Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Purse first!

Okay, for those of you who don't watch Ru Paul's Drag Race, you won't know what that means. So, I'll 'splain. 

This season there was a drag queen named....Bob the Drag Queen. And her trade mark entry to a room was with arm held straight out, purse held out in front of her, and entering before her. It was cute, said a lot about her and her way of thinking, and made it her stand out. I even saw a photo of the actress (Anna Kendrick) from Pitch Perfect doing, "Purse first" while heading to an award show. 

So what has that got to do with writing ? 

Character development: there is no such thing as a new plot, a new character, a new situation. There are only so many ideas around and we've been bastardizing them since Shakespeare's time (probably before). So you need to make your characters, like your world and your plot, unique. 

In the world of urban fantasy, there plenty of tough chicks who kick paranormal ass. The good ones have something that stands out from the kicking ass, midriff wearing crowd. One of the forerunners of urban fantasy would be Laurell K. Hamilton (I would argue along with Mercedes Lackey and her Diana Tregard books). Anita Blake was tough, fiery, and had a thing for stuffed penguins. Not as unique, perhaps, as a drag queen entering all rooms with purse extended, but it stuck in my mind. I haven't read her books in many years...but I still recall the penguins.

Now this doesn't mean sitting there and thinking, "OH!  What little quirk can I give my character? I know!  Stuffed turtles!"  What ever quirk you have needs to fit the character. Purse first definitely fit Bob the Drag Queen. Other drag queens couldn't have pulled it off.

Whether you're a plotter and map out every bit of your characters before you dive in to write, or a seat of the pants writer--make sure to give your characters a memorable and unique habit or quirk. Nothing huge, or story stealing, just a little something that makes the character more real and special for the reader.

OH!  Want more of me rambling, and more important, a chance for a cool prize?  Head on over TODAY to  awesome lady, awesome blog, typical me rambling post ;), and a prize!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


So, I seem to be having a thing for one word titles for my blog--last week forks, this week week, who knows?

But many things have gotten me thinking about steps, both in my writing career and in story telling.  

For my writing career: building a writing career is a long, slow, oft times painful, process. If you are going traditional you have the queries, pitches, and then if you get an agent, more queries (from the agent to publishers this time), more pain, fear, worry, etc. If you're going indie, it's a long slow process to get all the stuff done (or hire the right people to do so) to get your book in the best possible shape. Then another loooooong slow haul while it starts to be seen.

But there are steps. When I first started taking my writing seriously, (been writing way longer than that ;)) I started visualizing a ladder. I'd fling myself up a few rungs (agent requests, positive rejections, etc ;)), then slide down a rung or too. But I still had passed that previous rung. I'd accomplished the next goal and I wasn't sliding back. I still think that way now. I know things like rankings, book sales, etc, fluctuate, especially for us Indie folks who don't get the same exposure trad authors do.  But each time something goes up, it's another rung up the ladder. I'll slide back down, but not as far. :)

Our characters have steps as well. I'd say one thing that pulls me out of a story is when a character jumps from skillset/point/attitude A to F in too short of a span of time. These characters aren't real people (okay, except for Garbage Blossom who is throwing orange seeds at me as I type and Vaslisha who has a knife at my throat ;) but they need to behave in a realistic manner.

Characters change, that's sort of the point of most stories. A character, or characters, makes a journey of some sort (internal, external, sideways, whatever) where they change in someway that has emotional resonance to the reader. But that change has to be something the reader believes in, even if it's something like learning to handle magic or new telepathic skills. 

There have to be steps. A reveal as the person changes and those around them do as well. In a way characters have ladders too.

Have a great week!  OH!  I've been interviewed-go check it out

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Just a brief ramble this morning --about forks. In stories. Not the eating utensil type, the which-way-do-I-go type.

I'm newly diving into book four of the Lost Ancients series, yup, the Sapphire Manticore is up and running. I'm trying to make sure to get some writing in every day to keep it fresh and make sure I stay on track--that does mean writing first thing in the morning before my day job ;).

But, I digress.  Today is about plot choices we make as writers. Doesn't matter if you're a plotter and make those choices in the planning stage, or a pantser and make those choices as you zoom through your dirty first draft.

Choices must be made, and they will change the story.

Even little ones. I just left off this morning's writing with a "was it stolen?" or "do they just not know it's there?" comment for myself when I come back.  It doesn't seem like a big thing, but either choice could lead to larger and larger differences.

I really wish there was a way to follow both options through, see where they end up, then decide. Instead, I'll ponder it for a bit (like today at the day job ;)) then pick what I feel works best.

But it does make me wonder what could have been. What existed in those missing paths.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG# Impostor Syndrome

Welcome to another trip into the weird, the wacky, the chronically insecure world of The Insecure Writer's Support Group Monthly Blog!!

Once a month, writers from across the globe join in solidarity and shared misery (and joy) to shout into the great void of...the WRITER ZONE!!

Join us!

Today is all about being an impostor. A writing impostor. I have been writing off and on for over half my life- which is a scary thought, especially if you know how old I am, and no, I am not going to tell you ;). And I have realized I feel like an impostor sometimes.

Now, first off the definition is of high achieving people who fail to be able to internalize their success.  Eh, I'd say anyone who is trying to move forward in a field that has vaguely defined success markers, and is probably in the arts of some sort, AND feels like they are not really what they are trying to be--has it.

For example:  I have a day job as a financial aid program coordinator at a major university.  I handle all of the state grants. It's a pretty big job. I don't have a problem telling folks I know what I'm doing and I am a financial aid professional.

But that is my job-for my career, my writing, I have realized I feel like an impostor. It's not a new feeling, I just never gave it a name before.  What triggered my "OHHH! That's ME!" response, was looking at some workshops for a writers convention I'm going to in July. One of them was dealing with Impostor Syndrome.

I swear a giant light bulb went off over my entire neighborhood at that. "My goodness- I have THAT!"

And sadly, I know I am not alone with my writing compadres in this. We are in a field with very few, "This person MADE it" goal posts. NYT bestsellers, multi million dollar contracts, etc- those folks "made it"- for this rest of us, it's a lot more vague.

Is it getting an agent? Then what if the agent can't sell your book?  Are you still a writer?  What if the publishing house dumps your series after one book?  Are you still a writer?  What if you go Indie? Are you still a writer?  Even once you get your books out there, and folks are starting to respond- you still have to ask yourself- am I really a writer?  And there's often a little voice who will say no. 

I think realizing that I do play this dialogue in my head, that I do have a tendency to see what I haven't achieved instead of what I have achieved, is a good start. But, I'm going to have to keep working on it.

What about you?  Do you feel like an impostor sometimes?  How do you deal with it?  Happy IWSG day!