Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do You Like People?

I found this article which was a funny read.  Writer is number three on the list of careers for people who don't like people.  Good to know, especially since it's not as if we need to do our own promotion.  Also I was very happy to see that the median salary for writers was over 65K a year.  I should be getting my check in the mail soon, right? 

In all honesty I'm pretty sure they lumped in technical writers, add writers, copywriters, and others like that. And I doubt the average salary included those of us wannabes who are working but not getting paid.  Yet.

Personally I'm not very outgoing in real life.  Shocking I know.  But I love the writing community I've found on line.  When we're with other writers we're a pretty outgoing bunch. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Life is a Highway


Welcome back!  How was everyone’s week?   I admit that I didn’t do a lot of writing last week.  I was too busy taking care of sick kids, cooking a traditional thanksgiving meal, and helping The Engineer lay a wood floor in our basement.  I did get some reading time in.  It was very nice actually and I was able to catch up on my big TBR pile. 

One book I read had a huge “stop” moment for me.  As we know “stop” moments aren’t good in books.  They pull us out of the narrative and keep us from becoming involved.  It it’s bad enough it could keep us from finishing the book. 

In this book some people had driven to another city for a food festival.  On the way home they had a discussion about what road to take.  Not a big deal right?  It doesn’t have anything to do with plot, characterization, or story.  But the author got it wrong.  First off they were talking about a connector from two freeways that don’t actually meet.  Also the author had them going the wrong direction, they were supposed to be going north but they were going south. 

Many thousand people will never even blink at it.  They won’t know it’s wrong.  But it so happens that that is where I live.  The Engineer drives that stretch every day to and from work.  As I said it doesn’t affect the plot but it bothered me enough I had to stop reading for awhile.  I did finish the book but I had lost some trust in the author and reading, in essence, is all about a reader trusting the author and story. 

I hate that this bothered me because now I’m terrified.  What have I done wrong?  It’s impossible that I haven’t got anything wrong.  While my book is a fantasy, it’s a mild fantasy and the world is based on the mid 1800s.  While there are some things I have to change to make the story fit (it is fantasy after all) I want to be as accurate as possible so readers have something to connect to.  I know some historical authors that basically give themselves the equivalent to a master’s degree in whatever time period they write in.  I haven’t done that.  Yet.  Maybe I need to.

Do small things like this bug you or do you blow them off?  How far do you go to be accurate in your research?   

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


Thursday is a holiday here in the states.  Thanksgiving.  This, much as it sounds, is where we give thanks for our blessings.  With the world and economy the way it is it could be easy to think about what we don’t have so I’m grateful for this holiday. 

First and foremost I’m grateful for my family.  My wonderful husband who is handsome and patient, hardworking and sensitive.  My two wonderful children who can be a trial but who I wouldn’t change for anything.  And my extended family.  I wished I lived closer to them. 

I’m grateful for my husband’s job and the fact that we can support a family.  We have a home, food, clothes and computers.  What more could you want?  We are truly blessed.

I’m so happy I can be a stay at home mom.  First, it’s the most rewarding job ever.  Not monetarily, but in every other way.  I guess I could even say monetarily because we save so much money by my staying home.  We don’t have to pay for extra gas, clothes and childcare for me to work.  Plus we save a lot since I can prepare all our meals and we don’t have to eat out all the time.  Yep, rewarding in every way.  Also, it gives me some flexibility so I can write.

I’m grateful to the birth families of our children.  People so strong and brave they knew that for their children it would be best to make an adoption plan, even thought it was terrifyingly difficult.

I’m grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who guides and directs me. 

I’m grateful I can write, that I have the time and tools to do so.  Even though it’s hard and I don’t know what the outcome will be I’m so grateful I can do it.  It is who I am and I love that I can be me. 

I’m grateful for a mother who taught me to read and a father who taught me to work. 

I’m grateful for friends and neighbors (this includes the blogosphere and internet) who keep me sane.


This is only a small sample.  I have so many things to be grateful for. I’m going to be enjoying my blessings this week and won’t be blogging much.  I hope you all enjoy yours too.

Happy Thanksgiving.



Friday, November 18, 2011

New Beginnings


Over at Compuserve the writing exercise has been about beginnings.  Beth, who is presenting the exercise this month, posted some fabulous thoughts about book beginnings.  I'll copy it here.  I hope you find it useful.


Nancy Kress, in her book Beginnings, Middles, and Endings, says that compelling openings show character, conflict, specificity, and credibility. "Begin with an indication--subtle or overt--that something is not going as expected, or someone is experiencing disturbing emotions, or something is about to change."
In light of that--
1) Open with a character in action. This will probably be the main character, though it doesn't absolutely have to be.
2) Give him a problem to solve, a goal to attain, a danger to avoid.
3) Include specific, interesting details of setting, character, and situation. This is crucial for bringing the story to life.
4) To make the reader fall into the world of your story, it has to be credible. If the reader can't buy into the situation or has no empathy for the character in the opening pages, then she won't keep reading.
5) Good openings also require good writing. At its most basic, that means no grammar issues, no clumsy sentences, no misused words or poor word choices, and no misplaced punctuation. But good writing is more than that. Good writing has voice and style. Good writing is smooth--every word, every sentence, every paragraph in the right order, which is key to employing the line-by-line tension that pulls the reader through the story.
6) And finally, good openings establish the tone of the story (dark? comedic? lush and romantic?) and possibly foreshadow the ending in some way.
By contrast, learning writers will often employ one or more of the following:
--unattributed dialogue in the opening line
--contextless and/or boring dialogue
--opening in a trough. I.e., the character is reacting to some event that took place prior to the opening, and has not yet begun to take new action.
--opening on a journey, unless the journey is the story. This frequently goes hand-in-hand with the trough opening.
--character alone, thinking
--character is dreaming
--character waking up
--mismatched tone. Funny one minute, tragic the next.
--too much backstory
--long descriptions
--unlikeable protagonist: self-pitying, whining, boring, heartless, evil
--vague, generic writing, descriptions, characterizations
--too many characters or character names
--unclear POV
--POV changes too often (head-hopping)
Now, there are always exceptions. For instance, I listed "unattributed and contextless dialogue" above, but then I remember the opening to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Pure dialogue. You don't know who's speaking, or where they are, or who they're talking about. But it's brilliant, and it works because what they're talking about is so intriguing.
All the rules can be, and probably have been, successfully broken. But the items on that list are what agents and editors most frequently see in submissions they reject, and I've noticed the same things occurring in fiction posted on critique sites around the web.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Random Contest Shoutout

For anyone writing YA fiction here is a contest you may want to look at.  I didn't read all the details as I'm not currently writing YA but maybe someone will find it useful.  Good luck. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Typical

I was intrigued when reading a post over at A Day in the Life of Me where she describes her typical writing day.  It made me laugh and I wanted to post my typical writing day.  Maybe some of you can empathize here. 

2:30am            Two year old gets up.
430am              Two year old gets up and wants breakfast
5:45                 Alarm goes off, hubby gets up.
6:00                 I get up.
6:30                 In theory this is my exercise time but usually two year old gets up and I plop him in front of the TV in an effort to keep him quiet and not wake up 18 month old.  Which means not much exercise but some blogging and emails. 
7:30                 18 month old wakes up, we all eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth.
8:30                 3 days a week 2 year old we babysit arrives.  Other two days a week we go on walks in the stroller, go to the store or play monster, puppy, kitty, airplane, or blocks.
9:30                 Snacks.  Clean up snacks, sweep floor, mop up applesauce.
9:45                 Change diapers
10:00               Play, read books, go outside, do laundry, wash dishes,  etc.
11:00               say “no, it’s not lunch time yet” fifty thousand times. 
11:15               Change diapers
11:30               Give in and feed them lunch.
12:00               clean up lunch, sweep, mop up peanut butter, do more dishes.
12:20               Change diapers
12:30               Nap time.  Post blog, tell two year old to get back in bed, tell 18 month old to stop playing in crib.  Repeat.  Finally pull out manuscript and try to get something done.
2:00                 Wake up! If I’m lucky they’ll play toys or watch tv while I visit blogs, do finances or make phone calls.
3:00                 snack, clean up snack, sweep.  Think about mopping but I’ll just have to do it after dinner so why bother.
3:30                 Change diapers.  Read books. Play monster, puppy, kitty, airplane, fold laundry, and maybe do my hair.
5:00                 2 year old we babysit leaves.  Start dinner.  Tell children it’s not done and the stove is hot, don’t touch.  No you can’t climb in the dishwasher.  Don’t hit, don’t bite, Give her back her toy.  Don’t throw trains through the window. 
5:30                 Kids eat.
6:00                 Hubby home. Start crying with joy.  Eat. 
6:30                 turn on TV and collapse on beanbag. 
7:30                 Snack.  Sweep. Tell the mop I don’t think so and lock it in the other room so it will stop mocking me.  Brush teeth, pajamas, change diapers.
8:00                 Bed time.  Halleluiah chorus.  Write.
9:00                 fall asleep at computer until Hubby says “hey, aren’t you supposed to be working.”  Turn off computer go to bed and watch TV since I just took a nap and can’t fall asleep. 

What is your typical writing day?  If you post one on your blog leave a comment here so we can come enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fail

I just read an amazing post by Sara Zarr about failure in writing.  It has to do a little with my post yesterday so I'm linking to it here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fear Not

I've been thinking about fear a lot lately.  The closer I get to finishing the more afraid I become.  Afraid that my best won't be good enough.

I recently saw this post where Rachelle Gardner tells this story about a friend.

 I called my editor this summer and said, “What the heck is going on? This is my sixth novel! Shouldn’t I at least have my creative process figured out by now?!” And she laughed at me.
She laughed.
At.
Me.
And then through snorts she said, “Oh my gosh, is that really how you think this works?”

I guess I'm not going to get any less worried as time goes on, but that's ok because I also saw this: In her first comment to this post Joanna Bourne says "Never stop worrying.  It keeps us young."  What?!  Worry makes me old before my time.  It gives me wrinkles and ulcers.  But then I thought about how my worrying has improved my writing.  When I'm afraid something is poorly done I work harder at it, I try something new, I get new energy as I see myself improving. 

For me the opposite of fear is work.   So I keep working.  When I first started this novel I got to the middle and didn't know what to do.  I almost gave up, thinking it would be better to quit than to know I wasn't good enough.  Fortunately I kept working and I showed myself that I could do it.

There will be a point when I can't work anymore, where I have done everything it is in my power to do.  At that point we'll find out if it's enough.  I'd rather fail at that point, knowing there was nothing I could change, than fail because I didn't do my best.

What do you do to overcome fear, or do you make the fear work for you? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Books

There have been a lot of people I know, or at least have read their blogs, releasing books lately.  So I thought I'd do a big post listing all the recent releases I can think of.

WARNING

I have not read all these books.  I am not saying they will be a perfect fit for everyone.  What I am doing is putting them out there with links for everyone to find what they may or may not like.  So, read at your own risk.  Or enjoyment. 

Crossed by Ally Condie

Monarch by Michelle Davidson-Argyle

Wild Grass and Other Stories by Davin Malasarn

Not my Type by  Melanie Jacobson

Man in the Cinder Clouds by Rick Daley

Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption by Jo Murphey

Mortal Instinct by Widdershins

The Lady's Fate by Anne Gallagher

The Next Door Boys by Jolene Perry

By the Pale Moonlight by Jen Hendren

Firelight by Kristen Callihan
ok, this one isn't published yet.  It comes out early next year. I won an arc but will wait to blog about it closer to the release date.

Ok, I've probably missed a few.  If I did please, please forgive me and please please comment so we can check it out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Like a Kid in a Bookstore


I’m helping to spread the word.  There is a “take your child to a bookstore day” on December 3rd.  

I think most people who come here like books.  I’m guessing many of us are in fact book pushers.  You know the people who are constantly telling others “You should read this”.  It makes sense that we would want to support books, bookstores and just teach our children to love them too. 

There are link here and here where they have buttons you can put on your blog (and by you I mean people who can figure out how to do things like that) and posters you can print and hang up around town.  So help spread the word.  And if you can, grab your child, your niece, nephew, or some kid off the playground (ask his mother first) and take them to a bookstore.  Go to your favorite indie, a box store or wherever you go to buy books. Amazon doesn’t count.  Even if you don’t have the finances to purchase anything take your child.  Introduce them to the wonder that is a store devoted to books.  Let them touch the spines, smell the paper and breathe the words.   If for some reason you can't get to a bookstore, are afraid you won't have enough  self control, or have been banned from all bookstores near you then take them to the library, get them their own library card. If you take them, they will love.
 

I’m planning on taking my two; I even know which book I plan to find for them.