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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Other Side Of A Writer's Life

Good Morning Everybody,

It's Friday! Yes, we all made it to Friday. :-)

Today it's a busy day. I go over to my parents' house, then pick up my son's God-sister from school (my high school Alma mater, if you can believe it :-) ). then she's going to spend the night, which will be fun. My son absolutely adores her and she's so good with him. It's fun to watch them...especially fun to watch my son laugh at her silly antics. (She likes to make him laugh).

This is the "other side" of a writer's life. The life outside the words upon the page. And a writer's real life is important, too. Some of us have families, and they are center stage. Some of us have "day jobs" that help us pay the bills to afford the things we need for writing.

Some of us have children that need our help with things.

This is all right because it gives us a chance to let our ideas "maranaide". You never know what might come of it.

Have A Fantastic Friday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In The Zone

Hello One And All,

Welcome to Thursday's post! Just one more day then...

IT'S FRIDAY :-)

So...question for you:

What's your ultimate writing set up? What is it that helps you write the best?

Is it a big comfy chair? Your favorite songs in the background? Background conversation? Chocolate? Coffee?

Whatever it is, have it when you write. It's something I reminded myself of while I was listening to a song that I listened to a lot while writing Surreal (it was Chris De Burgh's "Missing You" by the way).

I almost never listen to music while writing... however I remember when writing Surreal, I listened to songs by Chris De Burgh, Ramones, Lowen & Navarro, REM, Kci & Jo-Jo, Bonnie Taylor, Savage Garden, Neil Diamond, Righteous Brothers, Paul Anka, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Optional 2, They Might Be Giants, "Trumpet Voluntary" by Henry Purcell Clark.

That music helped put me in the right mood to write Surreal.

So I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should go back to listening to music that puts me in the right mood for whatever story I'm writing.

Give yourself a break...set yourself up to be the right mood for whatever story you're telling. What you're writing...if there's a particular music that suits the mood of the story, put it on and let yourself go...if you can't write with music in the background, figure out what helps you be "in the zone" so you can write, write, write.

Best wishes!

Have A Tremendous Thursday!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let The Writer Write!

Howdy All,

Every writer has those times when it seems like you're just barely eking out your story. It's annoying and frustrating, yet, despite having ideas, every time you try to put them on paper you feel like you're at a dead end. You're so worried it's bad, that you can't even squeeze it out of your brain and put it out there. Yet, you know, that if you keep this mind set it's going to cripple you.

I sometimes struggle with this. I'm working on my dragon story and I have to push aside my questions about what works and what doesn't and let the ideas flow.

We have to have this conversation with ourselves...something like this:

Self, you love to write. You have creative ideas. Other people have liked your ideas. Cut the crap and just let yourself go...let your imagination run wild and worry about the details when you edit.

The thing we all have to remember is when we're writing, we write. When we edit, that's when we say "This sentence works, this sentence doesn't, this needs to stay, this needs to be changed, delete, insert..."

When we write we have to keep it going like this: idea, idea, idea, idea, idea, idea, idea. Paragraph by paragraph, line by line, word by word.

We can't sit there thinking "Is this good? Does this work?" We have to think "Okay, now what happens? Does she throw a frying pan at him or does she run into his arms saying 'where have you been all my life?'"

We have to remember when we write, it's about getting the story out. When we edit, it's cleaning it up.

When we mix the two too much, we cripple ourselves because we're editing rather than letting it flow.

Best wishes!

Have A Winging Wednesday!

"One Man's Trash Another Man's Treasure..."

Morning Everyone,

Ever wrote something that you thought wasn't very good, but you ended up showing it to other people and they gushed over it?

I'm sure we've all done that at one point or another.

After all...you are your own worst critic. That is something I've heard over the years, and have to remind myself. No matter what anyone else might say, you've probably said worse about your own writing.

Same with books you read. Something you might not have liked much, other people absolutely love.

That's one of the great things about writing. There's generally something out there for everyone, so until you put yourself to the task of scribbling your story upon pages (or, rather, typing it up) you have no idea how many or who will go crazy over your story and who will say "That's great, but you know, not really for me."

You can't know until you put yourself out there. That's something we all have to remind ourselves about at least once in awhile.

The simple fact is, treasures are often hidden from our eyes until we take the time to unearth them. If you don't put yourself out there (in a professional way) then how can your work be unearthed and shined up as a piece of wonderful reading treasure?

Have A Terrific Tuesday!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Tomorrow You Will Find Me A Grave Man."--Shakespeare

Morning All,

A subject I haven't touched much on:

killing off your characters.

Shakespeare did a lot of that (Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, et cetera). In fact, for him it worked, especially when it was characters we come to care about.

However, I read somewhere that it's generally discouraged it kill off your main characters. (I can't remember where I read it, but I did read it somewhere).

Readers often come to really care about those main characters and don't like you messing with them.

How do I know? Well, besides being a reader myself, I was once writing an Inspirational type fiction and I was thinking of what to do with one of my characters and I said to a friend of mine, "I think I'll kill him off...have him die in the story." She said "Noooo!" I said, "Why not? You didn't like him originally." She said, "Well, I like him now."

As your story changes, the opinion your readers form of the characters can (and often does) change.

Case in point...I was reading the 3rd installment of the Jennifer Scales novels, The Silver Moon Elm: A Jennifer Scales Novel. Originally, I had liked this one character and thought it was kinda cool that he and this other character were together. But as the story went on and I found out more about what he was doing in the background when the story wasn't focused on him, and I stopped liking him as much. In fact, I was disappointed with him.

Sometimes a death of one of your characters plays an essential role in the plot line, which I read in that same place (that I can't remember what it was) and the author said if it plays an essential role in the plot line, that was different.

In Lurlene MacDaniel's novel, When Happily Ever After Ends, the main character's father is a Vietnam War Vet and can't handle the post traumatic stress of his memories and commits suicide. This event shapes what happens in the latter part of the story.

So, what about you? Does death push your plot line along or do you prefer to keep your main characters (and those closest to them) breathing?

Generally I don't have any of my main characters die, but depending on the story, sometimes might have someone close to them die to help shape the rest of the plot and their motivations for doing what they do.

Have A Mourn-LESS Monday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blank Pages

Hello All,

Years ago, in high school (senior year) I worked on the school newspaper. I interviewed one of my favorite singing groups Lowen & Navarro. When I asked Dan Navarro about writing songs he said something like "...the agony of the blank page..."

That's stuck with me ever since.

What is it about blank pages that scare writers?

We just can't deal with blank pages. We have to fill them up with our ideas. Sometimes it's easy and things flow and we have ourselves a ball...other times writer's block creeps in and we feel like we're in a corner being punished.

There's nothing wrong with a blank page in and of itself. It means there's potential. There's anticipation. The sense that something is coming...even if we don't always know what that something is at first.

Sure, as Dan Navarro pointed out, blank pages can be agonizing. Especially if we sit there feeling like we're ready and nothing comes. It's enough to cause hyperventilation if you're not prepared.

So let's prepare ourselves. Let's get our minds right so that the blank pages aren't sources of fear:

1. Tell yourself blank pages are your friends

2. Start with a glimmer of an idea and go with it. See where it takes you

3. Delete what you have to.

4. Remember: Good days and bad days happen. Don't let the bad days ruin the memory of the good days.

Okay, I've succeeded in surprising myself. I honestly wasn't sure what I was going to write for today (Friday's) post. The blank page stared at me. Then all this came.

See what I mean about never knowing what might happen? About possibilities?

Now, since I showed you, you don't have to be scared of the blank page, either. This is one of those little successes along the road of writing. Best wishes to you in conquering your blank pages and blinking cursors.

Have A Fantastic Friday!

Fire Breathing

Morning Folks,

Wow. I didn't realize how popular dragons actually were until I reported on the Jennifer Scales series by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi. (Click here to go to the official website of the series) yesterday.

So I thought we'd go ahead and talk more about dragons today.

I am actually writing a story involving dragons. I found out some interesting things about dragons clicking on Wikipedia (I looked up Japanese Dragons).

I found out some other interesting things, as well...

In Asian cultures (at least in Chinese and Japanese legends) the dragon was revered as a deity. Generally something of good fortune. (Maybe I had a clue about that, but I don't know for sure).

Another interesting thing you can find on this Wikipedia article is that dragons with 5 claws were imperial dragons (if you didn't know that, now you do :-) )

I saw a glimpse of this whole imperial 5-clawed dragon beliefs in Cameron Dokey's Wild Orchid: A Retelling Of The Ballad Of Mulan, where she describes the Emperor being the only one allowed to display the 5-clawed dragon. (Another good book, but not completely about dragons).

Makes me wonder where and why 5 claws on a dragon came to denote royalty or a high deity. Maybe it has to do with having more power, or showing a caste system. (As in my story, the number of claws the dragon has denotes where in the caste system a person is--5 claws being the royal family, 4 claws nobles, 3 claws those below them and 2 claws common people or servants).

Most stories seem to agree that dragons are generally of the serpent persuasion, thus, reptilian, although in MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi's books the dragon are more closer related to birds--like the dinosaurs.

It's pretty cool how dragons have so many options, which means if you're writing a dragon story your imagination has several options...pretty cool, huh?

What do you know about dragons? Are you writing a story with dragons?

Have A Thrilling Thursday!



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Reporting

Howdy Folks,

Have I mentioned I'm a voracious reader? If I haven't, I'm mentioning it, now.

Back when I didn't have parental responsibilities I could get through a book in just a few short hours (if left alone to not do anything but, read, eat and, when necessary, go to the restroom)--by the way, I am NOT complaining about having parental responsibilities, I love being a mom. Just facts are facts. I could get through a book faster in a day before I was a mom, but no problem.

Now it takes me anywhere between 2-3 days to finish a regular sized book (depending on how fast a read it is).

But amid the writing I do, I also have to make time for reading. You see, it was reading that first gave me the glimpse of the writer in me.

I don't know if I would've started coming up with tales of my own if stories hadn't first piqued my interest.

Would I have come up with alternate worlds and princess of my own if it hadn't been for Cinderella or Beauty And The Beast (the actual fairy tales in written form, that is).

My parents started my love affair with reading and writing when I was little. Growing up I heard the antics of the Gilbreth family in Cheaper By The Dozen and of another family in Five Little Peppers And How They Grew.

Then moved onto the adventures of Besty and her friends Tacy and Tib in Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books.

From there sprung up a wide-range of interests. Romance, fantasy, paranormal, things like Beverly Cleary's Fifteen, Jean And Johnny and even the Ramona series.

I got into all kinds of things. Lately, of course there's been things like vampires and witches occupying my mind (thanks to Stephenie Meyer and Kerrelyn Sparks and my own manuscript).

But also dragons. I was already writing a story concerning dragons when I found out that MaryJanice Davidson has a YA 4-book series centered around them (among other beings). I am now fully entrenched in the Jennifer Scales stories after having finished the second one today.

The series in question is written by MaryJance Davidson and her husband, Anthony Alongi and goes in this order (according to MaryJanice Davidson's website or on the Official Jennifer Scales Website):

Jennifer Scales And The Ancient Furnace

Jennifer Scales And The Messenger Of Light

The Silver Moon Elm: A Jennifer Scales Novel

Serph Of Sorrow: A Jennifer Scales Novel

As I said, I've read the first two and hope to get to the last two, soon. It's an engaging story with weredragons, wereachnids, things like newolves and the mysterious Crescent Valley. Magic, legends, action, suspense. These books have it all...with a small touch of romance thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, it's definitely a good read regardless of if you're YA age or older :-)

So, what books would you like to report on and currently finding interesting?

Have A Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Idea Machine

Afternoon All,

I have a friend who told me he always has a ton of ideas running around in his head. In fact, my suggestion to him to write something special for his wife triggered an idea in his head. I was impressed. I don't always have a ton of ideas jumping around in my head.

But it's good to have ideas. It's good to exercise your imagination and see where it takes you. For example, I've got 3 novels in the process of being written...all different from each other, but definitely all take an imagination to continue. Not to mention the one in editing also takes having an imagination.

So, what about you? How does your "idea machine" kick around? Do you go off to fairy tale places? Alternate realities, parallel universes, or into the great beyond like in Star Trek or Star Wars?

Like Star Trek, we writers must be unafraid to "Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before".

You let your imagination take you off to far off places, or even just around the block. Don't be afraid...it's your chance to fly!

Have A Tremendous Tuesday!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pep Talk

Howdy All,

Well, I thought for Monday I'd focus on encouragement. I mean, I post words of encouragement up on my blog daily, but I think recalling certain things that encourage us also helps.

I'm reminded of the words from the movie, The Water Boy, where that one character says: "You can do it! You can do it!"

Or Home Depot's commercials, "You can do it, we can help." (although, how Home Depot can help with writing--nothing comes to me off the top of my head, but still...)

How about The Little Engine That Could? "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

One of the members of the NWHRWA said that everyone should enjoy writing. That it's important that it stays fun. I agree with her. If you're not having fun, then it's hard to write.

I mean we all have those days where you run into writer's block, but it doesn't mean you can't find some way to have fun.

Even if it means getting up and walking away for a bit. Maybe even picking up a book that you love...and just letting your imagination go its own way for awhile.

So...anyway... YOU CAN DO IT! YOU CAN WRITE IT! GO FOR IT! GO WRITER GO!

Have A Meritorious Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun, Fun, Fun

Afternoon Everybody!

Oh wow...the title of my post puts me in mind of that song "And she'll have fun, fun, fun 'till her daddy takes the T-Bird away!" (I believe that was the Beach Boys and yes I do like their music LOL--Dad introduced us kids to some of it through him playing guitar).

It's Friday, Friday, Friday...my husband's not working this weekend, I'm finally getting better...my son has been on his meds almost 2 days (although last night was rough) but he seems to be slowly getting better and hopefully my husband doesn't get any worse (he's now fighting congestion--I'm telling you the heater has done us no favors in terms of congestion and allergies...although it has kept us from freezing our bums off when the weather has been unusually cold).

I'm excited. Yesterday was productive...meaning I have now started to combine the two versions of Conjure A Man so I'm finally getting an idea what to do with this story (and hopefully much better).

The dragon story is slowly coming along. Very cool.

Now I just have to get Surreal editing done and be pretty much on my way to making 2010 a very good year...writing wise.

Of course I also need to work on my angel story, but I'm not as concerned about it as the other stories.

Since today is Friday and it's time to have some fun...how are you all doing? You got big plans for the weekend? What are you currently reading or working on?

Have a wonderful weekend :-)

Have A Fantastic Friday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Call Of The Pen (er, computer)

Howdy All,

14 followers! Wow. I'm pretty excited. It means a lot to me that you all want to follow my blog, I appreciate the encouragement and support. (I do go and look up followers' blogs, too, especially the new ones so I can get to know you better as you get to know me).

My son has a sinus infection (thank you for your kind words in respect to his illness and me). Last night was a little better. He got restless about 4 times (all before I was asleep, so that's good) and this morning my husband got up with him (at 4 AM! Yes, I woke up, I can't help it, but I managed to get back to sleep). Then this morning my son woke me up at around 8ish and then ended up taking a nap. I got up first and he followed about a 1/2 hour later.

Last night I finally got back to writing. I didn't get a lot in, but it was something at least. I got started on chapter 3 of my dragon story and I'm looking forward to putting in some ideas I got last night (as I was trying to fall asleep, no less LOL).

Reading is going good. About 1/2 way through MaryJanice Davidson's Fish Out Of Water (her last mermaid book. Apparently it was only to be a trilogy. Too bad). Looking forward to reading the other 2 Royal books.

Last night I checked out from Blockbuster Post Grad. I haven't watched it, yet, but I've been wanting to see it (no, I did forget to put it on my list of movies I wanted to see, LOL, sometimes my brain decides to take a vacation).

Anyway, I knew I couldn't put the story calling me on hold for long (even if there was illness). Eventually I'd find a way to sit down and do some writing, no matter if I was congested. LOL

Oh, by the way, do any of you all like the show, Castle on ABC on Monday nights? I LOVE that show. I don't miss an episode. I think it's really cool and I'm hoping they bring a whole Castle-Beckett romance in soon (yes, yes, I am a romantic, I can't help it). Oh and I do watch The Bachelor but I'm not following it as closely as Castle. Castle is my favorite show right now.

I watched Ugly Betty last night. I thought it was sad. Goodbyes are often tough.

In any case, I wish you all happy writing, reading and a good day.

Have A Terrific Thursday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

When Life Interferes

Afternoon Everyone,

Well, it seems my son is suffering from the same congestion I have. It's miserable for everyone involved. Hard to sleep when that's going on. Luckily he took a nap, but he's still unhappy (which I can understand).

So what happens when life interferes with your writing? What then?

Well, I haven't really been doing much writing (other than the blog), but at least I've been reading up a storm, which keeps ideas going through my head.

Bottom line...you have to find a balance and do the best you can. Put in the time you can. Hopefully you can make up the time you miss.

Keep the ideas alive. Make sure you're not running into the proverbial brick wall.

In any case, best wishes to all!

Have A Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Worthy Of Psychologist's Playground

Morning Folks,

I'm still fighting this cold/allergy goofy thing, but at least it's getting better (I didn't wake up coughing last night).

Now onto today's topic:

I know, it's a weird title but being that I took a huge interest in psychology in high school (plus I have a sister who has her Ph.D. in psychology). But the thing is, I got to thinking about a story I once was thinking about writing a long while ago (I only remember the title and a vague idea about the plot). But the title was The Madman and I basically remember that the guy was going to go crazy after his wife dies. Don't remember much more than that, but there you go.

Then there's a book I recently read by MaryJanice Davidson called The Royal Treatment (by the way, if you're a lover of romance novels and you haven't read this author, get thee to her shelf immediately! I've read one of her mermaid books--and loved it and I'm getting into the Royal Series). I've read some of her vampire ones, but I like the other ones better.

Anyway, in The Royal Treatment her (MaryJanice Davidson's) character, Christina is sent to go to talk to a psychologist and she doesn't feel that she needs to be there. It's actually kind of funny.

Some characters that look like the psych world would have a field day with them are some of the most memorable ones...

Hamlet, for one. Think about it...like I said before, if your uncle murdered your father and married your mother and you knew he did it, wouldn't it mess with your head, too?

What about Ophelia? Poor thing. She basically was cast aside and went nuts.

Hannibal Lector, anyone? Not that I've seen any of the movies (I don't think I'd be able to sit through one) but based on what I've heard he was definitely one of those people would say the psych world would have a field day with.

But despite these people's situations, they are memorable. We remember them either because of their madness or because of the impression they made with how they thought and acted.

Now I'm not saying your characters need to be talking-to-skulls-with-crazed-girlfriend types or cannibals, but I am saying sometimes when you explore the how and why your character does or thinks something, that is often what makes them the most memorable to others.

Motivation is important. What motivates your characters is what determines their actions. They don't have to be on a psychologist's playground to be memorable, but the more you get "into their heads" the more you get to know them and the more your readers will have to go on.

Have A Tea-Time Tuesday!

(Meaning have a relaxing day!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blue Monday

Morning All,

Lots of blue to report on. The sky is blue, my PJs have blue in them, and I feel a little blue. Been fighting this cold/allergy issue all weekend. It started on Thursday when I was working on cleaning my living room. The heater being on and kicking up dust my eyes (and left nostril) started running. Of course, I did my best to head them off--decongestion, things for mucus problems and as with things like this, plenty of tissues. The heater continued to run as the temperatures dropped (hitting an all-time low at 20 something degrees at night, which is COLD for where I live)...continuing drying out the air, despite the best efforts of the bedroom humidifier (which, have done their best, but I've STILL managed to feel dried out). I missed Mass on Sunday because I was feeling so bad/sick. I feel better today.

Today I'm better, but still dried out. Now my right nostril has decided it's time to join the party. I love cold weather, but I've decided heaters and dust are out to make me miserable. I can tell it's a nefarious plot to keep me from enjoying my days.

On the other hand, the masters of destruction (aka: dust, heaters, congestion) haven't been able to keep me from reading and thinking about my novels.

I've got one in the works that I've been doing bits and pieces of thinking on. Coming up with ideas to up the ante (conflict) and how to fit it into the story.

I've also been reading ferociously, having finished up Kerrelyn Sparks' Forbidden Nights With A Vampire (the ending was really sweet) and finishing up Cameron Dokey's Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad Of Mulan (Good, I've enjoyed a lot of Dokey's way of retelling fairy tales and legends...she's got a real way with the pen/keyboard).

Got in the works for reading still to finish Sarah Strohmeyer's The Penny Pincher's Club (So far my favorite of hers is The Cinderella Pact--very hilarious story about women losing weight and definitely like her style of writing).

I think Stephen King's On Writing should be something for every author/writer to read because it humanizes the author...reminding authors that even the most famous ones have a human side and struggled/struggle with things. It makes you see that writing is an "every man/woman" endeavor, not just a few high IQ people. (Meaning that you don't have to be a genius to write--some geniuses don't have the desire to write fiction--P.S. I doubt very much that I'm a genius and it's okay not to be).

Also, don't think about trains, Mexican food (which I ate last night courtesy of carry out, my husband brought it home, wasn't that sweet?) and novel writing when you're going to bed. It makes for really weird dreams.

Either way, I hope you're not struggling with your health and that your writing is going superbly.

Have A Magnificent Monday!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Through The "Window" Characters

Morning All,

Apparently my left eye and left nostril don't like dust/dirt because even though I did all that yesterday they are both still giving me trouble. For anyone who was wondering, no, allergies are NOT fun. I hate allergies. I also hate sneezing, but I digress.

Todd Stone calls the friend, or supporting characters, "window characters" because they give us a glimpse into the inside of the main character(s) personality--perhaps not something that the character reveals on his or her own.

These "window" characters are sometimes sidekicks, friends, colleagues, you name it.

Think about it. You have these types of characters in your own life. Maybe it's your spouse...the one who says "You know, you ALWAYS say that." or "You are such a computer addict." And you think "No I don't." then when reviewing yourself, you find out, that yes, in fact, you do.

Now whether or not your supporting characters bring up some incredible "Oh my gosh!" revelation in your main character(s) lives/personalities is completely up to you and how you write the story. Maybe they're simply there to act as a voice of reason or wisdom. Or maybe they're there to offer a sense of stability if the character(s)' life is being turned upside down.

Look at Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. Benevolio is Romeo's best friend (along with Mercutio) and the two of them hang out and encourage him. How about Juliet's Nurse? She's Juliet's closest confidant. (And you have to love the Meagan Follows version with how the actress who played the Nurse says "Scurvy knave!"; Follows plays Juliet and she does a very good job).

Maybe you take a look at Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol each of the 3 ghosts reveals something about Scrooge, either how he became such a miser or parts of him that showed he had the capacity to love.

Have you seen the musical, 1776? Abagail Adams reveals truths about John Adams characters in their duets and "talks" (representing them writing back and forth to each other as they did during the time he was away...they were incredibly close--even history books say so--and relied on each other for support, encouragement and advice). J. Adams was a firecracker, but his wife was one in her own right, as well.

Whatever you do, whether the supporting cast is revealing things about your main character(s) or offering them any help they need, they can be just as important to your story's plot as the main characters themselves.

Have A Fun Friday!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hereos & Villians

Morning All,

Cleaning house today. Got parents and brother coming over for dinner and I'm not the most diligent housekeeper. Fortunately, I've made some progress. I've also made some progress on one of my writing projects, so yay!

Anyway, onto today's topic:

He's tall, dark and handsome. He's got a great sense of humor and takes good care of his woman. He's the hero. He's also my husband, but I refuse to share with anyone. Get your own husband, or rather, hero.

While we're at it...get your own villain, too.

What is it about heroes that make them heroes or villains that make them villains?

For heroes, sometimes it's the whole larger than life, hunky, dreamy smile dude that makes the heroine melt into a puddle of goo. (Not quite my husband, but definitely close. He is hunky and I do love his smile).

Or it could be the modest guy she didn't notice the first time she enters the room, yet his quiet manners catch her eye. Or maybe that dimple peeking in from his cheek. (Awwwww).

Villains can come off looking like heroes (Mr. Wickham, anyone?) Sometimes they seem like they're every body's best friends until one day, poof! You find out they only cared about Mr. (or Miss) Number one.

What about your own villains? Is it clear they're villainous or do they sneak up upon the reader and go "BOO!"

What about the heroes and heroines? What makes them heroic? Is it that they're the main character, or just all of sudden a person has some sympathy for them?

Sometimes these questions don't have as clear an answer as a fairy tale would, but there's always room to dream up something awesome.

Things like finding out, once again, that Mr. Wickham just wants money, but who knows why he picked Lydia Bennett, anyway?

Perhaps Hamlet would've been more heroic if his uncle hadn't murdered his father and married his mother (talk about messing with your head).

Maybe all Snow White needed (to be a wiser heroine) was a chipmunk to knock the apple out of her hands and bite the witch's ankles. (Then again, would she ever have met Prince Charming? Aside from Disney having them singing that song near the beginning of the movie).

Either way, the characters, whether you love 'em or hate them, have something compelling about them. That's what makes them what they are. There's that certain something that reaches out and says "Hello! I'm important." And so they are.

When you discover that certain formula, you can make your heroes and villains just as memorable.

Have A Thrilling Thursday!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Music Swells

Hi All,

You know those moments in movies or musicals/plays where there's an important moment and the music crescendos?

Like when there's a kiss and the music gets all loud and inspirational. (Think the opening of Grease).

Your big moments...your crescendos should be like that. Everybody loves to read a book where there's this fabulous moment and their hearts start beating and they feel like life is wonderful.

Now some books crescendos are more like suspenseful and the heart rate is an elevated thump-thump-thump. (I'm not talking black moment, I'm talking BIG moment).

Whatever big moment--music swelling--supsenseful--pour it out. Let your characters have their joy--their moment in the spotlight. A chance to really shine and show the readers that, yeah, this is why that character just rocks.

(And yeah, I'm still a sucker for those musicals...Oklahoma, Carousel, Singing In The Rain, The Sound of Music, Fiddler On The Roof...et cetera...)

Have A Wonderful Wednesday!

"Alas, poor Yorick I Knew Him Well"--Shakespeare

Morning All,

Hope every one is doing well. I know the title of this post is a bit odd, but I'm using it as a lead-in:

Black moments. Conflict. Suspense. Chase. These are all important in fiction writing. It's the idea that the main character(s) have to accomplish something, overcome something to make the story move forward--be something that a reader will want to read--and maybe even read again and again.

So what stories have the best black moments? Is it the ones where you fear for the character's life? Or the moment where it looks like "all is lost"?

The black moments are something I struggle with. I don't want to get cliched about conflict. Or do the themes that have been done so often that it bores readers. So what makes something different--fresh, fascinating?

In reading Debbie Viguie's (accent on the "e" in her last name), Scarlet Moon, she took a well known (and often loved) story (Little Red Riding Hood), turned it on its ear, and flipped it so the wolf was something more than just a wolf deceiving a young girl.

In Disney's movie, Enchanted, the girl (the would-be princess), Giselle (played by Amy Adams) says that actually Red was chasing the wolf. When the little girl says "I've never heard that version before." Giselle answers, "That's because Red tells it a little differently."

In both instances, something that might have been told to the point of exhaustion is changed. The black moment is different, it's a new story. A new way to care, or not care about, the characters involved.

Either way you take it, a black moment can be subtle, or large and frightening. Or something as recognizable as heartbreak. Whatever black moment any of us have in our stories, we have to make it so that the reader cares about the outcome. Even if this means you have a Hamlet talking to a skull. (Like Shakespeare did).

Have A Tremendous Tuesday!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Note On Query Writing

Afternoon All,

Okay, first and foremost, I'm not an expert on query writing, but I have read some things and heard some things regarding query writing, so I thought I'd share what I've learned:

First and foremost...please...don't give the rest of us a bad name: I read in The Complete Idiot's Guide To Getting Published by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander that sometimes agents even receive "gifts". Someone once sent someone a pair of old shoes.

Okay...so, number 1. NO GIMMICKS.

Some agents/ publishers like things one way, another might like it completely different.

So, Number 2. CHECK AGENT / PUBLISHER'S SUBMISSION GUIDELINES TO KNOW PREFERENCES.

Tip: Read their blogs if they have one. Sometimes they even say.

I have heard conflicting advice on whether or not to query with one's pseudonym (pen name). Some say yes and some say no.

Again...check preferences to find out what each agent / publisher wants.

I haven't read this book all the way through, yet, but it's put out by The Writer's Digest (a respected magazine for writers) called Guide To Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas. In the back of the book it has several references. It looks like it's a very helpful book. I'll be able to tell you more when I've read it.

Rhonda Morrow says the minute you get into the process of finding an agent or publisher your manuscript becomes a product. That is, it's something you're trying to sell, that agent will try to sell, a publisher will try to sell. The consumers are those who are going to buy your book (and in the end, those are the people who get on amazon.com or go visit bookstores like Barnes & Noble, pick up your book and pay for it). So you have to make the book sell able. You want to put your best foot forward.

Also, spell check and grammar check. Most word processors have at least a spell check. If you don't use it, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Also, WATCH YOUR WORD USES. Some words SOUND the same, but are spelled DIFFERENT and have different meanings from each other.

EXAMPLE HERE (arrow down to the first submission of this query).

So, Number 3: CHECK YOUR SPELLING. (You're gonna do that in your manuscript, why not do it also in your query letter, which is what the agent/publisher will see FIRST).

I remember before I got married people would misspell my last name. It was only a 5 letter last name, and me and my family were (are) always willing to spell it out. One of the most common mistakes was that the "V" in the name was always lowercase when people would put it in without asking us how to spell our name. We never lowercase the "V" in that last name. Why? Because originally, before put the first 2 letters and the last 3 letters together they were separated. The first 2 letters would be there, then a space, then the last 3 letters. To make things easier, all 5 letters were put together as one word.

In high school, I remember my byline in the high school newspaper was printed with a lowercase "V". I complained to the editor, who couldn't understand my problem. She said the "W" in her last name (which was supposed to be uppercase) was often lowercase, but it didn't bother her. I told her when people lowercase the "V" it changed the pronunciation of the name.

So, NUMBER 4: CHECK THE SPELLING OF THE AGENT/ PUBLISHER'S NAME(S).

Go to their website, double, triple check if you have to, but get that name right! That's one of the most common complaints I see made by agents.

They don't care if you don't see a problem with lower casing their "V" or "W" in their last names, if they want it uppercase, you uppercase those letters.

Part of a person's identity IS their name. It's how we know who is who. That's why some people are so protective of their names.

Based on what I've read, if you respect the agents and publishers (editors) in the world, they'll be more likely to give you a chance.

Happy writing and best of luck querying.

Have A Marvelous Monday!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy After Midnight Folks,

Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year! Enjoy 2010! Get lots of writing done :-)

Have a Fabulous Friday!