a WFU grad and we met through one of our favorite professors.  He’s a professional cinematographer.

Alex Saks, the other producer, we met through the same professor; she also started the Reynolda Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, where we screened a rough cut of the film.  She was working with a company called MPower films at the time.

3. How did you find the rest of the team: actors, cinematographer, editor?

We had a casting director, Luis Selgas, who helped us find our very talented actors. In casting, we saw over 200 actors, and narrowed it down to Mckenzie Cowan for the role of Sally, Chris Fore to play the Supernumerary, and Jeff Coopwood for Frankfurt.

The chemistry between the two leads was instant.   What appealed to us most about their look, in that they both seemed as if they were from a different era, i.e. they could have very well been in any one of those classic movies…

The director found our editor, Mark Sult, through a mutual friend of his. Once they looked over the footage together, both realized that they had similar visions for the film.   They both understood the importance of paying homage to their shared love for cinema, yet keeping the story personal and intimate.

4. How intense was post-production?

Very intense.  Probably more intense than the actual shooting of the film, which was more exhausting than anything.   The process was long and very precise.

The visual effects which were done by the extraordinary team at Crash+Sues, were the most time-consuming. That took almost six months, since integrating our actor into the pre-existing movies is painstaking work, and making it seemless was pivotal to the story. They were marvelous, and did an amazing job.

Additionally, we had to work very closely with our lawyer, Michael Donaldson.  All of the existing footage (from 28 films) is considered Fair Use, and we had to pass very stringent criteria to make sure we were within the bounds of the law.  But Michael and his colleagues were endlessly enthusiastic about our film, and supportive through every step of the way.

There were a couple of instances where we wanted to use bits of soundtracks to movies to introduce the clips, but we couldn’t because of copyright issues.  But our composer, Antonio Lepore, stepped in and found ways to marry our original score, the original songs, and the films we pay homage to.   If you listen to the original music, you can hear themes that are echoed in the music of the clips that follow, and it’s amazing how much of a difference that makes to the feeling of unity we managed to achieve.

5. When was it made, what was the budget, how long did it take to get out to festivals?
6. What festivals have you tried for?  Do you have a festival plan?

I took two years from conception to final cut and print.  We completed all the sound mixing and corrections in late 2010 and started submitting to festivals for the 2011 circuit.

We tried to pick festivals that our film would appeal to.  Each festival has it’s own brand and personality, and we tried to remain conscious of that because we wanted to find the best places to showcase our work. The film is 26 minutes long, which makes it hard to program for festivals that are trying to pack as many shorts as they can into one program.  So we knew going in that that would be a challenge, but we made the film we wanted.  We did a lot of research as we narrowed down the field.

7. What is the background to the term “supernumerary”?

“Supernumerary” is an old-fashioned way of saying an extra or background actor.  It’s primarily used in operas these days; I’ve actually heard it in use a few times in the past couple of years and every time I do I perk up.

8. Future producing plans?  Anything else you’ve produced that we’ll be seeing?  Anything you want to pimp here…

The writer/director, JS Mayank, is trying to use the momentum of Supernumerary to try and make his feature directorial debut – “THE DEAD WIVES CLUB”, a quaint ensemble British comedy.  He’s also had several screenplays optioned and is working on them.

I work for an executive producer who specialize in independent, foreign-financed films, and we have several projects we’re working on at the moment.

Busy!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there was just too much going on?  That’s the sort of week I’ve been having.  It’s been good, great even, I’ve just had a lot on my plate.  I love the freelance writing I’m doing but, between working full-time and tutoring and trying to attend local freethought events, my weeks are already too full.  Then I got a special assignment from Social Axcess to cover NCAA Social Media for March Madness — so that required a lot of research, because I don’t know much about American sports, and I know even less about college sports.  This is because I resented being forced to go to prep rallies when I was in high school — I have a block when it comes to school sports.

Then I was learning a courier route at work, meaning I spent all day in a car driving, so I was working overtime and not in front of a computer. And I had a 1500 word piece due.  And I got laryngitis.  And it’s spring, so my allergies are in full bloom.  And someone wanted to consult with me about an editing project, which I just can’t take on right now, but it’s interesting.

Exciting news!  I’m going to the SCA Conference in Washington, DC right before my birthday.  Which reminds me that I need to put together some information on Social Media Strategy for them in the next day or two.  I hope I get the chance to see a little of DC, I went when I was in 8th grade and that was before I’d seen The West Wing and thought that there was something worth seeing in Washington.

And the world is apparently falling apart, but I haven’t really had time to absorb that.  CNN has just had one too many “Where is God in Japan” headlines for me to stomach trying to follow the daily news cycle.  And the Nicholl opened, and TAM registration opened.

So it’s Sunday and I still feel on edge, like I should be working, and there’s still plenty on my plate, but I’m taking a day off.  Of course, my brain is still going a million miles a minute — I don’t really drink, but maybe I just need a drink.

Nothing to do with the rest of this post

Social Axcess

So, biggish news, I’m working as a staff writer at social axcess and writing about social media.  Which is just about as meta as it gets.  I don’t know that there’s much that isn’t post modern about blogging, but there you have it.

My first post went up and there’s even a little picture and bio of me.  Ashley F. Miller, professional writer and general knower of things!

Go read about @TheAcademy’s social media campaign.

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ad nauseum

Man, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even understand what he’s trying to say anymore.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/23/nation/la-na-blogger-suits-20100823

Dearest Ashley,

Action’s bring consequences, you dont live in a vacum, and I gave you some good advise.
You put yourself in this position, and I looked at imdBPro.com and saw no (added) credits for you

You’re feeling of self importance (ego) is beyond belief, to deny our relationship and try and embarass is me is not really helping you’re delusional behaviour .
You look so dumb, bottom line, IM giving you an importance you dont deserve, and to deny is ridiculous.
Publishing our private sex notes makes you look dumber then when we (well you know what I mean)
The only good thing is not many people are goiing to read it, and most people will realize it’s true, it’s as true as everything you say about me.
You have a hard on for someone, well dear ashley remember, there are consequences for every action.
You think you’re going to moan and groan about every body, and I know IM not singled out, you have many enemy’s and some people tell the truth, and somepeople dont.

On the other hand, I wish you well, however you have to accept what happens when you bad mouth someone, just because I didn’t take on your script under my terms.
If you sold your script, congratulations, why dont you mention what company, who’s attached, director, etc..Ashley you’re an editor, and IM sure a good one, you should take my advise about your blog, or stick to your knitting.

All my lovin.

Eddie
eddiekritzer.com some details

And if you’re thinking it’s just me getting these emails, here are a bunch of links

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/01/apparently-im-boring-wrinkled-self.html

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2005/02/youd_think_anyb.html

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4752919-another-round-with-eddie-kritzer

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32362

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090608123451AA80wfq

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition: Operation Gross Out, ctd

I should note that the reason I post all of this is to A) keep a record and B) warn others off ever getting in touch with this guy.  I have noticed that the majority of his written abuse has been directed at women, and it’s almost always sexual in nature.  I’m not sure why this is.

He also appears to either be hoping that I’m either so embarassed by sex or by the possibility that someone would believe I had sex with him that I’ll stop exposing his scams. Basically these letters are a threat to try to defame me by saying I’ve posted everything as a spurned lover, and that the more I protest, the more he’s going to talk about me in a sexual context. At least, that’s all I can make of it.

And, if I hadn’t been previously harassed on the phone, I’d assume he was a thirteen year old troll, but he’s actually got a production office according to google:

Eddie Kritzer Productions
8484 Wilshire blvd
#205
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
323-655-5696
[email protected]

My Dearest Ashley, It’s always tough when sexual relationships end, and I know you feel bad, because I complained about your prowess as a lover, but since you’re a public figure, I knew you would understand. Please remember “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” Just because were not fucking anymore, does’nt mean you have to knock me on The Internet, however you do have a website, and you continue to love to talk about me (and anybody else you have a cause for) IM sorry you feel bad about us not making love anymore, but things do end. I notice you’re knocking my poor grammer, and punctuation, probably good points, but IM getting my message across. Just because were not fucking and sucking anymore, doesn’t mean you go on a personal vendetta about me. Please feel free to take me to court for “sexual harassment” I will explain how you were a lousy lover, and when you sucked my cock, I thought you were going to bite it off. You think you’re going to sit on your limited perch, and just say any fucken lie you want, and IM not going to respond about it, by telling the world thatyour a lowsy lay (that’s’ fuck in your terms.) I love when you write about me, and Please keep on lovin me, and think about the days when we fucked and sucked. Your’e my bitch, All my love, Eddie All my precious love PS: The pimples on your fat ass are improving the puss is much less visable

MyLover and Dearest Ashley, Got your sexy letter, IM glad you posted it my regular mail…..please dont be embarrassed. When you’re letter told me how you loved my giant cock in your hot pussy, I must admit it turned me the fuck on. Oh, by the way your “Blog” is down, it’s probably because you kept on writing about how you love to fuck and suck me off………I love it when I come in your mouth, it turned you on. Keep on writing about me in your blog, and remember (my bitch) you’re a “public (nuisance) figure” buy most of all you’re my fucken bitch…… Pleeeeeeeease let’s go to court, I can tell the judge all about our fucking and sucking, with your big fat ass……….you’ve gained a bit of weight since we last fucked. Keep on writing about me, it keeps me thinking about you and makes me want to write you our sexy escapades All my fucken love, your my bitch, Eddie copy to literary development part of the press

Dear Ashley, I hope we come to an understanding and we can be civil to each other, I think you get my point. Pllllllease remember, when you step on land mines, they sometimes blow up. All my precious love to you,” Eddie

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ctd

No update on the Kritz would be complete without a creepy email littered with bad grammar from the jerk himself.

Dearest Ashley, I haven’t heard from you in so long I was concerned that you lost your job editing, but then i checked IMDbPro.com http://imdb.com/name/nm1736719/ and saw you had no credits at all. Not surprising; most old ladies, with much to say, and little credits need a blog (i.e. Unpublished writer/no credits) need a place to cry. I also notice you personalize your blog. It has to be tough writing and never selling anything, you become frustrated, and decide to rag on anybody who’s handy. I have read your boring blogs (just to be informed) and all you do is cry, at least you consistent I do want to make sure your massive audience, (your mother, father one cousin & Me) would know the truth. When an uncredited writer (such as say Vance) submits, they may sign an agreement, but then after working on them placing them with Studios, production companies, etc, they may say, Eddie, thanks for all the help,, but I have decided that IM not going do this, thanks for the help. One Time I got The Tightwad Twins a publishing deal with HCI Books, Publishers of Chicken Soup for The Soul Series) I then booked them on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show they informed me and The Publisher that they don’t like to draw attention to them selves and decided not to do it. On several other occasions I got deals for writers at major publishers, and or at studios, and they decided against moving forward……. Dearest Ashley, since your such a driving force in our industry, I know you will get out the word as to whyI always require an advance against my commisions. People/ writers, dont always keep their word, so I need to know their serious, they get it back just like Dr. J.R. Bruns, and Dr. R. A/ Richards did when I sold The Tiger Woods Syndrome (HCI Books) As always wishing you a happy and succesful 2011 just like 2010 Your lover and still even though you just layed there, sort of like your writing. Eddie Kritzer eddiekritzer.com some minor detials I know it’s not much but we each do what we can

All I can really add to this is I’ve got over 60 credits on imdb, I’ve optioned a screenplay, sold several articles, and got over 10000 hits on this website alone last month.  And if I didn’t have any, it’d still mean that this ‘agent’ thought it was ok to bully young unpublished writers by making fun of their unpublished status.

And, just so everyone is clear, it is against wga policy for an agent to require an advance.  It is a disgusting attempt to bilk inexperienced writers.  He’s also just sort of disgusting.  Even if what he was doing wasn’t a scam, does anyone want someone who is this unprofessional to represent them?  Thank you, Eddie, for once again demonstrating your true character.

Dearth of Posting

I do try to update this regularly, and even with quality content when I can manage it.  I’ve just started a new job and I had to work today, which is Sunday, for about 8 hours.  And I have to get up early, which means I can’t stay up late, which is when I do most of my writing.  It’s tough.

I’m also doing some freelance writing (for money!) as well as the NaNo writing, so it just turns out that blogging isn’t the highest priority thing on my plate.  Also, the thing I’m most focused on is how I feel about my current job and that’s not public blog fodder.

And so much interesting and/or horrific things have happened that I want to talk about and I’ve got an excellent feature idea for SheThought that I’m finding impossible to write because it involves way too many ideas and is going to be a short novel by the time I work through all the issues I’m dealing with in it.  When half your article is about how difficult it was to write your article, you’ve got to start rethinking some structural issues there.

Anyway, I want to do a quick rundown of things that happened this week that pissed me off and/or impressed me.

This made me cry happy tears: Little girl bullied for liking Star Wars gets hundreds of e-mails and toys in support.

This made me scream in rage: The Westboro Baptist Church (aka the scum of the earth) protested Elizabeth Edwards funeral because she used IVF.

This made Wayne Brady want to chock a bitch: The Salvation Army won’t give kids Harry Potter or Twilight toys. They will, on the other hand, give them guns.

This made me snark: Egypt thinks that Israel is using attack sharks against them. I repeat, EGYPT, as in a real country in the real world, thinks ISRAEL, also a real country and not a Bond Villain, is using SHARKS as WEAPONS. Seriously.

This made me go Hmm… wha?: Only 6% of scientists identify as Republican, which is even less than how many College Professors identify as Republican (14%), and we know what pinko commies professors are. The author and I agree that this is the problem, but our opinions diverge very quickly when he seems to think the problem is with Science and not with the Republican Party. Between with the uber religious and illogical ideas the religious right clings to along with the anti-science agenda of the GOP, it’s not surprising that few scientist would admit to being supportive of the party. The problem isn’t science, the problem is that the GOP needs to get its elephant head out of its elephant ass and start supporting science and intelligent thinking, instead of psuedoscience and intelligent design.

And finally, the last two things that have been impressing and depressing me: Wikileaks and Bernie “GIANT BALLS” Sanders.

Here’s an interesting documentary about Wikileaks. Here’s a useful timeline of events. And here’s an opinion piece that pretty much sums up my own feelings on the subject.

A balance must be struck between transparent democracy and diplomatic need, but calls for hunting down Assange and hyperbole regarding the cables do not further this important debate and seem designed only for media sensationalism.

From 1996 to 2009, the number of documents labeled classified has increased about 1,000 percent, according to an Information Security Oversight Office report. It’s as if the U.S. government thinks it must guide us rather than allow we-the-people to guide it. And it’s as if the government — and seemingly much of the media — thinks we can’t handle the truth.

And finally, Bernie Sanders, gotta love that man.  I have spent hours searching to try to find clips from the Stackhouse Filibuster episode of the West Wing.  I can’t, but I will link to a video of Bernie and leave you with a quote.

‎Tonight, I’ve seen a man with no legs stay standing, Dad, and a guy with no voice keep shouting. And if politics brings out the worst in people, maybe people bring out the best. Because I’m looking at the TV right now, and damn if 28 U.S. senators haven’t just walked onto the floor to help.

I did it! I’m a Winner!

Finished:
50137 words
12 chapters
252 pages

73% of the way through the month
100% of the way through the word count
0 words to 50k

Remaining to finish novel:
~41398 words
10 chapters
~205 pages

55% Complete to estimated length
Projected finish date: Dec 10