Monday, March 29, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: "The End" is just The Beginning

When writing, do you trust yourself to make the right decisions or do you bypass your instincts for the more "reasonable" solution? Do you question your character's motives or worry about where the plot is headed? [NEWS FLASH: Your characters can only do/say/think what you tell them. They're not real. Sorry, I'm just the messenger.] Do you change things in your wip because of something a crit partner says, even if you don't fully agree?

One of the best things you can do as a writer is trust your instincts. Keep your fingers typing. and trust your muse to push you forward. [There's no such thing as a muse. It's imaginary. Again, just the messenger.] But remember, the finished draft is nothing more than a place to start, a jumping off point, an extremely rough sketch. [Think five-year old with crayons.]

As incredible as it is to "birth" a story, the more amazing part - and where the real work begins - is immediately after typing, "The End." In other words, the end is just the beginning. [So, what's really the point? Like so totally existential, dude!]

When we complete our first draft, we feel a sense of well-earned euphoria. [Legal, drug-free high = SCORE!] After that accomplishment, the [dark, dismal] reality known as editing begins. The carefree rush of getting [pretty much any] words down on paper is replaced with the deliberate anguish of dissecting every letter of every word on every page. This is where the deeper writing begins; where your seasoned skills come into play. [Don't be shy. You know you've got 'em.]

This is all well and good, except for people like me who are impatient, perfectionist, control freaks. I want everything done perfectly yesterday. [Hmm, wonder why I'm never satisfied...] Unfortunately, the publishing biz is known for moving at a very tired snail's pace. Fortunately, I've mellowed a lot with age, and now enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Crafting words as perfectly as I can is fun, challenging, and satisfying. [This is one example of the BS I tell myself when inches away from pulling my hair out by its [graying] roots.] Yes that was a SM within a SM. Pretty cool, huh? No? Oh, well, never mind, then.

So, next time you write, "The End" know you've really just reached the beginning. Writing is a never-ending roller coaster ride. Pat yourself on the back, take a day or two off, and get your butt back in that chair. [Insert sound of whip cracking.] Trust your instincts and let your passion guide you and your talent explode on the pages. [Don't worry about the mess. Writing should always be a bit messy, or at least seem that way. If you don't know what I mean, ask your muse. ;-)]

Painting is called, Kiss of the Muse or The Dream of the Poet by Paul Cezanne
painted 1859-1860.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are Your Readers "On the Bus?"

Short blog post, folks.

As I mentioned on SUBLIMINAL MONDAY, I've changed the POV in my novel from 3rd person to 1st. I'm 13k words in, and the change is amazing. I have Kim Franklin and Becca Fitzpatrick to thank for this change, Kim for allowing me to be a part of (and winning!) her contest give-away of the novel, "hush, hush" and Becca for writing it (thank you both!).

As I read Becca's book, I had one of those major "aha!" moments. I suppose this is part of the reason why we writers are told to always keep reading. "hush, hush" is written in 1st person POV, and my book is similar to it on several levels. I realized that by my main character telling the story rather than an anonymous 3rd person, the novel had the potential to burst forth in a more powerful and exciting way.

I (of course!) love my book, but felt it was slightly sticky and forced. This POV change has opened up a new door and allowed fresh, beautiful air to breathe new life into the characters and story. This change allows the reader, as my dear friend Julie says, to be "on the bus." By that, she means the reader is fully involved in the story, experiencing it deeply, and has a stake in the characters, their journey, and their destination.

What do you - as a writer - do to make sure fresh air is blowing through your ms and that your readers are "on the bus?" I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Recipe for a Great Story

I got my editorial letter and line edits from AA on Draft #3. Have I mentioned she's brilliant? [No less than a million times.] Well, here's why. According to her letter, the things I need to pay special attention to heading into Draft #4 are:

1) Tension - More!

2) Believability - Keep it real - bring reader into mc's thoughts.

3) Dialogue - Less dialogue, more narrative.

4) Active Voice - Stay in the moment. Passive voice is a turn-off.

Hmm, sounds like a recipe for a great story!

It's the drive that keeps the readers turning the pages. What are the conflicts? How will they be resolved? Will they be resolved? What are other challenges facing the main characters? Romance. Angst. Jealousy. Conflict. TENSION. [His rippled muscles made her feel safe, even as his ex gave her the evil eye.]

This is a biggie in any form of writing, and especially in fantasy and paranormal. Do the rules make sense? Are they clear? Consistent? Are the characters acting in ways that are in line with their powers and backgrounds? ARE THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES BELIEVABLE? [Vampires wear only blue clothes, crawl on all fours and survive on chips and salsa, right? If that's how it is in your story, MAKE US BELIEVE IT!]

Do your characters speak like they should? Is the dialogue age-appropriate? Do they have a southern twang? Do you have too much or too little dialogue in your story? Does the dialogue reveal plot points or character traits/flaws? Is the dialogue consistent with how the characters would truly speak? DOES YOUR DIALOGUE SERVE A DISTINCT PURPOSE AND MOVE YOUR STORY FORWARD? [If not, put your fingers in the shape of an "L" and raise them to your forehead.]

Are your characters using passive rather than active voices? Do you use words such as "was" "had" "were" "been" too much? Put your characters in the present. USE ACTIVE VOICE TO MAKE THEM COME ALIVE. [I AM drinking a sweet, chocolate shake and WILL continue doing so all the days of my life!]

I finished reading, "hush, hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick last night and loved it. [Go buy it. NOW!] Afterward, I read through AA's edits in my ms and realized something: my book may be a whole lot more powerful in 1st person POV. [Just shoot me now. I'll buy the bullets.] It's currently in 3rd person POV, so that's a whole lot of work. I also remembered something AA said to me a while back, "You might want to try writing the book over now that you know the story, and see what happens." [Yeah, right, and maybe I'll join the Tea Party and campaign for Sarah Palin in 2012.]

So, guess what I'm doing? Rewriting my book in 1st person POV. Apparently, my mom is right, I'm a glutton for punishment. [She also thinks I'm "all that," but every parent is slightly delusional.] I promise to keep you posted on this exciting [tedious, heart-wrenching, nutso] endeavor. It may be nothing more than an exercise [in futility], but I'm giving it a whirl. Wish me luck! [Good luck, crazy person.]

So, tell me, have you changed your manuscript's POV or rewritten an entire ms? If so, how did it go? Do you have trouble with tension, believability, dialogue, or active voice? What are things you do to overcome these potential pitfalls?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Be Creative!

Do you have other outlets, besides writing, where you express your creativity? Do you knit, play music, sing, do arts and crafts, paint, sculpt, draw, dance, act, or do interior design? If so, make sure you're not ignoring those "other" parts of your creativity.

I slept for three hours last night and woke up with lyrics in my head. Uncharacteristically, I got up (normally I'd replay the words over in my mind until I memorized them and go back to sleep) and for the next three hours worked on a new song. This, too, is uncharacteristic for me. Normally, I write songs in less than an hour - often in less than half an hour. This one, however, I'm taking my time with. It's emerging as I chip away at it like a sculpture. And, you know what I've discovered? It would be the perfect theme song for my YA novel. The tentative titles are either, "Love Never Dies" or "Bitter True." (BTW, this pic is one of my faves taken of me a few years ago by the talented Steven Langdon.)

Remember that song I told you I'd perform before summer? This may be it. Or it may be another. Point is, keep those creative juices flowing. One art form feeds another.

Reading is also a creative passion.

I've also been reading again, which I haven't in a while. Like most writers, I've been a voracious reader most of my life. However, over the past year and a half I've written nearly five full novels, so I've spent much less time reading. Lucky for me, I won the book, "hush, hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick on the ever-lovely Kimberly Franklin's blog. (She also sent me chocolate, by the way. Seems those subliminal messages really do work!) I'm picky about what I read. If I'm not completely drawn in by the first few pages, I move on to the next book. (I'd be a vicious agent!) This book is magic. It's fantastic, beautiful, mysterious, fun, dark, and sexy. I'm completely hooked. I'm in awe of her seamless writing and the constant hum of tension she maintains on every page. This is probably as close to a book review as you'll see on my blog, but I may invite Becca over when I'm done reading and see if she'll grace me with an interview. She's raised the bar for me as I embark on the fourth draft of my novel, and I couldn't be happier or more inspired.

So, what other creative outlets are you utilizing as you move forward on your writing and life journeys? Are there talents you're leaving by the wayside as you focus on your writing? If so, would taking time out to reacquaint yourself with those talents feed your writing?

I'm asking you this because I have most definitely taken a break from my music as I've embarked on my writing. In fact, this is the first song I've written in nearly a year. That is a very long time for me to go between songs. I realize this is a detriment to the health of my soul. Being creative and fully self-expressed is the way we humans manifest our souls in this world.

So today, get out there and dance - manifest your soul - BE CREATIVE!

Monday, March 15, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Writing in Bed - The Glamorous Life or Before, After - WOW! What a Difference!

Here I am sitting in bed and writing. So what else is new? Sometimes I think I should get a life, but then I realize this is the life I've dreamed of and purposefully crafted for myself. [What the hell was I thinking?]

Right now, I'm biding my time waiting for AA to get edits to me on Draft #3. They're taking more time than usual, probably due to the fact my writing is so incredible that there are like a gazillion nice things for her to comment on. [Did I mention I just saw a big, purple elephant fly across my room?] Or perhaps she's busy warming up prospective editors to my masterpiece by sending them round-trip tickets to exotic lands like Tahiti and Bora Bora. Either way, I know 100% of her time is being spent on me, me, me and not on her other boring [far more brilliant and less demanding] clients. This knowledge makes me practically giddy! [Firstborns are a bunch of self-involved, annoying brats!]

As my sister, Laurie, says, "Before, after - WOW! What a difference!" I bet you're wondering what's going on with my bedroom? Did you lose sleep over it all week? Sleep/bedroom, get it? [Not funny. No one cares.] Well, since you asked, you'll be pleased to know I've come a long way in the past week. Here are actual before and after pics of my progress so far. (Helpful Hint: If you click on the individual pics, you will see them super-sized, including my kitty, Dusty, and the mountains of tissues in my trash can - bonus!) If you prefer the "before" pic, lie. After all the time and money I spent, I can't let honey know people prefer the bedroom the way it was. That would be bad. Very bad, do you hear me? [Um, you're yelling. How could we not hear you?] The "red" room was fine, I was just tired of it. It screamed out for a new, updated look. I swear the bedroom actually yelled, "HELP! Someday, save me from myself! All this red is making me crazy! Seems my bedroom's a bit of a drama queen. [Correction: The bedroom's female resident is the drama queen. Duh.] I'm quite pleased with the "blue" room. In five years from now [two, tops], I'm sure I'll be ready for another change. Until then, I'm going to luxuriate in my new spa boudoir - relaxing, meditating, and - as my dear friend, Stacia at Sybir St. John, put it - having slow, tantric sex. I'm sure honey will be thrilled by that part, after all it has the word "sex" in it. [Tantric, shmantric. He's a guy. Any kind of sex will do.]

Here's the sad news: I'm suffering from a nasty cold. I've been trying to beat this sucker down with a baseball bat, Vitamin C, and Zicam for the past week, to no avail. It's my honey's fault. [Isn't it always? I mean, wasn't labor and delivery of two children enough?] He apparently took this "sharing" thing a little too far, so now drastic measures are in order: no tantric-or-any-other-kind-of-sex for at least a week. [Seriously? Like that's a punishment? Why not try something different!] The only upside to this nasty cold business is realizing how awesome it is when you're well.

Since I love you, my faithful and very dear followers, I'm going to climb precariously out on a limb and make the following declaration: I hereby promise to post a vlog of myself playing guitar and singing an original song before summer arrives. [Gee, thrilling. We're so excited.] I feel it's important to give back to the community, so I dost bestow a song unto thee. [And then I will part the Seas, saith the Lord. Amen.] After all, I didn't rip my fake fingernails off for nothing, did I? [In the meantime, here's a link to my musical MySpace site. Enjoy!]

So, my little snowflakes, tell me which boudoir you prefer, and send your cold remedies my way. [I've heard chocolate cures the common cold, so I may try a chocolate-only diet for the next few days. I'll report back next week.]

Until then, may peace, love, and general grooviness be yours.

Monday, March 8, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Bring on the Spring!

Like my dad used to say when we were little, "Spring has sprung, the grass has ris, I wonder where the birdies is?"

We're not quite there, but we're close enough for rock and roll. You know how I know this? Because next weekend is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time! That's right, folks, we lose one precious hour of sleep [mad partying] in order to gain more daylight.

By the same token, when The Universe snatches away our sacred daylight in the fall, it leaves a crummy hour as a booby prize on a table next to a half-eaten cookie and warm glass of milk. A rotten deal to be sure, but for now, let the sun shine, let the sun shine in, the sun shine in! [You must be naked and theoretically or actually high while reading that last line. Feel free to send pics for my next blog post entitled, My Followers In All Their "Glory"]

So, what are my plans for the spring, you ask? [No one cares,] Well, I'm glad you asked! I've got plans - big ones.

For example, I'm doing a major redo on my boudoir. Yup, a boudoir redo! Isn't that exciting? [Not particularly.] First I took my blog to the spa and gave it a shiny new "do," and now it's my bedroom's turn. I'm on a roll. [Bored to death, need something to give my life the pretense of meaning.] I'm changing out the red, black, and gold for blue, cream, and taupe. I don't know if it's the dreary, impossibly long winter that's thankfully drawing to a close causing my soul to scream for change, or simply my inner-decorating-diva wanting to step on stage, but I'm craving soft, soothing surroundings instead of wild, sensual, passionate ones. [Soothing vs passionate = old.] I mean, I'm not ditching passion altogether - we can still have wild, passionate, hot, well you know [sex] in a calm, soothing environment, right? [Once a month, missionary style, whether we need to or not.] It's just, I'm feeling the need for deep breathing, peace, silence, calmness, tranquility, blah, blah, blah.

This, by the way, has nothing to do with age [total lie] and everything to do with embracing my inner Ghandi. [Good Lord, the BS is flowing faster than the Nile.] As I gracefully mature [never happen], I feel the need for calm and peace in my world. My days of heavy partying are behind me [damn it all to hell!] and it's time to move forward with intention, productivity, and focused desire. [Focused desire? Maybe I should keep the red...]

Are any of you experiencing the need for a simpler more tranquil lifestyle? Has the majesty of your Glory Days passed you by? Do you miss those days, or are you glad they're over? [If you say you're glad they're over, you're either lying or dead.] Are you craving a more peaceful existence? I am. And my bedroom will soon reflect that.

Another thing I'm hoping spring will bring [Dr. Seuss, move over!] is my book submission and record-breaking, 7-figure book deal. No pressure for Awesome Agent or anything, but I would like my book deal to pay off my mortgage and credit card bills before the summer solstice, which according to the US Naval Observatory, will arrive at precisely 7:28AM EDT on June 21st. [AA? Are you still there, AA? I'll give you a Coach bag, remember? And maybe even a matching wallet. It'll be SO worth it!]

[Drama queen alert!] And, then there's that European vacation I've been dreaming of for lo, so many, dreary, long, heart-wrenching years. Isn't it sad that I've never been? I mean, don't you feel extreme angst for me knowing that, at this late stage of the game, I've never been off the continent? [Read my lips: NO ONE CARES!] Okay, so I've been to the Caribbean islands and even the tippy-top of Venezuela, but seriously people, [geographical genius alert] those places are not Europe! I'm hoping one of these days that my honey or AA will make my traveling dreams come true. After all, I think someone besides myself should make my dreams come true, don't you? [No.] I mean, it's only fair. [It's nothing remotely close to fair.]

In review, my Spring Dreams are as follows:
  1. New and improved, soft, soothing, blue boudoir;
  2. 7-figure book deal, all bills paid off;
  3. European vacation.
What are your Spring Dreams? (Before you answer, remember: life is short so DREAM BIG!) [Seriously, it's short. And getting shorter by the minute. You don't have much time left. Go! Get Cracking! Scat! Why are you still here? Run, little snowflakes, run!]

And don't forget to set the clocks ahead next weekend. Bring on the spring, baby, BRING. ON. THE. SPRING!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cats Rule and Here's the Proof: Meet My Feline Captors

I thought I'd take a break from the writing madness and post some pics from my feline captors.

Here's Emma hiding in her "tent." I'm sure you can tell from her sweet demeanor that if you mess with her she'll rip your eyes out before you can say, "Meow." She's vicious and she's my favorite.

Next up, we have Zoro. If you can't tell from the picture, he likes to sleep. In his own bed. For most of the day. He also likes to eat, which explains the 17+ pounds of weight he hauls around on his comparatively skinny bones. He's part dog. He comes when he's called, and eats like a St. Bernard.

Here is King Dusty. He plays with his favorite green blanket until he's molded it into the perfect pillow. Then, like Zoro, it's "lights out" for most of the day. He also gives "apartment tours," taking visitors throughout the house showing them the finer points like chair legs and stair railings.

This is Caramel. She's Dusty's sister. She is also Queen of the Universe. When she was little, she was your typical Calico - aloof and in her own world. Now, at the ripe old age of 8, she can't get enough human love no matter how hard we try. Total 360. Go figure.

This is Tiger Lilly, Caramel's nemesis. She loves fat-free Half & Half. She's my lap kitty - sits on my lap and tells me what to write. I can't take any of the credit. It's all TL.

And last, but certainly not least, is Scampy. He's wise beyond his years. He's also a lap kitty, that is, when he's not sleeping in my closet protecting my shoes. He's my little sweetheart.

So, there you have it. My six feline captors. They're vicious, fluffy, cute, playful, sleepy and thoroughly in charge.

Tell me about your pets. Do they rule your roost?

Monday, March 1, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Hotter, Sexier, & WAY More Attractive

First of all, how do you like the new "blog do?" I took my blog to the spa and after much fussing, snipping, curling, and nail-polishing, this is what the professional stylists came up with. Do you like it? Isn't it hotter, sexier, and WAY more attractive? [Um, is the Earth flat? Is it possible to eat only one Dorito?]

Secondly, I have a deep, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching question: What do you do when you're in like, but not in love with your wip? Do you drop it like a high-school boyfriend with a really bad zit, or stick with it like an annoying song you can't get out of your head? [Midnight at the Oasis.]

I'm enjoying writing my new book, but I'm not ecstatic about it. Then again, I'm not sure if I'm ever enthralled with my first drafts. Each time I write a book, I tell myself to take notes about how I feel so next time I'll realize my neuroses are normal. ["Normal neuroses" is an oxymoron.] Inevitably, I plum forget to take those notes, so I'm left with my usual self-doubts. [My capacity to remember is akin to Rush Limbaugh's capacity to make sense or Ann Coulter's ability to be kind.]

What to do? This is the first time I have an agent to bounce ideas off of, and she loves when I ask for advice. [If I call her one more time, she said she'd take a restraining order out against me.] Her suggestion for me to do what I think is best and to trust my creative process is nonsensical. Doesn't she realize that by "advice" I mean for her to tell me exactly what to do as if I was three years old? That I need her to pretty much write the book for me? [For the love of all that is sane in this world, don't they teach this stuff in agenting school?]

I love the winter Olympics - A LOT - but now they're over - AGAIN. I look forward to them with heart-thumping anticipation every four years, and then they turn their back on me and walk away, just like Timmy Preston did in 8th grade. [Eff you, Timmy Preston!] Why can't they continue until the next one begins? Would that be too much to ask? [Too much to ask - you mean like expecting nice folks to trudge through these delusional SUBLIMINAL MONDAYS posts? Then, yes, it's WAY too much to ask.]

Here's my Olympic Review: The snowboarding was mind-blowing, downhill was death-defying, short-track was thrilling, and the figure skating was sublime. That's pretty much all I can say, since there were some sports I didn't watch or simply don't "get," but I won't mention them here since that shows little or no class, and I'm all about the class. [Curling, biathalon, cross-country.]

So, now, I can't believe I have to wait another four, long, depressing, unforgiving, irreverent, never-ending, menacing, hypnotic, psychotic, erotic [a girl can dream, can't she?] years before the next winter Olympics begin. Would it really be too much to ask to simply have them every year, or every month, or every other Sunday? [For those of you who are still reading I have two questions. 1) Why are you still reading? Don't you have a life? and, 2) Don't you agree? Wouldn't it make more sense to have the Olympics every other Sunday? Okay, that's four questions and this is not a Passover Seder, but I'm hoping you get the point.]

And, I'm sure most of you know Canada won the gold in hockey. Standing on the podium receiving their silver medals, Team USA looked like their moms had collectively been hit by a bus. I tweeted about how these athletes are role models and their unsportsmanlike behavior effects kids all over the world [blah, blah, blah]. Many agreed with me, but some [crazy, insane losers] did not. Those who disagreed, thought the players were only expressing their feelings "in the moment" - that it was a devastating loss and they, being macho hockey players, were seriously pissed off. [Poor, little professional hockey players who make millions of dollars every year doing what they love. So sad, that.] My take is this: these guys are NFL players. They can handle loss. Don't we teach our kids, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game?" AND.....a silver medal is SO not losing!!!! [Unless you come in second in say, a city-wide speech competition in say, Denver, in say, 1992, that you're sure you'd win, then second place seriously sucks. I mean, theoretically speaking.]

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with those crazy, insane losers or are you sane and agree with me? [If you agree with them, you've just joined The Crazy Insane Losers Club. Kidding. Not really. Sort of. Okay, not at all. Maybe a little.]

Like Button