Monday, January 28, 2013

Goals Met, Goals Achieved

When a writer strives to pacify the savage, creative beast within, their journey results in unexpected achievements.

The Bookshelf Muse blog, starring Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, is a writers’ paradise. They give the ultimate tool: how to ‘show’ not ‘tell’.

Example. Consider a sunrise. Light on the horizon. Sun pops up, right? What about the sensory description, the smells as the sun warms the ground. The sounds, birds coming to life and traffic increasing, tires on pavement, engines rumbling.

Emotions. Irritation. Tight jawline, an increase in the respiration. Silent, withdrawing from the conversation.

Physical attributes. Eyes. (This is the one I have trouble with, how to express emotion through the eyes.) Widen, crinkle, narrow, brighten. Roll, shift, blink, take in.

Fighting the urge to ‘tell’ the reader what you want them to know is so darn hard. Like resisting a premium chocolate bar. Ah, bad example since I never, ever resist chocolate.

But I digress. The Bookshelf Muse is one of the sites essential to a writer. Their reference book, The Emotion Thesaurus, has sold 20 K copies and never leaves my workstation. They are celebrating their two millionth hit with a giveaway

Enter and put their website at the top of your quick-link browser.

Accolades to David Powers King. He signed with Cedar Fort Publishing for his YA fantasy, Woven. Release date is in November. Big round of cheers for him!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Zombies Anyone?

Zombies don’t interest me.

Sure, I like the quirky Shaun of the Dead and can play Plants vs Zombies on my Kindle Fire for hours.

But I don’t care for stuff like Zombieland, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead…oh wait I did see that one.

The last one aside, zombies and their ilk are not a part of my day. Well except for Plants vs Zombies - I am way too into that game.

In a rare visit to the theater last year, I saw a trailer for a zombie flick that might change my mind. Warm Bodies is a love affair that crosses many boundaries. She comes from a militaristic family and he comes from a…well, he can’t remember since he’s kinda dead. And a zombie.

R can’t remember his name either but he knows he is in love for the first time. She happens to be alive but what the heck, life isn’t always easy, right?

Won't the ticket lady at the theater be surprised to see me again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stages of Writing: Where are you?

When you began this journey to Published, did you know what you were getting into?

Did you expect the way stations and rest stops, the bumps and ditches that you would encounter?

And the wipeouts. Did you expect rejections?

The first time a person sits down to compose a story, the door of the writing minivan slams shut. You are rumbling down a highway with many obstacles. The smallest juncture of that trip is the actual manuscript. The hard part comes with editing, finding good critiquers, research, re-writes, querying and finding an agent.

So, where are you?
  • Are you at the street of IamSoGood and MakeABunchaMoney? Or the corner of Realistic and Hardwork?Endlessly circling a cloverleaf? Or at a dead end cul-de-sac?   
  • Are you in the realm of Research, still intrigued by the workings of the publishing world and discovering the query? Or what a query is? And the mysterious synopsis?
  • Do you have self-help books crowding your workstation like On Writing by Stephen King? Or Post-Its with suggestions and reminders stuck to your computer monitor? Are you in the stage of understanding the difference between the ellipsis and dash?
  • Have you reached the editing phase, reading out loud all dialogue, and learning. Always learning. Are you a member of a critique group?
  • Do you have a polished manuscript ready to submit? Maybe with several mss under your belt all lining the road to Published.
  • Are you a published or soon-to-be published author?

I see a long highway ahead of me. It curves out of sight around obstacles like the washout called Rejections and the steep hill of Hard Freakin’ Work. 

Whether I stop and complain is up to me. Whether I make defeat into an impediment or an insurmountable barrier is my problem. It is my choice whether to stop and give up. Or go around, over, and bull my way through.

I choose the later. My motto: 
Persistence + Humor = Published

You can’t be in this business without either one.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review, A Memory of Light

Prepare yourself. After so long a wait, so many pages read, you’ll want the journey to continue.
For me, The Wheel of Time began in 1991. The first three volumes are crinkled and stained from much love. Now, with the last book, one emotion overwhelms me:  

I haven’t read a series-ending book that gave me such satisfaction as A Memory of Light. It tied the threads of stories together neatly, gave me the kind of drama and tension that moved me to tears. The battle between Darkness and Light was as epic as the parting of the Red Sea, climatic, thorough, and majestic.

Yes, majestic.

I walked beside Perrin, threw the dice with Mat, and gasped as Rand fought the Dark One. The images created by Brandon Sanderson using Robert Jordan’s notes are branded in my consciousness. The battle scenes, balefire cast, Rand’s choices, Egwene’s decisions, the unsung heroes; all contributed to the ‘heart in my throat’ feeling.

There is life and death, winners and the injured that the Aes Sedai cannot heal. I sorrowed and sometimes startled my hubby with shouts of ‘Good for you’.
And then the last page and Mr. Jordan’s endless wind dropped me.

I wanted it never to end.
To the critics of Mr. Jordan’s widow, who initially decided not to publish this book in Ereader form, IMO, to read this epic story in any other way than paper and glue is a travesty.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Memory of Light...

...and of Robert Jordan.

The last book in the series, The Wheel of Time, arrives today. It started twenty-three years ago with Eye of the World and ends with A Memory of Light. 

This series is the definition of epic fantasy; magic, a real world, history, backstory, and foreshadowing. Clues are given and mysteries inserted throughout.

This series hit major high points with me. And some serious lows. The first half dozen or so tomes were breathtaking. But after number, not so much. Too much 'arms akimbo' and bitchy women, blah blah blah. I wanted the storyline to move forward. By that time, with so many players involved changing from head to head wasn't intriguing anymore. I still bought the books. I mean, after I invested that much time, dollars, and energy into them I HAD to. 

By number eleven, the story settled down, focused on fewer characters and I enjoyed the books again. Still, there were many words/miles to go before the end. Then, tragedy struck and the author, Robert Jordan died. We grieved at the loss and wondered if the end of the series had passed along with him.

The world of fantasy sighed in relief when Brandon Sanderson, along with Mr. Jordon's widow, took over the job and, using the deceased author's copious notes, finished the last three books.

As Fed Ex pulls into my drive tomorrow, I'll be there to meet him when he stops. I will take the box with the Amazon label on it, thank the nice man, and find my easy chair for the rest of the night.

Because, Writers and Bloggers, I won't sleep until I've read the last page.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Diamonds in the Snow

Years ago, a January calendar picture caught my interest. The photo was fresh, clean snow glittering in the sunlight. The caption (paraphrased): 

How careless! Has someone lost their bag of diamonds on the snow?

Funny what sticks in a person's mind. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Going Overboard With Conflict

Is there such a thing as too much conflict in a storyline?

Recently, the Audience channel has been showing episodes of 24, that shoot ‘em, All-American TV show about Jack Bauer chasing bad guys, saving his daughter, fighting his co-workers, and trying to convince everyone that, yes, the bomb is about to explode. The unique premise is that each season occurs within a 24-hour period. Each episode is about what happens within that one-hour, real-time period. That alone increases the tension.

Saving the nation from atomic bombs, terrorist plots, co-workers with a god-complex, and poison gas is a high threshold for most people. For Jack, it’s all jammed into this single day.

24 debuted in 2001 and ended 2010. I didn't start watching until the sixth season but it hooked me instantly. Now, with the re-runs, I finally get to watch the earliest episodes that I missed.

I love this show. The very realistic violence is difficult to watch; torture or the idiots who impede Jack’s mission. It is all the same to me.

However, sometimes the conflict is too much.

The president has to make a decision about whether to retaliate against several Arab countries, thwarted by his vice-president when he makes the wrong move, a cabinet member learns of the conspiracy and tries to warn the president but is kidnapped and injured during her attempt to escape. Meanwhile Jack is on the receiving end of torture and his daughter is in police custody.

And Holy Cats, all this in about fifteen minutes.

By the end of this episode, I feel wrung out and ready for a break.

So when is too much conflict a problem? As the witness is shot when he tries to relay the location of the bomb? When Jack discovers he cannot expect help from his friends due to government bureaucracy? Or when two gals working surveillance get into a catfight over a broken love affair?

When is too much conflict a problem?

Btw, my DVR is about to explode. And crap, Justified starts next Tuesday. AiEEEEEEEE.

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