If I Was A…

This dude totally shaved his beard


I’m not really sure why, but my brain was firing with randomness earlier this evening. Not that this is anything new.

I started a Tweet session where I just let this urge run wild. Here’s what it turned into.

If I ever become a zombie, I hope I’m the fast kind–not the slow, pathetic kind. Oh! And no maggots. They’d distract me too much. 
Also, if I ever become a zombie, I hope I don’t eat any of my friends. I hope I’d be a good enough friend to still be nice. You know? 
If I ever become a zombie, I think it’d be cool to “pretend” like I was still alive. Take baths, fix my hair, order stuff online. 
If I was a zombie, and I was eating live people, I wouldn’t also want to be considered a cannibal. It’s not the same. And that would hurt. 
If I was zombie, I’d still want to eat sushi & chocolate & tomatoes. Not just brains. That would get so old so quick. 
If I became a zombie, would I *know* it wasn’t always so? Or would I just be like: ‘Oh–I’ve always been this way. Can’t change who I am.’? 
If I become a zombie, I want to be able to climb trees. & be arrow-proof. & maybe teach the other zombies language skilz besides grunting. 
Also, I’d like to be the zombie to begin peace negotiations with the homo sapiens. The world is big enough for more than 1 humanoid species. 
But I don’t want to be like Zombie King or anything. That’d be a lot to deal with. I’d just wanna try to be helpful and not scare the humans 
If I was a sasquatch, I’d need a lady-in-waiting. I could brush most of my hair, but some would be out of reach. Even with my long arms. 
If I was a sasquatch, I’d definitely wear a shirt. Maybe pants, too. But definitely a shirt. 
If I was a sasquatch, I’d donate all I could to Locks of Love. I would hope others would do the same for me if I was in need. 
If I was a sasquatch, I wouldn’t hide all the time. I mean, if I was photogenic, I would totally do a photo shoot for People or NatGeo. 
I’d like a nice condo if I was a sasquatch. The forest is cool and all, but I bet it gets lonely out there sometimes. 
If I was a sasquatch, I’d go trick-or-treating. That way I could get close to people and they wouldn’t shoot me. 
If I was a sasquatch, I would do Chewbacca impressions at parties. And maybe play bartender. If I had a big hairnet or a trench coat. 
If I was a sasquatch, I bet it’d be pretty easy to get product endorsements. Maybe for like haircare, ski equipment, and probably Gatorade. 
If I was a sasquatch, I might stay in the woods, though. Maybe become a Christmas tree farmer or a Park Ranger. But not a lumberjack. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d be the kind with a beard. I’d probably braid it, or wear a little barrette in it. A red one. No sparkles, though. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d want a brass tag attached 2 my horn. It would say: If you kill me, my magical horn will dissolve. It’s not worth it. 
If I was a unicorn, I would sneak into a zoo and only let little kids see me. And maybe sad people. yes. The sad people, too. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d grant wishes for sure. But not in the country or suburbs. In the city. Where folks wouldn’t’ expect me to show up. 
If I was a unicorn, I would eat all the bombs. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d want my mane to move all the time. Even when there was no wind. And I’d blink really slowly and almost grin. 
Also, if I was a unicorn, I’d roll around in clover and whinny. But it wouldn’t sound like a horse. More like a little girl giggling. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d be playful. Like riding around on tricycles and maybe doing the Moonwalk at the Super Bowl half-time show. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d heal people of cancer. But only if they were brave enough to climb on my back. And believe. 
If I was a unicorn, I’d like to do a reality show with a bunch of meanies. I’d teach them lessons along the way, & refuse to take the money. 
Lastly, if I was a unicorn, I’d invite all the sasquatches & zombies over for tea. And we’d tell jokes and play games and hug a lot. 
The End. 

Out of these three beings, I suppose I would most like to be the unicorn. Maybe that’s a cop-out since they have the best reputation going in. The main reason I’d pick the unicorn is because it’s all magick and stuff. If I could be this kind of cancer-healing, bomb-eating, moon-walking unicorn–I’d choose it in a heartbeat. Still, much love to the zombies and sasquatches. [Or is the plural also ‘sasquatch’? If I ever become one, I’ll find out.]

Invisible Ink

This is my 100th post on this ol’ Write Frame of Mind blog. I figured maybe it ought to be special or some such. I didn’t think about it much, but just let my subconscious play with the idea for a day or two.

Here’s what it came up with:

I’m a hands-on kind of guy. When I create art, I like it to have an interactive element. I’m self-employed, and my company’s specialty is upcycling unuseable vintage & antique items to make them functional. You know, so you can interact with the pieces in tangible ways. I am also a teacher at heart. Any chance I get to fulfill this role, I try to incorporate interactive elements into the process. Want to know why? Because doing something helps make the lesson unique and memorable.

Peppered throughout the posts on this blog are snippets written in Invisible Ink. You’ll have to highlight the hidden section in order to read it. Go ahead. Give it a testrun by dragging your mouse over the “blank” area right below this line.

See? Invisble Ink nested within a post. Nifty, eh? Thanks for the idea, Mr. Subconscious.

So, if you’re up for a scavenger hunt for random thoughts sprinkled across this blog, I’ve made it easy for you. See the “Tags” over there?
There is one titled “Invisible Ink”. It will lead you to most [but not all…] of the secret messages.

From this point on, I will continue to hide these Invisible Ink messages within each new post. I will no longer use the “Invisible Ink” tag. You’ll just have to remember to hunt for the sneaky little message yourself.

Enjoy the scavenger hunt!

I’ll try to make the Invisble Ink messages entertaining, straight forward, and perhaps uber-personal. This is my gift to you. A bit of interactive reading. A peephole into the blog author’s soul. Or something. You’re welcome. And you’re worth it. I love you more than I love guyliner.

Phreak Show Fan Page

Yes. It is confirmed. Phreak Show will indeed be my next project.

The more I let the concept  & ideas percolate, the more I am convinced there is a kick-ass opportunity here to write a draw-dropping, eye-popping, heartfelt story. This things has legs. [At least four…a couple dangling out its chest.]

– Tera’s voice is ringing true and clear every time she speaks up. She can easily tell this tale.
– The imagery of the characters, Victorian subculture, and sideshow acts is rich for mining. So rich.
– The characterization is burrowing down deep. The flaws, strengths & motivations for each character are rounding out into immaculately busted, yet loveable, folk.
– The plot is arcing beautifully, with narrative-driving sparks of subplots jumping off and reconnecting to the main current.
– The travelling aspect of the Sideshow is allowing for a sweeping, transitory set of locales–each with its own distinct opportunity for conflict both with the ‘townies’ and within the Troupe itself.
– Love triangles, unrequited love, backstabbing jealousy, jacked-up personalities, and deep-rooted issues are all spinning together like gears in a clock.

In short, Phreak Show has polished up its patent leather boots and is kicking my face in with its possibilities.

Since I’m chugging full steam ahead with this project, I created a Phreak Show FB Page. If you’re already a Fanboi or Fangrrrl, please jump onboard the Phreak Train & give her a ‘Like’. If you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, stop by and check it out.


The Next Novel: Phreak Show

My peaceful breath-between-novels has been released. I’m sucking in the freshness of a new premise exploding with heaving, huffing, puffing, oxygenated life.

Here we go. Again.

It’s always a toss-up for me on how much of a premise–how many specifics–I should divulge to the world-at-large. I’m torn. Of course, I want to share ALL THE IDEAS. I want to gush about the nuances, the love quadrangles, character motivations, the twists and turns, the specific tidbits which make my world & story unique. But, then the fear kicks in.

What if somebody steals my gems? What if a writing thug ganks my ideas and appropriates them as his/her own?

So, I share just enough to tease. Reveal pieces of the puzzle which—hopefully—entice others to ache for more.

{No, this isn’t as streamlined as a pitch should be. It’s more like slightly connected thoughts. Bear with me.}

Phreak Show  is a YA Fantasy. It is set in the Last American Sideshow–an anachronistic Victorian subculture existing within, and clashing against, modern-day society. The phreaks are everyday teens who have been enslaved by the mysterious Phineas Maestro. The main character, kick-ass sixteen-year-old Tera, is tricked into transforming into one of the exhibits. Living, working, fighting, and finding love with the other phreaks leads her to discover how they can all break free from Phineas’ imprisonment.

Their own warped self-images have created the personas of Blubber Girl, Gemini the Two-Headed Boy, The Abominable Snowwoman, and the rest of the oddities.  If Tera can control her unique phreak manifiestation as a WhatIzIt, she can help the others face their fears and release themselves from bondage. With more internal baggage than the spoiled Lil Diva lugs around, Tera will have to confront her own effed-up issues before she can begin to help the others. But being comfortable in your own skin is tough as shit. Being a phreak isn’t about looks, it’s a frame of mind.

I have started a few Pinterest boards for collecting visual references for Phreak Show. Some of the descriptions give further clues to the characters and the world I am building.


Take a peek for a few more scrumptious, teaserly morsels.

We have all felt ostracized & marginalized at some point in our lives. Some more than others. In a former life, I was a Youth Pastor. [I know, right? Crazy!] The leaders of one employing church in particular wanted me to chase after the athletes, the popular kids, the rich kids. In their minds, if we could get these types involved, others would follow. Frankly, I thought that was pompous, ungodly bullshit. So, I went with my heart. And this heart of mine roots for the underdog, kids from the wrong side of the tracks, the dirty, the broken, folks who are rough around the edges. The result: I ministered to sk8ers, emo kids, regular Joes & Janes–anyone who desired interaction. I still get Facebook messages, emails & phone calls from these kids–now grown–telling me how much I affected their lives… Long live the underdogs.

Excerpt: Freeborn

It’s been a while since I posted an excerpt. I figured, Why the hell not?
[Hopefully, the administration still gives me my hard-earned diploma even though I used that dirty, little word.]

From Chapter 2:

Katia interrupted. “Hold on. What the hell kind of name is Mom?Or Adam even? I’ve met a hundred other Katias, Gastons, and all the normal names. Mom and Adam aren’t on the list.”

Adam grinned.

“Mom—Nana—will explain all that. She likes telling the story.”

Before she could object, Adam reentered docent mode. “Now, as I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by Katia-2198-04, these are the private quarters.”

He pointed out his own room, Gaston’s, and those belonging to the other residents. Twelve in all. Only one remained vacant. He explained that the fifth floor contained the rec room and lounge areas where the clones spent most of their time. Katia, aching for a hit of Ambrosia, asked to skip that part of the tour. Adam shrugged, and they descended one story to the third floor. It was laid out the same as the fourth, except the exam room was subdivided into four separate dwellings.

Inside one of them, a wrinkly old man rubbed lotion on his stomach. While the skin stretched taut across it, the rest of him sagged with age. A pair of the infected exited their adjacent rooms. They were identical in appearance down to every last detail: hairline, lush lips, posture, bundled parasites cradled in their arms. The longer Katia looked, the more their subtle differences stood out. One was a man, the other a woman.

Adam explained. “They’re the only clones I’ve ever seen who actually look alike. Usually there’s no issue telling clones apart. That pair is from a batch of duodectuplets. We only have two of the twelve. Some experiment the Surgeons tried with one of the crops. They played around with creating six males and six females with 98% identical genes. The one on the left is Dash-C. Dash-J is on the right.”

Katia kept staring. Not so much at the clone-copies, as at the squirming blankets in their arms. Perhaps there was something to the whole safehouse thing. The parasites were rumored to kill their victims, but this pair of previously infected clones looked alive and well. They even seemed to be doting on the living tumors.

A Test for the Bloggers

This post is all about you! The answer you leave in the Comments section is the key.

Q: If you had to define your blog/website in 5 words or less, what would they be?

I was going to complicate the Test a little more by making these words off limits:
– Writing
– Books
– Creativity

But that would just be cruel.

In the comments, please leave your blog/website link, and its defining words. [If you can!]

Yes, you will be graded. This will go down on your permanent record.

Writers: Need a Real-Life Scientist?


It began with a new Twitter follower. [I believe this connection came via WriteOnCon? Will have to check on that…]

Katie Slivensky@paleopaws
I’m a science educator and writer fascinated with the natural world. My goal in life is to inspire others to get to know science a little better.

Hmmm…Science. I like science; and I strive to weave accurate, real-life info and facts into my writing. A proverbial lightbulb ignited. [It was more an Edison-style bulb than those weird pigtail fluorescents. Sorry, energy misers!] Thus began this Tweetversation.

John Lucas Hargis @gypsyroots
@paleopaws Awesome on the science front! What’s your specialty?

Katie Slivensky @paleopaws
@gypsyroots My science degrees are in paleontology and my side interests include astronomy and zoology. Yay science!

John Lucas Hargis @gypsyroots
@paleopaws Wow! That is an amazingly, perfect mix. Are you open to having your brain picked at some point in the future (for a novel)?

 Katie Slivensky @paleopaws
@gypsyroots Absolutely! Any and all writers should feel free to use me as a sounding board for science-y things in their books. Just DM me!

John Lucas Hargis @gypsyroots
@paleopaws That’s awesome! Thx for your willingness to share your knowledge. I retweeted. You may be in for it now! 😉

Katie Slivensky @paleopaws
@gypsyroots Haha, np. I live to teach science, so helping fellow writers with this stuff is a blast for me. Thanks for the RT!

John Lucas Hargis @gypsyroots
@paleopaws You’re welcome. In the meantime, I will check out your blog to see what kind of goodies I can unearth.

So, there you have it.

Not only is Katie a phenomenal mix of writer/educator/scientist, but she is more than willing to share her talents with others. Make her happy by hitting her up with your random scientific questions & thirst for knowledge. Your writing may very well be richer for it. You can message her on Twitter or contact her through her website.

Follow Katie on Twitter @paleopaws
Check out her blog here:  http://discoverific.blogspot.com/

In the Comments: Please feel free to provide links & leads to other professionals you know are willing to serve as sounding boards for authors.

Letting Off Some Steam

It seems like I have been writing nonstop since Oct 2010.

You can guess the next line, eh?

I have.

If you’re a writer, you know the drill: brainstorm, organize thoughts into coherency, draft, revise, seek  feedback, more revision, more & more revision, query, wait, perhaps even more revision, sigh, wait, sigh, repeat. This has been my life for twenty-one months straight. Yeah, I’ve slipped some other things in, but one of those ^ stages has always been ticking like a loud-ass clock in the background.

Officially, I suppose the ‘brainstorm’ part is still going on. My mind sporadically drifts into wondering, dreaming, and pre-writing my next novel. But, it is in that fun place where I can let it run if I like. There is no self-imposed deadline hanging over me. There is no pressure related to this process. If it happens, Yay! If I don’t think about it for days, So what?

Today, that writer-limbo-freedom allowed me to let an idea (which did not involve writing) come to life. I was in the midst of another task in the studio, saw some old clock parts I picked up a while back, and started making steampunk glasses. Uhhh, random. But since I didn’t have the threat of Author Lucas yelling at me, I started tinkering.

Here are the results:

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Today, I created an unexpected something on the spur of the moment. It wasn’t a piece of flash fiction, a poem, another chapter’s worth of edits, or any other writing related thing. [Well, I say that…but here I am blogging about it. And–the novel brewing when it wants to, does have a steampunk element…] Oh hell, whatever. I spontaneously created and had a helluvalotta fun doing it.

Now to sew up a brocade waistcoat to go with the glasses…

In High School, I was the ‘Artist’. Won a lot of awards for my art. I had an art-arch-nemesis, though. We were friendly, but quietly competitive. We silently assessed one another’s work, secretly envied one another, and cheered one another along with a respectful jealousy. One County Student Show in particular, I took 2nd place in acrylic. He got 1st & 3rd–sandwiching me with his entries. We never gloated or pouted. We simply nodded and congratulated one another. I haven’t seen him for 18 years, but we are ‘friends’ on facebook. Every now and theI troll his page…

FREEBORN Opening Excerpt

After a slew of revisions using input from both sides of my brain, CPs, betas, and even a pair of agents, this is the [current] opening for FREEBORN.


Katia shuffled down the busy sidewalk in her geriatric shoes. Shoulders and sharp elbows rocked the old woman as the mindless clones around her scurried to some appointment or another. The pulse in Katia’s temples thumped four times faster than the clacking of her copper cane. Wary of the surveillance cameras, even in the crowd, she slowed to a stop and adjusted the scarf securing her gray wig. Though her granny disguise was fake, her Infection was all too real.

Every face that passed wore a government-issued prevention mask. Every set of eyes above those masks posed a threat to Katia’s dangerous ruse. Even though she had taken every precaution—done every prescribed step to prevent it—the dreaded sickness had wormed its way into her blood. Red-hot fear and a hungry, deadly parasite now squirmed together in her gut.

She chanced a peek at the pair of militant Doctors blocking her direct route to the building. Their chrome assault rifles glinted in the sun like surgical blades. Katia had seen the Doctors in action many times: kicking the infected, mocking them, toying with the victims before dragging them kicking and begging to a quarantine center. A single prick from one of the detectors clipped to their belts would immediately unravel her disguise.

Her status would instantly downgrade from a harmless, healthy clone to a diseased punching bag.

Katia hunched extra low. Her lungs burned with stale, recycled breath as she worked her way through the masses and shambled along behind the Doctors. Their gruff laughter bounced off her humped back as she passed. Caught up in some dirty joke, they paid no mind to the rickety, old granny mounting the steps to the ten-story structure.

The woman in Suite 940 held Katia’s last scrap of hope. While the pirate forums referred to the woman as a witch, Katia didn’t believe in such things. The mysterious Ilythia, supposedly, possessed the secret knowledge needed to help the infected survive the horrific final stages of the Infection. With the world slathered in deception, it could be a trap. But Katia’s symptoms intensified with every passing day. Her stomach was already visibly swollen with the bastard parasite eating her alive from the inside out. Soon, she would no longer be able to hide her sickness from the ever-watching eyes.

Fear jabbed her insides as she approached the GeneTag scanner. ID cards, fingerprints, and retina scans were obsolete. This new technology now guarded entry to any building. Katia thought the method suspicious. Stupid, really. With the airborne virus so contagious, why had the idiots in the skyscrapers designed an ID system that required removal of the protective masks?

She slid hers off.

A couple exited the building, swinging wide around the threat of her exposed face. Katia stuck out her tongue and confronted the polished steel panel inset in the wall. Her ragged, fake-old-lady reflection disappeared as the door slid upward and out of sight, revealing the angry mechanized armature. It was like a cyborg’s arm severed from its body, all the flesh boiled away. Clinical and demanding. Rods, hinges and tubing with a singular, selfish mission: to prick.

The hoses plumped, and the hydraulic arm emerged from the wall. Bent at the elbow, wrist maneuvering into position, it aimed itself at Katia’s open mouth like a cobra ready to strike. But it didn’t have a pair of fangs; it only had one—a four inch needle looming shiny and sharp.

Katia squeezed her eyes shut to brace against the coming pain. With a sickening pop she couldn’t get used to, the needle plunged into her tongue. Pain erupted. Hot serum injected. Tangy. Bittersweet. Like molten glass flooding her mouth. The siphon engaged, reversing the flow, and the syringe sucked its rancid fluid back out.

Sirens blared. Strobes flashed.

Infection Detected! Infection Detected! Infection Detected!

Lobotomy That Didn’t Quite Take

The two halves of my brain like to talk to one another. Not as in the split-personality kind of way, but as in, Hey! I’ve got this idea. Wanna work with me on it?

It’s like having a lobotomy that didn’t quite take.

We all know the pop-science concept of the left hemisphere controlling creativity, with the right hemisphere controlling logic. In weird human-body-fashion, this lateralization results in the right brain dominating the left side of the body and vice versa. While there is some quantifiable truth in this concept, it doesn’t really break down all that clean and perfect.

I am right-handed. I tend to notice lefties everywhere I go. There’s no telling how many store clerks, mechanics, salesmen, customers, and random folks on airplanes I have asked, “I see you’re left-handed. Are you creative?” I’d say, oh, about 90% of them chuckle and protest profusely that they’re not. So much for a dominant right-brain causing lefties to ooze with creativity.

Check out this tidbit from the all-knowing Wikipedia:

“A person’s preferred hand is not a clear indication of the location of brain function. Although 95% of right-handed people have left-hemisphere dominance for language, 18.8% of left-handed people have right-hemisphere dominance for language function. Additionally, 19.8% of the left-handed have bilateral language functions.[5] Even within various language functions (e.g., semantics, syntax, prosody), degree (and even hemisphere) of dominance may differ.[6]

So, what do my botched-lobotomy halves like to team up on? Well, just about everything. More specifically: art, furniture design, writing, witty things. (Does that bar me from being called a ‘half-wit’? Probably not.)

Left-brain likes spreadsheets and formulas. But right-brain likes to make them pretty with lots of sleek formatting and graphics. Creative right-brain likes to make stuff. And left-brain logically says, Let’s do it using stuff we already have. Let’s repurpose these things. Let’s make non-functional stuff functional.

OK, says right-brain. As long as we can also make it beautiful. So, they–we–do. Furniture, lighting, mirrors, accessories, art.

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So what does all this babbling about lobotomies & brains & pics of repurposed creations have to do with writing? I mean, after all, this is The Chronicles of a Fellow Seeking to Publish a Novel or Twelve, right?

  1. A writer is the sum of his parts. I don’t write in a vacuum. (Too much dust and dander in there.)  My stories are influenced by my surroundings, my likes and dislikes, random knowledge I have soaked up along the way, my experiences, my creativity, my quirkiness. My personality is infused in all I do.
  2. Writing is the repurposing of words.  The words are already lying on the table, stuffed in a hemisphere, haphazardly stacked in a corner. I have to pick them up, turn them over, look at each one from every angle and decide how they will best fit together to create a finished phrase, sentence, paragraph, chapter, novel. The end result has to be functional, but it also has to be beautiful.
  3. I like weird stuff. I’m not sure which lateral half of my brain this stems from. Maybe the creative-right? But, hell, maybe it’s the logical-left which is trying to make sense of the odd/unique/off. This holds true in the people and things I surround myself with, and the premises and concepts I incorporate into my writing.

All this comes together to make me who I am as a person–first–and then as a writer.

I dig spreadsheets, math, order, patterns, and symmetry.
I dig impulsive decisions, creating, chaos, randomocity, and things that are askew.
Add in psychology, Dali, hard science, skydiving, mythology, documentaries, medical oddity specimens, square-toed shoes, poetry, physics, spiritualism, and shiny things.

Compute it all, embellish the edges, and toss in the variable of two hemispheres which get along (most the time); and you have a silhouette of the joker composing this post.

While not officially the victim of a botched lobotomy, my lobes definitely fire at different times. I’m just glad they choose to aim at the same targets. It takes a pretty unified front to make the craziness happen. So, thanks, left-brain. Thanks, right-brain.

You’re welcome, they answer in unison.