Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

In honor of those who shop.....

You Are a Discount Shopper

You love to get things as cheaply as possible. You live for sales.
It's partially because you like to save money, but it's also because you like the thrill of finding a fabulous deal.

Of all the types, you tend to shop frequently but rarely by. You keep an eye on prices.
Brand names are not that important to you. You know how to have style without collecting designer tags.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 24, 2008

Writing as Art

What I’m Reading: The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier and The Lonely Crossing of Juan Cabrera by J. Joaquin Fraxedas

What I’m Working On: Working?

Being a writer is hard.

So many people think, “Oh, I’ll just sit down and write a book.”

Ok. Do it. All the way. Start to finish. It’s harder than you think.

Writing is art. When you ask people to give you a list of artistic endeavors, many won’t even mention writing. Oh, they might mention poetry, but fiction – nah. Non-fiction? No way.

But writing is art. The blank page is the canvas.

It’s a challenging form of art.

Painters have the visual clues. Did I get the right shade of blue for just that moment at twilight? Is the shadow on that lily realistic? What emotion is on his face?

Musicians have the auditory cues. Does this melody match that lyric? Should I write this song in a minor chord?

But writers…. We have to invoke the senses of not just sight and sound, but also touch and smell and taste with black type and white paper.

Can the reader see the storm rolling across the lake, kicking up small white waves in its path? Can she smell the homemade cinnamon rolls her grandmother’s arthritic hands are removing from the oven? Can she hear the laughter of the little girl that reminds her so much of her own lost daughter? Can he taste the metallic tang of his own blood where his teeth cut into his gums? Damn. That little guy packed a punch. Can she feel the barely-there pressure of his warm hand on the small of her back as he guides her into the room? Will she ever forget that simple caress was his first touch?

So, if you’re a writer, big kudos for doing what you do. And even when it's tough, keep doing it.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

(Sigh) Twilight at last

What I'm Reading: The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, The Lonely Crossing of Juan Cabrera by J. Joaquin Fraxedas, and The Wave by Todd Strasser.

What I'm Working On: Finding my way in this new iteration of Slayer.

The TWILIGHT movie starts at midnight. OMG. I can't wait to see it. (My tickets are for Sunday morning at 10:45 as I'm hoping to avoid the teenage girl rush earlier in the weekend.)

Want to see what the buzz is all about? Check it out. (Mind you, if you don't know what the buzz is all about, well, I'm not sure how that happened.....)

Twilight: Official Movie Site
Stephanie Meyer's official website
The Twilight Saga (Click here if you're clueless as to what Twilight is.)

My favorite high school had a Twilight party today. The very cool, ultra hip librarian thought we might have 80 girls turn out. (The high school has 760 total students -- about half boys and half girls.) Over 250 kids came for a 15 minute party and raffle during mid-morning break. It was overwhelming.

If you see the movie, let me know what you think. If you read the books, let me know, too.

As a quick aside, Donald Maass asked me if I "slogged" through Twilight.

Uh, no. No, I voraciously ate up all four books. (Even Master Donald doesn't know everything.)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tension in dialogue, exposition, and action

What I'm Reading: (This is a difficult question to answer these days since I'm midway into the selection of my fav high school's next community book. I'm reading about 10 things at once. I discard what won't work and keep reading what will. I hope to come back and finish all of the books on my desk someday.) The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier and The Wave by Todd Strasser.

What I'm Working On: The rewrite. Slayer 3.0.

I promised some notes from Master Donald's Tension on Every Page Workshop. It's a great, intense, albeit not cheap workshop. Everyone should take it.

The first day we looked at microtension in dialogue, exposition, and action. We learned ways to put tension on every page, in every paragraph.

Yes, it is as hard as it sounds.

However, Donald gave us a few keys to remember. In dialogue, the tension occurs between people and it shows up in what is said, not the auxiliary actions and anecdotal thoughts of the speakers. We practiced putting all the tension into the spoken word -- no tags, no anything but dialogue. We looked at pages from Jayne Ann Krentz's White Lies as an example of how to do this well -- subtly in this case, but well. (Check out pages 38-39. What do you think?)

In exposition, the tension is inside the POV (point of view). We checked out Scott Westerfield's Pretties to see how it's done. The key is to create a situation where the character feels or wants two opposing things at the same time or where the character should clearly feel one way, but -- surprise -- she feels exactly opposite of what we expect. (We studied pages 44-45.)

Tension in action follows a similar pattern. You create the tension through emotions in conflict or ideas at war. "The door flew open and Daphne dove away from the intruder. She skidded across the floor and smashed into a file cabinet." BORING! The previous little passage is action, but there's nothing to it that scares us or keeps us reading. Instead, it sounds more like the assembly directions for a bicycle in a box. "Daphne held her breath. She couldn't decide whether she wanted the intruder to open her door or not. He'd keep looking until he found her. Wasn't it better to just get it over now? She didn't have to wait long. The door swung open, but Daphne's self-preservation instinct kicked in as she dove out of sight. She might have made it, too, if her momentum hadn't crashed her into the tall file cabinet." Ok, so no, it's not Pulitzer prize winning, but it's WAY better than the first attempt. (Come on. Admit it.)

I realize this all sounds very easy, but you try it. Add that sort of tension to a page.

.... and then do it 399 more times. (That's the hard part.)

Next time: Backstory!

Happy writing!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I need direction

What I'm Reading: The Wave by Todd Strasser

What I'm working on: Staying calm when it comes to writing.

I went to Donald Maass's workshop Tension on Every Page in Tampa about a week and a half ago. It was a 4 day workshop. It was intense -- so intense that I needed a week to recover to even know what direction I should take now.

First, I should write. Just do it. Stop thinking about it.

Second, I should stop trying to put myself in a box. I don't really write romance -- not really -- maybe just a little. Or YA. Or fantasy/urban fantasy. What I write is sort of in the middle. That's okay.

Third, like Donald said, sometimes (most of the time) it's easier just to turn the page over and write something better than trying to edit it. (It's true. I'd experienced that before even going to his workshop, but it doesn't make starting over AGAIN any easier.)

Fourth, I need to look at how I spend my time. I think there is more time to write there than I think there is, but I will be the first to admit that the scariest part is that even if I find tons of time to write and even if I get it perfect, even then I might fail. (Failure = manuscript that can't find an agent or a home.)

Fifth, I got into Seton Hill's MA program in Writing Popular Fiction. I can start in January, but for so many reasons, June is looking better and better. I really need to decide what to do before Friday -- yes, this Friday. (And, yikes, this alone scars the poopy out of me.)

Maybe I'm having perfectionistic fear issues today.

Hmm, not sure I ended up with anything blog worthy here -- or any direction -- but it's getting posted anyway.

Next post: Tension in dialogue, exposition, and action -- ideas from master Donald.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Color me

What I'm Reading: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen and The Wave by Todd Strasser

What I'm working on: Recuperating from the Donald Maass Workshop I attended last week.

I'll blog later about the Maass workshop. My brain is still sputtering and coughing to organized the new knowledge. I need some more process time in order to put it all out there.

Since my brain is so overwhelmed right now, I'll post something lame and easy.........

The Ultimate Color Test
When you are at peace, you are:

Deeply stable

When you are moved to act, you are:

Giving and warm

When you are inspired, you are:

Creative and productive

When your life is perfectly balanced, you are:

Philosophical and expressive

Your life's purpose is:

To live a passionate life

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The day after

What I'm Reading: Just the blogs and articles about this amazing and historic election. It's about time!

What I'm Working On: Getting ready for tomorrow's Donald Maass workshop.

I could blog about the election, but EVERYONE is doing that. It is sufficient to say that we have witnessed unforgettable history and I'm very proud to be an American!

With all the jubilation, there is a sad note. It's not related to the election but rather to one of my favorite all-time authors -- Michael Crichton. In reverence to his passing, please take a moment out of celebrating to mourn literature's great loss.


Here's the article:

Michael Crichton Dies of Cancer

Michael Crichton, the million-selling author of such historic and prehistoric science thrillers as "Jurassic Park," "Timeline" and "The Andromeda Strain" has died of cancer, his family said.

He died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66 after a long battle with the illness.

Chrichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of "The Andromeda Strain" or dinosaurs running amok in "Jurassic Park," one of his many books that became major Hollywood movies.

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," his family said in a statement.

The 6-foot-9-inch author was also a screenwriter and filmmaker, earning producing and writing credits for the film versions of many of his titles. He also created the TV hospital series "ER" in 1994.

In recent years, he was the rare writer to get on well with President Bush, perhaps because of his skepticism about global warming, which Crichton addressed in the 2004 novel, "State of Favor." Crichton's views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.

"While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us and entertained us all while doing so his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes," his family said.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Get out and vote!

What I'm Reading: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

What I'm working on: Getting ready for the Donald Maass Workshop I'm attending this week.

Countdown to November 4th and the change we need!
Hey everyone, get out and vote!