Friday, December 31, 2010

Eye Candy Blogfest

Happy New Year!


Okay, now on to the blogfest.

The Eye Candy Blogfest is hosted by Vicky Rocho over at Rambles and Randomness...Thanks Vicky!

The idea of the blogfest is, on New Year's Day (I know I'm a little early), to post a favorite picture. It can be anything from a beach at sunset to a hottie to your kids or pets...anything that makes you smile! And, um, keep it PG.

So, here's my favorite pic...because I adore donuts and this pic makes me want to roll around in the pile of them. It's just beautiful.



And because I couldn't pick just one, I had to add this castle ruins.  I think it's pretty awesome.



I didn't take these pics myself. The donuts would never have lasted long enough to be photographed and although I wish I could have been at those castle ruins in person, I'll have to daydream a bit longer.

And for all of you ladies wishing for a hottie in your stocking, I kinda like this one:


Enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Happy Holidays to everyone. No matter which one you celebrate, make it good!

Living in a Christian culture, my family celebrates Christmas even though we don't specifically self-identify Christian. It seems like in America it's kind of the default religious affiliation....certainly the calendar, business, and government revolve around its holidays. But even if you don't buy into Christian theology, it can't hurt to enjoy a little mid-winter cheer (okay, strictly speaking it's not mid-winter since the solstice was only a few days ago, but around here we've had snow on the ground for a few months so it feels like mid-winter). Celebrate family and generosity and love of your fellow man. Make a go at seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty and maybe do something nice for a stranger just because you can.

We will be doing the traditional things we always do. Good food, gather around the Christmas tree and open stockings and gifts, sing carols, play games, and just relax together.

Then on the 27th I'll be heading out to attend the last residency of my low residency MFA program. Yep, I'm heading into my thesis semester...the home stretch. I can't believe I'm almost done! I guess that means I need to buckle down and get my thesis revised and polished and shiny-perfect!

This residency should be a good one, too. I've signed up for workshops on screenwriting, playwriting, sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and performing your work. Despite how happy I am to be almost finished with the degree, however, I'm sad that this may be the last time I see many of the people I've come to be friends with through the program. We all live scattered around the country and only actually see each other at residencies. We've formed a tight-knit bunch of writing friends and I'll miss seeing them at regular intervals, even though I'm sure we'll keep in touch (on facebook if nothing else).

So what are some of the ways you celebrate the holidays? Do you have quirky family traditions? Any favorite foods? Games? I love discovering the ways other people celebrate!

No matter what you do, I hope all of you have a joyous holiday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good News and Bad News

A little over a month ago I sent out my first tentative queries to a handful of agents. I've received several rejections and one request for a partial. The good news is after requesting the partial the agent responded back to me yesterday. The bad news is that she didn't request a full.  However, she did offer very useful and constructive comments about how to improve the story and characters...which I suppose is more good news.  All the things she pointed out as problems were things I suspected anyway and I had already begun to outline necessary revisions.

So now it's back to the drawing board. I believe in this story and these characters and I'm determined to find the formula that works for this novel. I'll have to make some drastic changes, but I know it can be done and the story will be that much better because of it.

I first realized the story may need this kind of overhaul shortly after I'd sent out my queries and I was devastated, mostly because it felt like starting over, and the sheer scope of it was overwhelming. I refused to believe it at first, depressed by the thought of such major rewrites. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, so I started trying to work out the changes that needed to be made.

My goal is to have these revisions done in a month so I can begin the query process again. I have no idea if that's a realistic timeline, but I know what I'm capable of and I know these characters and their story so I'm pretty sure a month is doable. It's still an overwhelming task to face, but now that I'm in a more positive state of mind I'm ready to face it and conquer it!

Have you ever faced this kind of overhaul of a novel? How did you handle it?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Query Letter Blogfest

Thanks to Jodi Henry for hosting the Query Letter Blogfest!

The idea of this blogfest is to practice your query writing skills. As if writing the novel weren't hard enough, tackling a query letter (and synopsis) can be torture. I've posted my query below, but I've removed the portions discussing my background and memberships, leaving only the story-related information.

*****************

Dear  Agent:

I am pleased to submit for your consideration, Faerie Fate, a paranormal romance set in contemporary Oregon and divided between both the human and faerie realms. It is complete at 86,000 words.

Holly Reed is a grad student who doesn’t have much family to speak of, and yearns to know why. But when she discovers she’s half faerie and the father she never knew is a renegade out to kill her before he starts a war with humankind, she’s plunged into a world she grew up believing only existed in faerie tales.

Shadow’s life has always been about duty – to his queen, to his job, to Gaea. He gave up on finding his soul mate long ago. But when Fate puts Holly in his path desire flares between them, and he’s forced to reevaluate his long-held enmity toward humans. Amidst growing unrest and with war on the horizon, Shadow claims her as his soul mate.

Despite her undeniable attraction to him, Holly is afraid of becoming nothing more than Shadow’s property and rebels against his claim on her. But with her father hunting her, she’s faced with an impossible decision: accept Shadow’s offer of protection and forfeit her humanity and everything she’s ever known, or have her memory wiped and go back to her human life giving up her magic, her new family, and the man she’s grown to love.

Thank you for considering my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes,

Margaret Bail

****************
So, what do you think? Does it work? What needs to be changed?  

Now go check out the rest of the entries at Jodi's blog!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Welcome Back and Brainstorming Ideas

Hi Everyone! Welcome back post-NaNoWriMo. I felt like I was underground there for a month, unplugged from social media.

I wish I could say that my NaNo experience this year was a blinding success, but it wasn't. I managed to write just shy of 40,000 words, which is short of the required 50,000 to win NaNo. But on the upside, that's 40,000 words closer to having a completed first draft, right?

There were two reasons why I missed the 50,000 mark.

1. Two of my children have birthdays at the end of November, plus there's Thanksgiving, plus the crush of both teaching and being a student. It was just too much and I cracked under the pressure.

2. I wrote myself into a dilemma. It wasn't a corner so much as an as-yet unsolved problem. 

Here's what happened: I decided to pants this novel. No plotting at all. Because it's written in first person present tense and it's a headlong chase adventure kinda thing I figured my not knowing what happens before the characters do would add some freshness, if not to the story at least to the writing process.  And for the most part it has. Unfortunately the downside of pantsing is that when you run up against a quandary you can't just look at your notes and say, "Ah! So that's what happens now!" and then go back to writing.

So I wrote as much as I could without solving this little problem and then I was stuck. Without giving too much away, I've got most of the cast of characters of this book looking for the same treasure, but I have no idea what the treasure actually is. And when the two main characters finally cracked the code that allowed them entry into the room where the treasure is hidden.....I had to stop writing because I was stumped.

Now, since there's only one week left of the semester and as a teacher I have to read and grade about 30 term papers, and as an MFA student I still need to write two papers, my main characters are frozen in time staring at a treasure that now only they can identify and I still can't.  However, my goal is to complete the first draft of this manuscript by the end of December, before the next semester starts, so clearly I need to get to brainstorming.

Which brings me to the main point of this post: As writers, I know all of you have run into these kinds of problems, whether it's in the plotting process or when you're in the middle of pantsing it.

In my search for ways to discover this treasure, I've collected several different brainstorming techniques I want to share with you, just in case you ever find yourself backed into a corner:

1. Freewriting. Everyone's done this at one point or another. Put the pen to the paper and just write. It doesn't matter if it makes sense and don't worry about the quality. The point is to stomp out the internal critic and let the ideas flow.

2. Clustering. This is kind of like freewriting, but briefer. You write your main topic (in my case "treasure") in the center of the paper. Then you work out from that center word filling the space with any words you associate with the central topic. Write fast, don't stop to consider, just get words down. Then when you're done start circling terms that seem related and connecting them with lines. These sets of words can help trigger ideas.

3. Journalistic questions. Ask who, what, when, where, why, and how about your subject and see what you learn about it. Ask about its history, why it's important, who is it important to, where has it been...etc.

4. Think outside the box. For instance, if you're writing a romance, ask yourself, "if I were faced with this very same problem but in a steampunk novel, how might I see it or understand it differently?" So for my problem, since my novel is sci-fi, maybe I would ask myself, "if this were a western, what kind of treasure would my characters be looking for?" And maybe the same kind of treasure would be useful to my sci-fi characters.

5. Meditate. Plug into some music and do something completely unrelated to writing, but with the problem you need to solve lurking somewhere just out of your conscious thought. Open yourself to input from any source and maybe something unexpected will pop into your head while you're playing Halo or watching the Food Network.

So what's your favorite way of breaking the block? How do you brainstorm for ideas?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stoppin' By To Say Hi!

Oh, hello Blogosphere. Are you still here? I thought all of you were busy writing NaNoWriMo, so deep into your novel world that you forgot the real world existed. No? That's just me? Um. Okay then.

Well, I hate to chat and run but I just stopped by to say hi and that I know you're still here and I promise I'll come back but those characters, well, they really need me. Without me they're just stuck there without a clue what happens next. Since I left them there it's kind of my duty to help them out, to get them where they're going, to maybe even give them a happy ending. Although I still don't know how this story ends so for all I know it won't be happy at all. Which only means that I need to get back to them and find out!

If you're writing NaNoWriMo this month, good luck with your stories and I hope they're going well! If you're not writing NaNoWriMo this month, the Blogosphere is probably a lonely place. But don't despair! Come December 1st everyone will be back with all kinds of fun and interesting stories to tell about their journey through NaNoWriMoLand!

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

One week down and I'm still in line with the 1700-ish lines per day to make the 50,000 goal. Luckily I was able to write ahead almost every day last week because I crashed and burned on Sunday and didn't write at all.

My story is going swimmingly considering I'm still not plotting. And by swimmingly I mean it still actually makes sense and it's not just a bunch of unrelated crap on the page just so I can make word count. My goal is to have an honest to goodness usable first draft that doesn't need to be completely rewritten. So I'm trying to plot as I pants, if you know what I mean. Trying to keep my imagination one step ahead of what I'm writing. It's interesting having two main characters who are taking parallel journeys, weaving those stories together. 

But....they're going to be crashing back together again soon, and boy will the sparks fly when that happens!

So, how're everybody else's NaNoWriMo projects going? Keeping up with word count? Like where the story's going? Running into any problems/issues/concerns?

If you're doing the NaNo and want more buddies, you can add me: mkdbail

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm a Real Writer Now!

A couple of things today:

1. I'm a real writer now because I've received 2 rejections this week! Way to go, me. *high fives self*  Okay, now that I've experienced that feeling we can bring on the requests for partials and fulls. Right?

2. Day 2 of NaNo! Woohoo!!! I made my word count goal on day one. Only 29 days left...

3. I revised my logline based on all the wonderful, helpful, lovely comments people left after Steena Holmes' Logline blogfest. Here's the new and (hopefully) improved version:

"Holly Reed is a grad student who yearns to solve the mysteries of her absent family, but when she discovers she’s half faerie and the father she never knew is a renegade who sees her as a mistake he must dispose of before he starts a war with humankind, she’s plunged into a world where her ultimate choice is: forfeit her humanity in order to accept the protection of a faerie who claims he’s her soul mate, or have her memory wiped and go back to her human life, giving up her new magic, her new family, and the man she’s grown to love."

I know it's long, but is it better?

Good luck to all NaNo participants. And agents? Um, done with the rejections, bring on the requests. Okay. Thanks!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Logline Blogfest

Welcome to Steena Holmes' Logline Blogfest! (and happy first day of Nano!!)

The blogfest is pretty straightforward - just post the logline for your novel or project. Steena was gracious enough to allow all participants two lines! However, I've got a one-liner already written, so I'm going to use that. This is the logline for my paranormal romance, Faerie Fate.

"When Holly Reed discovers her father’s a renegade faerie out to kill her before he starts a war with humankind, her only chance for survival may be to accept the protection of Shadow, the faerie who claims he’s her soul mate."

I also wrote a haiku logline just for fun:

Faeries are real. What?!
Rogue fae father wants her dead.
Can soul mate save her?

Now go check out all the other loglines. And if you're writing for NaNo this year - have fun and go write!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Outside Of My Box - Blogfest

The always lovely (and sparkly) Tessa is hosting the Outside of My Box Blogfest in which participants are supposed to write something outside of the genre they usually write in. Outside of their comfort zone, if you will.

I have to say, I'm getting a little ho-hummy about all the YA and MG that's flooding the world. Not that I don't think young adults and mid-grade kiddos deserve really great stuff to read, because they do. And most of the stuff authors are writing in that genre is so good that even grown ups love it. In fact, there are a few authors I really adore in that genre myself. But there seems to be such a massive glut of it lately that I'm choking on it.

So of course for this blogfest I had to contribute to that genre. *grin*  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

It's probably a serious stretch to say that YA is out of my comfort zone. It's not nearly as far out of my comfort zone as, say, horror. But I couldn't think of any horrible stuff to write. It's so far out of what I'm capable of writing I just can't think that way. Even for Halloween.

My contribution to Tessa's blogfest is actually a teaser for a YA series I've been mulling over for a couple of years now. I'm totally in love with the story but it's going to be so complicated I'll need to dedicate time to plotting and character development. And I've got a couple other projects in line ahead of it.

Anyway, the working title is "Last Tree on Earth" and this is a bit from the short story version I've already written. Setup: It's post apocalyptic/dystopian. Arcadia is the heroine. Auntie Willa is the tribal leader/shaman. It's kinda long, but I hope you like it.

******************

Arcadia threw another pebble into the pond and tracked the ripples by the glint of moonlight as they drifted toward shore. Atop the largest boulder in a field of them surrounding the water, she sat with her legs pulled up to her chest, her chin resting on her knee. She threw another pebble, satisfied by the hollow sploosh as it hit the water.

“You know you’ll never be happy until you know what’s out there,” Auntie Willa said.

Arcadia jerked, “Auntie! You startled me.”

“You always sit up there when you’re dreaming about leaving.”

“My place is here,” Arcadia said, hanging her head.

“You’re of age, Arcadia. Sixteen already. A grown woman. So hard to believe how fast time disappears.”

Arcadia unfolded her long legs and slid down the side of the boulder, landing light on her feet next to Auntie. “I can’t abandon my people just because I’m curious,” she said, her tone gentle.

Auntie shook her head. “No, Arcadia, you’re special. It’s been a very long time since our people produced someone like you. For centuries all we’ve done is survive. Never asking questions. We’ve followed the tribal laws and it’s taken all of our energy just to live. But then you came along. You were a restless child, always eager to know more. You asked questions I had never heard before. Instead of keeping your head down and working hard, you were always looking up as if you wondered what was over the horizon,” Willa mused.

Arcadia slipped her hand into Willa’s and as they walked back to the village.

“I know I was a difficult child. I fought it as hard as I could. I didn’t want to be different, I wanted to fit in and be like everyone else. But I just couldn’t make the questions go away.”

“And that is what makes you so special.” They stopped at the fire ring in front of the long house. Willa took a seat on the bench while Arcadia sat on the ground at her feet. “Your favorite story was always ‘The Last Tree on Earth.’” Willa said, chuckling at the memory. “You had to know what a tree looked like, why were they gone, would they ever come back. How do we know there’s still one tree left if no one’s ever seen it? So full of questions!”

“I want to know if there are still other people in the world,” Arcadia said, frustrated. “The legends say that there used to be as many people as there are ants, or stars in the sky, or grains of sand on the beach. How can that be? There isn’t enough space! Where did they all live? How did they feed themselves? How did they breathe? What happened to them?”

“Well, the legends do say that there were more people on the Earth than stars in the sky, and that they were very needy indeed. They showed Mother Earth no respect. They poisoned her, raped her, tortured her until she could take no more. She bled for them and still they didn’t see. Until finally she realized they never would. She was heartbroken that her children had forgotten her and in her rage she loosed a plague upon them, killing them all,” recounted Auntie.

“Except our ancestors?” asked Arcadia.

“Yes, except our ancestors. They escaped the plague because she took mercy on them. They were a very small group who had been trying to show her they were beginning to understand. They begged her mercy, and she let them live,” said Auntie.

“But before the Mother let loose her plague, the people had used her up. That’s where the story of the Last Tree on Earth comes from,” Arcadia said, taking up the story. “Because the people used all the Mother had to give. They cut down all her trees to make room for themselves. They used up all her water and poisoned the air and soil so nothing would grow.”

“That’s right. But the legend says that somewhere, the Mother left one tree standing as a testament to what used to be,” Auntie said.

Arcadia paused.

“I want to see that tree.”

*************

Hope you enjoyed it!

See y'all at NaNo in a couple days. I'll be writing sci-fi there.

Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo Pregame

There are excited posts popping up all over the blogosphere in these last days before the beginning of NaNo. Participants are in a tizzy making sure they've got their plots all plotted, their characters all sketched, and their immediate work space stocked with snacks and energy drinks. Everyone's buddying up so that those upward-inching progress bars will kick our competitive spirits into overdrive in order to have the highest word count evah!!!

So this is my NaNo pregame post. Yes, I'm participating. This'll be my second year. Last year I "won" writing 50,000 words of the second volume in my paranormal romance series. I've subsequently finished that first draft. So not only did I "win" by writing the obligatory 50,000 words, but I won because I got a usable draft out of it. Win-win, no?

This year I'll be a bit of a cheater-pants in that I'll be adding 50,000 words to a manuscript I've already started. I know NaNo purists will turn up their noses at me for such behavior, but meh. I don't care. The goal is to write 50,000 new words, it shouldn't matter what the project is. I've never been too wound up about following the rules anyway, so it's no big deal to me.

This WIP is a sci-fi/chick lit mashup I was working on this summer before I put it aside to revise in earnest book one of my paranormal romance (which, btw, I just sent out my first five agent query letters on today...wish me luck everyone!).  The NaNo project is completely pantser - no preplotting. I've decided to go this route because the story is a crazy headlong adventure written in present tense first person and I think not having a clue what happens next - much like the main characters themselves - makes writing the story much more urgent and "here and now."  The danger, of course, is writing myself into a corner. But I have a few ideas where I think these characters will end up, so I'm not too worried about it.

So...are you participating in NaNo? If so, my user name is mkdbail (I go by my "real" name over there). Go ahead and buddy me and I'll buddy you back. We'll need all the inspiration, exhortation, and cajolery we can get in order to complete the grueling journey and reach 50,000 words!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Boo-fest

Thanks to Quinn over at seeing, dreaming, writing and Patricia at Simplicity in Volumes for hosting!

In the spirit of Halloween the idea of this blogfest is to tell a ghost story....a true one. Mine is posted below. It's my own story.

****************

Most people’s recurrent dreams involve flying or forgetting their high school locker combination or showing up to work naked. Not me, I dream about houses. It never used to bother me all that much.

Until the day I found one of them.

One night I dreamed about a house. Primly white with neat landscaping it boasted a row of small square windows across the top floor. Inside nobody was home, but I had the guilty feeling that comes with trespassing. I snuck through the rooms, exploring, careful not to disturb anything. On the main floor I found an office, the walls paneled in dark wood.

Upstairs the back bedroom was papered in pink and white stripes, with a fireplace at one end. Another bedroom was painted mint green.

I woke the next morning and went about my life, not giving the dream another thought because it was just one of many similar dreams. Just another house.

Months later, nearly Christmas, I was shopping for a gift for my boyfriend. I planned to visit a store I’d never been to before. Navigating unfamiliar streets, I glanced to my left.

There was the house from my dream.

I drove another block and turned around, pulling into the driveway. It was abandoned, the paint peeling, the landscaping overgrown. Several of the square windows were broken and staring like hollow, brooding eyes. It had a presence. It was watching me. It knew I had finally come.

I went home and told my boyfriend the whole story and he went back to the house with me. We went inside together. I held his hand so tight I felt the bones crushing together under my fingers. The house wanted me. It had called me.

We explored the main floor – there was the wood-paneled office. Upstairs I told my boyfriend that the back bedroom would have a fireplace and pink and white striped wallpaper – and it did. Another bedroom was painted mint green.

The house was full of scattered debris, the detritus of a family long gone. On the floor in the living room, in a pile of old papers, we found a sepia photograph of a boy and girl holding hands, happy grins on their faces. It was taken in front of the house.

The hair on the back of my neck prickled, and goose bumps raged on my skin. Empty and alone, this house had reached out to me in my dreams. But now that I was here I didn’t know what it wanted. I didn’t want to stay and find out.

Some houses don’t need ghosts to haunt their halls. They have souls of their own. And often, these houses haunt my dreams.

*****************

Hope you liked it! Happy Boo-fest and Happy Halloween!

btw, I'm still looking for volunteers to critique my query letter and synopsis. Anyone interested, e-mail me at maranash66(at)gmail(dot)com.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Volunteers, Anyone?

First of all - look, over there, in the right column. See that? I've reached 100 followers!  I think that calls for a contest or a blogfest of some sort. I shall give that some consideration and let you know when I come up with something good.

Secondly, most of you know that I'm in the midst of prepping my paranormal romance for query time. The novel is done (though for any of you writers out there you know your novel is never completely done. You could reread it a billion times and every time you'll find something to fix or change or add. But for the most part, it's ready to query).

I've written a query letter and a synopsis and I'm looking for volunteers to critique it. I'd like to find a couple of writers who have written and/or critiqued query letters or synopses before, or better yet, someone who has written a query and synopsis that garnered them an agent. That would be awesome!

My query letter is one page and the synopsis is three, so it's a short read and hopefully won't be too painful. And of course I'm looking for a quick turnaround - couple of days?

So let me know if you're interested and qualified! You can send me an e-mail at maranash66 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cliffhanger Blogfest

Here we are at one of the blogfests I'm going to participate in whilst in the midst of revisions (which, actually, are officially finished. Now I'm working on some agent research...any suggestions for agents I should query for a paranormal romance?!)

Thanks to Brenda Drake for hosting the Cliffhanger Blogfest! Participants are supposed to "leave us hanging, craving more, and cursing your name for making us want to turn a page that isn't there."

My entry is the end of section two of Chapter 12 of my paranormal romance, Faerie Fate, (yes, this is the one I've been madly revising to get ready for agent querying).

A little setup:  Holly has only recently discovered that she's half faerie and has managed the task of transforming from human to faerie form. She's overwhelmed by this new world, and when Shadow publicly claims her as his soul mate she bristles at the idea of being someone's property and about losing her right to choose. This scene takes place the same night, after Shadow has claimed her, and is from Shadow's POV.

***********

Since the moment he’d accepted in his heart that she was his mate, after dancing with her at Lunasa, and especially after today when he’d announced his claim publicly, he’d discovered he had a growing physical attraction to her. He’d tried to fight it, especially since in his mind he wasn’t sure she’d ever acknowledge him as her mate, much less truly love him, but it was a fight he knew he was bound to lose. For now he just wished he could stop thinking about what she wore as she slept. He hadn’t offered her anything of his, so he wondered if she was still wearing her clothes - or not.

He threw his blanket off and slapped his feet to the floor, leaned his elbows on his knees and shoved his hands through his hair. Thinking about her naked on his couch was not going to help him sleep. It only made him want to go watch her sleep naked on his couch. Which, now that the idea was in his head he couldn’t resist doing. He padded on quiet feet to the living room and peeked over the back of the couch. She wore a t-shirt, but he saw her pants folded in a neat pile on the floor. The blanket tangled around her, one leg exposed high on her thigh, her foot dangling over the edge of the cushion.

He moved around the couch to sit on the edge of the coffee table and watched her sleep. Her breathing was even and peaceful, and her eyes moved back and forth beneath her lids, the long black lashes brushing her cheeks. He liked that she didn’t wear makeup, and he liked the novelty that her skin was completely clear of any body art. It was pristine, and it made him want to explore every inch of it. In his imagination it was as smooth as it was pure.

He felt his own skin heat as he watched her, the need to touch her burning hotter until the urge was overwhelming. She stirred in her sleep, shivering. Her lips parted and he thought she murmured his name. Amazed by what he thought he’d heard, he was drawn to her mouth. Just one kiss won’t hurt, he thought, and leaned to brush his lips lightly over hers. He shivered and groaned, torn, then kissed her again, barely tracing her lips with his tongue. He'd expected her to taste spicy like her personality, but she tasted sweet instead, and it made him dizzy.

His heart pounded and his mouth was dry, and he knew he should walk away. Kissing her, especially while she slept, would only complicate things. He’d feel guilty for taking advantage of her and he’d never be able to look her in the eye. And, no doubt, she’d be angry at him. But he couldn’t stop himself. He kissed the corners of her mouth, then took her lips with his in a full kiss. And this time, she kissed him back.


*************

Hope you liked it! (does it leave you hanging?) Now, go check out the rest of the entries!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time Out

Hey Everyone.

I'm going to take a bit of a time out here while I finish up revisions. There are a couple of blogfests I'll be participating in, but otherwise I'm going to be flying under the radar until November 1, at which point I'm going to begin querying my manuscript and start my NaNoWriMo project - which I'm really looking forward to!

It's not so long, and until then - hang tight, have fun, and peace be with you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Revision is Hard...Difficult...Whatever

I've been a bit neglectful of my little bloggy space here on the internet because I'm deep into what I hope will be the final revision of my novel. I added a new Chapter One because, as I noted in my previous post, the existing Chapter One was a dud. I'm hoping the new Chapter One is much better. Of course, the new stuff I wrote means there are repercussions now that need to ripple through the rest of the novel.  That's what I'm working on now - the ripples. That, and the comments I got from betas.

One of the things I'm struggling with is making my male MC better...giving him more depth and emotion. Oddly, a couple of my secondary characters are more fun. MC dude needs to be more engaging!

But I swear, this is so the last time I'm going through this novel until I go through it again at the behest of an editor after I have an agent!

Come the first of November I'll be sending out queries. No. Matter. What.

Friday, October 8, 2010

(Re)Starting at the Beginning

In storytelling, beginnings are everything. It's not enough to have dazzling characters and a rock-solid plot. If your story starts with a fizzle nobody will ever read far enough to discover the rest.

We've all read some of the most famous opening lines ever written:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....(etc)" Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." - J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

"All children, except one, grow up." Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
"To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." - Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

"They shoot the white girl first." - Toni Morrison, Paradise

My personal favorite opening line is: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Stephen King, The Gunslinger


 
But even an awesome opening line isn't enough. The entire first chapter needs to hook your readers and reel them into the story. Conventional wisdom says that the first chapter of a novel needs to begin in the action. In flagrante, as it were. No more is it acceptable to spend a chapter or two or three with setup, back story, or character rumination. There was a day when readers had to plod through all that chafe to get to the kernel of the story, but not anymore! Now we start with some action then weave the back story and character development into the story as we move forward. Personally, I find this approach much more appealing as a reader, but it can be a challenge as a writer. (We all want to start with the back story...admit it.)

The reason I find myself ruminating about beginnings is that I'm stuck on mine. My novel, Faerie Fate, has had several beginnings, but none of them has stuck. First, there was a prologue. But prologues are so yesterday, so I trashed it. Then I experimented with juggling chapters one through three to see which one "felt" best as chapter one. The one I settled on is just too much back story and plods along too slowly.

So I find myself back at square one. I've had several betas read the entire novel and, aside from the stodgy chapter one, the main complaint was that the first few chapters had too much of a YA feel to it.  The remedy for these problems, at least in my mind, is to write an entirely new chapter one giving the MCs a more mature voice.  I think I've come up with a good start, but it adds an entirely new dimension of mythology to the story, which means I'm going to have to do some rewriting of the rest of the book in order to weave those new elements into the rest of the story.

My timeline? It will be done by November 1st, because: 1) I've got plans to work on a different project for NaNoWriMo, and; 2) I'm determined to start the query process by then.  If I'm diligent I can do it.

So what has your experience with beginnings been like? Do you breeze through them or struggle? Does it depend on the project?  What's your all time favorite opening line?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

At First Sight Blogfest

Thanks to Jacee Drake for hosting the At First Sight Blogfest!  You should definitely go check out all the entries. It's going to be loads of fun!

My entry is an excerpt from my novel, Faerie Fate. To set it up for you: Holly has never known her father, but pretty much by accident she discovers he's a rogue faerie intent on starting a war with humanity. But first, he wants to eliminate her. He sees her as a weakness, a loose end that needs to be tied up.  This little bit is her first meeting with him, at his place of business.

****************

Holly heard her father’s voice from within, her very first impression of him.

“Well then, Abelo, what are you waiting for? By all means, bring her in.” His voice was like warm molasses dripped on frozen ice cream – soft and charming on the surface but brittle and icy underneath. It made her shudder and somewhere in her heart she gave up any last scraps of the childhood dreams she’d harbored about her father. She didn’t have to use her empathic skills to sense that he would be a cruel and determined force to deal with. His voice said it all.

Abelo moved further into the room, holding the door for her and allowing her a first glimpse of her mysterious father. Her heart was already pounding as she entered, but when she saw him her breath caught in her throat. She recognized their physical resemblance at once, and had to struggle with his affect on her empathy. He radiated charisma, an unyielding and powerful figure, but she sensed there was more; something buried deep down that she couldn't identify.

He was tall, with jet black hair kept neat and short, and eyes so sharply green she could see their emerald sparkle - and fierce intensity - from across the room. A dark crimson shirt, the sleeves folded to just below the elbow, accentuated his broad shoulders, trim waist, muscled arms and strong hands. The charcoal jacket which completed his suit, lay neatly over the back of his chair. He may not like being human, but he wore it well, formidably even. When their eyes met his lips spread into a magnetic smile, which didn't reach his eyes, and she sensed the wicked charm pouring off of him.

“Well, the prodigal daughter returns at last. Welcome home, Holly.”

******************

Now, go check out the other entries!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reading Success

Not sure how many of you are aware, but I did a reading from one of my WIPs this last weekend at the women's studies conference at the state university. Given that this was my first official reading, and that I was the only creative presentation on the entire program, alongside a long list of academic research papers, I was suitably terrified.

However, I'm pleased to report that the reading went very well! The room was packed, I didn't choke in any way, and the audience was receptive. Whew!

How about you? Anybody have a first-reading story to share? I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bad News Blogfest

I totally forgot that I had signed up to participate in the Bad News Blogfest!(Thanks, Francine, for hosting!!!) I feel so bad! But better late than never, right? Below is my submission to this blogfest. It's a scene from my WIP, Faerie Fate.  This isn't the actual scene in which the bad news is delivered, it's a scene the next morning where the MC, Holly, is finally reacting to the news.

***************

Holly woke the next morning to bright sunlight blinding even behind her closed eyes. She rolled over but now that she was conscious the first thoughts in her head were about her father.  She’d fallen asleep with dreamy thoughts of flying and living in a magical faerie world, but now, in the harsh light of day, it occurred to her that her father was hunting her down so he could kill her. Her eyes popped open. Despite a frisson of fear, though, she had to wonder how he could have harbored so much hatred after all these years for someone he'd never even met. She suddenly felt very unsafe.
She sat straight up, nearly shoving Bamboo off the bed in the process. He meowed; she thought indignantly. Her father knew about this house, didn’t he? After all, he’d been in it. How could she expect to hide if she was in plain sight? Her heartbeat jacked up a notch as she hopped out of bed and struggled to thrust one foot into her jeans while hopping on the other to peek out the window. What if he was out there right now, looking for her? She really didn’t want to be murdered by her own father. After spending her whole life wanting to know who he was, what he was like, and wanting to meet him, and it would suck if their first meeting turned into an execution.  
She managed to get her jeans on and zipped, and while she hunkered down beside the window she grabbed blindly for the t-shirt she’d tossed on the floor the night before, scanning the yard for anything that looked out of place. She didn’t see anything unusual, but a sense of uneasiness still hung over her.
She glanced at the bed where Bamboo was still lounging. “I’m just being paranoid, right Bamboo?” He didn’t answer this time. She turned, still crouched by the window and sniffed the tee in her hand, making a face at the used smell of it. She made her way to the dresser to find a clean one, staying out of the line of sight of the window. “What the heck is he up to, anyway?”  Overnight Bamboo had become her own personal therapist. “I mean, what’s he doing that he thinks I’m going to get in his way?” She wondered aloud, pulling a clean tee out of the drawer and slipping it over her head. Hadn’t Dusty and Shadow implied that her father was hiding out somewhere among humans plotting something diabolical? Revenge? World domination?  And yet, despite everything – evidence of his treachery, and the fact that he wanted her dead - she still felt an overwhelming urge to find him and meet him. She still had an empty hole that needed a father peg plugged in. “I clearly have Daddy issues, huh Bamboo?”  He opened one eye and gave her a ‘duh’ kind of look .
“But I should be able to decide for myself about him, shouldn’t I?"

Bamboo grunted a muffled meow. He didn't sound convinced.

******************

Now, go check out the rest of the entries!

Friday, October 1, 2010

They're People Too Blogfest


Thanks to the lovely Tessa at Tessa's Blurb for hosting the They're People Too Blogfest.  I was going to post an excerpt from a WIP, but after I looked at it, it just didn't fit the spirit of the fest, so I wrote this series of haiku instead. It's supposed to be a conversation between two personified emotions. Can you guess them?


So what do you think?
I’m not sure. I can’t decide.
Well, that’s nothing new.

Why are you so mean?
Hello? Duh. It’s what I do.
Yeah. Maybe you’re right.

Of course I’m right.
Then you decide for me.
Yeah, that’ll happen.

Oh, I just don’t know!
It’s an easy choice: chicken or fish
But they’re both so good!


Did you guess the emotions? They're doubt and sarcasm. Now, go check out the rest of the entries

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mash-Up Blogfest

Thanks to the lovely S.E. Sinkhorn at Maybe Genius for hosting the MashUp Blogfest.

The blogfest is actually scheduled for tomorrow, October 1, but I'm posting early because I'll be out of town and won't have time to post. And...although I had big plans for this fest, life got in the way and I wasn't able to produce anything new so I'm reposting my entry from the Fairy Tale Blogfest (which was hosted by Emily White at Stepping into Fantasy)  This mashup is of science-fiction and fairy tale.  Enjoy!

*******


Rafe Charming strove always to live up to his name, and so far he'd done well for himself. In the midst of a galactic uprising he'd found plenty of work as a hero-for-hire. But this job might have been biting off more than he could chew.

"Hey, Rafe," his partner, Doc, whispered. "You still think this job was such a great idea?"

Now three floors under the ruins of an ancient palace on a planet at the fringe of the galaxy, Rafe reconsidered. A mental inventory only ramped the adrenalin another degree: one entrance, one exit, the Crone Council, an army of androids crawling the planet surface, a senator's daughter in need of rescue. All in a day's work.

"Maybe not," he admitted. His back to the damp stone wall, he inched closer to the nearby chamber, careful not to trip on rocky debris.

Keeping the wall between him and the vastness of the chamber, he slid a mirror from his pocket and edged it into the open space where the wall came to an end. What he saw inside caused a sheen of sweat to prick his hairline, a bead sliding down his temple. He swallowed hard.

Seeing his response, Doc let his head drop against the wall behind him. "Let me guess," he whispered. "Our lovely target is being held against her will in the midst of some impossible obstacle course."

"You're half right," Rafe replied.

Doc's brows rose as he considered what could possibly make their situation more complicated. Then he smacked his hand to his forehead. "Some huge, hairy, invincible creature is guarding her."

"Bingo."

"Shit. I don't know why I keep working with you."

"It's the charm. I'm irresistable," Rafe said, shooting Doc his most charismatic grin.

"Yeah, whatever," Doc grunted. "Let's get this over with. I'll take the hairy beast. As usual. You get the girl."

"As usual," Rafe finished. That was his favorite part.

They stepped into the empty space of the doorway, blasters blazing, and luck was on their side as they took the massive creature by surprise. It's eyes shot wide as the first bolts hit it, singing its fur. It bellowed rage while its blood flew, spattering the unconscious woman it was guarding. The force of the blaster shots compromised its balance and, arms flailing, it tipped backwards and toppled off the platform into the void below.

The following silence rang in Rafe's ears, but there was no time to waste. With nimble and practiced feet Doc negotiated the obstacle course, making short work of booby traps and obstructions. Rafe took up the rear, guarding against surprise flank attacks.

On the central platform, the woman lay unconscious on a stone dais, her hair an ebony puddle framing her alabaster face.

Rafe approached her, his heart tripping with anticipation. He watched her slow and steady breathing, in awe of her perfect beauty. Her lips were full and rosy and they stirred in him a desire to taste them. He amended his earlier thoughts. This was his favorite part of the job.

"Doc," he said in a reverent whisper. "The balm. Give me the balm."

Doc rolled his eyes and dug around in his pocket until he found the tube of lip balm, then placed it in Rafe's outstretched hand.

Rafe smeared it on his lips, feeling the familiar tingle as the magic took effect. It was almost gone. They'd have to go back to that creepy apothecary and get some more. He sighed. All part of the job, and well worth it if it meant kissing more women like this.

He leaned in until his lips met hers. Soft and cool and sweet, he applied more pressure - just to be sure - then savored the growing heat as the magic began to do its job. He sampled one last mouthful of those luscious lips before the heat of the magic was too much, then stood to find Doc glaring at him.

"What?" he asked. "It's my reward for a job well done."

"What a prince," Doc said. "And we're not out of the woods yet." He gestured at the dark hall from which they'd come. "We still have to get out of here."

The woman stirred and sat, rubbing her eyes. "Where am I?" She asked.

Rafe took her hand and pulled her to her feet. "C'mon, Princess, we've gotta go."

Just then, a spine-chilling cackle filled the room. Looked like their luck wasn't going to hold after all as the Council of Crones spilled from an entrance hidden in the opposite wall. As twisted and hideous as rumors promised, Rafe wasn't interested in sticking around to make their acquaintance. His job was done and it was time to go.

"Doc!" he called. "Take the girl and get back to the ship! I'll take care of these hags."

Doc didn't wait to see if Rafe changed his mind. He took the girl by the hand and sprinted out the door, retracing their steps while Rafe backed away from the crones, his blasters burning bright, serenaded by the sweet sound of screeching as each shot hit its mark.

"I take it back," he said to himself, hopped up again on an adrenalin high. "This is definitely the best part!"
 
***********
Be sure to check out the rest of entries on October 1!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blog Award

Just a quick note to thank the lovely Donna Hole for awarding me my first blog award! Thanks, Donna! *waves*

This "One Lovely Blog Award" requires that you acknowledge the blogger who gave it to you (done!) and pass it on to 15 bloggers you have recently met. Below is my list. Check them all out...they're really great!
















Love you guys. Everybody go share the awesome now!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week

 September 25 - Oct 2
This week why not read a banned book? (You know you want to *wink*). Open your mind and look at the world from another point of view. Personally, I've never understood book banning. First of all, it only proves the cowardice and small-mindedness of the banner(s) and secondly banning something only makes it that much more desirable. Remember prohibition? Yeah. Like that. Alcohol was illegal? Really? Like that kept people from drinking. It only made people more determined to drink.

Hmmmm. So maybe we should ban books in a sneaky backward effort to makes people want to read them more. Anybody see what happened around the blogosphere when some dude advocated banning the book, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson? A huge wave of support and lots of publicity for the book. So, I wonder if a little reverse psychology is in order?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment - How to Write Compelling Characters

Thanks to Elana Johnson, Jennifer Daiker, and Alex Cavanaugh for hosting The Great Blogging Experiment. The subject for the day, which everyone who has signed up for the experiment will write about, is "How To Write Compelling Characters."

Good question!

What qualities make characters effective? Irrisistible? Compelling? Well, think about your favorite characters....what makes you cheer for them? Become invested in their lives and stories?  It's their flaws, right?

Interesting characters aren't perfect. They make mistakes. They learn from them. They're vulnerable. They're needy. Often they're brave and determined to overcome. They're human.

Even though it sounds simple, it's not always easy to do. It's tempting to write the undefeated hero, or the indestructible heroine. But that's boring. There's nothing at stake. No room for conflict.

Satisfying characters allow us a glimpse into ourselves, help us see ways we can be better. They give us ways to try on lives we would otherwise never experience. We want to see people with our own flaws and doubts succeed despite their weaknesses.

So my ...ahem...sage advice for writing compelling characters is to give them imperfections and personal challenges to overcome. Put them through the ringer and see how they react. Make them mess up and have to fix it and learn from it.

Perfection is boring. Make your characters messy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogfeast!


The lovely Angela over at Jaded Love Junkie is hosting today's Blogfeast. My entry is below. It's just part of a scene from my WIP, Faerie Fate.

******** 

Their house was small and homey. The space was loaded with a soft overstuffed couch and chairs in mismatched patterns.  In the kitchen, Willow was cooking something that smelled good enough to make Shadow’s stomach growl.  He hadn’t realized how hungry he was.   

“That smells great, Willow.”
           
Willow began the business of serving the meal and not too long after she’d set out plates and bread, Dusty burst through the door, skidding to a stop in the middle of the room.  Starrie and Shadow jumped when the door slammed open, but Willow seemed to take it in stride.
           
“Where've you been, Dusty?” she asked as she dished up another bowl for him.
           
Dusty leaned over, hands on his knees, catching his breath. “You’ll never believe me even if I tell you,” he said between heaving breaths.
           
“Try us,” Shadow said.
           
“Well, I was flying through the forest, saying hi to some friends, and it was just such a beautiful morning I kept on flying, you know?  I ended up in a pretty meadow where I saw a deer I know and she introduced me to her baby, and then I saw some lights through the trees so I went to check it out.”  
           
“So, what was it?” Shadow prompted him. 
           
Dusty gulped a couple of shallow breaths as he went to the kitchen and got a drink.  “Willow, you remember the house outside the forest where that nice old lady used to live?”
           
“Mmm hmm.”
           
“Well, she doesn’t live there anymore.”

Shadow heaved a sigh.  Dusty’s storytelling irritated him, mostly because it took him forever to get to the point. He struggled to maintain his patience as he watched Dusty guzzle his drink, wipe his mouth and put the cup in the sink. He wondered if there would to be any more to the tale other than an announcement that some old human woman no longer resided in the house she used to reside in.

“If she doesn’t live there, why were the lights on?” Starrie asked.

“Exactly!” Dusty exclaimed, as if the mystery were solved.

“Was there someone else there now?” Willow prompted.

“Yes there was. I got close enough to see a young woman on the porch and she had a beautiful ginger kitty on her lap. He was so furry and it’s been a really long time since I talked to a cat.  So I made sure the lady was completely asleep and I snuck up to the porch and talked to the kitty. But it turns out he wasn’t so friendly after all.”

***********
So, that's my entry. It's not a feast, just a little breakfast among friends. Hmmm. Wonder what happened between Dusty and the cat?

Now go check out the rest of the scenes at Jaded Love Junkie!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting the Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest.  His Top 10 Movies was an awesome fest, and this one will likely be just as fun!

It's very difficult to choose only 10 TV shows because there are soooo many I like/have liked over the years. But these are some of my absolute faves (in no particular order):

Sliders













Stargate SG 1/Stargate Atlantis/Stargate Universe (I know it's 3 shows, but I'm lumping them together)











Star Trek Voyager (Because I love Janeway)











Big Bang Theory (Brilliant genius writing)














Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the old one)












Monk










The Closer











Eureka











M*A*S*H










That 70's Show
















Cheers









#11 Bonus!  Warehouse 13









That's my Top 11 (which would likely change depending on what day you ask). Now go check out the rest of the entries at Alex's site!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fest Success!

Remember when I said that Hubs and I were going to have to team-write for the 24-Hour Play Festival because the organizer's boyfriend wanted to write? (Which he did, by the way, and his play was, shall we say...not good. By any stretch of the imagination. Pee-you.) Turns out another writer didn't show, so Hubs and I got to write our own plays after all. Yay!

So, 7:30 p.m. Friday everyone shows up to the theater, introduces themselves, shows their prop and costume piece. Then at 9:00 p.m. the actors and directors go home and sleep while we writers go write. First we have to collect a jumbo supply of writing munchies including a sub sandwich, a Twix bar, grapes, gummy bears, and pop (That was my personal menu. Everyone else had their own).

At first, I really didn't have any idea what I was going to write. Then I decided it would be fun to adapt this, which I wrote for the Invasion of the Bloggy Snatchers blogfest under my "real" name.

It turned out spectacularly well. I was terrified the actors wouldn't be able to memorize all the lines in such a short period of time. Two years ago when I wrote, I drew some newbie actors who completely froze on stage, couldn't remember their lines, and the play bombed big time. Let me tell you, that was the epitome of embarrassment for a writer.

Tonight, however, I got awesome actors and they pulled the play off without a hitch. It was great!

One of the best things is that as a writer, watching the play from the audience, I was able to see the places where I could make adjustments and improve the play. It's a great opportunity.  I'm sure other writers experience this too, where everything you write sounds great when you read it in your head, but to see it performed points out the flaws very clearly. I think this play has potential in the long run, and watching it performed helped me to find the places where I can improve the timing, add jokes, delete lines, tighten dialogue.

How did Hubs' play go? Well, not so great. He pulled newbie actors who pretty much bombed his play. The script was good, but the acting stunk. So now he's had the privilege of experiencing writer embarrassment.

Overall, though, it was another really awesome 24-Hour Play Festival!

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's Play Fest Time!

Tonight is the 24-hour Play Festival. I still have no solid story ideas. This does not bode well.

Plus, another guy (the boyfriend of the organizer) wants to write tonight and since there aren't enough actors or directors to go around for an additional writer the organizer asked if Hubs and I would write as a team so now we have to work together which isn't necessarily bad but often leads to bickering and differences of opinion. There's lots of love, too, don't get me wrong, but that comes later after we're done writing and getting along again.

I'm sure we'll pound out something good...maybe even awesome...but it'll be - shall we say - stormy between now and then?!

Wish us luck! And I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Countdown to Play Fest

I was looking through my writing journal last night, trying to brainstorm ideas for the 10 minute play I have to write this weekend.

The journal is full of ideas for novels and screenplays and things I want to write. Some of them are more developed than others. And some things are just a couple of sentences...phrases I thought were cool or that popped into my head for no reason. Some I can't even remember where they came from.

For instance. I ran across this last night:

-He used a pig as a diversion.
-How clever is that?
-Evil genius clever!

I have no idea where that came from or why. But I think it's kinda funny. Sounds very Heinz Doofenshmirtz.

Hubs was having a panic attack last night because he didn't have any ideas for his play, but this morning he was giddy with them. Last night he wanted to pull out and this morning he was excited about what he wanted to write. I'm still trying to formulate a plan. No story ideas have clicked yet. But I'm sure something will!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let The Festival Begin!

My revision deadline is quickly approaching and although I'm almost on target to meet it, I think I'll end up overshooting it by a week. Which isn't so bad, I guess. Only a couple of chapters to revise, add a couple of scenes, revisit the prologue and voila...done!

So what will I be doing this coming weekend in view of this looming deadline? I'll be spending all night on Saturday participating in the annual 24-Hour Play Festival at the university where I teach. I've taken part for four years running, so it's practically tradition. I can't possibly not participate!

How does this work, you ask? Well, on Saturday evening all writers, directors, and actors meet and greet, and present their prop and costume items. Then the actors and directors leave to go home and sleep in their cozy beds while the writers have the next 7 to 9  hours to write a (preferably coherent) 10-minute play using the actors who are assigned to them and as many of the props and costume pieces as possible. In the morning, after the plays are written, the bleary-eyed writers go home and sleep and the actors and directors show up to begin rehearsing. Then Sunday evening it all comes together for performance!

It's an amazing creative experience and I look forward to it every year. Of course I'm one of the writers, and actually Hubby is going to write this year too (he's a student at the university). So we'll be sitting down at some point between now and then to brainstorm some possible ideas so we don't go in completely cold on Saturday. I've done that a couple of years and the results are not pretty.  It pays to at least have a couple of ideas on the back burner.

So anybody have any story suggestions? Anything clever? Funny? Dramatic? Anything interesting theatrically?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Dreaded Blockage

Here I am, my second post, and I'm already talking about writer's block. Not a very uplifting or inspirational subject, hmm? But if you're a writer, you understand. It's that moment you sit down and look at your story and an icy lump settles in the pit of your stomach and you think, "oh God, what words come next?" but there's no answer.

Unfortunately, writer's block is a real problem for some writers....okay for every writer. We all face it at one point or another, whether we're willing to admit it or not. And it sucks. It may not be a block of epic proportions where you're incapable of writing for weeks or years. *shudders*  I don't even want to think about that kind of block.

So I'll think about the kind of blockage most of us experience: the temporary, short-lived block. Of course temporary is relative. It could be minutes, it could be hours, it could be days. God forbid, weeks. Whether you're struggling with a first draft or revisions, that feeling of staring at the screen while your mind skitters around thinking about everything but the story, is horrifying.

I don't know about you, but when this happens to me this is usually how it goes:

I look at the words and they just don't make sense. It's like Cyrilic or Klingon. I panic because I've self-imposed a deadline and I'm on a tight life-schedule and I just don't have time for writer's block! Which, of course, only makes it worse. I start fidgeting and my stomach gets all knotty. My leg starts doing that bouncing up and down super fast jiggly thing.

My Muse has abandoned me! What the hell do I do now?!

I think, gee, maybe if I distract myself the Muse will show up again. I'll trick him/her into action by pretending not to care.

I wonder who's on Twitter? (I go check out Twitter and make banal comments of my own then Tweet comments to everyone else).

I check e-mails on all my accounts, which takes some time because I've got my real name acct, the family acct, my school student acct, my school instructor acct, my pen name acct, my small business acct.

I realize I need to harvest my crops on Farmville before they wither and die (Facebook, here I come!).

I go back and read (and comment on) Tweets I missed while checking e-mail and harvesting crops.

Hmmm. Bet I can find something cool on YouTube (I scurry on over and enjoy).

OMG, I can kill tons of time while I wait for my Muse to get his/her head in the game by catching up on all the blogs I haven't read today (I lurk the blogosphere, reading and commenting...getting ideas for future posts ; ).

I go back and read the Tweets I missed while watching YouTube videos and reading blogs.

Pay the bills? Sure!

Let the cat out? Why not?

Get a donut and coffee from the kitchen? Of course!

(Check Tweets again)

Play with the kids? You bet!

Mow the lawn? Maybe not.

Call mom?  Okay, definitely not. Time to actually face my writer's block

(Gotta check Tweets one more time, and a couple of the e-mail accounts)

Okay. Now I'm really going to face it. *sigh*

Now it's time to lament: Why me? Why now? It was going so well just yesterday! Words were flowing like a lyrical stream! Why is today any different? It's just cuz I'm a crappy writer, I know that's it. Just because I had a good day yesterday doesn't prove I can write. Why oh why oh why?

I'm XX years old, I've done nothing impressive, discovered nothing important, been nothing  interesting, and  nobody would ever want to read anything I have to write. (cue pathetic music, tears, wailing, and hair pulling)

Okay, so maybe it's not quite that bad but that's what it feels like.

What do I do to overcome writer's block? Usually if I plug my brain into my MP3 player, go through the Twitter/e-mail/Facebook/blogs/donuts routine, then force myself to face the screen, my Muse will at least reluctantly show up.  If I reread the last chapter or two, my Muse is usually impressed enough with him/herself that they'll grudgingly participate in today's writing. And once I get started....sometimes all it takes is one word ....I can keep going from there and forget the block ever happened.

Until the next one and I have to do it all over again.

But I'm so close to the end of revisions I can almost taste it. Two more chapters to revise, add a couple of scenes, and revisit and rework the old prologue and tack it back on the front of the MS and I'm ready to send to betas!

So how often are you blocked? And what do you do to unblock? Don't tell me you've never experienced it, because I know you have. C'mon...tell me. Tell me!  Tell Me!!!