Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Years ago I read The Whipping Boy. One of my favorites as a kid. Whenever I think of potatoes I think of the boiled potatoes in that book. I can't really recall what happened with the potatoes, but I can sense the cottage and the way the potatoes felt going down. It makes me want to eat them all the time.
Today I had a boiled potatoe hot from the pot. It wasn't as good as I pictured it. Of course, they were eaten by starving boys in the book and we all know that when you are hungry everything tastes better.
Another thing I remember from The Whipping Boy is the bad guy who ate onions and how he reeked of onions. (Whenever I smell someone with that particular odor I remember the bad guy)
Now I need to pick that book up again and rediscover the boiled potatoes.
Monday, March 29, 2010
"When everybody gets a participation trophy at the end of the season, it doesn't mean anything. Americans aren't about participation trophies or we better damn stop it. We're about telling the coach, take the trophy back. That's where you need to stand. Teach your children now. My son, my daughter didn't earn the trophy. They played hard. They played well, but they didn't win. We maybe will get the real trophy next year. Don't give me this bogus trophy.
Life isn't about the trophies. It is about improving yourself. It is about accomplishment."
Saturday, March 27, 2010
When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each precious breath. He pushed away the plastic tarpaulin and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looked toward the east for any light but there was none. In the dream from which he'd wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand. Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls. Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of the granitic beast. Deep stone flues where the water dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and the days of it and the years without cease. Until they stood in a great stone room where lay a black and ancient lake. And on the far shore a creature that raised its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared into the light with eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders. It swung its head low over the water as if to take the scent of what it could not see. Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in shadow on the rocks behind it. Its bowels, its beating heart. The brain that pulsed in a dull glass bell. It swung its head from side to side and then gave out a low moan and turned and lurched away and loped soundlessly into the dark.
If you would indulge me, I like to know after reading that opening, would you want to read on (or if you have read the book, what made you want to read on)? Please state the reasons for and against.
The book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a #1 Bestseller/Pulitzer Prize winner.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
What words have you created to move along your story . . .
What words have you created to express an idea (sometimes it comes from blending words, or as my female relations call it "twixing your twords").
I used some from Gaelic Mythology to create religions, Aelfheimer and Tuatha De.
I would love to find a dictionary of stems (Sorted by meaning) to create new words.
Back to Supercalifragili . . . I wish I was a little more like Mary--optimistic, firm, yet able to have fun. I've no problem with the firm side of things, its the kid size fun that I lack.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Why do I have to go to bed when I am NOT tired just to wake up an hour earlier than normal to a dark room and a clock that says I'm 20 minutes late instead of 40 minutes early?
Someone explain the madness. Then I can possibly explain it to my small children who completely ignore the clock and trust me to tell them when its bed time and when its time to get up. Twice a year for about a week, I look like an idiot to my kids.
This is how the conversation goes:
Me: "Okay kids is time for bed get your teeth brushed and lets say prayers."
Daughter:"Okay, Mom." She gets up to turn off the TV, but is detained by her brother.
Older Son: "Don't listen to her, its still light outside. She's just trying to get us to go to bed early."
Daughter: "Mom, why do you want us to go to bed early?" Suspicion creeps into her trusting face.
Me: "Honestly, it's bed time. Look at the clock."
Daughter to son: "What does the clock say?"
Son: "Doesn't matter what the clock says," without glancing at them, "Dad changed them all this morning so they're all wrong now. I think he's in on it."
Me: "It's called Daylight Savings time."
Son: "What are we doing with all the time we save?" He actually turns to look at me interested in manipulating time.
Son: "That's dumb!" He turns away disillusioned. "Does everyone do this."
Me: "Yes!...Well, unless you live in Ohio or Arizona."
Son to daughter: "Let's declare the living room Ohio and finish our movie."
Daughter: 'Great idea."
Thus begins the anarchy of daylight 'slavings' which fails all logic tests.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Mrs Smythe is a great character. I can't decide if she's truly mean or if she's over protective or if she's paranoid or prejudiced. She is like Darth Vader in that she is evil, but can she be redeemed?
Saturn is another one that is lingering in my brain. He is a 1970's Disc Jockey that is about to lose his job when a group of insane teenagers infiltrate his "Rings of Love" radio show upping his ratings and his anxiety.
Then there are the lovers who live in the far North and only socialize during the short growing season. How is their love going to grow with such a short growing season and then months of darkness and isolation.
Who are some of your characters that are saved on a file or thumb drive and waiting to come out?
(PS Happy St Patrick's Day!!! I forgot until I was scheduling it--hope you all have the luck O' the Irish)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Is it just me, or are you tired of people becoming "offended," especially over seemingly insignificant things? I never cease to be amazed at the variety of thoughts, words and actions that can cause people to find offense.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I chose Persuasion as the title to re-read because its love story has an element similar to mine (true lovers separated for several years are reunited and sorting out their feelings for each other). Here is the passage that made me believe again. It is when our heroine Anne Elliot meets her former love Captain Wentworth for the first time in eight years:
Mary talked, but she could not attend. She had seen him. They had met. They had been once more in the same room.
Soon, however, she began to reason with herself, and try to be feeling less. Eight years, almost eight years had passed, since all had been given up. How absurd to be resuming the agitation which such an interval had banished into distance and indistinctiveness! What might not eight years do? Events of every description, changes, alienations, removals-- all, all must be comprised in it, and oblivion of the past--how natural, how certain too! It included nearly a third part of her own life.
Alas! with all her reasonings she found that to retentive feelings eight years may be little more than nothing.
I hope you all find inspiration this week, and if you do, for heaven's sake write it down! Who knows, maybe someone will be citing you almost 200 years from now.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Here's what I got out of it:
1) Do your homework- Don't pitch a picture book to an agent who only handles adult non-fiction and horror. (Well unless your book is on the mating habits of the Black Widow Spider, in which case the agent should love it.)
2) Be your best self--the business dressed, friendly, open, awesome you. Not the neurotic, pajama-clad, recluse obsessed with why hot dogs come in multiples of 10 and buns come in packs of 8.
3) If your blind date/ I mean editor or agent doesn't ask for your number, chalk it up to experience and get back out there. Ask questions that will help you make the most out of their advice even if you never see them again. (Who would you suggest I send this to after the rewrites/ when its finished/polished? What are you looking for in a debut author? etc.)
4) Kirk didn't mention this one, but the discussion reminded me of his advice for me last year when I went into my first pitch session. Spend most of your time listening. You paid for advice, so listen to it. (Maybe that was just for me though, since I tend to talk when I'm nervous, driving, awake...let's face it if I'm breathing I've usually got something to say.)
That's all. Studies have shown that if you don't review a lesson within 24 hours you retain only 25% of what was taught. So I'm above the average since I remembered 30% of what he taught and added a bonus point which brought me to 40%.
Until Tuesday night I wasn't nervous about my impending pitch session at LDS Storymakers Conference, but now I am. Suddenly it feels like a really overly anticipated blind date because I really really want Krista Marino to like me. I've seen her great work and think we were made to work together on my book, BUT she doesn't know that I exist. Maybe I've been reading too many Dan Wells novels. Anyway, suffice it to say that these four steps SHOULD help anyone who is going into a pitch session. If anyone remembers other points that they want to share, be my guest.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
1) Do your prewriting--setting, character list (with individual motives--this doesn't have to be very detailed, just a few words) and so forth.
2) Write down what your main character will be doing from beginning to end, since most of the book will be following him/her around.
3) Go through your character list and write down what the other characters will be doing. Work all their storylines together into the overall storyline of the book. Again, this doesn't have to be too detailed. Just a few bullet points on who does what.
4) Get a stack of 3x5 notecards and start writing out every scene you can think of in your head. Keep it simple. "Character A gets in his car, character B is hiding in the back seat with a gun, character C is trying to call character A," etc. This is the part in the process where you're able to get all your pre-imagined scenes out onto notes.
5) Once you've made as many cards as you can think to make, set them out on a table in chronological order. Imagine a transition from each card to the next; if there's not enough information, or if for some other reason a coherent transition isn't possible, make up a new card to "connect the dots", so to speak. That's where you'll add in all the necessary filler scenes between the big "action" scenes. Try to throw in a joke or something interesting in these connector scenes.
6) When all your cards are finished, look over them again and compare them to your original list of character storylines. Fill in the blanks if you've left anything out. Also, if you need to foreshadow anything, make note of that on the various cards.
7) You should have a healthy amount of notes in place now. I had 25 cards for Sidewinder, and intended each one of them to be its own chapter. I ended up expanding it to 37 chapters later (this was the first time I'd used the notecard process for outlining--it worked wonders, but I learned to be a little more detailed later on.) I made 30 cards for Lunaratus, which was about the same length as Sidewinder (35 chapters).
8) Number the cards so you can keep them in order. Then get a large drawing pad and write out your whole massive outline on one sheet of paper--that bad boy is going on your wall above your computer. That way when you're writing, all you need to do is look up, see where you are in your outline, look back down and keep writing. :-) ----Or, if you don't want to write it out on a larger sheet, just stick all your notecards up on the wall (I recommend putty-tack) in order. Same thing.
Thanks Graham for letting me share this. (You can learn more about Graham here.) On my way home tonight I picked up some index cards. I'm skipping out on a neighborhood party to use this method!! Wish me luck.
What story organization methods do you use?
PS Sorry this is so late . . . I had to wait for Graham's permission to repost his idea. It is just what I've been looking for. Thanks again!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I have favorite characters that creep into my thoughts when least expected and I wonder if this happens to anyone else. I might be out running errands, having a conversation or just cleaning my house when a scene or image pops in to say hello. There's really nothing like doing your dishes with Bruce Wayne, Elizabeth Bennet and Katniss Everdeen at the same time. It's even better when the character in my head is one I've created...
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I am a fan of American Idol. My favorite thing about it is watching undiscovered talent get discovered - like Chris Daughtry, who worked as a service manager at a car dealership when he auditioned and is now a major recording artist. He didn't even win the title, but his being a contender was enough exposure to take him where he wanted to go.
The successful contestants give hope to all the great singers (or better-than-average singers with a great look) who are out there doing their day jobs and plugging away at their art on the side. But, my heart always pains a bit for the contestants who do not have a successful experience on Idol and have to deal with having their talent (or lack thereof) being critiqued in front of millions of people.
As is widely known, judge Simon Cowell is the most brutally honest judge on the panel, often crossing the line between constructive criticism and just plain meanness. Here are a few of his nastier comments:
"Did you really believe you could become the American Idol? Well, then, you're deaf."
"You have the personality of a handle.”
"You came across as a background singer for a background singer."
"I’m tempted to ask if you sang that the night before your wife left you."
You get the idea. Aside from the meanness, I have to say he is the judge my opinion is most often aligned with.
As I watched an episode this week, I imagined how I would handle it if I were on an Idol type show that was judging my writing. Would I be one of the contestants who argues with the judges and rejects the criticism? Would I politely rebut the criticism with the assertion that I do have what it takes? Or, would I accept whatever is said and promise to do better next week?
I've noticed that the contestants who argue with the judges (yeah, I'm talking about you, Jermaine Sellers) almost always get voted off the following week. Knowing my personality, I'd probably be in the accept the criticism and try to do better category, but I would hope if the criticism was really unfair I would have the guts to respectfully defend myself.
Luckily for us writers, I don't think there will ever be a TV contest show based around writing - Great American Novelist Search, or similar. Although I know the rejection letters will be a bummer, I'd rather get a quiet letter telling me I suck than have to hear it in front of millions of people while they watch me squirm.
Friday, March 5, 2010
While I was enchanted with the ideas and characters in book one and part of book two, I struggled through Specials, like a mountain climber trekking up an icy cliff, one pick at a time.
First of all, Westerfeld takes us back to Tally's "relationship" with Zane (from the beginning of book 2). I thought that was a dead relationship because of how close she is/was to David. So it felt like a replay of book 2 entirely.
Secondly, the themes are scattered and not focused. One chapter you're worried about getting society to the point where there isn't any controlling government messing with people's heads. The next chapter you're worried about people encroaching on wildlife (a heavier-handed approach for the environmentalist angle--even for me . . . a moderate environmentalist). This especially took a turn for the worse when the book's epilogue (NO SPOILER) focuses on Tally and David become glorified forest rangers (who cares about the people they've tried to rescue from oppression for the entire series . . . now we're going to save the trees and rainforests). A little sudden. Quite out of place.
Thirdly, the coined cliches (bubbly, rusty, icy) drove me to distraction, and I nearly had to put the book down for good.
Overall the series is interesting, but the finale left much to be desired and was only tolerable for me as I tried to find closure. I like Westerfeld's style overall, and I have hope I'll like his Leviathan better.
Specials, by Scott Westerfeld. 2006. Simon Pulse. 372 pp. $9.99 (PB).
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Take a blue flute, a white wolf, a green-eyed girl, and a black-hearted villain, throw them all together in a broken world with plenty of mayhem and you have the Sapphire Flute by Karen Hoover. In her debut YA fantasy novel, Hoover begins the tale of Ember Shandae, a young girl breaking free to follow her dreams, and Kayla Kalandra Felandian, a debutante forced to leave her dreams behind to fulfill the call of destiny. As expected these two girls run into adventure and Kayla even meets the arch villain C'Tan, who is determined to stop them both.
Hoover does a good job of relating authentic family struggles in Ember's storyline. She alternates between Kayla's and Ember's perspectives with a few dips into C'Tan's point of view. However, don't let the cover fool you, the meeting of the storylines is not destined to occur in this first book of 'The Wolfchild Saga.'
I love fantasy and have always been a fan of romance. Having read some of Karen Hoover's award winning first chapters from her works in progress, I couldn't wait to get my hands on her debut novel. While her adventurous prologue captured me immediately, the switch to Kayla's storyline felt stilted and awkward. This impression stayed with me throughout the book. I just felt Kayla's storyline lacked the depth and fluidity of the Ember Shandae plot line.
Both girls have great potential and Hoover sets the foundation for an interesting series in this first book, however, it is clearly a first book. Be prepared to wait for the second installment. The good news is that “The Sapphire Flute” is the first of a series of seven novels. Valor plans to publish a new book in the series each spring.
Teens and fantasy readers will find interesting magic and a creative mythology in this book and readers of all ages will find appropriate content. It is a fun, safe read in a market where that is not always the case in YA fiction. Both girls face difficult decisions morally and ethically. Though they are not perfect, they learn from each mistep and are supported in each right choice.
Find out more about Karen Hoover at her blog and for more information on The Sapphire Flute see the Valor Publishing website.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I have one kid who never gets really mad, but she also never gets really excited. Her pendulum has a small swing. My other daughter can be the giddiest, happiest kid, but beware when her pendulum swings the other way--she can be downright awful. (Speaking of this child, yesterday I asked her to pick up her dirty clothes in her room. She started scrying--that screaming and crying together--and shouted to me that Princesses get whatever they want.)
So, some people have big arcs on their emotional pendulum, while others have small arcs. It's fun to think about when creating characters. Of course emotions aren't two dimensional, and the timing isn't equal like a pendulum, but the theory is that if a person gets really happy, they could get really mad. (As adults I think we try hard to hide the negative side of our arc.)
What do you think?
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
The morning mind fog. It's that state when we wake up and are surrounded by a cloud of blah. There are many supposed cures for it: caffeine, shower, or exercise, but sometimes the fog won't dissipate, and the morning fog turns into afternoon and evening fog.