Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - Music To Write By

For my inaugural Top-10 Tuesday.. I'm dipping into the bowels of my CPU/Ipod for the current Top-10 songs in my writing play-list.  These are the song that are currently being played while my fingers dance across the keys and my mind walks in the world of my imagination. It includes some old one's that always seem to make the rotation, or are at least there now, and some new one's that just seem to help my synapses fire with more consistency.  To be honest, I think each character I write has as song that matches their personality, so it makes it easier when I'm writing a lot of their dialogue to bring up a song that, to me, matches them because I think it makes my writing more accurate and genuine.  No idea if that's valid or not, but it feels that way, or at least that's what I've convinced myself.

  1. Fun. - "We are young"  (Maybe my favorite song right now.. so incredibly catchy, and I love Janelle MonĂ¡e's talent and originality, even if it's only a tidbit.)
  2. Simple Plan - "Summer Paradise"  (Maybe I'm missing the summertime, or maybe it's just that I'm a beatnik at heart, but I love songs that make me feel like I should be wearing sandals and Bermuda shorts. Plus, Simple Plan is a band I've liked for a very long time. I guess it's just my skate or die inner child.)
  3. We The Kings - "Say you like me" (I challenge anyone to listen to We the Kings and not fall for their catchy hooks.. just don't pay any attention to the lead singer's intentionally horrendous coif. I've heard the poor guy has an allergy to combs and brushes, but I'm not sure I buy it.)
  4. Slade - "Run Run Away" (Because if you're going to listen to music, you should at least have one true genre defining group on your list, and Slade is late Late 70's to Mid-80's pure gold. I think for a while in my High School days, during the attack of the Hair Bands, it was a requirement for each new band to remake an old Slade song.  Plus, in all honesty how can you not absolutely love a heavy metal song that includes bag pipes and a violin? I think I am predisposed by my melting pot lineage to like music with a Scottish tinge.. it's just so darn fun, and you can tell the band had an absolute blast making this video, in a time of deathly serious videos, the lead singer looks like a Chameleon for most the video with his eyes and weird antics.  But as for Slade, go look at their catalog of songs and become enlightened.)
  5. One Republic - "Good Life"  (Because if you can't enjoy true musical talent then why are you even pretending to listen to music? Ryan Tedder is absolutely one of the best talents in the business today in all phases of music, from creation to production to performing.. it's literally a crime to fail to recognize true talent when it presents itself.)
  6. Rufus Wainright - "Hallelujah" (Honestly, I should put Leonard Cohen here because he is the absolute genius who wrote this song.. but I prefer Wainright's voice and performance to Cohen's when I'm writing. However when I'm looking for a quiet song for that depressed state of writing, Cohen's gravely voice is magic. This song is pure poetry.. it's one of a very select few song that can actually move me emotionally. The lyrics are hauntingly beautiful. I am shamed to call myself a writer in the presence of this sort of writing talent. Cohen and Tom Waits are both in the same category in my book. I've never tried to write a death scene without involving one of those 2 in the process.)
  7. Harvey Danger - "Flagpole Sitta"  (Because obviously I wouldn't be spending as much time as I do writing if there weren't equal parts rebellious child and immature adult competing for control of my psyche on a daily basis. Plus there's a soft spot in my heart for 1-hit wonder bands.. I think they get a bad rap, but the truth is that they still accomplish more than 99% of the garage bands out there. They took their shot and scored at least one time.. that's saying something.)
  8. Doug MacLean/Last of the Mohicans - "The Gael/Promentory"  (Just a stunningly beautiful piece that bring tremendous emotional power. This is the music that you listen to when writing an emotionally charged scene.. this music inspires incredible prose. Plus, the movie was uber-cool, and this particular piece (The Gael) runs throughout the soundtrack, appearing in at least 3 different songs. It's the kind of music that will stick in your head for days and days. For me it conjures a building tension and final realization of true inner power, perfect for the final climax of any book. Probably why it is so memorable in Last of the Mohicans.)
  9.  Johann Pachelbel - "Pachelbel's Canon"  (Everybody knows that classical music stimulates the brain and your creative juices, and Pachelbel's Canon is probably my favorite classical music, it's so soothing and beautiful.. but unfortunately it also promotes sleep, at least with me.. so I usually listen to the brilliant JerryC's "Cannon Rock" version that has owned Youtube since 2006 and spawned an entire generation of kids out there rearranging classical music into face-melting metal riff's.)
  10. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" (Well.. it's Bruddah Iz. Is any more explanation really needed? I married into the Hawaiian culture and all my children have Hawaiian names and are fiercely proud of their heritage.. but really this song transcends heritage and culture. Sometimes talent and creativity coincide to produce something that truly inspires awe.. this is a musical example of that, at least to me.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Nearing 100 Followers.. Lets Give Stuff Away!!

I still have a bit of a hard time believing that anyone would want to, or be interested in reading my ramblings.. but to say "thanks" for listening, I'll be doing a small contest to give away a $20.00 Amazon.com gift card.. that can get you 1 new hardback book, (quaint aren't they?), or if you are a Kindle fanatic, a number of ebooks.

Once I officially top 100 I'll simply do a 'Thank You' post.  All you need to do to enter to win the gift card is post on that thread, and be a blog follower of course.. doesn't matter if wanna give congratulations or simply say "Gimmee.. Gimmee!!"

The big winner will be chosen at random, but I'll also throw in a secondary gift or two as well,  just cause that's how I roll. 

So, keep an eye out for the party, and make sure you get your name in the hat once it's here!

Thanks everyone.. this has been much funner and educational than I ever imagined it would be!  You guys make it great.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Time Is It?

My only changes would be to add a freak out session around Writer's Block O'clock, and add in way more Diet Pepsi :30's.

What time is it in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Have A Friend In Failure

I have a confession to make.. I am mortified by failure. It not only haunts me, there are times when it literally it paralyzes me.

I cannot tell you how many times I have started a project, spent hours thinking, outlining, and writing.. only to hit the delete button because of that nagging voice of doubt that lives in my head.

"This is crap." "You can't write." "You're wasting your time." "You'll never be published." "You're going to fail."

Most of the time the voice stays behind the  scenes. It's not until I actually start taking steps toward a goal that it visits my thoughts.

However, I have learned as the years have passed that failure is not a consequence of trying, it is a result of living. Failure is inevitable. I loved JK Rowling's quote above because, to me, it encapsulates the essence of how we should look at failure.. how I should look at it.  It should not be feared, but accepted as a chance to learn and improve.

Thomas Edison had over 1000 failed attempts at making the light bulb, but when asked about his attempts he replied that he never failed, he merely found 1000 ways not to make a light bulb.  Edison also calmly watched as his workshop burned to the ground one day.. over $2 Million dollars in damage with only $230,000.00 insured. Rather than swear or rant or cry.. he asked his son to go fetch his mother because she would never again in her life see such a site as the inferno.  When asked about the disaster, Edison said, "There is great value in disaster, all our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew."

Edison completed the final prototype of the phonograph just days after that fire.

Every great success story begins with failure.  JK Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 different publishers. Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected 27 times.  John Grisham submitted his first book, (A Time to Kill) to 12 different publishers and 16 agents, all rejected him. CS Lewis (of Narnia fame) was rejected an astounding 800 times before he sold even 1 writing.

Looking at that list there are 2 noteworthy commonalities.

  1. All failed initially.
  2. None of them gave up.

As writers, failure should be our rallying cry.. not that it's what we should aspire to of course, but with each rejection, with each suggestion from our alpha readers, with each red  mark from our CP's.. we learn more, we adjust our style, and we are 1 step closer to our goals.

Fear of failure has probably saved me from countless embarrassing situations, but it has also very likely kept me from countless incredible successes.  But if I can learn to look at failure as a necessary step.. a rite of passage that all experience, and not a condemnation of my hopes and dreams, then there is hope for you too.

"... I've failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed."

Monday, February 20, 2012

4th Platform Building Campaign 1st Exercise - Flash Fiction

One-Eye from the movie
"Valhalla Rising"
Shadows crept across the wall like fingers on an unseen hand, moving slowly towards where he sat. The advancing hour meant it was nearly time. He stood, gripping the cold chain that held him bound, and felt the stirrings of the savage he kept suppressed within. Shortly they would both be unshackled, again.

He closed his eyes and exhaled, slowly. He brought his hands up and examined the scars earned over a lifetime of fighting. The rust from the chain left an orange stain on his fingers, but he did not wipe it off. Soon enough they would be covered by a different color.

He took no pride in having survived longer than any other fighter he knew of. Before long his time would pass to a younger, stronger man. That time, however, was not today.

He knelt once more on the cold dirt to offer a prayer to the Gods that saw fit to preserve his life but not allow him control over it. He dropped his chin to his chest and began the prayer that would transform to death chant, surrendering his thoughts to the rhythm as the intensity of the dirge grew and around him everything faded.

If you enjoyed my story, please give me a quick thumbs-up here, #57.

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)  (DONE)
  • include the word "orange" in the story  (DONE)
  • write in the same genre you normally write  (DONE)
  • make your story 200 words exactly!  (DONE)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday's Thots: Laa Dee Frickin Daa

So it's Thursday, once again, which brings about some writing thoughts that I've stumbled across over the past week.

  1. Heard recently that my MC (main character) is only as strong as his nemesis. I like that thought. If you think about it, the hero's that we all know and love all face very strong or dangerous villains. Harry Potter had Lord Voldemort. Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader. Batman has the Joker. The list goes on and on. Odds are whoever you view as your favorite hero also has your favorite nemesis in the same story. You need that level of danger and evil if you want your hero to rise to his level of greatness.

    So with that thought, we as writers need to spend as much, if not more time on developing our antagonists as we do our protagonists. Not just name them and call them evil, develop them. Know their back story, why are they evil? What do they want to accomplish? What are their human qualities? In what ways are they relatable? In what ways are they over the top? Are the pure evil, (not as likely and believable), or do they have some good qualities that are overshadowed and dominated by an evil desire that drives all their actions? Are they redeemable? Beyond redemption? You have to know your nemesis even better than you know your hero. Your hero will have his story told, but your nemesis probably won't, at least not as well and developed as your hero.. so you need to know their motivations more because you may not be able to develop them through conflict like your MC.

    Just about the only story I've read recently that I really enjoyed that didn't have a true outstanding nemesis was The Hunger Games.. and really there the antagonist was the oppression of the people, the elitist Capitol City, and the corrupt government as much as it was President Snow.  And beyond that, the protagonist in the Hunger games is almost an Anti-Hero(ine) anyway.
  2. Motivation. Sometimes it's lacking. That's when we all need our own internal Matt Foley, otherwise we may find ourselves eating a steady diet of Government cheese and living in a van down by the river.

        Matt Foley:  Now young man, what do you want to do with your life?
        Brian:  Actually Matt, I kinda want to be a writer.
        Matt Foley:  Well la-dee fricking daa.. we got ourselves a writer here
                               Hey Dad, I can't see real good, is that Bill Shakespear
                               over there?
        Father:  Well actually Matt, Ellen and I have encouraged Brian in
                       his writing.
        Matt Foley:   Dad I wish you could just shut your big YAPPER!

    So, excluding having Matt Foley shack up with you for a while, how do you keep yourself motivated? When it's late on Monday night and you've had a day to forget, how do you shut your big YAPPER and pound the keys for a couple of hours?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tag.. I'm It.

Thanks to Lady Gwen and Katie from the Platform Building Campaign for tagging me.. so here goes with my tag answers.

Ah Flintstones.. is there anything
you can't make funny?
  1. If you were given a yacht, what would you name it?
    --The Nau-Sea.. hybrid of Nautilus and Sea King.
  2. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? 
    -- Of the things that wouldn't land me in jail.. ;)  the thing I'd most like to do is eaves drop on  my children as they play.. to hear them interact as their true selves when they don't know that I'm around. I've caught glimpses in the past of how they are and it's equal parts hilarious and beautiful
  3. Where's your favorite place to write?
    -- In my office. I tried to write at the library and it was just too distracting, at least when I could get there. I'd love to give writing at the library a try during the day when there's nobody there.. but until my kids are old enough and my schedule is free enough that won't happen.
  4. Give us a sample of a conversation you might have with one of your characters
    -- Me: ... what the heck are you?
    -- Character: .. where the heck did you come from?
    -- Me: .. how the heck are you even talking?
    -- Character: ..look buddy, I'm only saying what you write, so you let me know when you figure it out. .... the heck.
  5. What punctuation mark best describes your personality? Why?
    -- The ever popular ellipses.  I'm addicted to them because they show my incomplete thought process.. and that my entire personality falls just short of... something normal.
  6. Just like "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight!", what action would your name be if it were a verb?
    -- "The airplane banked sharply to the left and then plummeted from the sky, KEVINING along the ground until the remaining pieces came to rest in a field. There were no survivors."
  7. What's one thing you'd like others to know about you?
    -- It's not that I procrastinate.. it' just that I'm not nearly as.. umm.. I don't like to be.. hmm.. I'm sometimes sidetracked by.. ... .......  I'll finish this one after I do the others.
  8. What's one misconception people tend to have about you?
    -- Nooo that's an error.. I was never Miss Conception.. damm that Barbie Smithington.   I was 2nd runner up though, and I did win Miss Congeniality.
  9. Who cares if the glass is half empty or half full. What's in the glass?
    -- Diet Pepsi..a never ending fountain of ambrosius Diet Pepsi.
  10. Name one of your strengths when it comes to writing
    -- I have a very supportive wife who indulges my dreams and never criticizes, even when some criticism is probably in order.
  11. What's the most unusual or outrageous thing you've done to understand and perfect a character's POV?
    -- Can you define "unusual or outrageous"?  Cause.. I gotta be honest, I hear those words a lot in relation to my life right now, and I'm not sure I understand the context from whence it springs.  More directly, I'm lucky to have a 10 yo daughter and a 9yo son right now.. so being able to mine them for their MG gold is priceless. My son is especially at a very fun age where good stories are finally more interesting than cartoons, and his greatest wish every weekend is to stay up late and watch a scary movie with me.
    *sniff*.. I LOVE him!  Such a chip off the block.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Borrowed Topic: Secrets in Stories

Erin Shakespear's blog, Shakespear's Stage had a great observation today about secrets and it got me to thinking.  I started to reply to her blog.. but what I was writing turned out to be a little bit too much for a 'reply', so I moved it here.

I think a story without secrets can be interesting, but it will never hook the reader.. it won't ever elicit that *gasp* that we, as writers, should be trying to draw from our audience.  A secret, given time to be set up and develop naturally, that is then revealed, can be all the difference between, "It was a good story." and "I've GOT to get the next book she writes!"

An example.. imagine Luke Skywalker, sitting in Obi Wan Kanobi's dirt igloo abode on Tatooine, looking at an old light saber and asking Obi Wan about the Force.. only to be told, "Oh yeah, and your Dad, well he made some bad life decisions and.. well he goes by Darth Vader these days."

Interesting twist, no? Luke's dad is the black clad uber villain in the Universe.. cool.

Now.. imagine Luke learning that Vader had killed his father, he spends months training to meet Vader to get retribution, he grows in power and maturity.. he's finally ready to face the man who killed his father and exact his revenge.  Then, in the moment when Luke is at his most vulnerable, when it appears he's lost.. even the world he knows is stripped away by one simple secret revealed.

That still sends chills down my back.. I can remember sitting in the movie theater, around 8 years old.. and literally watching my head explode.  I not only gasped, I am pretty sure that I fell out of my theater seat.

Having the ability to reveal a secret gives you the power to do literally anything you like. You can change a character from bad to good, or vice versa, you can reveal a characters true nature and motivations, and you can completely change the direction of your story midstream.

Look at Luke.. he went from a young naive boy full of reckless bravado to, once he went through the process of dealing with the sudden revelation, a wisened adult confident and capable.

One of the most powerful *gasp* moments of all time.. all because of a secret that was revealed at the right time.

How could I forget the biggest *gasp* moment of recent literature.. when we learn the truth about Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series.  Again, HUGE secret.. expertly held by JK Rowling until just the right time to discover the true nature of Snape, and of his bargain with Dumbledore, even the one at the very end.. (Trying not to put a spoiler in there just in case someone in the world actually hasn't read the Harry Potter Books.. or seen the movies as well I suppose, although how you could only see the movies and not read the books is beyond me.)

Some YA/MG Facts and Info

So.. learned something interesting on Friday that I'm sure everybody else who wanders by this blog already knows and will give a collective 'Well Duh' when I say it.. but I was blissfully unaware of this so I'll just share it anyway.

YA Boys targeted
Maze Runner, Movie coming soon
There is no Male YA audience to write for.  Ponder that for a moment.. let it soak in.

OK, technically there is, but there are very few authors who can pull it off and very few books that successfully enter that genre specifically (Such as the The Maze Runner ----->).  Boys, when they graduate from reading Middle Grade, (MG) books transfer to adult Fantasy.. at least that is what the Publishing Companies will tell you.

Apparently if you send a query letter saying that you're writing for YA males, you'll be more likely to elicit a giggle from your query recipient than a positive response.

Other MG/YA Factoids:

  • MG Word Length: 45,000-75,000  (On Average)
  • YA Word Length:  75,000-100,000 (On Average)

Here's a couple of good, very recent, videos on some other YA/MG differences:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Where Did My Writing Dreams Begin?

Today is the day of the Origins Blogfest, so.. what is my story?

Well, the details of my life are quite inconsequential... Very well, Where do I begin?  (ode to Dr. Evil)

I became addicted to writing in elementary school when I won the Vale Elementary 4th Grade story contest with my story about my childhood story hero.. Shelton Thirdkill.  (Cool name for a 4th grader's story, no?)

I loved writing and always considered myself a good writer, and people (other kids), liked my stories. Then in HS, as a Junior, I took a communications class.  My teacher, Mrs. Blankenship, told us about a State-wide 'writing/spoken presentation' contest and although I was the prototypical late 80's jock, (meaning I wore a Def Leppard shirt,  ripped jeans, and said "dude" every 3rd word), I entered. And SURPRISE.. I didn't win, although I did get an honorable mention. I was actually quite disappointed, until she pulled me aside one day after class and said that my writing was one of the best she'd seen in quite a while.. but my topic simply didn't match up with the topic of contest. 

That kept the writing flame stoked in my breast. When I went away to college a few years later, my English Professor wrote on my first submission that I should try to publish it in the local free newpaper in Boise and that if I were interested, he'd let me know how to submit it to them. That suggestion/compliment blew me away, but the thought of lots of people reading my words terrified me. I'd always wanted to study English and Creative Writing, but reality slapped me in the face one day when I thought.. 'I can either study English and be a teacher and make nothing, or I can study something else and get a job that pays actual money.'.. so I left the English Composition behind and moved onto studying a double major of Political Science (BS) and Spanish (BA).

While an undergrad I was recommended by faculty members from both of my majors to the English Department to work as a writing tutor.. so I spent my Junior and Senior years working as a writing tutor in the Boise State writing center. As I look back, that experience is one of the best memories I have of my college days.

During this time I also wrote my first story. It was a short story, only around a 15,000 wc.  It was a horror/fantasy story in the vein of Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man, only with a great twist that I'd learned about in Psych 101. I called it, 'The Other Hand'

Once I graduated and left Boise State, I went to Law School at the University of Idaho.  Your first year of Law  School at every Law School in America, all your classes are prechosen for you. One of them is Legal Writing. I struggled with legal writing terribly because we were supposed to get the facts and go research the law and then write a brief giving our legal opinion. I would, however, get the facts and then write a 'who did it' with lots of speculation about who could have been the unknown culprit so that I could throw suspicion off the defendant.  My first paper, my Writing Professor seriously wrote the following:
"This sounds like a really great Grisham novel that I'd like to read.. but for this assignment it's horrible. Maybe you should try writing instead of the law."
Ouch, eh?  Of course, I stuck with the law.. learned to shut off my creative desires in writing and focus on dry facts.. but it always felt like I was trying on someone else's skin.  It never felt comfortable. I can do it even now, in fact I've been complimented by Judges on my concise motions and memorandums.. but it's like eating snow and calling it ice cream, there's no emotion. It feels like writing, but there's no pleasure, no flavor. It's bland, and it's taxing on me to write like that.

So now, after 8 years as an attorney I'm giving writing a shot. I still love the law, I'll always love the law. It's a part of me now, the process of becoming an attorney changed me, changed the way I think.. but it couldn't touch my inner-author. In fact, that inner desire has moved to replace other hobbies and interests that used to dominate my time. Video Gaming, Sports, TV, even Movies.. all are secondary now to the desire to get these ideas out of my head and onto paper. Even the fear of having others read what I write can't conquer the desire to create.

I've got a few ideas for stories.. and they're not going to leave my mind alone until they're told.  Who knows if anyone will ever read them apart from myself.. but that part really doesn't matter. Sure I want people to read what I write, I want them to like it and come back to learn more about these characters who dominate my thoughts and dreams with their voices.. their stories.. but even if nobody reads it, it will still be written, because that's what I want to do, and that desire has become too big to be ignored any longer.

So, that's my story.  What's yours?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What Are Your Excuses?

LTUE ended yesterday, but one of the classes that I went to during the conference was a panel on achieving your goals, and it dealt with excuses people use.. from fear of failure to fear of people not liking what you write.. it reminded me of this tremendous video I watched a couple of years ago, a Nike commercial.

I know I've used many excuses for not writing in the past.  This video may be about working out.. but I think it's extremely relevant to writing, or really any goal that we set for ourselves and then procrastinate.

  1. I've got too much work
  2. The kids are too loud (with 5 of them 10 and under there's some validity to that at times)
  3. I'm too tired
  4. I'm not inspired today
  5. I'm going to spend today 'outlining'
  6. I'm going to start up fresh on Monday and hit the week running
  7. It's too early to write
  8. It's too late to write
  9. I don't know what to write
  10. I've got too much thumping around in my head
  11. I need to figure out the specifics of this character before I start writing
  12. I don't like what I wrote yesterday so I'm going to abandon this project and think of a new one
  13. I need to research this small obscure detail right now, during my 1st draft writing
  14. I'm afraid people won't like what I write, (LOVE this one.. because it's always true, there's always room for improvement on a first draft, or even 10th draft.
  15. Why pretend, I'm a fraud, pretending to be a writer.. (This one has been w/ me from the beginning.)

So dear visitors.. what are your excuses?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

LTUE Day 2 Recap

Wow, seriously.. do you folks who have been going to this realize just how good you've got it? Incredible day!

EJ Patten's first book in
the Hunter Chronicles Series,
'Return to Exile'
I had the opportunity to speak personally with 3 NYTimes best sellers, to learn how to develop my characters from an author whose book I just recently finished, (EJ Patten ----->), and to have a professional Line/Content editor divulge the mistakes that most new authors make, and give tips on how to avoid them.

Then, on top of all that, there's a new story idea rattling around in my head from a conversation this morning with an author published by Tor and Harper Collins.

Now I'm about to go get a few hours sleep before I rush back to listen to another NYTimes multiple best seller, and.. oh yeah.. an hour listening to that Brandon Sanderson guy, (you know.. the one that's finishing Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series?) plus, L.E.Modesitt Jr, Dave Wolverton, and Tracy Hickman.

Tracy Hickman, who in many respects planted the writing bug in me.  It was his DragonLance: The Twins series that were the first fantasy books I was ever completely engrossed in.  Those were the first books I ever spent my own money to buy, a profound moment for a teenager.

So again.. do you Utah people have any concept of how lucky you are to have this in your backyard?  All Boise had was occasional book signings at CostCo, (and Yes, I've actually run into an author that I met at the Boise CostCo here at LTUE, Laura Bingham).

I've soaked in the ambiance for 2 days, and I feel like my batteries have been recharged for at least the next year. What an incredible opportunity.  If I'd have known about this sooner, I'd have driven down from Boise sooner to get in on this!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

LTUE Observations Day 1

I've got my fedora and trenchcoat,
where's my book advance?
  1. WOW!  I have never seen so many people wearing fedora's outside of a 1920's gangster movie in my life. Men, women, felt, straw, leather.. and usually accompanied with a feather in the band and either a Trench Coach or Duster.  Is there some cool wannabe writer clothing store where everybody shops that I'm oblivious to? 
  2. Could the parking lot possibly be any further from the Sorensen Center where the event is taking place? I am pretty sure I changed time zones on my walk up this morning, because I arrived at 8:35am, and by the time I walked up the hill and registered, I was locked out of the 2 sessions I wanted to attend this AM.
  3. Very cool seeing all these very different authors, from romance to paranormal romance to fantasy to horror to Middle Grade to Adult.. there was honestly something for everyone today, even if you weren't there 2 hours early to save your seat.  (Yes, I'm still somewhat disappointed over getting locked out of the two AM sessions I wanted to attend)
  4. For all 3 days, considering all the successful authors and editors who allow us to pick their brains, the preregistration fee was a pittance.
  5. Must charge laptop tonight!  The lack of outlets for those of us who are computer dependent was disheartening. Good thing I dusted off my pencil from 1989 before leaving home and rounded up some napkins to write on or else all that knowledge would've just slid out of my brain as I waited in traffic to get home.
  6. Tomorrow's schedule is a little light in the middle, so I might actually make it a 2-fer and go in the morning, and then back again around 4pm. Saturday's schedule, if it's accurate online, is chock full of great stuff.  My only problem, how to split myself because I really want to attend simultaneous presentations tomorrow,  "You've written your book--now what?" & "Writing query letters" (both at 6pm). Anybody perfected a cloning machine recently?

LTUE Update

Today is the first day of Life, The Universe, and Everything at UVU.. and this morning started out a little rough for some of us.. after signing in and getting my stuff I went off to my first presentation, only to find the room was full to capacity.. same for the next class in that room as well.. so I ended up watching an all female authors presentation on Marketing and then a presentation on Editors.

Both were good and informative.. (took some good notes in both).. but still disappointed that I wasn't able to attend the course entitled "What a new author goes through getting that first book published."

Not that editors and marketing aren't important.. but come on LTUE, there are way more of us trying to get into the club than there are members of the club worrying about getting good reviews on Amazon.com.  Next time.. put the more general presentation in the Big room.. Mmmm-Kayyeee?

With that housekeeping out of the way.. great turnout for LTUE, I guess at least since this is my first time, but I've attended writing conferences in the past, (most recently Conduit), and this one is much more well attended.. and the writing guests are more prestigious, to be honest.

I'll be sticking around until 7pm tonight, looking forward to the Larry Correia presentation on Writing Action since I've read all of his MHI series books.  Which is somewhat funny because gun books usually aren't my genre, but I really get swept up in his books, in large part because of his action, both writing and pacing.. so very much looking forward to tonight.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign

Ran across something that looks incredibly fun. It's called the 4th Writers Platform-Building Campaign. It's a contest, association, blog-fest, and overall fun time with what sounds like some great people and it even has prizes. If you're a newbie writer, a fledgling writer, or a gnarled old pro with scarred knuckles.. this sounds like it's perfect for everyone.

Check it out and then get signed up and join in the party with the rest of us enthusiastic, yet clueless, newb writers.  

Treading Water or Body Surfing?

Lots of imagery for today.. so here's a couple visual aids.  :)

I've heard, and experienced personally, that writing is a lot like swimming in the Ocean. Sometimes you are swept away by the current of your story, the words flow forth and all you can do is try to get them down as fast as you can.. other times the current slaps you around and knocks you backwards where you feel like you're losing ground on where you were. And other times, the water is so still that it seems like you're treading water in a bathtub and there's no wind or landmarks to give you any chance of getting your bearings.. you're left adrift with no real direction.

I've been sort of experiencing something like that recently, I've been considering new directions for a couple of scenes and chapters in my current project, and it's got me floating directionless a little. I can go any direction, but I'm not sure what impact changing will have, and if I do change, how does that alter my MC's personality, or perceived personality.. I know how he is, I feel like I can sit down and talk to him, actually I feel that about all the characters I've identified in this project. So I've been hesitant to just take them and throw all that I know about them all up in the air and see where it lands. I think the results could be interesting, but it would also fundamentally change my storyline, and I'm not real excited about that. I actually really like my story, and I'm very interested in seeing where it goes.  I've got an outline.. but I am not one of those 'stay with the outline' at all costs sort of writers.. I will often change directions mid-stream, so long as it doesn't totally trash everything I've been working on.

So, I think I've reached an epiphany of sorts, it's not that I have no direction, it't that I've strayed so far from the rock solid shore of my story that I'm out in an ocean of possibilities. There are times when I think that being free of any direction are good, brainstorming or free writing is a lot like that, when you can just go in any direction and change at a moment's notice. I've had some of my most personally profound 'a-ha' moments when I've been unfettered like that.

However when you've actually decided on a story, on a direction to go.. I think that going too far from your base can leave you lost and floating like my imagery here.

So I've decided to swim closer to the shore of my story and stay closer to the direction that I know and am excited about. I think that keeping myself grounded in something that I've spent so much time researching and thinking about will provide it's own waves, from the momentum that already been built.. I'll be swept up in the waves that already exist and can ride a wave into the shore, and then swim out for more.

Guess what time of year it is.... FIRST DRAFT TIME!!!