Monday, May 30, 2011

Remember

Today is a holiday here in the states, Memorial Day.  It's a day for us to remember our departed loved ones.  Especially those who died in service of our country.  I've moved across the country from most of my family and am not able to visit the graves of those who have passed.  But I remember them in my heart. 

Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Characters and Crying.

Rachelle Gardner has a post about creating strong characters.  While she says at the end these are not rules or a checklist that agents use she has some really good points about making well rounded characters. 

Some of my favorite points:
Characters need to be active.  I like this because my characters tend to do a lot of thinking.  Which is not bad, but they need to act on their thoughts. 

A reader needs to know how a character draws conclusions.  Ever read a book when a character suddenly figure something out and you don't have a clue how they jumped to that conclusion?  I have.  I had to go back and read the last page to see if I missed something, I hadn't.  It made it hard to follow any part of the plot associated with that thought because I was vexed and suspicious.

She also said to avoid overstated emotion.  Her own rule of thumb is that the protag should only cry once.  My protag cries a couple times but never in a weeping, wailing, overdone way.  

There are a lot of other good suggestions  and I recommend giving the post a peruse. 

What is your character advice? And just out of curiosity, what do you think about protags crying?  Does it mean they're weak, or human?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Confidence is Key

I recently finished a book, and the first thing I thought when I closed it was “That was a confident book.  That must be what it feels like to KNOW you can write.”  I had never thought of it in those terms before but once I did I realized I had noticed it in books all along.  There are some books  that know where they are going and march strongly forward.  There are some books that can’t make up their minds to follow plot A or B, or that don’t want to hurt their characters, and so they dither along and hint at a lot of things but don’t do anything.  At the end of the book you think NOTHING HAPPENED and feel cheated.  

I once posted a piece and received this crit “ There are wonderful flashes and descriptions, but there are also times when your main character doesn't really appear real, as though you haven't fully entered her world, her time period, her person. It is hard for me to feel anything for her, much as I wish to. For the moment, you are watching her instead of _being her_ and until that magic happens, your work isn't credible enough.”    Credibility.  It’s hard to feel confident in our writing all the time but until we do why should anyone else?  Readers know if there is no confidence or credibility in writing, and if there's not the book never rises above mediocre. 

Wordplay has a post here about vague writing.  After I read this I started to notice some of these things in my writing.  The lack of credibility goes right along with vague writing.  It’s as if I wanted to give myself an out just in case a reader called me on something when what is needed is decisiveness. I'm fixing a lot of that with this draft and I can tell a difference.

What do you think of confidence in writing?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Missing!

I had a scare the other day.  I opened up the folder containing all my documents for Far From the Sea, and it was gone!  The other documents were still there but the main manuscript was missing.  No I didn't scream or yell or cry.  I was too stunned.  My jaw was in my lap and I kept reading the titles over and over thinking it had to be there.  It wasn't.

Since I received my netbook I have been using ZumoDrive (It's like drop box) so I can access my work from both the desktop and the netbook.  When I could breath again I ran downstairs and checked on my netbook.  It was there and I could access it just fine. For some reason after doing that it worked fine on my desktop too.  I think it got hung up the last time I used it on the laptop and ZumoDrive thought the document was still open and so wouldn't let me access it other places.  That's a guess.   

The thing is I have several back up copies.  I keep a copy on my desktop, one on a thumb drive and every now and again I email it to myself.  It had been a couple weeks since I had updated the backups but I still wouldn't have lost too much.  Even if it had been gone it wouldn't have been devastating.  Still, when I saw it wasn't there I was heartbroken.  I stared at the computer in confusion, I could hear my brain telling me "you have backups for this reason"  but my heart was weeping blood at the loss of my baby.  I thought I was ready to let my MS out in the world and that I would be tough enough to take the criticism and rejection it would receive.  After this little demonstration of how much this WIP means to me I may need to toughen myself up a little. 

Have you ever lost a manuscript?  How do you backup to prevent fatalities? 

Friday, May 20, 2011

All By Myself

Tonight The Engineer is taking Truck Boy on a father son camp out.  They're not spending the night as we have to leave by 6:30am tomorrow but for a couple hours I will be home alone.

I WILL BE HOME ALONE!

I'm giddy with excitement. No one to watch or take care of or make dinner for.  I can't tell you how long it has been since I haven't been responsible for someone. Ah, the bliss.  I may even have time to rewrite that difficult scene I have been avoiding all week (right now included). 

I was going to leave you with some writerly links to entertain you over the weekend but I can't find them.  If I come across them later I'll post them otherwise enjoy yourselves.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Perseverance

The first year we lived here I planted snapdragons in the pots on our front porch.  It's a tiny porch and the stairs leading up to it are brick.  The next year I noticed a tiny snapdragon growing between two bricks.  Apparently a little seed had lodged there and somehow managed to get roots in some soil.  I still don't know how as that step is a good three feet off the ground.  Every year that little plant came back.  Every year it put out one blossom, one pink snapdragon.  Even though it was out of place I could never bear to pull that plant.  I couldn't destroy what was so determined to survive.

I always hear that a published author is just someone who didn't give up.  It makes me think of my little snapdragon.  I want to be that plant.  I want to be the author who didn't give up.  That's why I keep rewriting.  I'm getting closer.  I can see the improvement and my roots are stretching down looking for the soil that will keep my story alive.  I think that's what being a writer is all about.  Perseverance.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review, Divergent

This book is getting a lot of hype. Normally I would tell people to form their own expectations and not go in with too high of hopes but this was an excellent book. It debuted at number six on the New York Times Bestseller list.  


Tris is just sixteen and facing the decision that will rule the rest of her life.  Which faction to choose, Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (truthfulness), Erudite (intelligence), or Dauntless (bravery).  Once she chooses she must devote her life to that faction.  Her choice surprises herself and her family.  The only problem is that she's Divergent, and other people don’t like that.  In fact they will kill to keep any divergent from threatening their lives. 



This book is a little on the violent side, maybe about the same level as Hunger Games.  Don’t get thrown off by the opening.  It starts with her looking in a mirror, but it’s not in an “I saw green eyes and hair just a shade to dark to be blond” type way.  She only gets to look in the mirror once every three months when her mother cuts her hair.  The author uses this to brilliantly start setting up the world in which they live and introduce us to her family's ideals.  The author does an excellent job to keep the world grounded in enough things that are comfortable to us (you’ll all be happy to know there are still hamburgers and chocolate cake) and yet show us exactly how different life could be. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Problems

I'm sure most of you noticed the blogger shutdown yesterday.  It was fixed but between one thing and another I wasn't able to post.  Sorry for missing you and I'll be back on Monday.  Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pretty, Shiny

This is my new netbook.  Look how pretty and shiny it is.  I am so excited to have a little laptop I can carry around with me for writing.  It also has a kindle app and I have been busy downloading free books.  Don't worry I'll get to the ones I have to purchase too.


The Engineer (best spouse ever!) purchased this for me.  It wasn't a surprise. I had input so I could pick the one I liked. Which basically meant we went to Best Buy so I could type on the keyboards.  Hey, keyboards are important!

While it's pretty and shiny and exciting the best thing about this laptop is that it was The Engineer's idea.  Which means he gets me.  He understands that this is what I do and that I'm going to be doing it for the rest of my life.  Did I say he was the best spouse ever?  Because he is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five Minute Fiction

I'm a finalist in five minute fiction over at Write Me.  There are some great entries, seriously, and I'm not talking about mine.  Go have fun reading. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Plotless Novel

How many of you have ever written a plotless novel?  Come on raise your hands, don't be shy  I can't actually see you.  My hand is in the air.  While I think I've learned a lot since then it's not bad to remind myself what a plot is.  I came across an interesting post about plotting over at The Intern.  She states that a plot plot needs a combination of these things; Cause and effect, interrelatedness, and extended conflict.

Checking your manuscript for these three things is a fabulous way to know if you have a plot. What happens in the early parts of the book have to have an effect on the later parts otherwise it was pointless.  Which goes right along with interrelatedness.  If the whole of your book isn't connected (each event effecting and defining the later ones) you have a series of events, not a plot.  Extended conflict, I see a lot of new writers that have a problem with this.  The conflict and tension have to over set the WHOLE novel.  It should start at the point where something changes and end at the point where that change is resolved.

The intern also said this "Suffice to say that a plot generally involves a series of conscious decisions on the author’s part"  I want to add it also includes conscious decisions on the character's part.  There is no plot if things just keep happening to your character and she sits there and does nothing.  At least not an interesting plot.

So how about it?  Any words you want to share on plot?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Feedback

Over at Compuserve we've been having a discussion on giving feedback.  Is it good etiquite to rewrite some of the author's work when giving a crit?  You know, where someone will take a sentence (or paragraph, or page) from the work and rewrite it to emphasis how it could have been tighter, more grammatically correct, etc. 

Some said they like when this is done to their work because it helps them understand what the person giving feedback meant.  Others are very territorial of their work and while they accept the crit, don't want anyone else rearranging their words. 

I've seen it done respectfully and I've seen it done not so respectfully.  Personally I think it's ok if used sparingly and wisely, just a sentence or two.  And only if you know the author thinks it's all right.  I have seen people rewrite a whole page (not a red-line but a rewrite) and I thought that overkill.  What was so important that you had to rewrite a WHOLE page?  couldn't you give feedback without twisting every one of their words?  Maybe that's the problem.  Maybe if we learned how to give better feedback we wouldn't need to rewrite each other's words. 

So what do you think?  Do you like it when others rewrite your work or not? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gratitude

I am grateful. 

I am grateful that the tornadoes passed us by.  I'm grateful I have a family and home. I am so happy my husband has a job that supports us, feeds us and pays the mortgage.  And I love that he is the most wonderful supportive husband ever.  Last year he fixed up a computer for me so I didn't have to share and could work whenever I wanted.  When I'm in the middle of something big he'll take Truck Boy and distract him so I can work. 

I'm grateful for my health, for warm weather and the swimming pool down the street.  I'm grateful for other writers so I have something to read, and for the help and advice they share with others.  I'm grateful for the Lord and the love that he shows me. 

I have so much to be grateful for, only a small portion are listed here and I probably forgot something huge but you get the idea.  What are you grateful for?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing Ripples

Over the weekend The Engineer and I were asked to speak at our local Families Supporting Adoption conference at the end of May.  It's a small, casual thing, probably no more than 20-25 people there. (of course everyone who wants to learn about or support adoption is invited.  It's in Atlanta on the 21st of May) This used to be the sort of thing that would make me panic and vomit copiously. 

No, I'm not exaggerating. 

I used to be terrified of interacting with people, let alone people I didn't know.  Before I started participating at Compuserve Books and Writers website I lurked for a good nine months, maybe longer, trying to get a feel for the people and the place.  Even now two years later I still sometimes get nervous posting there and on blogs. Speaking in front of REAL people was not something I was capable of and when I had to it usually didn't turn out well.  But now I'm finding myself excited. I still plan on letting The Engineer do most of the talking but I've had some coherent and organized thoughts and I want to do this.  Crazy huh?

This is just one of the ways my writing journey has helped me out in the non-writing part of my life.  Not only has the internet interaction made me better at social situations, learning the craft of writing has helped me to be able to organize and prepare presentations, talks, lessons etc.  Writing helps me clear my thoughts so I don't stress or obsess.  Too much anyway.  It also helps me clarify who I am, which gives me greater confidence.

Has your writing journey benefited you in unexpected non-writing ways?