kurt cries

Adeiu, and Something New

This is the last official post I'm making from my LJ blog. From now on I will be blogging here, at Wordpress.

Why? A lot of reasons. The biggest is I think I will actually blog more often from there, because of the drafts and schedule posts features. I'll miss my icons a lot. And it makes me feel sad after being here so long to leave, but I've thought about it for a long time now, and it feels like the right time.

Once I figure out how, I'll get it to cross-post from my WP blog to this one automatically, and I think I still get to have comments here, but you know how I am with those.

It has been awesome, LJ.

Book Rec: "Highway Man" by Eden Winters

It's my tentative plan to do several book recs in the next week or so, but this is of course contingent on my plans not going aft agley. This one has been on my mind for some time, and so here it is: my book rec of the day is the short story "Highway Man" by Eden Winters.

Short stories really are an art form, and this one has it down. It's hard to believe this is a short when you get done reading it for all that's packed into it. Washed-up rock star drifter meets hot, rangy cowboy is enough of a setup on its own, but there's an emotional through-line you don't want to miss. I'm not a big fan of angst because it's usual overdone; Winters gets that the way to do it is understatement, to let the characters' pain fill the empty spaces and speak for itself. The story is full of color and life and resonates long after the last page is turned on your e-reader.

Buy "Highway Man" today. You won't be sorry.
aten't dead

Post-trip crash

It's now a pattern. When I go on a trip or so anything semi-epic, which for my body is mudane for most people, I crash when I get back. Am doing that now. Of course, I also have all the work that piled up while I was gone plus all that has come in while I have been back, when normal people would be gearing up. So if you are expecting something from me, bear with me. I have my intimidating piles of emails. Invoices, interviews, edits, posts, comments, and more will all happen. Eventually.

Trip was great. Fabulous. Gave myself the gift of not blogging, not FBing and barely tweeting. It was wonderful. Saw Ellen and Jill and even Chase! Spent a lot of time with my sister and her boyfriend. Waded around in the Gulf of Mexico. Dodged severe weather left and right. Experienced Kylie Minogue. Paid a lot of money to use turnpikes in Oklahoma and Kansas.

HAD WAFFLE HOUSE! And discovered the delight that is Whataburger.

I'd like to say that I'll post pics and things, but man, I don't know. I'm so behind. Dan is the better one for that, both on blog and on FB. (Dan's blog is the "Violet, can you come over here for a second" link on the right.)

But it was wonderful. While my body is still twitching and my brain isn't quite firing, my spirit is rested. It was a great relief, a great time, and just what I needed. Now I'm home and happy to see temperatures in the seventies. Holy crap, Texas. You're hot and humid and in MAY. 102 when we were in McAllen. As sticky and heavy as early August in Austin. Dallas was fair, but I  have to say, y'all can keep your weather. I am happy to be home.

The cats are still trying to make sure we don't leave again and demanding extra lap time. We're catching up on missed TV. At some point we're going to have to do the laundry and get the suitcases out of the living room. But it was good times. Glad we went. Thrilled to be home.

More blogs to come, including a book rec within the next few days. Possibly several recs, but one at least. 

barrowman looks right

Bloggish, smoggish.

I've been a bad, bad blogger. So much for the blog schedule: all that did was make a more tidy measure of how I wasn't blogging. Ah, well. It was a nice try.

As for what I've been doing...well. Some writing, actually! Broke well into Temple Boy. Have A Private Gentleman on a hold that I can't explain. I know what comes next, and I know if I sat down I could write it. I just don't.

Part of this, I suspect, is vacationitis. We're going on one starting Monday of next week. I am very excited about it. My family, on the road for ten days. Heading back to Texas and Waffle House and friends and family. And the flea market. I just think about it and my blood pressure goes down and the sun comes out in my head.

It's my hope that this is a break and restart I've been needing. Everything feels so heavy here right now. I'm looking forward to going away and coming home.

In other news, we've joined a gym. It will be a bit of a financial juggle, but it's worth it for the pool alone for me. The home gym is still important, but the away-gym is becoming a healthy supplement. I've been walking a lot as well, which is paying some nice health dividends. Except for my hips. They are as cranky as ever. Poor things.

Have done pretty well on the no-snark as well. One lapse on FB. Didn't even realize it was an official lapse until this morning, and I can't say I regret it. Oh well. Humanity will endure.

And this is pretty much the state of the Heidi. I would not anticipate a lot of blogging before the 25th. If you want to keep up on the trip stuff you'll want to be following me on twitter or at least occasionally checking my profile, which you do not need to be on Twitter to do, btw.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find my heating pad and have a chat with these hips. Again. 
two shirts

Summer School: Shakespeare for Writers Class

I'm sending a handful of you who said you were interested (and whose email I already have) the official PDF flyer of the course. You can email me to get a .pdf copy of your own, read this same stuff on my website, or simply continue reading below.

Current Session: June 15-August 10, 2011
Cost: $50 (USD) plus materials
Size Limit: 15 Students

Class is open to all countries and time zones. Payment must be made by Paypal or money order. Your space is reserved with full payment. Contact Heidi Cullinan at heidi.cullinan@mac.com for more information.

  • To gain/review/enhance basic, working understanding of Shakespeare’s contribution to story
  • To identify use of fiction elements in Shakespeare’s theatrical works such as plot development, character, archetypes, genre, and comic relief
  • To identify, analyze, and play with patterns in Shakespeare’s theatrical works
  • To discuss elements of fiction elements in Shakespeare’s theatrical work with instructor and peers in online forum to further explore concepts and discover new avenues of analysis
  • To not offer a “how-to” writing course but rather an academic exploration to enrich general understanding of story construction and function using Shakespeare’s theatrical works as the medium of study

  • Writers with little or no Shakespeare knowledge, writers with some knowledge, writers who used to know this stuff but forgot, and writers with in-depth Shakespeare knowledge
  • Writers who enjoy examining concepts and constructions of fiction, especially in group discussion
  • Writers who wish to further or enrich their craft through study of fictional elements
  • Anyone who reads the “goals of the course” and this syllabus and finds the topic interesting

Shakespeare for Writers will take place on a private blog hosted by Wordpress. Upon payment, class participants will be given the url and password for the blog as well as class syllabus.

The instructor shall give weekly lessons presented on Mondays and Wednesdays. Plays used in each week’s lecture will be listed on the syllabus. Discussion questions will be posted on Thursdays, and there will be discussion in the comment section of all lectures. Suggestions for further exploration/study will be offered on Saturdays and will also be open to comments by students.

One assignment will be near the end of the course. Since this course is not for any kind of credit, the assignment is of course optional, but students are encouraged to complete the assignment so that they might gain as much as possible from the class. Several options for the assignment will be given, varying in focus and depth, and students will also have the option to create individual assignments. Students will have the option to share assignments with the instructor and/or peers. Late assignments will not be accepted for public posting but will be considered for submission to instructor, depending on the instructor’s personal workload.


Discussion participation is not required but is strongly encouraged. The course will be altered and expanded based on the instructor’s sense of the class’s needs and desires, which can only be ascertained through student participation.

The instructor’s vision of this class is casual enlightening, and fun, but she also sees potential for a student to become quite aggressive in his/her pursuit of this subject and will happily encourage such an endeavor. No student should feel pressured to do so, however.



Instructor will be working from Shakesepeare: The Complete Works, edited by G.B. Harrison. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, publishers. Students may purchase own copy, any edition, use a different collection of plays, or find each play as it is assigned. Students may also use online editions of plays, such as http://shakespeare.mit.edu/)

The course blog will remain open to participants until one month before a new session of the course is slated to begin or one year from course start passes, whichever comes first. Students may continue discussions for up to one month past the end of the course, after which time all comment sections will be closed. The instructor is not guaranteed to participate in comments past the end date listed for the course.

All course lectures will be provided to students at the end of the course in .pdf form within one month of class ending.


No class comments may be saved without permission from thread participants, though students may make personal, summarized notes from comments (omitting names).

No part of this course may be reproduced in any form without express permission of the instructor, including the .pdf copy of the lecture series. This information sheet and any information regarding the course, however, may be reproduced in any form and is encouraged to be copied, reposted, and forwarded to all potentially interested parties.


Should an interested student contact the instructor after the course is full, his or her name and email will be saved for a future course and will be placed on a waiting list for the same.


For further information please contact Heidi Cullinan at heidi.cullinan@mac.com.

“Mom, somebody got their snark all over my happy place!” or When Snark Goes Too Far

by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

We came up for the idea of this post in chat as we were both were feeling frustrated by different kinds of snark. Political snark, social snark, snark against other writers, against our spouses, against the world in general. Sometimes it seems like nine out of ten tweets are nothing but snark. And then there’s Facebook and blog posts and news articles and even entire websites like The Onion dedicated to nothing but snark. Both of us love The Onion, actually, but when combined with the general snarkiness (yes, that IS a word) of the world, even it becomes too much. It’s become impossible to spend any amount of time on a social media platform without being inundated by snark.

It’s exhausting.

So, what exactly is “snark”? Do we need to define it? What makes us feel compelled to indulge in it so often? Why exactly is it so pervasive, and so addictive? We asked each other, and neither one of us could come up with an answer. We just both knew we were sick to death of it.

The question is, what is the alternative? Have you ever tried to spend a day on Twitter without using snark? Sometimes it seems like even a benign post about puppies being cute can end up in Snarktown.

HappyTweeter: My daughter said the cutest thing!

SnarkyTweeter: I’m so sick of everybody talking about their kids. As if we care.

HappyTweeter: My husband brought me flowers!

SnarkyTweeter: Nice to constantly be reminded of my single state. Being married isn’t everything.

HappyTweeter: I have a new book out?

SnarkyTweeter: Why do authors think we want to see them constantly shoving their books down our throats.

HappyTweeter: I give up.
Possibly, we’re exaggerating, and yet, not really. Not by very damn much. Even writing this post, trying to explain how much we hate snark, ends up sounding like snark. At the very least, it will undoubtedly invite snark. Which is why we decided to do this post together, one, because it’s so tough, and two, because this way we can try to temper each other’s snark. And because it felt best to talk about it as a conversation, we decided to do it as another one of our back-and-forth chats.


Collapse )
fingers in holes

Somewhere between muses pondering & writer avoiding

I have not been writing.

I put in a good show April 17th, and that was it. Oh, I've had some good excuses. The day after that we had to put Blair down. The next day I had a release which had made me nervous even theoretically and then had about fifty things happen to and around it, so I was a screaming hot mess. I was (and still am) tracking down/waiting for a royalty payment which I desperately needed a week ago and am now getting really damn creative with how I make up for its absence. So there have been Things Happening. But mostly, I will admit, I have been fucking off.

The trouble is that while I'd theoretically like to finish up A Private Gentleman (WHY can that story not just finish? WHY?!) before doing anything else, the truth of the matter is that it's not contracted while Temple Boy IS. And the problem with Temple Boy is that I have been avoiding writing it for two years, which is a hard habit to stop.

Actually, the story has a draft, which is the biggest problem. At this point I'm not entirely sure I'm going to do NaNoWriMo formally again, which is going to cause gasping to the south of me if any of them read this, but man, after five, six, however many times I've done this, I've gotten ONE draft I could use. The rest of them have been messes usually so bad I have to chuck it, and at this point I'm not sure that's an indulgence I can afford, however fun it is. But we'll see. The truth of the matter is, my muses don't generally like to work on a timeline, and when you force them to one, it comes out in some sort of alien code that I can just barely understand and no one else could ever manage. And don't even say, "Oh, you're just being perfectionist." No. What I mean is that the first part is written from one point of view, then I go back, then I drop themes, then I start in the middle of scenes, then I shift the plot entirely, and then I write an end which I immediately is so very wrong I might as well delete it now. There was a time in my life it was good to push. That time is not now. If I push myself, I tend to trip and break my face.

This draft, though, is both good and horrible for the pushing. Some of the stuff is so fucking good that I kind of want to turn the computer over a few times, not sure it's mine, because I had no idea I could do that. Some of it is really fucking weird. And what all of it is, sadly, is VERY difficult to break into. It needs fixing, but all I do is open the draft, walk around it with a confused look on my face, and then hurry away.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I broke up the first scene because it needed it, and then I added a sentence or two. In two years that is the FIRST thing I've been able to do to it. I had hopes I could do more today, but I spent a half hour talking to Amtrak, which was very important, but it shot the little bit of brain I had. I'll try again tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll continue what I've been doing for the last two weeks: eating story. First it was a lot of books, and then Dan said, "Heidi, THE MONEY" and so I switched to hulu. I've been on a serious Angel bender. I don't know what my muses are getting out of this, but they purr. A lot. And I'm still kicking around the Shakespeare class, chewing on it. (I've noted you all who said you were interested. Okay, it's mental so far. But I swear.) But mostly I'm watching TV because it, unlike books, can be paid for in bulk and streamed. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. I want to pay a flat monthly fee to stream books. I neeeeed this.

So that's where I'm at. One sentence and a scene break in a week and a half, and a lot of story consumption. I'm refilling the well, being sad for my cat, being lazy, or all of the above.

Monday Roundup

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who commented about Blair, here, on twitter, and on Facebook, and in email. Your comments meant a lot to all of us here at Chez Cullinan. We are all hanging in there. Mostly we've all been so exhausted that simple functioning is sometimes difficult. Today so far that seems better for me, but I won't so no to a nap, I'm sure. Speaking purely for myself, fighting cancer on two fronts for over a year has been one of the most exhausting, emotionally depleting battles I've ever faced. Very frequently I've thought, "and this is just with two cats." I cannot imagine the toll demanded by cancer in a human loved one.

The Seventh Veil has been launched. I'm nervous about it as I always am, but there's not much to do now but promo. And, honestly, the best service for that book is to get gritty about work on its sequel. Of course I continue to wrestle with A Private Gentleman. Not to mention our impending trip to Texas will wake up Better Than Love, and Small Town Boy has been talking a lot to me, no surprise that it woke up at a death.

Speaking of Texas: the Cullinan trio will be in Dallas for the Kylie concert (YES!) on the 18th of May, and in McAllen from the 20th until my sister says, "Go home!" or the 24th, whichever comes first. So if you're in that neighborhood and want to meet for coffee, holler.  Chase, you are already on my list, but we'd better get serious about our planning! Anybody else, you just shout.

Also, something to think about: I'm in the process of putting together an online seminar I'm titling "Shakespeare for Writers." The idea began when I was in the shower and realized what I was missing in Temple Boy was a Falstaff, and that made me glad for the eight millionth time I'd had such intensive Shakespeare courses in my academic career, which made me think about the universality of Shakespeare and how often I use it but not in the direct way I'd been taught, and pretty soon the course was forming in my head. The idea behind it is to boil down themes and techniques Shakespeare employs which contemporary writers can employ either consciously or subconsciously.  It would be appropriate for anyone, from "I can't even name four Shakespeare plays" to people who could rival me for Shakespeare scholarship; the idea would be that I'd present concepts and examples, and together we'd all discuss and learn. I'm still working out the details, but so far I'm thinking an eight week course (with a few breaks and catch-up points) with a discussion group, bi-weekly lectures, and a few written exercises to play with the concepts, though I still think most of the gold would come in the discussion. Price... It's probably worth $100 at least, to be honest, but since it's my first time and I know nobody has money, I'm likely to set it at $50. It wouldn't start until mid June, and I'll take up to fifteen people. More details to come on that.

So that's where I'm at. My goal is still to return to a regular blogging schedule, but we'll see how that goes. You know how I get.

Go in peace, etc.


P.S. That Doctor Who opener? LOVING IT.