Author and Blogger, Marti Lawrence

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My Morning

Posted By on June 5, 2015

Dear readers, it is your lucky day! I have another guest post by a terrific writer!

To read more from guest author Ilyanna Kreske please visit:
http://yanamama.blogspot.com/

A play in one act, for your amusement

Setting: 5 a.m. Friday. The sun has not yet risen. A cool spring breeze flows gently through my bedroom, where Darling Husband and I sleep to the melody of robin-song.

Smoke Detector 1: Let me sing you the song of my people

Smoke detectors 2 – infinity: We will sing with you, brother

I rise and stumble downstairs to listen to the glorious chirping

Unfortunate Puddle: Let me bathe your feet in cold dog urine. All the girls are doing it.

I fumble for the mop and spray bottle and clean a bazillion square feet of wood floor

Unfortunate Puddle: I shall return!

Smoke Detectors (all): Chirpety chirp squeak squeal!

I take matters into hand.

Smoke Detector Eleventy: I weep for your ignorance as you tear me from my hearth and home. SDE screams in mighty agony

All the other smoke detectors wail in disbelief. The children wake and begin to cry. I mercilessly storm through the house, pulling down smoke detectors and gently stacking them for later battery replacement

Smoke Detector The Last: I will sing intermittently and at random, in mourning for my family. You.Will.Not find me.

I spend 20 minutes searching for the last smoke detector and finally find it in the unfinished basement

Me: AHA! Gotchu, fucker!

Unfortunate Puddle: I’m ALLIIIIVVVEEEE! Let me shower your hand and arm with dog urine, filtered through the floorboards above. All the girls are doing it.

I throw the soaked detector in the trash and mop myself with paper towels as I head to the shower.

On-Demand Hot Water Heater: Poor girl, let me shower you with delightful hot water. Better?

Me: mmmm.

ODHWH: PRANK! switches instantly to ice water

Me: FFFFUUUUUCCCCCKKKK!

Alarm Clock: Wakey, wakey rise and shine! Are we ready for another GREAT day?

*The End*

How to Succeed at Steampunk Without Really Trying

Posted By on May 31, 2015

Today I am sharing with you a guest post by a good friend who is a terrific writer!

If you are not familiar with “steampunk” it is so much fun! It is a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy—also in recent years a fashion and lifestyle movement—that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.

To read more from guest author Mike Reeves-McMillan please visit:
http://csidemedia.com/gryphonclerks/my-books/

– – – – – – – – – –
So, the market for urban fantasy is looking pretty saturated – hard to break into. And you’ve been eyeing up this steampunk thing, but it looks like it might involve work. Fear not! Steampunk is selling, and as a former employee of a large publisher I can exclusively reveal that large publishers don’t give a fat rat’s for quality, because they make their money on quantity.

And, having read a bunch of the results of this policy, I can now impart to you the never-fail, paint-by-numbers formula by which you, you lazy, talentless hack, can also get a publishing contract (and a legion of diehard fans in funny costumes).

Setting. In practice you can probably set steampunk anywhere from the Renaissance to about World War II, but its heartland is the Victorian era. Even if you’re setting your story in a secondary fantasy world, you should stick in some kind of Victorian reference.

You might think that this will involve research, even if it’s only spending a few minutes browsing Wikipedia. Don’t worry. Whatever vague impression you have of the Victorian era is fine. Most of your audience won’t know any more than you, and they will defend you against any nitpicker who does (or has spent a few minutes browsing Wikipedia) by chorusing, “It’s only fiction! Get over yourself!”

Set dressing. Steampunk is all about the set dressing. No, really, if you get this right you can screw everything else up completely. Memorize these words: Brass. Steam. Gears. Airship. Goggles. Clockwork. Punched cards. Corset. Automaton. Use several of them on every page, and you’re golden.

Of these, you would think “steam” was the most important, but actually it’s “brass”. Brass is shiny, and distracts your readers from the fact that you’re a crappy writer. Make everything you can out of brass.

Don’t worry in the least about whether making that thing out of brass (or powering it with steam, or clockwork, or using punched cards with it) makes any sense whatsoever.

Characters. You can just order these from stock. You’ll want a square-jawed hero, probably, a plucky gel (that’s important), a mad scientist or two, some minions, you know the drill.

Your villain should be so villainously villainous that he hardly has time to plot, between kicking dogs, killing incompetent henchmen and innocent bystanders, and twirling his moustache. He should always seem like he’s on the point of tying a girl to some railway tracks while saying, “Aha! My proud beauty!”

Give your main character something they’re afraid of, or that they dislike intensely, that makes no difference to their actual behaviour in situations where they encounter it. This establishes their iron will and their unshakeable badassness, and your fans will praise this as “deep characterization”.

Be hard on your characters, by the way. There should be a high body count of nameless mooks and bystanders. Beat your main characters up, have them tied up and imprisoned as frequently as possible. Remember: steampunk fans like to dress up in corsets. I trust I don’t have to draw you a picture.

Language. Your characters don’t have to talk like a 19th-century newspaper, but some fans will expect it. Don’t worry if you don’t write this terribly well, nobody expects you to. And it helps to hide the plot holes if your fans are spending all their brainpower on parsing your sentences.

Speaking of which:
Plot. You do need one, but any pulp plot from the 1930s will do. Some guy wrote a book with all of the pulp plots in, but I can’t be bothered to Google for it, so I’m guessing nor can you. Just watch any of the Indiana Jones movies (doesn’t matter which, the plot’s much the same) and steal that one.

Lots of travelling about in different vehicles (but call them “conveyances”) and getting in fights is absolutely essential.

Follow those five simple steps, and steampunk success is yours (or your money back). You can write any old crap, as long as you stick to the formula, and you don’t even need to spell or punctuate correctly.

TL;DR:

Victoria had an automaton,
Its clockwork was of brass.
And everywhere her airship steamed
The villain kicked her arse.

Spread the word

If Error Messages Were Haikus

Posted By on April 20, 2015

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
“My Novel” not found.

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Your file is that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Aborted effort:
Close all things that are open.
You ask way too much.

The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
endless more exist.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

Joyful Easter

Posted By on March 31, 2015

Wishing all my friends (and even my enemies) a joyful Easter next Sunday, April 5, 2015!

vintage easter postcard image baby chicks

Bread and Whine

Posted By on February 28, 2015

Blizzard panic shopping

It is mandatory if snow is forecast, you must go to the store and stock up on everything, particularly bread, milk and eggs.

Because who knows when you’re going to have an emergency that requires French toast?

So of course I went to the store because hey, I don’t need THAT on my permanent record.

My basket overflowed with commodities, paper goods, liquor and the obligatory bread, milk and eggs. I got in line. Of course it was the wrong line.

How does it happen that with multiple cashiers available, I got behind the slowest, most annoying person on the planet? Just my luck I guess.

She appeared to be a young, healthy woman, yet she unloaded her basket as if there was a gravity storm directly below her cart, which somehow, caused each item to weigh ten times its normal weight. The item would be hefted onto the conveyor belt for its lonely trip to the cashier’s hand as the cart unloading was slow enough that a single item was scanned and bagged before the next item came out of the basket.

It was agonizing to watch.

I wanted to jump in and grab items in her cart and fling them onto the conveyor belt. I am a fast basket unloader. It’s grocery Tetris in my world. . . pull stuff out of the cart, load and shuffle the arrangement on the conveyor belt, get 75 items into a square foot of space. Move, move, move! Get ‘er done!

Not Slow Sally, the shopper I was stuck behind.

After an eternity, her cart was empty, her items were bagged and the cashier was smiling through gritted teeth, awaiting payment. This seemed to surprise Slow Sally, who has apparently never transacted business in the real world before. The cashier repeated the total due. She stared blankly at him, finally snapping out of her stupor and opening her purse.

Oh dear God.

She SLOWLY pulled out tissues, sunglasses, a hairbrush and I’m not sure what all else because I went rage-blind around that time. At some point she finally found her wallet. Then she had to decide which card to use. She had a monologue with herself about how much credit was left on the various accounts. At last she picked a card and just as it was almost swiped, she paused, and muttered the horrible words, “Oh, I have coupons.”

My life flashed before my eyes.

Of course there was no way to back out because I had Tetris-loaded enough supplies to get the Donner party to California. So I waited, took several deep breaths and looked longingly at the liquor bottle wedged between the milk and bread.

When I got to the car, husband said, “What took so long?” and didn’t understand why I clutched the steering wheel so hard it bent.