Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish Merry Christmas to all my friends who celebrate it- as well as a VERY late Happy Chanukah and Happy Solstice!

Whatever way you celebrate this time of year when days grow short and dark (ok, sorry you southern hemisphere folks ;))- HAVE A GREAT ONE!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Great first chapters!

And no, they're not mine-lol.

One of my favorite authors, LIsa Shearin, just posted the first three chapters of her next book (it will be out in spring). Even if you haven't read her other books yet-I think you'll really enjoy this! (And this way you have time to go buy and read the others before this one comes out ;)

So follow the magic link to the first three chapters of Con & Conjure!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Writing is like a box of chocolates....

Today I’m blogging not about Forrest Gump, but about that box of chocolates he kept going on about. We’re smack dab in the holiday season, and I’m continuing my writing and goodies vent from last week (recipe to follow ;)).

You know how it goes, you look in a nice big box of chocolates, trying to scope out which one is the kind you like. You look for hints, clues to ferret out your favs. Maybe the last time you had some candy, you had a wonderful caramel one that was milk chocolate and square. So, you look for one that’s like that.

Problem is- other ones may be the same color and shape…including ones you *gasp* may not like. (I’m a See’s Candy gal myself- and except for coffee ones, have yet to find one I really disliked- but I’ve heard of this in theory.

Using your chocolate loving memory, you grab the most likely suspect, bite into it- and it’s a vanilla cream. Now you may not hate vanilla cream, maybe you even like it, but you really had set your mouth up for a nice caramel.

How do you feel about that candy? Bummed? Disappointed? Maybe even think that there’s something wrong with it?

Now the connection to writing (yes, there really is one ;)) has more to do with reading. What the agent, editor, and finally the reader perceive the story will be verses what they actually receive.

Have you ever picked up a book, checked out the back cover blurb, maybe even read the first few pages? You’re excited, you think you have an idea of what this story is going to be about, so you buy it.

Then you get it home and after page 10 it turns into a vanilla cream (nothing against them mind you ;)).

Now the book may be a well-crafted work. It’s just not matching what you expected- what you had your mouth set for.

Maybe you’ll keep reading, maybe you’ll stop and go back another day, maybe you’ll throw it across the room (depending how betrayed you feel).

Now think about agents and editors. They too use cues (all humans do- schema building is one of our big tricks ;)) to pick out what they think they’ll like. They start reading with a certain expectation of where things will go.

But when the vanilla cream jumps out at them, they most likely are going to step away from the project.

So how can we as writers make sure that we don’t confuse our readers (whether they be agents, editors, or fans)? We need to make sure that our beginnings match our middles (and of course- ends ;)).

I recently had that problem. An agent got a certain feel from the beginning of my book- it looked like something she’d like based on her perception.

The book wasn’t like that at all.

Her comments were mostly about nudging my book to meet her expectations. By this I don’t mean revise and send back. I mean, “here’s what would make it better- but I’m not interested.”

Most of the “make it betters” were changing the direction of my book. Now to be fair, I didn’t submit to this agent, and once I read some things on her, she wouldn’t have been on my list. Absolutely nothing bad about her, but she mentioned she prefers darker projects- and mine are not dark.

However, the one she asked to see starts out dark-ish. It looked like a caramel, when in fact- it was a vanilla cream.

Now this wasn’t the only reason she passed- she had some other very legitimate concerns, and like I said- she likes darker stuff- my stuff is fairly light.

But what if the situation were different? What if she had been my dream agent, someone who would have loved my stuff---only she thought it was something else. What if that difference was enough for her to pass?

Can we as writers take the chance that our perfect agent will walk because our beginning doesn’t match the rest? What can we do to make sure the "feel" of our story is consistant?


Ok, I don’t make chocolates, so can’t toss in a recipe for that- BUT I do have a very oogy gooey treat called “Sin”. (Even better- there’s no mistaking what’s in it when you look at it ;)).

One box German Chocolate Cake Mix
One stick butter (melted)
One can Evaporated Milk
50 caramels
One bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cake mix, melted butter, 1/3 cup of evaporated milk together.
Press half of this into a 9 X 13 inch pan and cook for 7 minutes.
While it’s cooking, melt the caramels and another 1/3 cup evaporated milk.

When cake comes out (will be very, very flat) sprinkle the chocolate chips over it, then pour the melted caramel on top. Take the remaining cake mix mixture and working with tiny pieces of it, lay it out over the caramel. (Flatten the pieces out, and place them out to cover all of the caramel.)

Cook for another 6-7 minutes.
Let cool- A REALLY long time. This is messy as heck to cut, so the longer you cool it the better ;)
Enjoy the recipe and don’t forget to comment about the “chocolate” issue!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writing, Perfection, and Fudge

It’s the holidays! So let’s tie together writing and holiday food, shall we?

This week I was making some of my cheater fudge. I call it cheater because I don’t use sugar, so I don’t run the risk of that grainy taste many homemade types of fudge get.

Now my first batch started to go funky. The chocolate wasn’t melting right, and was clumping in a very bad way. In that, “oh crap- ruined the chocolate cause it got over cooked and is now seizing” way.

I was not happy to say the least.

But instead of dumping it, like I have in years past, I added more butter and beat the hell out of it.

It worked!

Instead of giving up, I fought to find a way to fix it and won.

How many times as writers have we tossed out the “bad chocolate” in our writing? We’ve worked on something, it gets tough, or screwed up, and instead of fighting through we just give up and start something new?

I think as creative folks, the urge to walk away from something that’s not “perfect” is probably pretty strong. We know how we see it in our heads, but often times that doesn’t make the leap to the printed page- so we walk away.

I know there are times when parts may have to be pulled and set aside- but completely dumped? I do have bits of stories that I never followed through on, but since I’ve gotten “serious” about my writing, I’ve fought against walking away. Sometimes things need a big change- but walk away? Hopefully from now on I can always find a way to make things work.

Have you ever walked away from a major project? When? Would you ever go back to it?

Here’s the recipe for my cheater fudge- in good writer fashion, I stole parts of it from many different recipes ;).

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ bag Hershey’s kisses
1 can sweetened condensed milk (that's why there’s no grainy sugar issue ;))
¼- ½ cube of butter
½ tsp vanilla
Half a jar of marshmallow fluff
1 cup of chopped nuts (more or less)

Melt the chips, kisses, and sweetened condescended milk. Stir often (I use a microwave and check every minute). Once smooth and all melted, stir in butter, vanilla, and fluff (you can add salt too- wouldn’t add much though). You will probably have to beat the heck out of it- but don’t give up and keep fighting until it's smooth!

Then pour into a wax paper covered dish (9X9). Let set in fridge for a bit. This is a great cheater fudge, but it dries out very easily. Keep it covered and in the fridge when not serving.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Character Love

I’ve got a confession- I love my characters.

Now this really shouldn’t come as a shock, after all- I created them.

But this is different. I just finished reading a SF novel- pretty dang good one too- and I realized I liked my SF character better than the one I was reading about. Actually, my thought was that Vas (my SF character) could sooooooooooo kick this character’s butt.

LOL- it might seem odd to think about which fictitious tough ass female character would win in a fight. But it was a fun thought. Now I don’t like just tough characters, but if something on the front of the book (or even inside) states that this is one tough chica- then she better be tough.
And I was very entertained that MY tough chica was far tougher than the other author’s “tough” chica. To be honest, even though they said she was tough, she really didn’t demonstrate it much. Vas, on the other hand, comes out swinging and doesn't stop.

That lead to the fact that I really do love my characters and not just because I created them. I like them in the same way I would some of my favorite characters written by other authors. I love that my women characters are actually tough (each in their own way) and it’s not the author simply telling you they are tough. My gals don’t need a guy- guys are fun, and often very handy, but my girls can all take care of themselves if need be. The guy compliments who they are, but they don’t need to complete them.

And my toughest, Captain Vaslisha Tor Dain, could probably beat any literary character that didn’t have super human powers (and possibly a few of those as well). Now obviously, there’s more to her (and the others) than just an insane level of kick-assed-ness. They screw up, sometimes they fall, sometimes they cry.

But they get back up and get right back into where they need to be.

This insight lead to another- I feel satisfied, REALLY satisfied, in the fact that I’ve written these books. As in if they don’t get published I won’t feel I wasted my time type of satisfied.

This is a really cool feeling.

I know many folks (me included) sometimes say, “even if I don’t get published I’m still going to write.” This is true, but some part of me still felt it would almost be a waste if any or all of my books didn’t make it.

Now I’m ok. It’s changed the way I’m thinking about my upcoming “Agent Search 2011”. I don’t feel as worried and panicky. It’s a really nice feeling and I hope it stays.

How about you- how do you feel about you characters? About other folks characters?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Over at Castles & Guns today!

Come on over- today I'm blogging about the end of a very interesting year on non-submitting.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why can’t I get focused?

Ok, so obviously I’ve been slacking on here- Nov 10th was a wee bit longer than a week ago.

I have no excuse but pure slacker-dom! Granted it is the holiday season, and there are many things out there to tempt us easily distracted folks.

But this is more than just holidays- this is a problem.

I love to write, I even in a sick way, love to edit (more of the storyline edits than nuts and bolts grammar). But why does it sometimes seem like I lose track? I’ll be chugging along, then I finish my project of the moment and just wander off mentally. A break is good, but too long and the routine is lost.

I’d been thinking about this very subject when a wonderful author posted a link to another author discussing the same thing.
Why writers procrastinate. Logically it doesn’t make sense, we love what we do, it gives us pleasure- yet we put off doing it. Akin to loving candy but deciding reaching for that box is too much work ;).

This great blog I spoke of mentions a big part of it is that it’s far easier and safer NOT to write- to just chug along in our little cocoon and maybe think about writing. But she also mentioned how to get around it and a part that struck me was ritual.

Humans used to have lots of rituals, they helped us understand our place in life, moved us from different life stages, help us deal with grief, happiness, and just about everything. As our society changed, we lost the ritual aspect and I think that’s a sad thing.

But why not have rituals for writing? Things that we do every day when we prepare to work on our stories that help us focus and tell the mind, “This is what we’ll be doing now” without having to fight our way into it. (Or worse, don’t do it unless our muse speaks to us.)

At a conference I went to last fall Lisa Gardner mentioned she uses scent- she has a favorite candle that she lights when she writes to get focused and let the mind know this is what’s going on.

I think I need to develop some sort of rituals of my own, ones that will be both general (writing now or editing now) as well as project specific since I plan on doing more than one novel/project a year.

I’m good with the candle idea, and I will get my workspace a little more user friendly. But I need more. Do any of you have great “rituals” to get your butt in the chair and the project moving? Since I’m entering a major editing stage right now any ones specific for that will be really appreciated!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Passion and Commitment- lessons from a TV show

I just got back from the annual gathering of the Scapers- aka fans of the lamentingly cancelled tv show- Farscape.

Now before you pooh pooh the idea of learning something of lasting value from a tv show, let me explain.

First- if you like SF, SFR, or just love great storytelling- YOU need to go see this show. Rent the DVD’s, borrow them from friends- buy them-whatever, but see it. This show was quite possibly the most inventive and original SF show ever made. It also has a great romance line (a few actually) running through it.

Now I am a certifiable geek girl- no question- but this show impacted my life far more than anything else. For one, I have some wonderful amazing folks in my life whom I never would have known without this show and the annual conventions. Two- the wild storytelling and unique characters influenced my writing in subtle ways. It also influenced how I see the creative world and how much us creative folks have to fight for our dreams.

When asked how Farscape did what it did in terms of creating an amazing and ground breaking show, the answer was passion and commitment.

This passion and commitment came from the top creators and ran down to the stunt people. They wanted to do something amazing. Something unique, special, and unfortunately expensive (the death of the show was due to the high costs). They could have compromised their vision. The show got turned down by Fox- a death kneel for any tv pilot. But they stuck with how they saw it, they fought long and hard to get it made their way. And they created so much passion and commitment from their fans (aka Scapers ;)) that the fans fought long and hard to get it back when it was cancelled prematurely. This fight by the fans lead the a miniseries which allowed the show to reach its envisioned ending.

As writers we need to have that type of passion and commitment to our work. NOTHING can stand in our way. We need to be willing to fight long and hard to get our visions, our worlds to the reading public. If I affect just one person the way Farscape affected the fans, I would count myself successful indeed.

It’s too easy in our field to blame the industry for our lack of success. But the fact is, there are many far more brutal industries about-I look at the folks behind Farscape as an example of a group of people who fought such an industry and for quite a while won the battle.

Never forget publishing is a tough field- but with passion and commitment towards our visions- we will make it.

Have any tv shows influenced your writing?

And you folks who haven’t seen this show- DO SO! Especially if you like SFR- you have no excuse for not seeing this.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Contest Experience- I survived!

Ok so this fall I entered a number of contests. Aside from one entry last year, this was my first foray into the world of RWA contestland.

It was interesting.

And I don’t think I’ll do it again :).

Now, it’s nothing against contests in general, or RWA in particular, I’m just not sure how much feedback I can winnow out that is not related to me not having followed established romance parameters- particularly for not introducing the “meeting of the mates” sooner.

Of course, I don’t write Romance books- so that could be the problem. But as someone who reads Romance, I would argue that many books I have enjoyed don’t have the romance build in until AFTER the first 20-25 pages (the length of a standard contest sub.) In fact I find myself very annoyed with the sudden introduction and immediate “falling for each other but fighting it” that is often found in romances.

I want it to build. Having them be “inexplicably drawn to each other on first sight” on page 12 just doesn’t work for me. So even if and when I do cross into writing Romance, I would still have this problem in terms of contests.

Now, there was some good feedback, and once I finish the rough of The Glass Gargoyle I’ll be really digging into the feedback and adding in what works.

Here’s some things that don’t work:

1) Giving a high score and NO comments. Most contests say the judges have to comment for a half or less score. Well one of the highest scores I got had no comments. Which makes me wonder- did the judge even read it? Or were they in a rush and just gave very high scores just to get it done? I was also a judge in this contest (different categories than I was entered obviously) but even on the ones I LOVED, I made comments. To anyone out there who may find themselves judging- do it right, give some feedback- or don’t do it! The high but useless score is akin to a critique where the person just says, “I loved it!” Nice to hear but useless for feedback.

2) Commenting on how well a specific aspect was done- then giving a low score for that aspect. Ok, what’s up with that? The judge forgot which number meant “good”? This happened a number of times; the comments didn’t match up with the scores. And I’m not talking about the “I’m criticizing you so now I’ll say something nice to make you feel better”- I’m talking “Loved this!” then being given a 3 (think C) for that component. SIGH. Not real helpful.

Things that did work:
1) Getting your work in front of folks who don’t know you and who you hope will be honest. Really did get a few bits of good feedback and ideas. I think for newer writers this could be a way to toughen the skin anonymously.

2) The chance to final. Ok, I didn’t think this would be a big deal- but when they announced my name it was cool. LOL. As writers we don’t get all that many kudos moments and that one rocked. And taking second in the Miss Snark’s First Victim contest REALLY rocked.

So for the fall I entered the blog Miss Snarks First Victim’s Secret Agent Contest (Sept) and came in second (with a request for a full from an agent) * I cannot recommend this blog enough- go NOW- great stuff there*.

Then entered the Golden Palm Contest with one entry- didn’t final;
the On The Far Side Contest– two didn’t final, one did;
and the Launching a Star- no word back yet.

All and all it’s been an interesting experience- both not as bad as I feared, nor as good as I hoped;).

Any of you have great ups or great downs brought on by entering contests?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why every writer should do NaNoWriMo…and why I’m not this year

Ah fall. The time of year when nights grow shorter, weather grows cooler (ok, not here in So.Cal…but in SOME places), and writers across the land think of what they will do for National Novel Writing Month- aka NaNoWriMo- aka NaNo.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNo is a month (November) when writers decide to announce to the cyberspace world their intention of completing 50,000 words in a new manuscript.

Now there are guidelines, and while they aren’t enforced, why do it if you’re not going to follow them? It should be a new work and it should be a book. Not a collection of short stories- a book. Like they say if you think you’re writing a book, they will also.

There’s no cost, you just go to their site and sign up. Then you look for folks you know and add them to your “buddy” list so that you can egg each other on. There are local groups for most areas, so even if you don’t know someone- you can meet some like minded folks.

Why would thousands of people, for the most part semi-sane, choose to inflict 50,000 words upon themselves like that? Why do people run marathons? Climb mountains? To have the experience. NaNo is like Mt. Kilimanjaro for writers. And it’s a great learning tool. Most writers, even we seat of the pants type folks- have some inner censor going on when we write. Some little voice that makes us stop and question ourselves mid-chapter.

You can’t do that during NaNo. In pure self-defense you have to take that little voice, stick a gag in his mouth and ship him off to Siberia. When you’re cranking out 50,000 words (page count of 170-200 pages depending on the writer) in one month- you are writing CRAP. Lots, and lots, of crap. And you don’t care! Your only goal is to fill up those pages. You can’t listen to any inner voice no matter how loud- because you simply don’t have time.

When you win (and even if you don’t I would think- I’ve won both times I did it ;)) you really feel like you’ve done something amazing. You wrote, created, and slaved over a damn good sized chunk of a book that didn’t exist until Nov 1. Does it need work? Hell yes- probably lots of it. But you did it.

It also teaches you to write through any blocks that come your way. You just bowl right over them. So when you return to your more normal level of writing, you’re not the same person. You’re faster, leaner, more stubborn.

I know since Dec 2008 (my first NaNo) my writing style has changed for the better. Dec 2009 (NaNo two)saw the launch of multiple projects at the same time. This September I did my own NaNo trying to finish a project under a tight deadline. I did about 15-20,000 words in ONE WEEK. I could never have done that without two years of NaNoWriMo under my belt. I write faster, and I focus tighter now than I did before NaNo and I think every writer needs to try it at least once. You may not finish, but you still tried something way outside your normal everyday life. And its fun trying to explain to non-writers what you’re doing ;).

Alas, this year no NaNo for me. That Sept. NaNo of my own kinda did it for me, plus I still have one more project to finish. Once it’s done and sent in for critique, I need to finish polishing the other two books. I can’t start a new project with the others not ready to go. I’m sticking to the plan I made Dec 1, 2009.

But I will be longingly thinking of NaNo 2010- and I’ll be back in 2011 ;).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Schrodinger’s Cat Phenomenon of Writing

Ok, to sum up (and butcher) a theory of quantum physics, Schrodinger’s cat postulated that when a cat was in a room (no cats were ever harmed- it’s a thought experiment folks) in which poison was released- that before the door opened the cat was both alive and dead (again rough ROUGH summation for my point ;)).

I hypothesize that the same thing exists for writers. When we have sent out a requested partial or full, or even entered a contest- we are existing in both the realm of acceptance/winning and the realm of denial/not winning. We don’t know which it will be, so it could be both until that door is opened.

This week has been a wild one. Even though I said I was not going to submit to agents this year, I have found myself in a very nice position to have had both a full and a partial requested from two (or three- one is a two for one deal ;)) very well respected agents. For two different books.

I also entered three different novel contests and one short story contest. All of which are hanging out with that cat in the box right now and the door doesn’t open until later this month on any of them ;).

I will be sending out the requested items this week, but I already find myself in that odd neither dead nor alive position. I’m very happy and excited about the requests, but I almost don’t want the result to come back too quickly. If the answer is negative, it will pop the bubble. But even if it is positive, this limbo state (which I argue is unique and actually sort of enjoyable) will end.

This liking of the limbo is new and I think a result of having four unique series “on the boards” as it were. I will be disappointed if the results from the requests come back negative, obviously, the agents in question are very good and “on my list” of top agents I would like to work with. But at the same time, I’ve proven to myself that I can write more.

I like being the cat now ;).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blogging at Castles & Guns today

Today I'm over at Castles & Guns blogging about the craziness of writers.

Come say hi!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love to write, but hate the words

“I love to write, it’s the words I can’t stand.”

Ok so that quote isn’t a direct quote. My sister mentioned it- or something very similar to it- when she came back from a Neil Simon play. That one of the characters had said it and it made her think of me.

LOL- how appropriate!

I think that absolutely speaks to my writing state of mind. Especially my recent state of mind. I have to admit that I love to have written. It’s like going to the gym, I don’t like going but I like having went.

Writing is the same- sort of. Part of me loves to actually write, digging out words, placing them just so, making them funny and shiny. But only when the writing is going well. When it’s not going well, that’s another thing completely!

As of late I’ve been fighting to beat my steampunkish novel into submission. I have a deadline of Sept 30th for a challenge from my local RWA writing group and it ain’t looking pretty about me hitting the deadline.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve shown to myself that I can write like a mad woman when the need arises (two years of successful NaNo’s taught me that ;)). But I’m just having a problem with this book! It could be that some deep dark part of my psyche really is looking longingly at my other WIP and just wants to dive back in to it (two books this close to the end are NOT a good idea folks). Or it could be that I’m writing complete drivel and the entire book is crap (ahhh the mind of a writer- self doubt anyone?).

But the thing is, I’m at the "liking having written, not actually writing" stage. When I read back a few days worth of work I have to admit, it’s not a bad rough draft. Then I charge forward into a pile of sticky, messy words and they just slow me down again.

What about any of you? Do the words sometimes annoy you?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Talk like a pirate day!

ARRRRGGGGHHH! It's Talk like a pirate day mateys- I took the test and here's what I be!

You are The Quartermaster
You, me hearty, are a man or woman of action! And what action it is! Gruesome, awful, delightful action. You mete out punishment to friend and foe alike – well, mostly to foe, because your burning inner rage isn’t likely to draw you a whole lot of the former. Still, though you may be what today is called “high maintenance” and in the past was called “bat-shit crazy,” the crew likes to have you around
because in a pinch your maniacal combat prowess may be the only thing that saves them from Jack Ketch. When not in a pinch, the rest of the crew will goad you into berserker mode because it’s just kind of fun to watch. So you provide a double service – doling out discipline AND entertainment.

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!

Oh and you can find pirate names many places- this one says I'm Plankwalking Patty McKracken - sure and I'll be runnin' ya through if ya laugh!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Do you trust yourself?

The other night I was watching one of my guilty pleasures, the TV show Eureka. There was a scene where the lead character, acting upon knowledge sent to him by a future him from the past (don’t ask) is charging his truck towards what looks to him like an open gorge. The entire time he’s muttering, “I trust me.” “I trust me.” However, when he gets to the edge he yells, “I don’t trust me!” However, even as he yelled it, he kept going and thusly saved the day.

That got me to thinking, how many times as writers do we not trust ourselves? Self doubt is sadly a major component of what we do. It’s not like in graduate school where you wrote a paper then received a grade and a detailed list of what worked and what didn’t. Here you write and write, never really knowing if you’re good enough. The reasons for rejection are huge, unlimited, and may have nothing to do with your ability. Unless you get a revision letter you will never really know. Sometimes it feels we are screaming into a dark abyss and the only answer back is our own echo.

So what do we do? Do we scream, “I trust me!” and barrel forth into what looks like a certain death? Or do we let the lack of trust in our own skills and thought processes make us hover on the edge?

Now while barreling forward does sound more heroic, it could be argued that nothing will be lost by hovering. Less risk after all.

Here’s why writers have to trust themselves. Lack of trust can destroy the writing. We’ve all seen it, the story where the same point is brought up time and again. Where within three pages the same concepts have been stated and restated numerous times. Those are signs of a writer hovering on the edge. They worry that the reader may not get it. They don’t trust in their own writing enough to take that leap that their craft is strong enough to carry the reader safely to the other side.
Self doubt can affect the writer in other ways as well. If the writer has too many self doubts, they may constantly search for validation. To the point of getting too much feedback on their work and changing it each time. Now don’t get me wrong, I love feedback. There have been many times when someone reading my work has caught things I was too close to see. Or suggested a better way to put something. But for the writer with not enough trust in themselves, this can be devastating to the work.

I read a blog not too long ago where the author said how her agent hated the first three chapters. The ones that had been in contests, crit groups, and polished until they gleamed. All rubbish. The author didn’t trust herself enough to not re-work those chapters after each contact with another person. It turned out fine for her; the agent loved the rest of the book. But the point is that lack of trust could have been fatal for that book.

So the next time you find yourself doubting your skills- find a way to charge forward instead. Find ways to improve your craft through books, conferences, workshops. Don’t give into the mindset of dwelling on a concept or idea repeatedly. Do it once, do it well, and move on.

Be willing to charge your truck into the abyss, you might just save the day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Commas…vagrants of the punctuation world

Today’s blog is all about those little miscreants of mayhem and injustice- commas.

Sure, they look innocent, sitting there slightly curled as if to give a sense of comforting friendliness. “Come here,” they seem to say. “Pause a bit before the long trek of words before you.”

They don’t let you see them for what they really are.

Vagrants. Hooligans. Tramps.

Now, to be fair, in the history of the English language, commas were not always troublemakers. While lacking the solid respectability of the noble period, they still had their own set of fairly stable rules. People knew where to put a comma, and it was the same no matter what you were writing. Punctuation was the same regardless of it being a term paper, newspaper article, or the latest fiction book.
Alas, those days have changed. Below is the definition of a vagrant. I would argue that the comma has finally shown its true colors as one.

a person who wanders about idly and has no permanent home or employment; vagabond; tramp.
Law . an idle person without visible means of support, as a tramp or beggar.
a person who wanders from place to place; wanderer; rover.
wandering idly without a permanent home or employment; living in vagabondage: vagrant beggars.
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a vagrant: the vagrant life.
wandering or roaming from place to place; nomadic.
(of plants) straggling in growth.
not fixed or settled, esp. in course; moving hither and thither: a vagrant leaf blown by the wind.

The important image here is “not fixed”. These little bits of ink, now have free range to move about hither and thither, landing where they will on the page, left only to the rules of the author. Justification can be made (and often is) by authors for using these marks where they will and how they will. “The rules have changed,” they cry as they find another comma has snuck off somewhere new and unique. “They don’t have to follow the same rules for fiction.” The beleaguered novelist whimpers as they defend the placing of yet another troublemaker.

However, these authors think the placement was their choice. I would argue we have all been put under the sway of punctuation with minds of its own. They want us to think we’ve changed our rules, that commas don’t have to follow them as stringently anymore. How do we know this hasn’t been some masterful stroke by the Comma Liberation Army? A chance for punctuation to run amuck everywhere?

I think we should all be concerned about the increasing vagrancy of commas, who knows what punctuation will next make a bid for freedom?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm in a group blog!

Just a quick note- I'm blogging today on the new group blog I joined, Castles & Guns. Since I have books that deal with both of those items- figured it was a good match ;).

Today is my intro day- come by and say hi!

Frelling supposedly put a link in for the blog. But it doesn't show when I post....SIGH.

You'll have to find it by cutting and pasting since it simply will NOT let me make a link!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Music to stir the savage beast

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know the original quote is "breast" not "beast" work with me folks ;))

I, like many writers, sometimes write to music. Usually it’s just something classical something I don’t think about that’s just a nice noise to block out everything else.

That is until two years ago.

I have a lovely friend name Julie with a love of trailer music (movie trailers) as well as some groups I’d never heard of before (Nightwish, Within Temptation) that I guess would be medieval metal. Two years ago, a few weeks before my first NaNoWriMo, she gave me some CD’s of trailer music and the other groups. I enjoyed them, thought they may not really be my type, but enjoyable none the less.

Enter NaNo.

For those of you who have never heard of this annual beast of madness, it’s were crazy mad writers decide to crank out 50,000 words in one month. November is the month it all shakes down. (Yes, go sign up now, it's an amazing experince

So here I am trying to consistently crank out pretty dang high word counts in a brand new mss. I mean BRAND new. I had an opening scene, the title, and my main character’s name. I did know it was Space Opera/SF and that in my mind it would have been a great graphic novel. (I STILL think that-LOL)

That was it folks.

Needing inspiration, I put on one of the movie trailer CDs. WOW. Not only was the mostly very fast based music a great type keeper (I found myself typing faster to keep up with it) the music itself is extremely visual. When you’re pulling intense scenes of fights, explosions, and general mayhem out of thin air, it really helps to have music that gets you half way there!

Then I added Nightwish and Within Temptation, also very visual and very stirring. I won’t say they made NaNo easy by any means, but the music helped me get through it and honestly influenced the book a lot. (Thanks Julie! :))

I now find myself using the trailer music particularly to jump start my writing even if I’m not blowing things up-LOL. It makes my own sound track for the sprint writing I often do. (Some great “groups” are Immediate Music; E.S. Posthumous and Corner Stone Cues among others).

I also do have my calmer, introspective, more fantasy sounding music. Richard Searles is wonderful especially Earth Quest (if you have a fantasy writer on your gift list this would be a great CD :)) Loreena Mckennitt (Thanks Chris who got me hooked on her :)) and Enya are good focusing CD’s. And a wonderful more spiritual one is the self titled CD by Anuna.

I can’t forget my steampunk connection either! At a conference last year a wonderful woman named Brenda got me hooked on Abney Park when she heard I was doing a steampunk book. Their CD’s have been crucial to my work on that project.

And it still keeps happening.

Just a few days ago, I was driving up the coast, listening to one of my collections. A full scene popped into my head. A group of people fighting for their lives (sadly- they ain’t gonna win). It was so clear I almost had to pull off the road! Sadly, it’s not for one of my current projects, but for the second book in the Warrior Wench series (The book is called The Victorious Dead and that was before this image popped into my head ;)).

Music is great for stirring the savage beast (our characters and ourselves)- how do you use music? What music do you use? As shown here, I’ve been extremely lucky to have friends turn me onto some wonderful music- maybe your faves can help another writer too!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

AAA for writers?

(No, not AA that could be valid as well, but AAA as in those Automobile Association of America folks.)

I had an enlightening experience yesterday. My car wouldn’t start. You know the lovely , “click click click” that tells you that battery of yours is no longer playing with the rest of the car? That was the sound that greeted me.

Luckily it happened in my drive-way and I have AAA. I called the scarily polite AAA folks, they got a battery expert out to me in 20 minutes. He was nice, friendly, and comforting. Yep- battery had gone bad. So he jumped my car, gave me a print out of how bad it was (battery was still under warranty) and sent me trundling off to Sears. (Who took care of it quickly- but that's not really relevant ;))

Now over all a dead car is NOT fun. But having the AAA made it pretty darn painless. And more importantly, they quickly comforted me, fixed my problem, and got me moving again. SO worth the annual fee (yes, I strongly believe all drivers need to have that lovely little card in their wallet ;)).

But what if there was a AAA for writers? How about SWA-Stranded Writers Association? (I know, not catchy enough- but we can worth on that ;)).

The point is, how cool would it be to be able to pull out a little card each time we had a problem? Got a flat character? Call SWA. Lost in your plot? Call SWA. Need a jump because your “oomph” has left the building? Call SWA. You call them and a nice soothing friendly voice would assure you it will all be ok. Then someone comes out, again tells you everything will be fine, fixes your problem and sends you merrily on your way.

Now to just find a way to make that happen ;).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Writing like an Actor

I sat in on a workshop at the SDSU writer’s conference a few years back on improv. Let me tell you, once the instructor clarified it really WAS improvisation- that room cleared out like mad.

That is not surprising, but it was sad for those writer’s who fled. It was really a great workshop and made me think differently about how I write my characters and their reactions.

The instructor was using acting techniques to show writers how to think like an actor. Our characters are like actors, only they all have the same brain- ours. However, if they all sound and think like us they’ll fail to grab any reader’s attention for long.

So how do we deal with that? We act. Now some writers are probably more prone than others to act out their characters. I have found myself pantomiming actions some times while writing. Sometimes it helps me feel the scene, other times it just happens. Frowning, grimacing, waving ones arms about when there is no external stimuli is either the sign of a writer, or someone with a few psychological issues (or both- I know some of you were thinking it ;)). But sometimes we have to act out what goes on (physically or internally).

I’ve found I’ll use external stimuli as well to get me in a frame of mine- both for character development and what I think of as “book character development”.

Since I’ve been working on three very different series this year, I’m finding out that each story has its own personality, its own “character” if you will.

This means that my fast moving SF uses different word choices, different scene breaks, different writing music (movie trailers are the BEST if you have a fast action book) than the other two.

The fantasy-mystery book has a different sensibility completely. It’s a takeoff of a short story I did about ten years ago. Since that story was in first person, so is this book. The tone, feeling, words, and yes writing music are different. Everything is lighter, funnier, and mystery driven. It’s got drunken faeries and homicidal squirrels- nuff said.

The youngest- my steampunk- has driven me a different direction. I’m reading Victorian mysteries (ok – sort of- Elizabeth Peters actually), I’m using different music, I’m finding I turn to tea when I get stressed (ok, I have always been a serious tea drinker- but lately it’s been waaaay more noticeable. Direct correlation to how much time I’ve been spending with my steampunk book ;)).

So I do “act” my characters, but I also “act” my book. I’m not sure how much of this would have been so noticeable if I hadn’t taken on three projects in one year.
How about any of you? Do you act your book? Your characters?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

California Conferences 2010- 2011

Every once in a while it seems I come across a GREAT looking conference. But I usually find it too close to the date and don’t have time to be able to go. So, I’ve decided to create my own list of writer’s conferences! I’m doing it by state (I’ll combine some into “areas”) and will start with my home state- California (no, you non-Californians, we don’t call it “Cali”…shakes head).

One thing I noticed while perusing the CA RWA chapters- there are NO CA RWA conferences! Closest was LARA’s annual workshop. What gives? We’re pretty dang big- why not have something worthy of our state? Ah well- here’s the list:

California conferences- date order starting next month.

I have no idea how good any of these are except for the ones I personally have attended. I’m just listing whatever I find- do the research to make sure it’s a good conference for YOU! If you have questions about the ones I’ve marked as “been to” please ask :). Also please feel free to list any other California ones I missed.

*North Coast Redwoods Writer’s Conference Sept 17-18 2010 Crescent City

*Central Coast Writer’s Conference Sept 17-18 2010 San Luis Obsipo

* Southern California Writer’s Conference: Los Angeles Sept. 24-26 2010

*La Jolla Writer’s Conference Nov 5-7 2010 San Diego-been to

*SDSU Writer’s Conference. Jan 29-31 2011 San Diego—been to

*Southern California Writer’s Conference- Feb 18-20 2011 San Diego-been to

* San Francisco Writers Conference Feb 18-20 2011

*Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention. April 6-10 2011 Bonventure Hotel Los Angeles-been to

* Los Angeles Romance Authors- Annual Workshop- May 2011

*Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Workshop no 2011 dates, usually June- August San Diego

*Santa Barbara Writers Conference June 18-24 2011

*Napa Valley Writer’s Conference No date for 2011- last week in July for 201

*Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conf. No date for 2011- usually late July/early August

*Comic Con International San Diego- July 21-24,2011-been to
**many writers attend as speakers, some writing centric panels

*World Fantasy Convention- San Diego- Oct 27-30 2011

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Missing the story for the words.

Missing the story for the words.

Today I’m babbling –e r blogging – about something that has hit me many times while stuck in traffic going through LA (no offence you LA folks- but I usually go through LA, not TO it ;)).

There are a lot of things on the freeways we normally never see. You see them in LA because of the handy dandy "you ain’t going nowhere fast" reality there. You see the art work, planned and spontaneous. You see plants fighting through the concrete to live. We’ll ignore the trash you also get to see.

My point is that when the freeway is working as intended- we don’t notice this stuff. If you’re wiping by at 70 MPH you aren’t going to see the tiny weed blooming a flower. It’s only when the freeway isn’t working right, when it is being held to in-depth inspection, that the details are clear.

I know, I know what has this to do with writing?

Are we as writers doing something similar with our hyper-vigilance on the tiny details? When we edit our work, or edit someone else’s, we are looking at it in what could be construed as an “unnatural” manner.

We aren’t reading it as intended. We read like writers not readers. We focus on “show don’t tell”, “watch those commas”, “don’t start with the word “as”, “don’t for the love of god, use semi-colons!”.

Those aren’t things a reader would see. Those are the little bits of detail that are part of making the book (or freeway) work, but a reader isn’t going to be asking themselves why you have used the word “as” when EVERYONE knows it should never be used. A reader is there for the ride. They want the story. Now obviously if the details (aka bad craft) are so glaring that they interfere with the story, and pull that reader into an unintended off ramp or freeway (yes, I’m talking about LA again ;)) then there’s a problem.

But many times those details, the ones we as writers fret over, crit each other to death over….aren’t critical. I just finished reading a very fun book. The author had serious comma issues (and as a comma whore myself I know of what I speak :)). It bugged me for about a page. Then I was sucked into the story (the freeway started moving ;)) and I didn’t notice.
I think as writers we need to ask ourselves, are we obsessing over the wrong thing? Agents and editors all over agree on one thing- they want a great story. Are we thinking about the big picture when we read?

Now that doesn’t mean that we can forgo things like grammar, punctuation, strong word usage, however we can’t obsesses over those details at the expense of the BIG detail- the story.

Lets not miss the story for the words ;).

Monday, August 9, 2010


No, I'm not holding a contest, but rather entering them.

I'd planned on not submitting to anything this year to get my craft up and books finished. But then something over the week-end dragged my psyche into contestland.

Actually, it was a post on the FF&P group about entering contests. The item in question was having a completed a polished mss.

Got me thinking as more than one person mentioned that having a hard goal (such as the contest judging time) can act as a prod for us yet to be pubbed folks who are really working without deadlines in this stage of our lives. I'm doing this to give me some hard deadlines ;)

Sooooooooooo- I'm entering! I'm looking for ones that do seem to have folks who understand SF/'s scary and depressing how many contests have a "Paranormal/F/SF" category then have a final judge THAT ONLY TAKES PARANORMAL! Now that is annoying. If you have a category for it, you need to have a final judge who takes it. *grumble*

Needless to say- I won't be entering those most likely-LOL. That's not so much that I feel I WILL final (hope springs eternal ;)) it's just that the final judge does to me at least indicate the mindset of the contest. Why bother if folks don't like/get your genre? The whole reason is feedback and they can't give it if they don't get it. Nuff said.

As for who I am entering- not tellin'. But I'm running around looking for good contests! Each one I send is another, "Crap- I'd better get things moving" prod.

So what of you folks- what has been your experience with contests? Know any great ones coming up?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's all about the prizzies!

Let’s face it, the first thing most fledging writers think (waaaay back when they had that first “I wanna be a writer” thought) is that published authors are rich. Stop laughing folks, you know we all had that thought at some point. And most all of us know that’s not the truth. A very small percentage of published authors make the bulk of the money. I know many many MANY excellent multi pubbed authors who still have their day jobs.

So money isn’t the prize.

It can be argued the writing, and that finished book itself, is the prize. And that’s very very true as well. But to keep going through the long haul, it’s important we give ourselves rewards along the way. Prizes if you will.

Now 2010 has been my “year of all writing, no submitting”. I decided to take myself out of the submitting game and tighten my craft. Also I have somehow found myself the mother to not one, not two, but three baby books who need to finish growing up. (Promise to myself- no more three books at a time- it’s confuses the voices in my head.)

Which of course means that 2011 I need to hit the ground running. Not only running, but doing a five minute mile. I haven’t decided which book will be the first to fly out the door, it will depend on who is the strongest market-wise at the end of Jan 2011. I’m excited, nervous, ready to go, etc. I have been down the rejection circuit before, but I’d like to think an older, wiser me will be the one hitting the cyber pavement in 2011.

Even though I’m excited about my plan, I still need motivation. There’s a lot of writing and editing I need to get done between now and Feb 1, 2011 (launch date ;)).
Yes, I could speed things up by leaving one of the darlings behind, but I don’t want to do that. One major reason is that the market is changing. Authors can’t rely on putting out only one book a year. More and more publishers expect the contracts to be a mite faster than that.

So I need to find a way to make it work (props to Tim Gunn ;)). A major way for me is prizes, nice rewards. I like to start big, then work my way down to smaller, closer prizes.

I just set up a huge reward/final editing retreat for myself. I booked a wonderful Ocean cliff room (with Jacuzzi and fireplace) in Santa Cruz towards the end of Jan 2011. Now my plan is my own creativity retreat. Some friends may be joining as well and are welcome as long as they book their own rooms and are self-entertaining. Most are folks who want to work on their own creative projects as well. We’ll meet for meals, maybe walks in the morning, but most of my time will be working.

And I am so excited!

This prize, along with smaller ones I’ll set up along the way, will get me to my goal. And reward me for doing it at the same time.

So what prizes do YOU give yourself?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Editing the story out of your story...

The idea for today’s blog came from an amazing event I attending this past Wednesday- the San Diego 48 hour film project. This is a nationwide event that travels from city to city drawing in the crazy, the insane, and the unbelievably inspired.

Now first let me say, I have nothing but awe and admiration for the folks who take on this madcap adventure. For those who are scratching their heads- yes it is just as the name implies- 48 hours to conceive, write, direct, shoot, and edit (and all of the insane parts that fit in those categories) a 7 minute film. I went on Wednesday to see a very fun film (The Serendipitous Adventures of Darbo: Episode Six - Darbo Goes to Earth) done by some gloriously talented and creative friends. I was amazed by all of the films I saw- doing what they did in 48 hours and not ending up in a loony bin is inspiring for anyone who is in a creative field.

But some of the films did have editorial gaps. I have no idea how much film is laid down by most of these teams, but I’d venture a lot more than 7 minutes. Which means editing- A LOT- of editing. There were a few films (I won’t mention their names, I don’t know the folks behind them and what they did was still crazy good) that lost some story due to editing.

A film editor working with tons of film (yeah, I know it’s digital, work with me folks) is doing a job very similar to an author looking at a too fat novel. Thinking, “what can I do to get things down to size, but still workable.” Now these folks in the 48 hour had a pressure that few if any writers would feel- in most cases the entire team is running on mere hours of sleep and they have very little time to get it together.

But the problem that appeared in a few of those unnamed films can befall any of us- cutting out something vital to the story.

As authors were often told to keep it tight, get rid of the extra verbiage. But are we cautious enough in keeping the story itself intact? In keeping its heart and soul vital and alive?

How as writers can we know that we are keeping the spirit- and more importantly and intact story- alive as we go through our slash and burn editorial process? I’m at a point where I’m going to putting in some pretty heavy editing hours on numerous projects VERY soon-I need to be very aware of not losing my story to fit the book length.

Any ideas, hints, tips, etc are most welcome!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Magic of Geeks

Yes, geeks not Greeks. While I'm sure the Greeks do have their own magic, today I am here talking about geeks.

I have just survived another Comic Con. Not sure, but I think this is number 16 or 17 (that I’ve been to- they all blur after a while). I’m in recovery today, reconnecting with the aspects of my life that got shoved into a dark corner during the week of con madness.

For folks who are unfamiliar with this tiny, intimate event- let me provide a brief explanation.

Comic Con International San Diego is one of the biggest popular culture events in the world. 125,000 geeks gather from across the globe to mix and mingle with other fans of comics, novels, tv shows, movies and art. It is a four day bit of glorious madness that is dear to my heart even as it has me often ripping out my hair.

People can see a number such as 125,000, but often not really process just what it is like. It’s A LOT. Even someone like myself can get thrown off (see above for how many of these things I’ve lived through). For instance preview night (once upon a time preview night was for pros and a select few to make deals and see the floor- now it is just insanity in a three hour window). I knew to expect madness, but the crowds just had me running for the door after an hour (but not before I’d bought my pass for next year ;)).

To see any of the “big” panels (aka those hit tv shows and upcoming movies) you really need to be in line by about 6 or 7 am…even if the one you want to see isn’t until much later in the day. And the stars have just gotten bigger each year. This year I saw panels for the movie Megamind (Will Ferrel and Tina Fey in attendance), the upcoming Tron movie (the whole flipping cast); Salt (Angelina and Leiv- nuff said), and Battle Los Angeles. Plus the casts for Chuck, Castle, Futurama, Family Guy and many more. And I missed FAR more than I saw. You learn to function on little sleep, pack lots of food and water, and hunker down for the duration. These big rooms hold between 4,600 and 6,500 folks- so the lines are massive.

Massive lines, insane hours, pressing crowds…and yet I am depressed now that it’s over.

Aside from the coolness of seeing some favorite actors, writers, and artists, and getting to be around my "own people" en masse comic con is an amazing example of the power of creative energy. Even as it is sucking the energy out of you- it is also feeding your creative spirit.

The sheer mass of creative folks there is simply awe inspiring. There are so many folks from so many creative industries that you can’t help but get a little psychic charge. A bit of “wow, that would make a great character in a book!”, or new ideas for a WIP, or weird terrifying thoughts like “yeah, becoming a cartoon voice actor would be great!” (it’s important to watch what panels you go to- ya never know WHAT will seem like a good idea!)

In short Comic Con is a well-spring of “what if’s” and folks who are following those what if’s, living the dream of all creative people everywhere. They are a reminder that wherever we are in our career- we too can make it.

I know a lot of writer’s limit their convention exposure to events that only handle writing, and often only their genre. I say that if you can, find other types of creative conventions. Comic Con isn’t for everyone, nor can everyone come out to San Diego. But chances are there are some sort of smaller creative cons near you- check one out. The buzz you get may motivate your work in new directions.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just what is romance?

Ok I should first preface this with the admission that I am not a Romance author. I say Romance with a big “R” to indicate a book or author whose books are placed in the romance section of a bookstore and handled by editors and agents within that genre.

I am however a author who writes romance. By the little “r” I’m referring to the fact that romance is the heart of my stories. It may not be the plot driving mechanism that it is in Romance books- but without romance my books would be less dimensional, have less feeling and heart.

Whenever I come up with my heroine (or hero) I almost always immediately think up their significant other. Again- even though my plots (so far) could exist quite well with no romance- I find my brain automatically switches onto “Ok, here’s my lead- now where is her partner- where’s the guy who’s going to join her for this adventure? “

I, however, don’t really put much in terms of sex in my books (yes, I know- I have a few folks who hate me for that ;)). It’s not that I’m a prude; I read Romance books and enjoy them. I just don’t feel it fits with my writing at this point. Or with my current projects. And there really aren’t undying declarations of love either.

So is it possible to have romance without Romance or Sex?


Probably the easiest example would be a tv show. Doctor Who (new incarnation) had a massive low level love story between the Doctor and his first companion, Rose. This was played out slowly and there were no overt sexual or Romantic elements for the most part. But there is no denying there was romance. An example of this was in a video made by an extremely talented friend of mine Ryalin.

There is no doubt from the clips that these two characters loved each other (which you can get even if you have never seen the tv show ;)).

Yet there is no sex, no deep passionate embraces. However the emotion is there.
So this all comes back to what is romance? Can I in good conscience say that I am not a Romance writer, yet I write stories with romance?

Here’s what the dictionary has to say:

1: a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural (2) : a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious (3) : a love story especially in the form of a novel b : a class of such literature
2 : something (as an extravagant story or account) that lacks basis in fact
3 : an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity

Hmmm- it does mention “a love story” but there seems to be so much more. It appears that by the above definition most all fiction that has some emotional pull is in fact a romance.

I would state that romance is the emotional connection between two people, a pull towards each other. And that it's pretty much in most everything.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Care and Feeding of the Writer's Soul

I have been thinking about this a lot the last few weeks, interaction for writers with other writers. Could be called writer socialization. Those of us who have pursued a life of making up worlds find out that we are in a world of our own- literally. So we reach out to others of our own kind, eager for knowledge of the skills we need, camaraderie for folks who understand what we’re going through, reinforcement that we are charging in the right direction.

Now there are many ways for authors to obtain this community. We can join writer’s groups, crit groups, take classes, go to conferences, haunt blogs and websites.

But how do we know we are getting the right feedback? Just because some author is lecturing or conducting an online workshop doesn’t mean they know how to teach.
Even if they are a published author.
YES- even if they are published.

Not all people who can do a skill, and do it very well, can instruct, coach, or mentor others. Yet for many writers as soon as we see “published author” (or agent or editor) we immediately jump all over the class, conference, workshop etc. Some folks joke about their addiction to classes. We constantly search for help, feedback, reassurance. But is that what we are only looking for?

I have respect for the addicted and if there were more “in person” writing workshops/conferences that I could afford- I would probably be one of the afflicted. But for me at least online workshops don’t seem to work. Could be my tired old 40 something brain needs a real person in front of me to charge me up. Maybe I just can’t focus enough for the online options. Now, this could be good because I LOVE being around other writers so if I were more into the online classes I could end up in serious trouble.

Which leads to another question- is it the information/ skills/ etc that we crave or just the socialization with folks of our “kind”? I have recently joined my local RWA chapter and I’ve found (although ALL of the meetings have been great) it’s more of being around other writers. The energy that comes from the meeting is what gets me going. I attended one meeting where it was about YA- I came away just as charged as I would have been if it had been a field I write.

Comic Con does this as well- and then not just around writers- it’s the creative energy that floods the convention. The power that is emanated by folks creating works of art (of various sorts) is addicting.

So in answer to my own questions- I think writers NEED to be around other writers- both of our genre and even not in our genre (I have picked up lots from screenwriters at various conferences- and trust me I have no intention of being a screenwriter ;)). We need the power of being around other creative souls.
What do you think?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Ok, what could be the worse thing that could happen to a writer going through the "blahs"? Getting a computer virus.
There are in fact many many worse things that could happen. But when one is having serious motivation issues to get ANYTHING done-- having the object of joy and torture fall under attack from an outside source really doesn't help.

I let it knock me off my seat completely. Nevermind that I even have a lap top- it had issues too (no virus) plus I'm not used to it. *whine* And all my work was on the desktop one *whine whine*. And I just couldn't focus since I didn't know how bad the virus was *whine whine whine*.

I think you're seeing where I'm going. My starting to get back into the writing habit psyche took the above "whine"s to heart and I shut down again.

Never mind that all of the excuses were exceedingly lame, I let myself fall under them.

How flipping pathetic.

I need to write.

I like to write.

I REALLY like to have written. (I love the putting the pieces together editing phase ;))

And yet, when I feel depressed, or tired, or upset, or anxious- I don't write?! OY! Again- how pathetic! I know writing will make me feel better- yet I let any excuse knock me back down.

If I were talking to a friend (a good one) instead of myself- I'd say suck it up buttercup and get off the pity/tired/depressed boat and write something.
Since I am good friends with myself most of the time- I'm thinking I'm going to have to do just that. Or find a professional butt-kicker..

So, the computer is back, (with a new virus protection package since the virus destroyed the one I had) and I'm back with a new tough love attitude.

Wish me luck and feel free to kick my butt anytime I slack off- I NEED IT.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What to do when the words won't come

Hmmm- what an original title. As I sit here looking at the blog title I realize that probably every single writer has at one time posted such a blog. (Ok every writer with a blog, so that narrows it down to only about 5 billion).

But this is a serious problem. The last few weeks I have simply been unable to get my butt to stay in the chair. Not just writing, I'm not really going online much when I get home either.

All I do is come home, eat, and watch ....TV. UGH. It started innocently, I pushed myself to get to the half way point on one of my projects, then once that pressure was off, limped into a few half hearted writing attempts (mostly re-reading and PULLING things out). Last week and a half- NOTHING.

Now I do love to write, so what the heck is wrong? Part of it could be self doubt- it always stomps around asking why I'm doing this. Thing is I like doing it- or rather I love having written ;).

But instead, I'm coming home and watching tv reruns. Then going into bed early because I'm tired. I'm not a big tv person. I only follow a few shows. But instead of doing something I love, I find myself channel surfing stuff I don't even want to watch? It's like eating something bad for you that doesn't even taste good but you eat it anyway- just because it's decadent.

Ha- maybe that's a clue. Maybe it's a "treat" to just go brain dead for an evening (they do insist on making me think at work) and I've taken that treat too far.

Tonight I realized I really had a problem, and am hoping I can pull myself back from the edge.
I've forced myself to get in 200 words in tonight on the Glass Gargoyle before I wrote this blog. I'm not leaving until I hit 500. It's not much, but it adds up. I'm hoping that I can just work my way through this serious, serious slump. I don't want to throw away my writing dreams because I'm addicted to the brain numbness of TV.

Anyone out there? What do you do when your "OMPF" to write has vanished?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Avoiding a bad case of the stupids

I hate stupid people.

Now when I say that, I am not talking about uneducated people. In my opinion there are plenty of highly degreed idiots out there and smarts is not always correlated with being able to sit through long lectures and regurgitate that information on command (I can mock them- yes, I have been through the education mill- I have the student loans and useless degrees to show for it ;)).

What I hate are people who just won’t try to figure things out. You know the ones who walk into the abandoned house right after a serial killer on the loose has just been announced? The ones who even though they meet the man or woman of their dreams just can’t forgive them for something extremely trivial? Now in these cases it’s not the fault of the character or actor- sadly we have met the enemy and it is us.

Writers create stupid people.

We don’t mean to. Sometimes it’s just that we are focusing so much on getting all of the little plot pieces where they need to go, when they need to be there, we fail to realize our characters have crossed into “TSTL” range (Too Stupid To Live).

We worry too much about “making things happen” that we fail to pay attention to the character. Most often, when a character is acting TSTL the cause is an author pushing the character somewhere they didn’t want to go.

So how can we as writers make sure we don’t create stupid characters? By always questioning our character's actions, goals, and motivations. They not only need to be progressing through the story- they need to be progressing in a logical way through the story. When your character turns into that haunted house right after the news announcement of a crazed head hunter on the loose- she better have a damn good reason. (And no, chasing a missing cat, dog, or gerbil doesn’t count. BEEN DONE TO DEATH – aka BDTD). And for goodness sakes if your character absolutely has to do something stupid- make sure they acknowledge it. They can admit it’s dumb, they can fret about doing it, but their reasons for doing it had better be solid and stronger than the argument for not doing it.

Make sure your characters are moving how they are supposed to- not the way YOU want them to. Question EVERYTHING!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Ok, yet another sort of off topic post. I promise the next ones will be on track.

But today is father's day and I would be remiss if I didn't remember my dad.
William H. Andreas passed away in Jan 1983 at the far too young age of 53. He died of lung cancer (see previous post for my anger at that vile disease).

But this isn't meant to be a sad post. I want to remember him as he was and how he'd want me to remember him.

My dad wasn't famous or rich. He didn't have a fancy job, he didn't climb mountains or dive into oceans. But he was a great man nonetheless.

He stayed with a very mundane job to make sure our family had a house, food, etc. I know he would have loved to have been out driving a race car, climbing mountains, jumping out of planes- but he didn't because he was a Father. Taking care of the family was his number one goal- and he did it very well.

I always knew that my dad believed in me, that no matter what I wanted to be when I grew up- he was behind me (my mom is that way too- some folks are just lucky ;)). He had an adventuresome side but also a love of communicating. He wrote all the family letters and did some writing for a local paper when my folks lived in Hawaii.

I like to think he's up there watching my sister climb those crazy mountains and me pursuing a writing career with a big grin on his face. And neither she nor I would be doing what we do without him.

Happy father's day Dad- I love you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Life, death, and writing

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. ~Isaac Asimov

Today isn't a normal day. I'm in a very different place today. A little sad, a little looking at life through new eyes, and more than a bit introspective (yes it does happen sometimes.)

Life is short. For some people it's far far shorter than it should be. Today I found out a friend and former co-worker/supervisor has a stage four cancer. It was in her brain, it's now out, but it's not a good prognosis.

I have lost a dear family friend, two aunts, my father, and my best friend (she was only 38) to cancer. I'm tired of cancer. I'm tired of people I know getting it. As a bumper sticker I've seen around says, "Cancer Sucks". If there is one thing that needs to be ended in this world, it is cancer.

Aside from my sadness at my friend's prognosis, I have been overcome with a feeling of intense introspection. What would I do it I knew I had a limited time to live? (Which in reality we all do, just some folks know their deadline, and some don't.)

My sister is a hiker and adventurer. She's climbed Mt. Whitney, Mt Kilimanjaro, gone to New Zealand, Japan, a safari in Africa. Her next trip is planned for Antarctica- yep down as south as she can go. If she only had a known limited time to live- she's already doing what she would do (aside from quiting her job to travel more).

I'm not like her- we'll I am an adventurer- but I'm an interior adventurer. I love the outdoors, but only when there is indoor plumbing nearby. But my writing is my adventure. Today I realized that (aside from my day job) I am doing what I want to do. Even if no one ever reads my work- I am doing what I want to do; what I need to do. I am a writer. Like the quote above states- I'd just write faster.

I think more of us need to look at our lives and think what would we do with limited time (but without the melancholy that can come with that thought). Would we be nicer to strangers, kinder to friends, spend less time watching tv and more time creating and spending time with loved ones? It's a thought not answered quickly, but it's where I am.

I tried to write a different post today. Something light and witty. It just wouldn't come out. This rambling was in my head and it needed expression. Today I came one step closer to mortality. It's made me look at things more closely. It's nice to know that in some cases-my writing- I am following the correct path for my heart.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Confessions of a Pantser

First off- check out the new blog! I wasn't really happy with the old template, and I am very fond of green- so here it is :).

Now back to today.

I have a confession- I'm a pantser (or pantster- seen it both ways ;), for those of you not in the RWA (the first place I saw this term) it means someone who writes by the seat of their pants. AKA- the antithesis of a "plotter". But that's not really the secret confession.

I love being a seat of the pants type of gal. My more organic style of writing has taken me to many places that my story would never have gone had I plotted it out. Part of it is because in the time of writing a novel a person changes who they are. Each day the world influences your mental state of being. Things not noticed previously suddenly take on a new color and vibrancy and pop up as a twist in the story. That vividness is the main reason I have always written the way I do.

Also, I'm afraid if I know the whole story I might lose my drive to write it. I write to find out what happened. Just like the reader, I keep going thinking, "And THEN what happened?!"

That is me, it's how I write, how I create.

My confession is that I may have to reevaluate it at least for one project.

*cue DUM DUM DUMMMM music here*

As many of you know, I am working on multiple projects. Editing (in theory) a science fiction book, finishing the rough draft of a humorous fantasy (word count listed here on the blog), and working my way with PAINFUL slowness to the half way point on my Victorian SF/steampunk book, A Curious Invasion (also tracked here).

A Curious Invasion is becoming a curious book indeed. I still love my characters, love the plot. I love where things are going...but it just won't move. Now it could be the pull of the almost finished book. Those characters are old friends, the world is my very own, and is more comfortable than the world of A Curious Invasion. But whatever the reason- things just ain't moving.

For a challenge for my local RWA chapter, I need to get to 50,000 words by June 19th. Take a quick look at the word widget to the's not happening.

I was hitting 1,000 words a day between the two projects, now I'm lucky to get 500 a few days out of the week.

I may have to break down and do an outline....I may have to (wait for it) PLOT the rest of A Curious Invasion! Now, I know this is a radical concept. But I've seen these "plotter" folks before- they seem fairly normal. The plotting really hasn't scarred them that I can see. They function in polite society without facing mocking from others.

I can do this and survive. Or so I keep telling myself.

The fact is, I need to do something, some radical triage to find out why this book is just running around chasing it's tail at 43,000 words.

So tomorrow I will begin a plot outline. Today I will steel myself for it through a brunch and movie afternoon with some friends. Fortify myself for the coming psychological battle between my freewheeling, hippy, panster psyche and my rational, "this ain't working girlfriend" brain.

I will post the results of the ensuing battle here for the world to see.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Does your inner child have her warpaint on?

Writers, like all folks with creative bents to their psyches, have to keep their inner child alive and well. But more than that. We need to keep our inner child stubborn, determined, and willing to do whatever it takes to get what we want. In sort, our inner child needs to be a brat. Now not a brat as in falling on the floor and throwing a foaming fit, but a brat as in hunkering down and not taking no for an answer.

Plus, not only does the delightful little inner brat have to be stubborn as heck- they have to be willing and able to follow flights of fancy wherever they may lead.

As kids, most all of us had amazing imaginations – both good and bad- a great imagination meant that we really COULD think of the monster from the movie we just saw coming to get us. But it also meant the entire world was ours. We could be a high powered princess one day, a horse the next and the president of the galaxy the day after. Listen to little kids, the vast majority of their play is story telling. Sometimes very active storytelling, most of us don’t act out our tales, but story telling nonetheless.

Then somewhere we lose that.

The world comes down on us and says the things we make up aren’t real, could never happen, and are extremely silly besides. Most humans retire their story telling at that point. But a few of us hang on to it. We write because these great, “What If’s” keep popping in our heads. We see a headline and think, “What if it didn’t go like that? What if it went like this?” Eventually, in an effort to quiet the voices- we start writing these ideas down.

Now some folks are fine with that. They story is out of them, they don’t need to go further and can now return to a somewhat normal life.

But for the rest of us, our inner child needs to get her war paint on. Have you ever seen a kid want something so badly they keep crying for it until they fall asleep exhausted? We as writers writing for publication need to do that. Ok, not the crying part (well it’s ok after being shot down yet again in the query wars), but the hanging on to something so tight we never let go.
We need to hold this need close to our hearts. We need to honor our inner brat and not tell it it’s stupid (such as the inner comments of “I suck”, “I can’t write”, “I’ll never be published”.) Like external children, those kind of comments can be very damaging.

And we need to build our resilience. If one story doesn’t work, do another. Re-write it. Re-envision it. Like the kid who keeps building towers in the kitchen until they get that damn cookie jar, we need to keep working until we hit publication. Then keep it up for each book afterwards.

We need to keep our inner brat hungry for the prize. Creative, stubborn, and willing to get whatever help it takes to get it to our goal.

A friend once gave me a framed print that says it all:

“Never, Never give up”- Winston Churchill
“Never, Never grow up”- Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watch out for low flying attack squirrels.

Today’s blog is about letting observation of the world around you add a kick to your writing (yes, even you plotters ;)). Last night I was working on the Glass Gargoyle manuscript. I’m in the last couple of chapters and things are pulling together very nicely. One element that has been very fun has been an ongoing battle between my faeries (sidekicks of my main character) and a family of squirrels.

I’m at a point where some of that conflict is turning out to have ties to the main plot and primary conflict. I’m writing along, enjoying the ride (I’m a seat of the pants writer, so it’s new to me at this point too) when I realize those squirrels shouldn't’ even be there.

Now, while I am a “play it as it goes” writer, I do have an idea of where things will end up. I know the major characters, the main direction of the plot, and the “big bads” of the story.

But I didn’t have the squirrels.

The squirrels in this book, which have become a nice sub-plot, funny tie in, and now a link to some major plot points, started because one day I took my lap top to the park.

Yup, Balboa Park. Sat my beach chair under a tree, kicked up my feet, and started writing. And was immediately harassed by squirrels.

Just one really.

But he kept scurrying close, then running off, jumping in his tree, even chittering at me (not sure what squirrel swearing sounds like- but he was doing it!). Basically making it impossible to concentrate on my writing. So I wrote him into my book and decided my faeries were going to get in trouble for fighting with a squirrel family.

That was early in the plot. I used it a few times, worked well for “off camera” action for the faeries. Then I realized the truth behind the squirrels and the connection with the story line (I can’t tell you- hopefully one day you’ll read the book ;)).

Which brings me to now. Writing about these squirrels that weren’t supposed to be in this book at all, and now are part of pulling the plot together. My story has changed because of these little rodents. All because a squirrel took exception to me writing under his tree.

So today’s thought is always be on the lookout for the little things around you- you never know when they might be just what you need to get things moving. (Or to pick a fight with a bunch of drunken faeries and change your plot for the better ;)).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Writer’s Guide to Taking Over the World…1,000 words at a time

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my underground lair. I have gathered here before me the world's deadliest assassins, and yet each of you has failed to kill Austin Powers. That makes me angry. And when Dr. Evil gets angry, Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset. And when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset... people DIE!” Dr. Evil

Today let’s discuss world domination. No, not the Dr. Evil kind, but the writer kind. It could be argued that one reason writers write is to control a world. Not “the” world particularly, although authors who write in more realistic genres could be doing that very thing.
I’m talking about that joy of creating a world- and being the deity of all you view.

Complete and utter world domination.

Writers, along with not being normal, (see previous blogs) are demi-god wanna-be’s. We want to have control over a domain; mark it and make it ours. Some authors have faced pissed off readers with the response of, “it’s my world. I can kill them if I want.” (Not a real quote- just used for example).

That is part of the joy, the “well in MY world apples DO come out of small purple bushes, so there!” comments an author can make to those who claim they have written a falsehood.

However, you must define what your world is. Is it ours? Past? Future? Another place completely? What kind of rules govern it? How is the place your story takes place different from the other places in that world that you don’t even see? Who are the people? What are the physics? The opportunities are endless, as long as you are consistent and stick to your own rule book. Physics for example- hard facts- right? Except that new findings happen fairly often. As science grows, so does our knowledge of our ignorance. What was thought to be impossible half a century ago is common knowledge today. Therefore, once you have established your own parameters- and are prepared to defend them to the death if need be- you can advance on today’s known truths- even physics ;).

So we can create whatever worlds we want. People them with whoever we want (just don’t let real folks be identifiable- ok?). How does a writer get their own world, or worlds, to dominate? They must be diligent in their time.

Just as the world that we live in wasn’t created in a day, neither can your own personal empire.

It boils down to writing goals and pure stubbornness not to quit. I have been trying to maintain a goal of 1,000 words a day. Today I realized that if I met that goal for 300 days (65 days being the “sick, injured, just not working days”) I could write THREE books a year.

THREE WORLDS to dominate and control.

And that is with a full time day job. Just think if I were able to leave it and write full time?

*cue Dr. Evil laugh here*

It’s more than just writing; it’s creating YOUR worlds, polishing YOUR worlds, presenting YOUR worlds to the publishing world.

The question for today is, are you doing enough to ensure your own world domination?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Gift from agent Laura Bradford:

I’m lucky enough to have recently joined the San Diego RWA (thank you Lisa!). This week-end we had two wonderful ladies come down and talk- agent Laura Bradford and author extraordinaire, Nancy Holder. Both were amazing, warm, funny, and really reminded me why I’m in the RWA (For those of you not paying attention- I am a fantasy/SF novelist- if you write YOU should be in the RWA too- just sayin’).

First, the gift of Laura Bradford. Laura came in to really let us know what it’s like being an agent, who they are, why they do what they do. She gave us a lot of inside secrets that you rarely, if ever, hear from agents. But I’m not going to post them here; they aren’t my tale to tell.

Today I’m using Laura’s talk to springboard into how we as writers view agents. Laura’s workshop was eye opening in the sense that it pointed out agents are human.

Yes, I hear the gasp of shock coming through time and the computer even as I write these words. So shocking, I will say it again- agents are people. (and no, not in the way Soylent Green was people…).

What Laura gave me (and probably everyone lucky enough to be in that room) was an ability to see her and her fellow agents as business people. Business people with hearts and a serious hardcore addiction to books. They all got into their business because they love books. They love authors. They love being part of that world. I can’t think of anyone in their right mind, saying, “I hate books and I hate writers. I think I’ll be an agent.” Yet many times on the submissions boards and various writers groups, that what it sounds like authors believe.

Ok, you writer folks- how many of you are in this for the money? (If so, I’m sure I can find some lovely swamp land to sell you.) Writers write because we love it. We love telling stories, creating people and new worlds. Would the vast majority like to get paid? Heck yeah! Getting paid to do your dream job is the dream for everyone.

Agents are doing their dream job.

And, if successful, making a living at it.

Also, if successful, they are helping their clients make a living (eventually ;)) at it.

But let’s face it, agents are slammed. There are lots of folks who “think they have a book in them”. Some do, some don’t. Some don’t yet, but will at some point.

Agents have to deal with all of these folks, finding the gems, pulling them out, and trying to find the right setting for them. At the same time they are looking for the gems in raw piles of slushy goodness, they are dealing with their clients. Some are still awaiting a sale, some are coping with contract issues, some are editing books, others have blipped off the radar. The agent is multitasking so quickly it’s amazing we don’t hear of more of them spontaneously combusting.

And for all this effort, agents often get bad mouthed by writers.

Think of your job (that mundane day job), how would you feel if instead of a 40 hour week, you now had a 70,80, or 90 hour week. And a bunch of that time was spent doing things you directly aren’t getting paid for. How would you feel about that? Knowing that all of that unpaid work adds to your already long day?

It’s not that agents don’t like authors; it’s that they are running a business. We want to be part of that business. Therefore, we’d best do our best to act professional, make sure our “gems” our sparkling when we send them, and don’t get pissy when the gem gets a pass. We buck up and send that gem to the next agent on our list.

I guess the points are that 1)writers need to think of ourselves as creative business people and treat our work as such. 2) Agents are very human. 3)And that I’d go see Laura Bradford or Nancy Holder speak any day. If you get a chance sometime- take it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sometimes being the lamppost is where you need to be

“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.”

John Osborne

Now this will be a very interesting topic to blog about considering that I’m not out there in the big trenches of submission gloom waiting for the slings and arrows of agents to come whistling my way.

For those of you who have missed it- I’m taking a year off from seeking representation or publication. This wild and crazy idea came to me when I realized my first attempt at publication needed a lot of work- as in I had no right to be out there. But I never would have known I was out there too soon unless I had tried so therefore I HAD to have been submitting- and being rejected.(Really, it makes sense eventually. ;))

Since rejection is really the ultimate criticism and since I have currently removed that aspect from my life, I’ve cut down on the amount of criticism I’m being faced with.

However, since this is a year of writer growth for me, there will be and has been, some criticism. I’ve had the privilege to have been critiqued by some very smart women in the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal RWA chapter. Funny thing, the best ones were the ones who nailed me to the wall. Not cruelly mind you, but the, “here’s what’s not working…and where you need to go” type of crits.

I’ve also gotten great feedback one on one with a few fellow writers- some doing a beta read, some doing more line edits. Even when I don’t agree with everything (and it would be weird for two folks to agree with everything in a MSS don’t you think?), it’s still vital.

Also had some professional crits - two different professional editors critiquing two different works- more information, more things to think about. Again, some stuff worked, some didn’t.

I have also had the privilege of working with a very admired (and tough as heck) award winning, bestselling author. She’s caused me some pain- but in the end, she’s right (about most things- I’m keeping my interior window-don’t ask ;)). Her unwavering dedication to getting things right- even little things most writer’s would ignore- has changed the way I view my own writing completely.

And now I’m working with two other local writers to form our own little writing group. I haven’t gotten feedback yet per say, but knowing what I know of them- it will be very useful.

The point is, without criticism, I would argue that a writer cannot grow. Even a published author, if all they hear is how wonderful their work is, will eventually stagnate. First their work won’t be edited, then readers become disenfranchised, then their publisher drops them. All because perhaps they DIDN’T have more criticism in their lives.

As I intend to be a writer for the rest of my life, I don’t see me ever outgrowing the need for criticism.

So maybe instead of a lamppost being pee’d on, the image should be of a plant being watered.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Killing the monster

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”

Winston Churchill

This is a fabulous quote, and far far too true. In the first stage of writing stories can go anywhere-especially if you are a more “organic” or seat of the pants type writer like me ;). My stories can and do go many places that I really wasn’t expecting. But luckily they are usually very interesting places so it’s all good.

The joy of doing multiple projects at the same time (a step into madness I’m sure) is that I’m in various stages of Churchill’s quote- all at the same time.

1) A Curious Invasion- my homage to steampunk, Torchwood, and spy stories everywhere is crossing into the mistress stage. Long enough to have moved out of the toy and amusement stage, it’s now becoming a bit bossy.

2)Glass Gargoyle (full title is very long…it fits the style of that book, but is hard on the fingers) has crossed into the master stage. BUT, my mistress in the paragraph above is making it less stressful. However I do feel a bit like I’m cheating on the faeries , dancing minkies, and general mayhem of the Glass Gargoyle. The end is in sight- I can almost see it…but for a challenge in my local RWA chapter I need to concentrate on the little tart up above.

3)Warrior Wench- ahh the tyrant rears her gun toting, explosive loving head- and she is really ready to make my life hell if I don’t finish editing her and inflict her on the agents and whatnot in the literary world. She lives up to her name, and will take down any that get in her way. Currently, I’m hiding from her behind the other two projects. But I have high hopes that in the not too distant future, others will enjoy a bit o’snark with their SF explosions as she is unleashed.

Ok, enough longing around- there are beings in charge of my life- and they demand to be written.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Writers ain’t normal!

Today, class, we will explore the concept of normalcy and how it does or doesn’t pertain to some members of society currently known as “writers”. In true scientific procedure (my degrees are in Psychology you know) we must first define our terms:

Normal: The Oxford English Dictionary defines "normal" as 'conforming to a standard'. Another possible definition is that "a normal" is someone who conforms to the predominant behavior in a society. This can be for any number of reasons such as simple imitative behavior, deliberate or inconsistent acceptance of society's standards, fear of humiliation or rejection etc.
The French sociologist Émile Durkheim indicated in his Rules of the Sociological Method that the most common behavior in a society is considered normal. People who do not go along are violating social norms and will invite a sanction, which may be positive or negative, from others in the society.

Writer: Main Entry: 1au·thor (since the search for writer revealed…one who writes.)
Pronunciation: \ˈȯ-thər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English auctour, from Anglo-French auctor, autor, from Latin auctor promoter, originator, author, from augēre to increase — more at eke
Date: 14th century
1 a : one that originates or creates : source b capitalized : god 12 : the writer of a literary work (as a book)
— au·tho·ri·al \ȯ-ˈthȯr-ē-əl\ adjective

So we have normal, such as it is, and the most we can say is a writer is one who writes. Emile’s definition is the most telling for today’s blog- those who engage in the most common behavior are normal- indicating all others are in varying stages of abnormality.

Below are five pieces of evidence to support our aforementioned hypothesis:

1)Writers often spend hundreds of hours on projects that will never garner them pay or accolades.
Normal people work for money.

2)Writers often talk to or interact with people who do not exist.
For normal people that’s a mental disorder and can be looked up in any Psychological manual.

3) Writers will spend their hard earned money and vacation time flying across the globe to find others of their kind to mingle with and learn from. In other words- they go on vacation for educational purposes.
Normal people go on vacation for fun, and would think discussing the ramifications of showing verses telling on a vacation to be cruel and unusual punishment.

4) Writers think that having a few quiet hours to write is priceless.
Normal people think having to spend a few hours writing is yet another form of torture of which the Geneva Convention would not approve.

5) For writers a sagging middle is concern that the middle of their book has suddenly developed black hole like dimensions.
For normal people a sagging middle is the result of too much fast food and an uncontrolled addiction to the remote control.

There are many more examples. The evidence is startling in its scope. The fact is, even without doing a scientific study, the evidence alarmingly points to the conclusion that writers are simply not normal.

We do not behave within the confines of acceptable, common behavior. We think and dream about worlds that don’t exist outside our heads. We jot notes on napkins in the middle of conversations. We get excited about workshops that will teach us how to create a better villain.

This could indicate that being a writer is not really a calling so much as a disease. A group of misfits (within the realm of defined normalcy mind you) who have learned to cope with our disorder by inflicting it on others.

We simply ain’t normal.