Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years Eve

Well, 2009 is just about over. So, some thoughts.

It's been a pretty good year. A few interesting things happened in my world.
  1. I started a blog. On the list of things I never anticipated doing, that would probably have made the list. Then again, I never thought I'd do something interesting enough to merit writing a blog. And I never thought I'd actually start writing. So, I guess this is a long list of things I never thought would happen. (Ooh, I feel a philosophical thought coming on. One moment. That will pass. Okay, back to normal now.)
  2. I dipped my toe briefly in the world of agents and publishing before realizing 'Jeez, girl, you are so not ready.' Still, a foray is nice.
  3. I finished an MS. Not for NaNoWriMo, because I wrote it mainly in August, but that was an interesting proposition. Oh, The Thief Book, we'll always have Paris. A nice experience, and I learned a lot.
  4. I got a surprising way into Miss Snitch, MS #3. So far, it's been a lot of fun, and I think it will continue in a similar manner. Fingers crossed. ^_^
Also, I hit 47 Followers. (Now, let's take a moment's pause so that I can cackle and feel like a mad dictator. :D Okay, I'm back to normal now. Resuming....) Now, I don't say this enough, but y'all are awesome people. It's true. You write interesting and amusing posts and leave great comments, which always make me happy. So, even though I don't say it often enough, thanks for following and for being fabulous. Yes, you're that good. :D

Happy (Almost) New Year, Folks!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Sound in Silence

Yeah, there's been radio silence on my end for a while now. I meant for that to happen, but I'm starting to feel like a negligent bum letting the blog go down for more than a week.

So, to fill the void, some updates and musings. Sorry, this isn't a super-serious post, because I'm just that inadequate, but c'est la vie. Anywho...

I've broken 50k on Miss Snitch. Yep. I've made it all the way through my goal for the month. So, I guess I get to feel spiffy about that. ^_^ (I really wish emoticons here expressed more emotion, or just looked more like faces. Because sometimes, I'd like to give a little peak at my expression, and :D doesn't always seem to cut it.)

Anyway, I've got about 6k or so to go on this draft, I figure. But, then again, history has shown that I have exactly no skill at predetermining word counts, so we'll see how this one goes. But, that shouldn't take another lifetime.

In other news, I've determined that I need to shelve The Thief Book. Quite frankly, taking the time to get some space just showed me that while I knew what it would take to fix up the beginning and middle into decent shape, I still didn't know what to do to get myself happy with the ending. And, well, I'm not sure how I feel about sinking a month or more into a project I know I'm not going to be happy with. Maybe, one day, I'll figure out what ending I want, and then I'll revisit it. But, for the time being, it's on hold.

How about you guys? Any progress on the WIP front? How are the revisions and such coming? Any good news out there in the blogosphere?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

To all those who celebrate the holiday, I wish you a very merry Christmas.

I hope you and your love ones are quite well and that you are smiling, wherever you are.

As Tiny Tim said, "God bless us, every one."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just a Kiss

The ever unique Girl With One Eye had the interesting idea for people to post a kiss scene from their one of their books for the 21st. Normally, I don't post excerpts but today, I though, "Well, why not? Just this once."

So, without further ado, an excerpt from Miss Snitch.
------


“Have I said Happy New Year yet?” I whispered.

“No, I don’t think you have,” he answered with a smile.

“Well, Happy New Year, then,” I told him. Inside, we could hear people counting down to midnight. Ten … Nine … Eight… Our eyes met, and suddenly all there was was him, me, the moon and stars, and the sound of oncoming midnight. Three… Two… One… Happy New Year! I smiled at him. I wanted to speak, but somehow my voice didn’t seem to work anymore.

I don’t know what I expected, except that as we stood there, I prayed he wouldn’t back away.

He didn’t. Instead, he leaned in closer. We were almost chest to chest. I could feel his breath hot on my cheeks. And then it happened.

He kissed me.

It wasn’t a long kiss. At least, I don’t think it was. It felt like it lasted days, but it probably only lasted a few seconds. It wasn’t impassioned either, and I doubt it looked anything like a kiss from a movie.

Still, it felt like the whole universe, the instant his lips touched mine, dissolved into the two of us, and suddenly I couldn’t feel the cold anymore or hear the sounds from the party inside. Somewhere, deep, in the farthest recesses of my mind, one thought occurred. ‘Wow.’

Good Yule

Good Yule, to those who celebrate it.

To one and all I send to you,
Blessings on this day.
Wishing joy and merriment,
May it always come your way.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Happy Hiatus

In light of my intention to spend the upcoming holiday season surrounding my family, friends, and a great deal of food, I will not be following my regular posting schedule. I intend to continue reading and commenting on blogs, but I shall not be posting.

I hope that during this holiday season you are all very well and just where you would wish to be at this point in time.

:D

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chapter Fifteen

I'm kind of excited about how well Miss Snitch has been going so far. I'm in the middle of Chapter 15, and I can't wait for the second half of it. My MC is about to start really acting for herself, and it's going to be an interesting scene to write. I'm smiling just thinking about it.

Word Count So Far: 45k.
Words per day until deadline: 385

I must say, I'm not always sure how I feel about Chapter 16. I shook up the end of Chapter 15 when I worried that my MC wasn't taking an active enough role in her own life. But, I think I've got enough time left to muse on that a bit and still finish it up in time for my deadline.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Here's An Idea

So, last night, instead of sleeping, I listened to a youtube post of an old George Carlin stand up. Yes, I like George Carlin. I've said it before and had people not believe me, but it's true. I might not always agree with everything he says, but he's certainly good for a laugh. And if a guy can get me to laugh even as I disagree with him, then he's certainly funny. Even if I sometimes wonder if he kisses his mother with that mouth.

Anyway, he made an interesting point. When discussing kids and all the issues that they have, he said, "I think every day all children should have three hours of day dreaming. Just day dreaming. And you [adults] could use a little of it yourselves. Just sit at the window, stare at the clouds. It's good for you."

I, personally, concur. I don't think people spend enough time letting their minds wander and find ideas that wouldn't have occurred to them on their rational, linear thought stream. Did you know that research shows that people's minds are more active when daydreaming than when they're thinking linearly?

Kids don't day dream anymore. They're not learning how to have strange ideas. And what are we going to do when people forget how to hope for impossible things? That will be a sad day.


Me, I daydream. About a lot of stuff, really. Sometimes about stories I'd like to write some day. Sometimes about people I know and what we used to do together. Sometimes about things that are more fun than what I'm doing or not doing when I'm daydreaming. I love daydreaming.

How about you, are you pro-daydreaming? What do you daydream about?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jane


Today is Jane Austen's Birthday. Happy Birthday, Ms. Austen!

While she didn't achieve best seller status in her own lifetime, I still bow down before her awesomeness. I could only ever dream of being as good as she.

My favorite of her novels is Pride and Prejudice. What can I say, my heart belongs to Mr. Darcy. How about you? Do you have a favorite Austen novel or character?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quirks Make the World Go Round

Not so long ago, when I was young and foolish (pretty darn foolish, actually), I heard people talking about building character depth. Somehow, and I'm not sure how this happened, I thought they meant that to make a complete, realistic character, I had to make them flawed.

I didn't like that idea. What, was I supposed to give every character some sort of personality or physical flaw so that people would believe them? That didn't seem like fun. Why would I want every character in my book to have issues? It also didn't seem that realistic. After all, I knew plenty of people that seemed believable enough (heck, they were real, so they ought to be pretty darn believable) and I didn't think they were flawed people.

Then I realized something very important -- I was wrong. What my characters needed were quirks. They needed to have character traits. Things that would make them different from other people in some way. The reader should be able to figure out who this person is.

For example, one guy I know is, well, pretty much perfect. Near as I can tell, he doesn't lie, cheat, swear, or even blaspheme a little bit. I could list his good qualities, but that would get boring after a while. The point is, he isn't chock full of flaws, but he's still a very interesting person. If you asked me to, I could write a page about him, and I wouldn't have to go on about his virtues. He fences but doesn't compete, is Jewish and observant, and sings. Those things make him different from other people I know.

The trick is to know a lot about your character. You don't need to just know what might be wrong with them (I'm not getting down on having characters with deep issues, because there are people like that, so there should be characters like that), or what's right with them (because not everyone has tons of problems). You should know what makes them unique. Does he always wear the color blue somewhere on his person? Does she have a little good luck ritual that she does every morning?

How do you show your character's individuality?

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's to You

Warning: Post includes spoilers. Text spoiled: Le Mur (The Wall) by Sartre.

So, lately I've been reading some criticism of Le Mur by Sartre -- trust me, the reason why is not interesting -- and I have now read about five times , "Well, since the narrator is telling the story, he obviously didn't die."

Okay, maybe it's just me, but I DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING. True, I didn't spend a ton of time thinking of what the end of the story would be, but even if I had, I doubt my thoughts would have included the words, "Oh, well, he's narrating, so he's obviously got to live through this." My mind just doesn't work this way.

On the other hand, I can't fault the logic there either. After all, someone had to be telling the story.

So, my question is, and I'm very interested in the varieties of answers you guys come up with, can there be posthumous narration?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Have Been Remiss

It would seem yesterday was Agent Appreciation Day.
So, to all Agents out there, I hope your day was charming.
:D

Happy Chanukah




To all those celebrating, I wish you a happy Festival of Lights.

Friday, December 11, 2009

You Know You're Crazy When...

Most of my friends could tell you that I have a ridiculous love for Ender's Game. I just think it's that good, and I could tell you some stories about that, which you probably wouldn't want to hear. Though, as I'm crazy as all get out, I saw some comics about Ender Games and they actually made me laugh aloud. So, I'm copying one in and linking to the other, in case they can have a similar effect on you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bookless and Sad

To my great sadness, I've finished all the fiction books I had stockpiled for my reading. This makes me very sad, especially since I don't currently have plans in place for remedying that fact. Stupid bookstore being a stupidly cold walk from where I live. Getting books should not be this hard. **scowls**

But, as always, I'm excited to hear about any good books there are out there. I'm curious, what are you guys all reading? Anything good? What kinds of books do you really enjoy reading?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Once A Witch

This weekend, I considered sleeping and getting productive work done. Instead, I read Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough. (And this, my friends, is why I don't keep fiction around me. I never get anything done when I have books on hand.)

Anyway, I really liked this book. I'm not sure how many stars I'd give it, because I'm not usually inclined to giving reviews, so I don't actually have a star system worked out in my head. Suffice it to say, I would definitely recommend the book to a friend. Which is why I'm posting about it over here. It was that good.

Over all thoughts: I found the story compelling. There were times when I wasn't thinking, 'This is fantastic,' but I somehow still couldn't make myself put the book down. Heck, it over road my desire to sleep, and that is quite a feat. The romantic aspects were sweet and not overdone. The characters were colorful and believable. Even the magic made sense and worked well in the story.

Age considerations: This book seems pretty female oriented and falls under the heading of YA. It still works for those somewhat older than YA and somewhat younger than YA, as well. I don't think it necessarily has gender crossover, but I've read girlier books, and I've seen guys read girlier things, as well.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Day That Will Live in Infamy

Once, when I was a kid, I made a comment to my parents that if I could change any event in history, I would stop the attack on Pearl Harbor. In hindsight, I'm not sure exactly how I came to the conclusion that that was the key day to save the world, but that's what I'd decided. My dad informed me that if I had changed that, then my grandparents would never have met, and I wouldn't be alive. There was so much then I didn't understand.

Today is December 7, 2009, the 68th anniversary of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt declared it a date that would live in infamy. It was a day that changed the course of history forever.

I take this moment to remember those who died that day, and those who died as a result of it, and to honor those who served their country so bravely then and since.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can I Get a Rating Over Here?

One thing I'm noticing as I work on Miss Snitch is that there's cussing in this book. This is a change for me. A lot of my previous stuff was swear-free, or at least, our-kind-of-swearing-free. I haven't changed the age group, just the setting. Though my other stuff has been YA as well, this is contemporary .

Now, at least 98% of the teens I know cuss a bit. Maybe they don't all do it loads -- though I know people who have used a cuss word in every verb tense you can name -- but teens pretty much all curse a little bit. So it makes sense to me that there'd be some swearing in the book. There's just more than I expected.


Oddly enough, the character doing the most of it is my MC. Most of my major characters in previous work didn't swear, usually because it wasn't appropriate. But teen girls these days swear sometimes, in their heads, even if not aloud. Maybe that's why I've so much cursing now, so much internal time. It's easier to cuss loads in your head, because people don't rag on that.

I'm careful with it. I try not to do any of it gratuitously, and for the most part it's all pretty moderate. There's no use of the dreaded f-word, but a certain word beginning with B makes numerous appearances in most of its parts of speech forms (noun, verbs, some adjective, though not adverbially, thankfully).

If it came down to it, I'm probably circling a PG-13 rating, though I couldn't find any more specific guidance on the interweb, dash it all. All I know is that I still have both my f-words left before I have to be an R.

Now I'm beginning to worry that it's just a bit too much. I know I curse too much, less than some but certainly more than I'd like to. And, I think, maybe it's that the swearing has become enough of my vocabulary so that it just doesn't sound weird to me.

How do you feel about swearing in books? How much is too much?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

When I started working on Miss Snitch, I got about 100 words in before I decided that what I was doing wasn't going to work. What I usually do is 3rd person POV. It just felt too distant, too out of my MC's head. I needed to shift into 1st person.

I don't usually work in 1st person. Actually, this is the farthest I've ever gotten in something that wasn't 3rd person. I don't really know why I favor the 3rd person, since a lot of books I love have been 1st person stories. Maybe it's because I tend to see the stories I'm writing from the perspective of a observer, watching it play out instead of acting in it myself.

I think this has been a growing experience for me. It's certainly forcing me to rethink the way I narrate stories. I feel as though I use the word 'I' too much. If I were writing 'Jenny' instead, I know it wouldn't feel half so awkward.

I'm not sure I've got the handle on it yet, but I'm working on it.

What POV do you favor?

Any tips for working in 1st person?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No More NaNo, For Now

Well, it's finally December. A perfectly good month, even if it does get too cold to be reasonable where I live. November has come to an end. NanoWriMo is over. Or NoNoRevisMo, or whatever else you had going on.

I know there were a lot of different goals floating around this November. How did everyone's month go?

I met my modified goal of 25k, so I get to feel semi-smug/pleased with myself. A big change from the norm, as wel all know. My plan is to round out the rest of the 50k by the end of December. I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen just yet, but full steam ahead, regardless.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Joy

Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving season? I hope so. I did. I got to see some family, including a shocking number of Canadians. Well, I guess it wouldn't be American Thanksgiving if there were only US citizens at the table.

Did anyone go out of Black Friday? I got dragged along on a shopping expedition, which I think is my sister's way of punishing me for God knows what. (Or are you punishing me, Lord? Because whatever I did, I am sorry.) But I did pick up two books on my To Find list.

Today, I cracked into one of them. The Sea of Monsters, which is the second book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I've been trying to find it for a while now, but my local bookstore has decided to stop stocking the things that I'm looking for. I guess they despise me or something.

Anyway, what reading Sea of Monsters basically means is that I'm not writing or working. But I'm okay with that, because the book is just that good. I was a major Greek myths geek when I was a kid, so reading these books takes me back. Riordan does a great job blending and reworking the myths, so it's a bit of a game to try and figure out what he's doing before he tells you what story he's referencing. It's so much fun. :D

I hope everyone's weekend went swell.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a certain hero that requires my attention.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Map of the Ancient World

This pic is a map of the "interworld."

To me, it looks like an old map of the US, where all the states are oddly shaped, because things have changed. In my opinion, myspace is not this hot anymore.

If I were to redesign the map, I'd make facebook bigger, because I don't know anyone who has used xanga in years. I'd probably make the blogosphere bigger, too, but my view of that reality might by skewed.

How does the map look to you?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Letting It Lie

Does every detail in a story have to mean something? Does it all have to come with a story behind it? Or can some things just be?

At the moment, I'm wearing a t-shirt that reads The Chorus, from my time in Romeo and Juliet. I like the shirt. It fits, is a nice shade of gray, and reminds me of some good times. On the other hand, I can't sing, so it might be considered misrepresentation, depending on what kind of chorus one thinks of.

But, if I put a shirt like this on a character, I wonder, would I need to explain everything that ties back to it, or could I just let it go as a small character detail? It could say a lot about the character if one wanted to trace things all the way back to the source, but it could also say a bit without any tracing at all. Maybe it would say enough without the history.

I recall at the beginning of the movie Juno that the character is using a phone shaped like a hamburger. It's never really explained how she came by such a phone or why. It's just a detail thrown out there that shows, in case you didn't get it from the rest of the movie, that she's sort of a quirky girl. (Actually, the phone belonged to Diablo Cody. She brought it in, because they couldn't find one.) I think we, as viewers, got plenty from the item without any explanation.

On the other hand, in the television show West Wing there is a goldfish on C.J. Cregg's desk since the first season. If you hadn't been watching from the beginning, you'd only know that C.J. had a pet fish (which often had items in its bowl that foreshadowed things to come in the episode). What you wouldn't know was that the fish was a gift from Danny, a guy who was into her in a big way and whom she was into. Knowing the origin of that item told you more about the character, from Danny liking her, to her liking Danny enough to keep the fish for years, to her liking goldfish crackers.

In my writing, I give the details that I think are interesting or important to the story. So I try to find a medium between nice-detail-with-no-important-back-story and detail-with-a-past. I think the details with a past are useful, because they can be a good way to pass on info. However, detail without a past has its place, too, as the reader needs to know what's going on around the character and get the feel of the area, even if it doesn't all have deep, special meaning.

How do you feel about giving items history? Is it too much detail, or is it interesting, or is there a balance?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

I hope everyone is having a lovely day.

Today, I am thankful for my family, who are wonderful and loving. I am thankful for my friends, who are fabulous, even if they sometimes like to tease me when it isn't funny. I am thankful for this lovely, lovely world, because it is beautiful.


How is your Thanksgiving going?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Work or Write?

Yesterday, I had a choice: Get 'productive' work done or get some writing in.

I chose to write. Well, not chose, so much as followed some crazy impulse that I didn't have enough control over. I got in two chapters. That makes me happy, though I didn't sleep as much as I'd have liked to.

I broke 20k!

How's everyone else's writing going?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gods Among Men

I recently saw an absolutely fabulous production of Cymbeline by Mr. William Shakespeare. I loved it. (Please, pause while I take a moment to relive the Theater-Induced-Ecstasy. Okay, I'm back now.)

One thing that struck me during the production was the director's reinterpretation of the play's Deus Ex Machina elements (For my thoughts on Deus Ex Machina, you can click here). While the script called for the chorus of the play to call on Jupiter to alter the fates of the characters and ensure a happy ending, in this version the exposition was given over to a narrator and 'twas to her that the chorus appealed for a happier end.

The narrator attempted to justify the pain of the characters, but when handed a pen by the member of the chorus, she conceded and rewrote the end to a happier one. The audience rejoiced.

I loved this interpretation. It struck me, as a writer, and put me to think of the power that the writer has over the events of the story. Indeed, Shakespeare could have elected a tragic end to the tale, for there was enough sadness it in, but instead it was quite happy, and the audience laughed and cheered for the main characters.

We, as writers, are powerful beings. We create these worlds before us in our stories, create peoples and animals strange to us, and create the past, present, and future as we see fit. We are the gods of these new worlds, even if our characters cannot plead with us, in person, at least, for a different end than the one we choose to give them.

For it is our choice. We have the power.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNo Not For Me

Okay, I knew that Nano wasn't for me during the second week of the month when I decided to temporarily devote my heart, once again, to Mr. William Shakespeare. (Oh, William, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways.)

But that didn't mean to me that I had to give up working on my latest project, Miss Snitch. When I picked it up after the show, it just flowed. The words aren't flowing like rain water down a tree anymore, but I've been getting out about 1k a day since Sunday. This past week, I managed to go from 7.3K to 16.6K.

So I'm feeling pretty good. I feel like I might be able to hit 30K by the end of the month, which was my goal. I just need one or two more good bursts. But, thanks to the upcoming holidays, I should have the time for that.

So, how is everyone else's writing coming along? Will we all be meeting our November goals, regardless of what they were?

Friday, November 20, 2009

In/Out/In/Out

Right now, I am experiencing a quandary. My character, for my next scene, needs to think things and know things and realize things. There are also things I would like her to tell the readers so that the reader can remember them for later. However, I do not know what to have happen besides that.

When I work my scenes, I like to try to create a balance. There are internal things that much occur in every moment. However, I cannot let my characters spend the whole scene in their heads, or I fear that it gets boring for the reader. Also, a part of me feels that if nothing but the thinking occurs in the scene, the scene will read something along the lines of, "Okay, here's some info I want you to have. Could you just remember this, because I want to reference it later. 'Kay, thanks."

To balance it out, I like to have things going on around the characters of which they are aware. While sometimes having them just do something of minimal importance while they think suffices, and that can be done very well; however, this does not feel like the time for that. A niggling suspicion tells me that I have already done that, and I do not want to do that too many times. I want action that is also of importance to occur during this scene.

I just don't know what that action will be just yet.
So, I am spending some time figuring out what my MC, Jenny, is doing while all of this is going on. Not sure how I'll figure it out. Maybe I'll throw a ball against the wall until the idea comes to me. (Hey, it works for House.)

How do you like to balance your scenes? Do you mind a lot of internal action or do you prefer the external?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Love

Inspired by yesterday's post over at Between Fact and Fiction to remember by high school required reading, I remembered some books I hated (**cough** Ethan Frome **cough**) but I also remember some that I really enjoyed.

Ender's Game. Anyone who's met me in person is groaning. Yes, I love that book. Yes, I reference it all the time. But, senior year, my English teacher gave us a Select-a-Quest option on our term paper to design our own book pairing and question, so I got to compare to Ender's GameThe Republic. Did the book feel different when I had to analyze certain components and think of it for literary value? Yes. Did I still love it? Yes. Because it was a choice, and because it was a book that a kid my age might actual choose to read of their own volition (which, let's face it, few school assigned books are).

Romeo and Juliet. The first time I read the play was for a class. And my teacher made it fun. True, we had to memorize passages and perform them for the class, but I'm a thespian, so I didn't mind that so much. And she only made us do that twice. Actually, my earliest memory of a close friend was his train wreck recitation of the prologue, so these recitations helped kids make friends. Instead of analyzing Act 5 in a paper, she let us perform it. Which, if you had kids in your class like I did, was hella fun. And there's something about a woman who looks like your grandma saying, "He's telling a sex joke. If you're confused, assume he's talking about sex," that just makes you know you're going to enjoy that unit.

The Odyssey. Long as heck, but my English teacher that year was a dream. She and I had a very similar sense of humor. Every act, we had to do a presentation. And, yes, these presentations did have to involve acting a scene out. But, if you're like me and you find zero budget productions to be absolutely hilarious, then you found that be to absolutely awesome. One guy, for the rest of the year, was known as "The Supple [Name Deleted to Preserve His Privacy]" because of the t-shirt he wore during his presentation. My teacher actually made it fun to work on.

What were some of your favorite books from the days of school assigned reading? How did the teachers make it good for you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Notes

One thing I learned early on when I was asking people to read my work was that I can't be in the room when it's happening. It's one of those "I can't look at you when you're looking at me" things. It's just a very vulnerable moment.

But I sent my current WIP to my sister for a quick Alpha read, and I find myself laughing aloud at her notes. She's writing things in the margins the likes of which she'd say out loud to me while she were reading any book. And I like that. Because that's what people would be thinking when they read it.

My favorite so far: I said, "This had to look weirder than the sun turning blue." Her note, "Won't that happen right before it explodes?"

I love my sister.

I'd forgotten how much fun there can be in getting notes. I think I'm actually going to enjoy getting notes through this process.

How's the process going for you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wow!

I'm feeling totally crazy right now.

After a week of not writing anything at all, because of Romeo and Juliet, I sat down to my computer today planning to write about 1k or so. I ended up doing 3.5k. I even broke the 10k mark.

I don't know what happened. I just got on a roll and didn't want to stop. So, while I'm probably going to hate myself in the morning, right now I feel flipping fantastic. :D

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Even More Light Reading

It's beginning to dawn on me that people will never cease to be brilliant individuals who will say things that I wish I'd said first and say them better than I ever could.

  • Kierstan White has a cute and very charming post about blogging persona and style.
  • A fabulous post about Voice by Elana Johnson
  • A post by Ms. White about translation and meaning.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Day

Happy Friday 13th, all!

My sincerest apologies go out to those with paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th, but I call this day lucky, if and only if because I enjoy superstition.

There is more than one story about the 'unluckyness' of this day. I will tell you the one I subscribe to.

For the longest time, there were 12 Norse gods, and things were good. Then, one day, a 13th god, Loki, came unto them. He caused mischief leading to the death of one of the good gods. And so it came to be said that 13 was unlucky, and that if 13 should dine together, one of their number would die within the year.

Another Norse claim was that the day Friday was the special providence of the goddess Frigga, but when the Christians came, Frigga was banished to the mountains and decried as a which. Since that day, it is said, on Fridays the spirits of this world still loyal to Frigga assemble on Fridays to plot the overthrow of those who oppose Frigga. Friday is called The Witches' Sabbath.

Thus, Friday the 13th couples the unluckiest of things.

All that being said, I like the day.

How about you? Do you find today unlucky? To which explanation of the curse do you hold?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swappity-Do

Right now, I'm tired and happy, because I'm working on a production of Romeo and Juliet. I got cast as Pretuchio (no, I'm not confused about what play I'm talking about. There's actually someone with that name in this play, too) who has one line. Teensy part, but I was willing to do it, because I wanted to be in the play.

Petruchio turned into Nonspecific Extra. Being a nonspecific extra can teach you about character development. After all, how does one convey the difference between Guy In Background Who Got Stabbed and Guy At Dance? However, that's a subject for a different time.

The show is tonight, and due to a virulent rumor that I have the play memorized (I don't. Do I look like a crazy savant to you? No, I'm not.) when one of the other extras got the flu, the director asked me to take over his lines. I got this news on Wednesday.

How does this relate to writing? Well, this got me to thinking, How interchangeable are the folks in the background, anyway?

No one would dare suggest replacing Romeo was a guy from the background, or even using Mercutio and getting everyone else to move up one. You do not shuffle leads like that. But extras get shuffled around all the time.

All stories are full of extras. That person your MC bumped into on the way down the stairs is probably an extra. The waitress who sold MC a cup of coffee on her way to school is an extra. These people might get a few lines and some description devoted to them, but they are, for all intents and purposes, extras.

So, how much do you need them? Or, how much of what makes them them do you need? If I told you that you had to cut three of your extras, you probably could. But would the story suffer as a result. One could argue that it might. There will be less variation in the flavors of the story.

If you cut the shopkeeper with the Scottish brogue, there went one interesting tidbit. If the two stamp collecting neighbors become one, you might be losing some interesting/comedic/quirky dialogue. If every time the character goes out, they always run into the same person in the hallway for their gossip, the reader is going to get only the tiniest glimpse of the people who surround the character.

Just because you've simplified the picture doesn't mean that it became a more interesting one to look at.

Moreover, since no two characters are, or should be, the same, one could say that they won't fill the same role the same way. Though they could get the same job done, pass on the same info, they won't do it in the same way.

For example, if the girl downstairs in the MC's building is strangled, the kindly old man who lives next to the neighbor might say that it's such a shame that she's dead, that she was such a nice girl. A persnickety, religious 60-year-old woman, on the other hand, might say that she was a sweet girl sometimes but deserved what she got for having such a parade of strange men in and out of her apartment all the time. These could both be reasonably accurate (skewed by character's perspective of life, but mostly true) descriptions, and they would both pass on that the girl was dead, but they aren't the same, are they? What if the reader didn't know yet that the girl had a lot of gentlemen callers, and the reader needed to know. Then the speaker would need to mention that, so you would need the kind of extra who would fill the role that way.

How do you feel about swapping in the extras? When has simplification gone too far?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can You Keep A Secret?

Recently, for a play, the director had a do an exercise for delving into our characters. It was the basic exercise: how do you feel about x,y, and z other characters; what are your character's religious feelings; what does your character like to do. But the one question that really stood out for me was, "What is your character's secret?"

And when we went over our answers with the other members of the cast, we were told to keep the answer to that question back. We aren't to tell the other actor's what our character's secret is, but hold it back for use in developing our characters. I think this is awesome.

I guess this struck me, because my current WIP deals a lot with secrets. My MC has a secret website and secret identity. She knows a lot of people's secrets, some of which she keeps and some of which she blabs to everyone. She's secretly in love with someone. Most of the people she interacts with have secrets, not all of which she knows.

But I think the various characters' secrets influence their actions, just like all of our secrets influence ours. If a guy has a crush on a girl he has no hope of getting with, he might not tell people he likes he, but then may take an inordinate interest in her affairs. If a girl has been blowing off her friends to hang with some other friends that her friends don't like, she might be careful to imply days in advance that she'll be too sick/tired/busy to go out with them like she'd planned. Not to mention the effort and stress that goes into the maintenance of a secret.

Everyone has secrets. While these secrets might not come out at any point in the story (though that's a surefire way to find some sort of drama to play out), it's interesting and useful to think of what they might be and what that would mean for the character.

Do your character's have their own secrets? What's your character's secret? I promise I won't tell them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

Okay, I'm a name freak. I adore finding out what first names mean and layering that into my stories and characters. It makes me happy.

When it comes to surnames, I'm a bit less sure of myself. I don't know what they mean half so well -- I'm actually not even that fussed, so long as it doesn't have an obviously off one -- and I don't always know if they sound as good as I think they do. Or if I am using the name of someone I know. (Yes, I once accidentally created and killed off a character that turned out to be a girl from my English class.)

But while working on my current WIP, currently called Miss Snitch, I spur of the moment needed a surname for my character, and I hadn't thought of one yet, and the first name that came to mind was Chen. Not sure why, except that it's very common around where I am.

But Chen? What was I thinking? First of all, if my character's name is Jen Chen, I'll kill her myself. Why would I ever do that to someone? Second of all, she's not even Asian. She's a Caucasian, a brunette. Weird, I think so.

A second character needed a surname. The first name that came to mind: Lin. I know what you're thinking, what's with all the Asian names? Honestly, I don't know.

David Lin. Actually, I kind of like that for his name. I have no objection to the character being Asian, as long as he gets to keep having green eyes.

I think we can all see by now that I tend to pick surnames mostly at random for my characters, unless there's some sort of abiding theme I'm going for, like I did in the Thief Book when class indicated by name. While I'm sure Freud would have some interesting things to say about the name's I've chosen, I choose not to delve into that area of my mind. Who knows what I could find back there.

How do you go about picking surnames for your characters?

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Friends Are Cool

I am very happy today, because a friend of mine has recently landed a job as a professional costumer. I'm so proud of him.

He's going to be doing the costuming for a short movie based on the series Hatter M by Frank Beddor. Knowing Dave, as I do, I'm sure these are going to be some seriously awesome costumes. I can't wait.

Dave, you rock!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Light Reading

Because, as it turns out, other people haven't stopped being brilliant.

  • An interesting post over at The Intern about a good technique for measuring your tension levels.
  • A great post about being "Good Enough" over by Miss Natalie Whipple.
  • Nakedness over at the Literary Lab
  • A post about "Being Ready" by Miss Whipple.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Contest Kick

In case you haven't heard, there's a contest going on over at Lisa and Laura Write.

If you're not following it already, it's a great blog. I highly recommend it.

Go check it out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A while ago, I read a post on Across the Universe wondering whether or not a person could say someone's eyes followed a person without the reader picturing a pair of disembodied eyeballs tailing an individual.

While it could be neither here nor there (and I personally don't picture the disembodied eyes), the idea intrigued me. And today I saw another such thing:

"Her lips smiled." From Un Coeur Simple. Can lips smile without a person causing them to do it? I'm not sure.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me Match

Ever wish there was an eHarmony for buying books?

I do. Because I never know if I'm actually going to like the book I'm looking at. I mean, sometimes things look good in the store, and you bring them home, maybe you set them on the TBR pile for a week/month/year or maybe you crack 'em open right away, but ten minutes in you think, "Woah, this is not the book I left the store with. What's going on here?"

I think we've all been burned by books before.

Buying books sometimes reminds me of the dating world.

Often book buying is a bit of a shallow process. We don't want to admit it, but we make snap judgments, often based on prejudice or physical appearance. But that's how we have to do things, because we don't have the time to give every book in the world the attention it merits.

Everyone's got a type: You go to the bookstore, you stroll over to the section of your genre. If you're me, it's probably YA. If you're some of my friends, its manga. If you're my cousin, it's something about politics. Everyone's got a type. And those are the books you'll spend most of your time looking at. Sure, a really (sexy/hot/attractive) interesting looking book in another genre might catch your eye, but everyone's got their type.

Everyone goes off looks: Yes, people are shallow, visual beings. One thing that gets people to pick up a book is the cover. A really pretty/artistic/dramatic cover can really grab a person. And you need to grab someone, or else they won't get to the deeper parts of the selection process.

The Name: You ever meet someone and think, 'Oh, god, another Brenda. Brenda's hate me.' And then you're less comfortable with that person. (For me, it's Jessicas. I don't think they like me. Oddly enough, my laptop is named Jessica. Hmmm....) It's the same thing with titles. Let's face it, Twilight readership would probably have been greatly reduced if it had been called I Sparkle in the Sun. At least, I think it would have. Okay, I can basically take to the bank that if Dead Until Dark had been called Awake at Sunset I would not have picked it up.

Once you've gotten this far, you can crack the cover, skim, read the blurbs, have an actual conversation with that book and get to know what it's really about. True, you won't really know the deal there until you get it home and can go all the way with it, but now you're getting friendly.

The front flap: This is a quick conversation, maybe a coffee. You get to know about the story and the key characters. And that's great. Maybe you decide you want to hear more. Maybe you decide to put it back on the shelf. I know, if you're like me, just seeing the word vampire on that flap means it's going back on the shelf. It's unfair to many good books, I'm sure, but that's just how I feel about books at the moment.

The skim: This is serious. Reading the first page can usually give you a good idea about how you're going to feel about the book as a whole. Now, I'm not claiming you can figure the whole book out from there, or that books can't get better or worse from that point, but I think that if a book's made it this far, it's beaten out a lot of competition, and that it's down to the final cut. If it's a voice you like or a plot that sounds good, maybe you decide to take it home. Maybe the feel isn't right for you, and you leave it at the store.

Sometimes I wish there was a service that shortened the whole process. Someone that could hand you a book and say, "Yep, here you go, you're gonna love it." But, I don't think that's ever going to happen.

A well, c'est la vie. And, until then, I still enjoy browsing.

How about you? How do you decide what books to read?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Another Opening for Another Show

How long do you spend looking at a book in the bookstore before deciding to buy it? If you're anything like me, you read the back, and if that looks good, then you flip it open and see how the first page looks. But how far do you get down that page? For a lot of books, I'm guessing the answer is not too far.

That's why first line are important. A good first line can be essential in hooking a reader. But what makes a good first line?

To try to answer that question, I'd like to turn to some examples.

"For fifty years, the bourgeoisie of Point-l'Evaque envied Mrs. Aubain her servant Felicity." -- The Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert. ( I did the translation myself, so feel free to take issue with it, if you like.) What I really like about this line is how broad it is. It really gives one a feeling for the scope of the novel. In one sentence (actually, one paragraph) it fits in 50 years and the entire bourgeois population of a town. That's a pretty impressive. Not to mention that it managed to fit the two major characters, their relationship to each other and the outside world, the setting, and the span of the book all into 14 words. Concise.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This one sentence illustrates the two central themes in the book: fortune and the role of same in achieving marriage. Plus, it gives a hint of the voice of the text. It's sort of ironic, considering the it was women seeking husbands and preferably those with fortune, whereas the single man in possession of a good fortune wasn't in want of much. Again, a lot of information in a comparatively short sentence.

"Today, Mama died." -- The Stranger by Albert Camus. (Again, my translation. Fault it, if you choose.) What I like about the sentence is its simplicity. It's short, three words. And yet it tells you the instigating force for the whole book. Moreover, I love the contrast between the sort of detached manner in which it relays the information with the word choice. Camus used the French word Maman which is informal, unlike the 'Mother' that many older translations use. I find it a very interesting contrast, the use of the informal, indicating closeness and love, with the emotional detachment of this sentence and the rest of the paragraph.

So, it seems, the common thread amongst good first sentences is that they fit in a lot of info as short a sentence as possible whilst still being interesting. The first sentence should be in accord with the voice and style of the rest of the book.

What are some of your favorite first sentences from books you've read? What do you think makes them good?

Happy Day

Yay!

Today is good day, because I have finally finished The Thief Book 2.0. It is now fully typed up and saved on my lovely laptop. And there has been much happiness and rejoicing throughout the land.

I'm actually quite please with myself, as it's two days earlier than expected. It's come in at 70.5K, which is about what I thought it would be.

I know it's in for some rough work, but I just don't think I can look at it right now. The Thief Book and I need some time apart. So I'm going to shoot it over to my fantastic alpha so she can give me some thoughts on it. On my end, it will rest undisturbed.

I guess that frees up some of my November. Let me guess what you're thinking: Will she do it? Is she crazy enough to attempt NaNoWriMo.

Honestly, I'm not sure. I know that most of my schedule hasn't changed, so I'm still too busy for it to be sane; however, I'm feeling like I want to give it a go. Actually, I slipped last night. I tapping away at a new idea that's been festering in my mind for months. What can I say? A good opening line occurred to me and I had a moment of weakness.

As for the rest of the month, I'm playing it by ear.

How about you guys? How's your writing going?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Some Light Reading

People have been saying intelligent things on the blogosphere lately. In case you've missed them, I've put the links over hear.

The kicks:
  • Natalie Whipple wrote a most excellent post on first drafts.
  • Nathan Bransford had two good ones. One on themes and another related one about reverse snobbiness.
  • The Literary Lab had an interesting post about the language of reviewers and critters.
Happy reading, y'all.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween All!

Since it's a Saturday and I want to keep it light -- and also because I'm a complete nerd -- how about some Halloween trivia!

1) Halloween is often called Hallowe'en, because it is All Hallow's Eve. And is that a great name for a holiday? I think I'm going to use the apostrophed spelling from now on, just because I like the way it looks.

2) Hallowe'en marks the Celtic holiday Samhain, which marked summers end and the beginning of the darker time of the year. It was said that on this night, the boundaries between this world and the next were at their thinnest. Hence, the ghoulies and ghosties.

3) Because the dead and demonic could roam the Earth on Hallowe'en, the Celts wore costumes to prevent being recognized as humans. Their protective measures have given rise to our costumes. Though I doubt dressing as a pixie could save you from a ghost.

4) To honor the dead on Samhain, people set a place for the dead at the table and told stories of their ancestors. Nowadays, we tell ghost stories of debatable spookiness.

5)The name jack-o'-lantern comes from the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, heavy drinking farmer who tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him in it by carving a cross into the trunk. In revenge, the devil cursed on Jack and condemned him to forever walk the earth at night with only the light he had with him that day: a candle inside a hollowed out turnip. (In America, we use pumpkins, because they are easier to get here than turnips.)

6) In Ireland, these days, it is more common to give trick or treating children money than candy.

7) The story your parents told you about razors in your candy is not actually true. It's just a very pervasive urban myth. Sources vary on whether there have been no cases of such attacks on children or if these attacks are just so rare as to be statistical nos, but it turns out you can, in fact, trust your neighbors. (That doesn't mean you should take candy from strangers, though, kids.)

8) Hallowe'en is also known as All Saint's Eve, because it is the day prior to All Saint's Day, which honors those who have achieved Beatific Vision in heaven. All Saint's Day is also called Hallowmas, which ties to Hallowe'en. (I think, in all days to come, I shall be calling the holiday Hallowmas, because I think that sounds cool.)

9) Hallowe'en is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It's one of the holiest days on the calendar.

10) Hallowe'en is an excellent day for divination. A lot of traditions involve predicting one's spouse. For example, if you sit in a darkened room and stare a mirror, supposedly, the face of your future spouse will appear before you. If you're fated to die before you wed, a skull will appear. Should you be short a mirror, or if you're hungry, have an apple. Peel it and throw the peel over your shoulder. Supposedly, the peel will form the first initial of your fated one.

11) If you see a spider on Hallowe'en, it is the soul of departed loved one watching over you. Now aren't you sorry you stepped on them?

12) If you want to meet a witch, you should walk backwards at midnight while wearing your clothes inside out. If you don't want to run afoul of a ghost, you should sprinkle salt or oatmeal on your head.

13) Samhainophobia is an intense, irrational fear of Hallowe'en. I am very sorry for these people, because they miss so much.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Once upon a time, in my high school Lit class, whenever we had to write an essay in class (known as Blue Books, because of the ominous baby blue booklets we had to write them in), we were expected to quote the test five times, minimum. And we weren't allowed to have the book with us. What that basically meant was that the day of the Blue Book, there'd be a bunch of us nerds walking around with flashcards that said things like, "Penelope and Women" or whatever. Basically, "[Insert Character Name] and [Insert Name of Theme That We Might Have to Write About]."

Some of the quotes were boring as all heck, which made them a pain to remember for the exam and no one remembered them afterward. Some were a strange experience to learn, so we remembered them easier. ("Holding all I used to be sorry about like the new moon holding water," -- Quentin, The Sound and The Fury. Apparently an old superstition held that the new moon could tell you if it would be a wet month or not.) And some were just so much fun you couldn't help remembering them. (Grendel's mother in Beowulf is known as "swamp thing from hell." Now tell me you wouldn't laugh aloud at that. And I can personally guarantee that at least 80% of my class used the quote "Once a bitch, always a bitch," in their essay on The Sound and the Fury.)

To what does this tend, you might ask? Well, while I'm not sure if I'd ever want my books to be the subject of a literature class (that would basically mean that 85% of the kids resented me and were cursing my name), I would love to be an author whose words worked their way into the readers mind with no intention of ever leaving again.

So, what makes a line memorable?

I'm sure figurative tricks can help a great deal. While I don't remember a great deal from that class that was heavy on alliteration, the rhyme of a poem does make it easier to remember. Also, repetition. I never did count the number of times that Athena is called "silver-eyed Athena" in The Odyssey, but believe me, three months later, we still knew what color her eyes were.

Humor is much harder to forget than anything else. My friends and I used to quote Hamlet in the hallway. (Gertrude: "Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended. " Hamlet: "Mother, you have my father much offended." Yes, even Shakespeare believed in bitch-slapping people.) Yeah, we were geeks, but when you've been reading Shakespeare for a few hours and you're already a bored high school student, anything funny goes a long way. Basically, people reading books are often tired or bored or stressed, so humor is always much appreciated.

Don't be afraid to tug on heart strings either. If a line is exceptionally moving, the reader will remember that. One of my favorite lines in Ender's Game (Come now, you didn't seriously think I could go a whole post on books and not mention it, did you?) is Alai talking to Ender when they're about to be separated: "Always my friend, always the best of my friends." Even now, I do a little 'aaww' when I read it. And there are other lines that are the same way. Your reader, hopefully, is going to remember the emotional scenes you right. They can also remember the emotional lines that went in them.

The thing that always made lines memorable for me was that they were contrary to what I expected. I don't think anyone who opens The Sound and the Fury to Jason's section expected the words, "Once a bitch, always a bitch," as the opener. (And watching kids try to do a presentation on that section without using the word was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.) And while I still remember Agamemnon saying, "The fame of her [Penelope's] great virtue will never die," -- because you could use it anywhere -- I don't think any of us are going to forget Helen's words, "Shameless whore that I was." Somehow, you just don't expect that in school assigned reading.

The best way, it seems to me, to grab your reader's attention on a line is to controvert what they expected, to amuse them with it, or to hit an emotional note with it. Anything that makes your reader laugh aloud or perks them up after they've been lying on their bed for fifteen minutes or illicts an emotional reaction will stick in their head much longer.

What are some lines from books you don't think you'll ever forget?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo

A while ago, I took this crazy notion into my head to do NaNoWriMo. And that's what it was, a crazy notion.

Who was I kidding? I cannot write 50k in a month. I did it back in August, but that was when I had nothing else going on. I'm busy in Novembers. And I'm still typing The Thief Book, which will take me into November. Then, second week of November, I'm in Hell Week for Romeo and Juliet, which I love, though it will probably murder me.

And there is no way in hellogoodbye that I could write 50k in a fortnight. If you can, power to you. You are a god among men. I am no such being.

So, it's official. I'm out. I am not doing NaNoWriMo. I'm going to focus on finishing the typed version of The Thief Book, and then I'll probably jump right into edits on that. So, if I can finish draft 3 of that by the end of November, I'll be as satisfied as if I'd written 50k.

How about you guys? Anyone doing NaNoWriMo?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Food for Thought

Last night, as I was eating dinner, I started chewing over an idea in my head. Part of me wants to start clickety-clakety-ing out this new project before I've even gotten the last one day. It's the masochist in me.

But, the side of my that likes to pretend it's rational urged me to at least make sure I know what's supposed to be coming in the story before it comes. And that's when it hit me: I don't know how it ends.

Well, no, I know already the basis of the story, and I know I want a HEA-esque ending. And there's a way that happens for this story. But I realized I didn't know the key event that takes you from the beginning part of the story to the end part of it. I knew what the hinge ought to be, but I didn't know what it was.

I ended up thinking about it for an hour and still not quite working it out. I've got some ideas that might come into a point. However, I don't think I've had the idea yet. So, more thinking over dinner for me, I guess.

Have you realized all of a sudden that your ideas aren't all where you thought they were? What'd you do about it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Favorite Symbol

Many years ago, whilst channel surfing, I saw the middle third of a movie entitled Painful Secrets, also known as Secret Cutting. Unfortunately, I didn't know the title, and so it took until, well, today, to find a copy of it anywhere. But what I really remember about the movie is something I learned while trying to find the title (harder than it sounds when the movie has three titles).

What I really remember is that while searching about the movie on the Internet, I found a site that had some analysis of the movie. One thing it noted was a scene in which the main character shatters her hand mirror because she doesn't have any razors to cut with. There's a short shot of her imagine reflected in the broken mirror. It was meant to symbolize the brokenness of her life and mind.

Since I read that, this has become one of my symbols. I find the image so provocative. I love the way the image looks split up, often with parts appearing more than once, everything distorted, sense-making and nonsensical all at the same time. And, quite frankly, I love the kinds of characters you can apply that symbol to. Some of the most interesting characters are shattered and broken, often in more ways than one.

I've seen it in other places than Secret Cutting. Another good movie with it would be Sweeny Todd. In the song "Epiphany," there's a shot with Johnny Depp looking in a broken mirror ( about 1:07 seconds into the song). If there's any character with a fractured mental state, it's Benjamin Barker/ Sweeny Todd.

Do you have a symbol that you particularly love?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Proof Positive?

I know I said there wouldn't really be more jokes, but I hear this one, and it tickled me, so I'm throwing it up here.

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

Yet Another Saturday

It was my hope that on Saturdays I would be able to post a regular line of writer-related to jokes. After all, we writers all seem to express a certain degree of stress, and I think we could all do with a good laugh.

However, the internet seems to disagree with me, and it refused to provide me with further author jokes. Why is it that people seem to have decided that writers just aren't a funny topic of conversation? I think we're awesome.

If anyone knows a good (or bad) joke about authors, please post it in the comment section. We could all use a smile.


On an unrelated note, The Thief Book is coming along. Once I've done my Saturday typing, I shall have cracked 50k in typed words. Back at the start of the month, I had thought that would put me near the end of the book, except I was very wrong about how long this book is. If everything goes the way I hope, I should be close to the end of the book by the end of the month. I should finish this in a fortnight.

I'm learning a lot with this second draft. Which is good, even if it does just mean that I know there is going to be a third and fourth after it. Okay, so there being more drafts was basically as certain as the sun rising, but I know now I'm devoting whole drafts to solving certain problems. So this is far from finished.

How was everyone else's week?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Impossible Things Are Really Freaking Hard

Unlike most people I've heard mention such things, I do not use statcounter. However, I use blogpatrol, which is basically the same thing, so I'm no better, even in the addiction department. I choose to control the urge to check by limiting myself to just checking on Saturdays.

Now, I don't know if statcounter does something similar, but blogpatrol has a very cruel feature that informs you, not only how many people have checked your blog that day, but also how many people it expects will check it that day. As far as I'm concerned, that's just pain-inducing. "Dear you, yes, only five hits today. Don't worry, we don't expect more." And somehow, it manages to be mute and use a stereotypical witchy cheerleader voice at the same time.

And mine likes to be completely unreasonable. At the very beginning of a Saturday, it's initial estimate for the day is often 48 hits. I can tell you right from the get go, not gonna happen. But it likes to say that anyway, just to taunt me. (Yes, I take it personally.) I'm all for reaching for the stars, but even I know when something is a pipe dream.

Why do I mention this? Because, after all my yammering about goal setting, it seemed important to mention setting reasonable goals.

Before we go any further, I wanted to say that I do believe in doing impossible things sometimes, and that, yes, I am listening to the Rogers and Hammerstein song write now. But that's not the point. Because while I do believe that sometimes the impossible can be achieved, achieving it is really, really hard.

So while I would never tell someone to give up on their dream -- I want to be a published writer. I officially have no right to call someone's dream crazy -- I would advise people not to bite off more than they can chew.

I am the queen of biting off more than I can chew. I am currently burning the midnight oil trying to keep up with my 2000 words a day goal. It's not easy, but I'm trying to stick to it. But I'm always wondering about my goals and trying to make sure that I'm not setting myself up for certain failure.

Because, yes, if you try to take on too much at once (i.e.: learning to fly by this time tomorrow) you're doomed. That's why you've got to break things down, take them one step at a time.

Impossible things can be achieved, but it takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to tackle the possible first, with the hope that the impossible can follow shortly after.

How do you feel about attempting the impossible? Do you tend to bite off more than you can chew?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Glee

I admit it. Last night, I bowed to the recommendations of people who watch enough TV to know what they're talking about, and I watched Glee.

I have found my new TV addiction. (Odd, since I actually don't live with a TV and watch anything I decide to find time for on my computer.) Still, I'm very happy.

Though sometimes the writing and plot are not as original or possible as I'd have hoped, the characters drew me right in -- actually I'm already in love with Kurt. (Everyone who knows me is probably thinking, 'no surprises there.') -- and I like rooting for an underdog.

Glee :D

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Most Important Thing

Have you ever seen the movie Secret Window with Johnny Depp? I admit, I'm a huge fan of Mr. Depp, and I think he'd very good in this. And, he gets one of my favorite lines in the movie. (No, slash that, I think he has all of my favorite lines of the movie.)

See, Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, an author. I'm going to skip over all the parts related to plot so as not to spoil anything, but at one point Mort explains his views on endings: "You know, the only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending. And this one... is very good. This one's perfect." (If you want to hear Mr. Depp deliver the lines -- and I think everyone should, click here to watch the last scene. If you wish to avoid references to things that occur in the movie, watch only that which occurs in the time slow 1:25 - 1:45.)

I concur with Mr. Mort Rainey. The end, in my mind, is the most important part.

Now, I'm not going to claim that beginnings are not important. (That would be silly. That's when you establish everything and hook your reader.) And I am not about to claim that middles are allowed to be rubbish or that no one cares about them. (That would foolish. Middles are were everyone spends most of their time. They are arguably the largest portion of the book. They have to be good. If they weren't worth reading, then no one would get to the ending.) But I do think that what you really need is, what you absolutely cannot get by without is a very good ending.

Do you know why?

Because in the beginning, they can put the book down. They don't have to get started at all, if they don't want to. And while that might be unfortunate for you, as a writer, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and not everyone was going to like you anyway.

In the middle, they can not like you. They can put the book down, take breaks, or simply give it up. None of those things are particularly good for you, the author, but they are not the worst things. After all, even if the middle, one is not necessarily committed. Promises have not always been made.

But the ending. If they've made the ending, they deserve to having something good. You owe it to the reader. You promised them that you weren't going to blow it. And if you do, they'll upset, and deservedly so.

See, I view reading as a partnership. The writer, by presenting this book to you, has made assurances of its worth and general goodness. The reader, by reading, has made assurances of interest and openness to the events of the story. If you give them a bad ending, you're not holding up your end. You gave them a good most of the story (good work, you), and they got invested, just the way you'd always hoped. Now if the ending is bad, they're going to want to throw the book against the wall. And, even worse for you, they might never read anything you write ever again. And, even worse, they might convince others not to read your work either.

Why?

Because you reneged on the deal. Bad. The reader expected a satisfying ending, and they deserve it. And you should give it to them.

Now, I'm not saying that it has to be a happy ending, though we know I love those. I am, however, saying that it should wrap things up, at least most things. If it leaves all sorts of things hanging out there, that's not finishing, that's stopping. That's not the same.

Someone should make it out alive. (Yes, we've heard me say this before.) Why do I say that? Because if every single person the reader has been following throughout the book dies, then you're gonna have to take a few pages to explain to the reader why anything you just wrote matters. And, trust me, if no one is alive to be impacted, that's a hard things to do.

The ending should be foreseeable and physically possible. I do not mean that you have to make it obvious -- that would be much less fun. However, the reader should have a snowball's shot in hell of understanding how it all happened. For example, if it's a murder mystery, don't make the doer some person the reader's never heard of and the weapon and motive should have been something the reader could recognize. Otherwise, why'd you bother bringing them along for the ride?

The ending is what I read books for. While I care about how they get there (in the stories I read, that is often the part that changes), I expect a good resolution. Otherwise, I might just throw your book against the wall.

Tell me, how do you feel about endings? What do you find to be the most important part? Do you share my fandom of Johnny Depp?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Making It Out Alive

Whenever a really busy period of my life comes to an end, I always breathe a sigh of relief and feel very glad that I made it out of it alive. True, I don't usually spend that time dodging spears or running from wicked Mage kings, but I always feel like I escaped some very intense scenario that could have ended with the world imploding.

So, now that my show is over, and my life can begin to once again bear a resemblance to its old self, I'm trying to sort it all out again. I need to re-examine my goals (a few took a tumble during Hell Week) and put them back into good working order.

But, for the moment, I'm just happy that I made it through the week. I'm happy for small successes. :D

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Me Speak English Gooder Than You

English language
Have you ever wondered why foreigners have trouble with the English Language?


Let's face it, English is a stupid language. There is no egg in the eggplant,no ham in the hamburger, and neither pine nor apple in the pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England, and French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted, but if we examine its paradoxes we find that quicksand takes you down slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor are they pigs.

If writers write, how come fingers don't fing? If the plural of tooth is teeth, then shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth? If the teacher taught, why didn't the preacher praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what the heck does a humanitarian eat!? Why do people recite at a play yet play at a recital? Or park on driveways and drive on parkways?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language where a house can burn up as it burns down, and in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which a bell is only heard once it goes!

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (Which of course isn't a race at all).

That is why when the stars are out they are visible but when the lights are out they are invisible and why it is that when I wind up my watch, it starts, but when I wind up this observation, it ends.


** I didn't make this up. I just wish I had.**

Friday, October 16, 2009

Whatcha Reading?

People always say that you need to read a lot in order to write well. I concur. Which is why I've been making a conscious effort to include more reading in my mental diet.

At the moment, I'm reading several things, but the fiction on at the top of my For Pleasure list is Emma by Jane Austen. Though it's not Pride and Prejudice, which will always be my one true love, it's so far proven to be a good read. I'm sure I'll profit by it.

So, my question for y'all (yes, I said it) is, what are you reading?