Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do you know your MC?

Happy leap year day. I guess that's what you would call it.

First, I want to say, happy book birthday to CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh. His book was released 2/28/12.

Also, Partials by Dan Wells was released 2/28/12.

So go get them, people. On with the post.

Do you really know your main character? I'm not talking an interview. I'm talking get in their head and feel everything they do. Do you feel what they feel?

I'm finishing up a writing class, and I have to say, it really opened my eyes with one of my MCs. As you know, my current MS is told from two POVs. The one MC, a girl, I know and know well, but the other one I thought I knew. After doing an assignment for class, I realized who this guy really is, what he really wants--and it feels great. Before, the idea of this guy's character was there, but I don't think the light bulb was fully lit. I think I was more involved in the girl character that I sort of let his side of the story just roll, thinking that I 'got him'.

So, how do you accomplish this? For me, several revisions, but I think it's time. It's like a real life relationship. You don't truly know someone until you've spent time with them and been through real life ups and downs. Same holds true for your characters. As you write the story, it's fresh new and exciting. You're learning where the story is going and your character is being polite, you know that awkward get-to-know-you phase. They may only give you some pieces of their story, but the hard stuff is not revealed till later.

As you revise, things come out that you never knew about this character. It may change the way you look at them or it may bring you closer together. They reveal things, slowly, but you begin to learn who they truly are. Bit by bit you begin to feel their pain, their sorrow, their happiness. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Then once you are through the final edits and polishing, you feel like you've known them for ages. They may even feel like a real person. Of course, as writers, we know the difference between reality and fiction--right?

So how well do you know your characters?

Take a scene and ask yourself some questions:

How would my character react to what is going on around them?
What are they going through at that moment?
Will it move the story forward, getting them towards the goal you want them to get to?
Can you add things to the scene to heighten the tension of their feelings and reactions?
Does it make sense for the character?

Of course these are only some of the questions to ask.

Here are a some links on the subject:

Top Ten Questions for Creating Believable Characters

Characterization Questions

Character Questionnaires

Creating Memorable Characters.

Try it you may be surprised what you might find out.
Have a great day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Simple Pressure

One of my favorite quotes.

Every aspect of life has pressures. Some feel like an elephant resting on our shoulders and some are just a simple press on our chest. Writing does not escape this. Some folks (who are not writers) would probably disagree, but like with anything, you don't know till you walk in the other person's shoes.

Lately, a simple pressure is starting to grow. Parts of me are excited that I may actually finish this manuscript and send it off. The other parts (like many of you) have the heavy weight pressing on my head. It's that moment of the unknown and the what ifs.

What if I send this out and nothing happens?

What if all I get are rejections and no interest?

That last question is what's starting to haunt me. It's the part where I can't compare myself to others, and focus on believing in me. It may not happen this round and I've sort of tried to psych myself into thinking that. It doesn't mean it won't sting if no one even asks for a partial.

But what if they don't? Sure I will feel defeated and ashamed, maybe embarrassed to face my writer friends, but I have to hold my head up and deal. It's not failure (that's what I keep telling myself). It simply means it wasn't my time.

The part I have to remember is that I've tried and if nothing happens, I'll have to try again.

Of course, I have to try first. Can you tell I'm scared to death to step into the land of query? Sure I've said it before and I'm sorry I keep saying it, but it's what's on my mind today. I'm sure all you guys want is for me to query so I'll shut up about it. :)

What are your biggest fear/pressures in writing?

Have a great day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fun Facts Friday

Thanks for all your bloggy feedback on Wednesday. I will be putting a post together soon about blogs. On with the facts:

1. My son loves the UK show Wheeler Dealers. It cracks me up because he's using terms like "cheeky" and tells me that things cost 4,000 pounds. Maybe he watches it a little to much.

2. I'm trying to come up with a theme for a new idea I have, but I feel like I come up with the same theme every time I come up with an idea. I'm going to have to challenge the brain on this one.

3. On the same note of my new idea, I'm actually approaching the way I write it different than I have in the past. I'm outlining and planning things out. What's wrong with me? I'm a panster.

4. I started swimming with my kids once a week. I actually enjoy it. Who knew?

5.I can't believe that Once Upon A Time will be last longer than one season. I do like the show, but it's frustrating. Unless they have some wicked twist (and amazing writers), I can't see anything interesting happening once the people of the town figure it all out. And I hope they don't drag that out. Maybe that's my impatience, because I'm already getting antsy.

6. There are two things that are bothering me--1. I over think. A lot. I realize I have to stop and am learning how to stop it. Yes, this will be a blog post at some point. 2. I'm the tortoise of all writers. I wish I could write faster. See impatience is starting to creep in again.
7. Homework for you. Use all the senses to describe this photo. It's so cool, isn't it? Hey, if you feel up to it, write a small scene.

How was your week?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Midweek Madness

It's Wednesday. You know what that means-- middle of the week. I started writing a dozen posts and all were boring. *Yawn* So what does one write when you have nothing to really say. Okay, it's not that I have nothing to say, it's just half of it you heard already and all the other stuff takes some time to write (you know research or writing when I'm fully awake). One of the posts I want to write is about blogging. What works, what doesn't, good stuff, bad stuff, etc. So I'm looking to guys for some research. I do have my opinion, but what do you think?

So, I decided to find out what you guys look for in a blog post.

What do you want/like to read about in a blog post? 

What are your favorite blogs?

Simple questions for the midweek crazies.  I will be writing a post on blogs/blogging and am interested in your feedback.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Go easy on yourself

Artwork by Kaitlyn McCane

With fast paced lifestyles, we can beat ourselves up. I know I do. I'm my hardest critic. Yep, I'm super hard on myself. I push myself to limits that I probably shouldn't. I find it unexceptable that I can't juggle a client, writing, my kids, reading, my house, etc. I cringe when something is dirty. To me there is no excuse. When I get tired at night, I get frustrated because I need to get stuff done.

What I need to learn is that it's okay. I can't do everything. I am one person. I have to accept that when I fully focus on one thing, other things will suffer.

So, how can you change it?

1. Try to give yourself credit. I have a real hard time with this. I do beat myself up over little things that don't get done or not done right. It's okay. We're not perfect and we can't do everything. One solution--write down everything you do and want to do. Take a few items and do them. Finish them if you can--one at a time. A sense of accomplishment is the best, but be realistic about what you can finish in the time that you have.

2. Say no to things. As hard as it is--you have to. Mainly to keep your sanity.

3. Take breaks. This is difficult for me. I like to keep going. Sitting and doing nothing makes me antsy, but forcing yourself to take a break might be a mind saver.

4. When you get sick--rest. This goes along with #3.

5.  Don't feel guilty. This one is tough. I feel bad if something doesn't get done or I'm not spending every waking moment with my kids or my husband. It's okay.  Doing something for you is the best medicine.

Oh and the biggest one--eat chocolate. Okay, that's my calming potion. Yours may be different.

Do you have any pointers to add?

A big thanks to Frankie Diane Mallis and Simon Larter for another fun Philly Lit. You guys are the best. I'm sure Frankie will be posting photos.

Have a great day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fun Facts Friday

This week was good. All the sickness in my house has somewhat disappeared, for now, I should knock on wood or something. Progress on my writing is it's going, slowly as usual. On with the facts.

1. If you own a huge vehicle, fine, I'm not judging, but I  beg you, please give me enough space when you park next to me, so I can get my kids out. I was about to get my son out of my car when a huge Ford Expedition parked next to me.  So close, that the person who parked it could barely get out of her SUV. When she got out,  she said sorry, and ran into the store. Seriously? There were other spots that were even closer.  I'm just asking for courtesy.

2. I started to go through my manuscript that I want to query, and it still needs a lot of work. The class I'm taking has me seeing the whole thing differently, and boy, it's bad. I'm sorry to those of you who have read it.

3. If you are in the West Chester (Pa.) area on Saturday, stop by Iron Hill. Philly Lit will be meeting up. I hope to stop by at some point. Hosted by the lovely Frankie Diane Mallis and the always snarky Simon Larter. You guys rock. Plus, my town is awesome. Oh, and since Frankie will be there--there will be photos. :)
See cute town=awesome. Wish it was warm enough to sit outside.

4. If you are a Depeche Mode fan (Just to let you know--I'm a huge fan). Check out this dad and kids covering one of DM's songs. They are really good.

5. It's funny how old story ideas come back to you. I just remembered a story I came up with 10 years ago and started to figure out how I could make it work. At the time I thought of it, I could only come up with bits and pieces and now this one might become something someday--after I get through all the other stuff that clouding my brain.

6. Dangling modifiers are not my friend. I hate those sneaky buggers.

How was your week?

Any news?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let it flow

Letting things flow gives a freeing sensation--imagine skipping through a field of flowers on a warm day or relaxing on a beach while a turquoise ocean touches your toes. That release allows you to move forward and let things seem easy, not complicated or difficult. It could be compared to letting things go as well. Being a writer we tend to hold onto feelings and moments. Maybe re-living them to the smallest detail and talking out loud to our characters. Some of the "normal" folks may think we are not totally sane, but we know better.

Holding onto things may also take place in real life. It leads to over thinking, halting rational thought, which could lead to even worse things like regret, loneliness, weird feelings of being used and that you're easily forgotten--just some examples. Yeah, strange thing the mind is (that's Yoda flowing through me).

It's like a large door of you're a nobody. The thing is--if you let it go and concentrate on yourself, then that freeing feeling I was talking about comes into play. That large door of nobody opens to a full-fledged party, starring you.

So enough of the heavy, I'm supposed to talk about writing not real life emotions, but of course this topic could span both.

Allowing yourself to write freely can open up the door of creativity. Yep, I'm talking about free writing. I used to free write before I knew "the rules," heck before I knew that's what it was called. Once I started chopping, erasing, line editing, fixing plot holes and character flaws that thing called breathing words ceased and became hard, rigid, and over thought.

Free writing. I finally did do this again. It felt good and I felt a little rebellious like I was breaking so many laws, which I probably did in a writerly sense, but that's okay. It allowed creativity to flow into a new story that I'm dying to write. It helped me think of a few details and start an outline.
It allowed me to breathe words again just like when you allow yourself to let things go in real life--you breathe.

You breathe and enjoy what is to come.

Have you done some free writing lately?

How was your weekend?

Have a great day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun Facts Friday

I'm so glad this week's over.

1. I've been to a doctors office three, yes three, times this week. My son had an ear infection on Monday and my daughter got strep. The pediatrician suggested I get tested for strep since I've been sick. Thank goodness it was negative, but she told me to try and stay away from my daughter. Huh? How do I do that?

2.I've been watching Lost Girl on SyFy. I have to say the premise is really great. The acting--not so much. Plus, this show relies heavily on the s-e-x factor. Lots of skin to say the least, but like I said, the premise is interesting.

3. I'm reading PARTIALS by Dan Wells. It's to be released 2/28/12. I'll let you know what I think.

4. I'm working hard on my writing class, and I have to say, I may take more. Can you see the smoke coming from my brain? This class is great and you get to use an actual piece of YOUR work. So, you get to see how it changes from when you started. Me likey.

5. I'm getting so excited for this movie:

I can't contain myself. I really can't wait. *shakes*

6. To all the chocolate lovers--Have you tried Reese's Minis or Hershey's drops? Holy cow. So good.

7. I think this is the longest amount of time I've been away from the manuscript I want to query. I'm starting to get the itch to dive back in, but I'm taking my time by taking notes, well, bullet point notes on what I need to focus on. It's sort of a new way for me to approach revisions.

8. I still have a ton of characters invading my head, but I'm writing some new things when I get a minute. Call it free writing, I guess. I'm trying to write without thinking. Totally hard for me, but I'm trying.

Well, that's all for this week.

How was your week?

What TV shows have surprised you?

What's your favorite chocolate?

Oh and who's excited and can't wait for The Hunger Games Movie?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where did she go?

Okay, so I missed my post day on Monday. The fact is things have gotten a little out of control here at my household. You know what happens when I give my attention to one thing--other things must suffer. Sorry. It's the way the world turns. I wish I could clone myself. It would make things a heck of a lot easier. Plus, the kiddos got sick and I got sick. Again. Another reason I dislike winter. Germs are spread at an alarming rate.

Anywho, I'm still trying to work on revisions. See, I don't give up easily. I also signed up for a writing class. So...yeah...that means homework-like stuff. The fabulous Stina Lindenblatt demanded  recommended it. :)

Am I scared? Yep, but it's a challenge and a hard one at that. But you know what, I know it will help me. The first assignment has got me really pushing myself. Holy cow! *inserts another piece of chocolate in mouth*

The class I'm taking is called The Triple Threat Behind Staging a Scene taught by Tiffany Lawson Inman at the Marie Lawson site. It's all about amping up those action scenes and scenes in general. Lord knows, I need it.

So, if I'm not here, that's what I'm doing.

Has anyone taken any great writing courses they'd like to share?

How's your progress?

Have a great day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Relaxing in the sun

Well, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow. I'm still questioning that prediction. Really. They pull a groundhog from a dark cage/tree thing and expect it to tell us whether it sees its shadow or not. I'd be scared to death to be pulled from darkness and held up in front of 18,000 people.

Anyway, Phil saw his shadow so that means 6 more weeks of winter. As you know, I dislike winter, well, cold. This year, we've been lucky. On Wednesday, it was 65 degrees. Not bad. I certainly can deal with that kind of winter.

So, I thought I'd put an exercise out there for ya.

Some free writing. Take the picture above and write.
Describe what you feel, smell, taste, and hear.
Start a new story. You wake up here or this is the view from your character's house. Maybe you're stranded with -- insert hot/cute companion other here. I'm thinking James Franco, but select who you want.

The possibilities are endless.
Go for it!

How was your week?
What other writing exercises get your juices flowing?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Points of Perfect

The word 'perfect' is just that--perfect. It can have a snotty edge to it when pronounced, and I'm not fully fond of the word. Over my life, I've tried to make sure everything I did was just that--perfect. I've failed several times and not with just one aspect of my life--pretty much all of it. Things needed to look a certain way, my schedule had to be just so, and my work had to please everyone.

Silly, right?

A tough lesson to learn when your the artsy type.

I learned as an interior designer that I couldn't please all my clients, but I did whatever it took to make them happy. If they didn't like a fabric--I reselected. If they didn't like a floorplan--I redrafted. I had to because it was my job and I felt better about myself. I felt relieved that I made my client happy and got paid.

With writing it's the same, but different. Writing feels different to me. It lives in me, and usually, I can't wait to do it.

Three years ago, I started on this journey and I feel like this year is the year I'm really starting. Why? When I first started, I was so naive to everything. I thought I was awesome and my idea was fantastic. I tried my best to fit in, but instead I was being stupid. I learned a little, but not as much as I should have in my quest to gain respect, I probably made myself a laughing stock.

I guess I thought I had something and maybe I was above starting at the bottom. Silly really. We all have to start somewhere. So now, I'm learning as much as I can to catch up, to gain respect, and doing what I can to please. To perfect. 

The one thing I've learned is I can't please everyone. Even when I write a post or a tweet, I have to keep in mind someone will not like it and they may tell me about it and it may hurt. I may lose friends over my mistakes, they may think I'm not worthy or dumb, but I can't let that stop me. I push through to perfect my work the only way I know how and the only way I want too.

So, keep in mind--we all make mistakes, we're not perfect (trust me, everyone has some sort of imperfection. They really do), the grass always looks greener on the other side and you can't please everyone.

This is just a dash of my wisdom. Have a great night!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Well, I just realized that today was Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by the amazing Alex J. Cavanaugh. My other post will have to happen another day.

So, here's where I'm at--still in frustrated mode. I have to say that my revisions this time around are going so slow. Way slow. As you know, I'm a bit of an impatient person. I feel like I want to vomit every time I look at my manuscript. I know, take a break. I have. A lot. I think my issue is that I see the end--I just have to get there. I do have the drive, the want...everything, but when I look at it, I start to feel sick. I clam up and hesitate.

 I think every writer at some point feels this way. Maybe they work on something else, read a book or watch a movie. Check, check, and check. Yep, I did them. The one problem, which isn't bad, is my mind keeps getting flooded with new characters telling me their story. They actually speak to me and tease me with a scene. I try to throw myself into their world, but it's like I'm cheating on the other manuscript (the one that I'm trying to send to queryland) and the new characters go silent. They slide back into their dark hole while my fingers freeze. It's like I don't know how to write something new. I do have another novel that is in dire need of revisions, another story outlined, and countless scenes to a bunch of ideas, but I can't get fully into their mode.

Maybe I'm in limbo. You know, like when a child is about to walk. They struggle to stand, and when they do they're excited. Then they fall, and cry, and maybe turn to something else like a toy before trying again, because they're scared. When they try again, they hesitate. Maybe they're thinking of how to continue, maybe not. They may repeat this cycle until they take that first step and succeed. Sure they'll fall again, but they get back up and keep trying until their walking is perfected.

I think that's where I'm at. I'm struggling to take the next step. I'm stopping for that toy to distract me. I'm learning a lot, but hesitant and overwhelmed by all the information I'm trying to process. I know once I apply it, I will be perfecting it, but I'm also scared out of my mind that when I take that step and fall --will I get back up?

I know I will, it's a stupid question to even think, but it's natural. I think I need to follow my gut. Once I apply some of these rules and refresh some scenes, it will be ready. I think. I hope, because nothing new will flow until this one's out of my head. Plus, like with anything new, I'll probably be fine once it's gone and I've gone through the whole process, but it's that step that feels so huge and makes me feel so little.

I'm keeping in mind that it's like riding a bike. Once I get out of revision mode, I will be able to write another novel in no time. I maybe shaky at first, but once the wheels turn I'll enjoy the ride.

How's your progress?

Have a great day!