Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ka-Ching!

Writing is something that gives me great personal satisfaction. I love to see a completed sentence, paragraph, page, work - a hard copy of something that once only existed in my brain.

My dream is to be able to do what I love and make a living at it. Although my current job involves a lot of writing and provides that outlet for me to some degree, it is not fiction writing. That is where the dream begins.

On days when I am really indulging in fantasy, I try to put myself into the shoes of authors who not only make a living at it, but have hit the jackpot, either financially or with name recognition and legacy. It seems wrong to make crazy amounts of money for doing something you love so much, but I wouldn't turn it down.

My musings led me one day to research the best-selling authors of all time. Wikipedia provided such a list. Of course, it is not comprehensive, nor, being Wikipedia, necessarily fully accurate. But I found it very interesting. Here is the link.

A couple of reactions: Glad to see Willie Shakespeare on top, as it should be

Holy crap Barbara Cartland! Now I really feel like a slacker. She must have written a book a month.

I also found this article about Dean Koontz. I like him enough after reading this to try one of his books again or his autobiography.

It seems like a lot of successful authors are not as flashy as those who succeed in other areas of the arts, especially actors and singers. Although J.K. did buy that castle...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Golden Authors

Just wanted to drop a short note to all you aspiring authors out there. I work with some amazing authors--authors with style and class and who understand how the publishing process works and what an editor does to bend over backward and help his authors. There are a few authors, on rare occasion (thank goodness), who do not respect editors.

My message today is that the degree to which you, as authors and even aspiring/submitting authors, respect your editor is the degree to which they will mortgage their reputation and clout to get your book published and give you every advantage of a successful release into the market.

Be one of those golden authors that every editor dreams about.

Be a champ.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just for FUN!!!

video

This is my sons' soccer camp coaches grooving in a demonstrations dance that a very talented 9 year old girl taught them. They made everyone do the dance every time they made a goal in the mock World Cup. They also had the parents doing it once or twice.

Here are the words in case you can't understand their lovely accents:
Snap your fingers in a Z formation
Hip rotation,
Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist,
Shut up, boy, you just got dissed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Discussion

Is competition "good" for the creative soul?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hooray for My Writing Group!


Yes, that's right. I'm giving props to my writing group because they come up with the greatest ideas. For example, a writing marathon. Somehow, miraculously, all of our spouses have agreed to give us crazies an entire day to do nothing but write. I'm extremely excited in spite of not actually being able to join them since I live a state away. We will be together apart doing one of the things we all love best. So, good luck Donna, Debbie, DJ, Linda and Kirk! I can't wait! :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why?


Why? Such a great question - so open ended with many possibilities. Sometimes we have an answer and sometimes we don't. With a five-year old in the house, I hear it at least 100 times a day.

This week, as part of our family's "staycation" we visited a dinosaur park in Ogden, UT. It featured a handful of traditional, indoor museum-type exhibits with fossils, but the main attraction was the outdoor portion, with models of various species of dinos in a natural environment, that you could discover around a corner or behind trees, etc. Our kids loved it of course.

The aforementioned five year-old asked the big question: Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? To which I answered, "Well, honey, scientists have many ideas about why it happened" and went on to explain the various theories, such as volcanic activity, an ice age, disease, climate change, etc. Then, I added, "But no one really knows except for Heavenly Father." To which he responded, "I'm going to ask him when I get back to heaven." LOVE him.

It got me thinking, as writers, we create the world, we provide the answers. Does this mean we have a God complex? No, (although I'm sure there are some that do) I would argue it means we like to consider the Why? in everything around us, and let our imagination dictate the possibilities. When you think of all the dino extinction theories, I believe every one of them has had a story told about it - not to mention Jurassic Park, which asserts dinosaurs do exist, on an island near Costa Rica.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What has Debbie gotten me into now?


So You Think You Can Dance, that's what. One more obsession to take up the time I don't have.
Still its a great season and these two, Lauren and Kent are just awesome on so many levels.

They make great characters. Am I the only one who does that? When I meet someone or see a show or get cut off in traffic, I immediately start a character sketch in my head. It's not the same as judging people because I know that most of what I decide about the character is not going to be true of the person, but still I can't help myself. I start to think about who this person or that person might someday be in my writing.

I guess I sort of play a "So you think you can write" game in my head. It's a lot like the show about dancing, except there is less dancing and more daydreaming.

Who have you turned into a character lately?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Photo-op

I bought a book this week by an author I have seen several times at conferences. As is my custom, I flipped open the cover and read the plot summary inside the jacket, inhaling deeply at the fine smell of a fresh, new book. Then, I turned to the back to read the author bio and was really surprised by the author's headshot. Their look was very different from how I have seen them. In fact, I thought it was a bit of a sell-out.

Granted, everyone is going to look more polished in a posed headshot than real life, but this was a shocker. It was as if I'd bought a book Inker Kirk had written and his headshot featured him wearing a top hat and monocle.

It got me thinking about, if I am ever fortunate enough to have a book published, how I would want to present myself, to really reflect who I am in a headshot. Overall, when I think of some of the best I've seen, I think it's important to keep it simple. Hats, props, animals, etc. usually come across as you are trying too hard.

The photo I use for all my social media needs, of me posed in front of the bookcases in our living room is actually a poke at all the authors who try to make themselves look too studious in their headshots.

Just for fun, here are a couple links I found related to this subject. Warning: there is some language in the first one that may be offensive.

http://htmlgiant.com/author-news/author-photo-failures/

http://www.phenixpublicity.com/blog/2009/1/23/the-author-headshot-lets-discuss.html

Here are a few more classics. Can you guess what genre they write?





Thursday, July 15, 2010

Never Give Up!

So I'm supposed to be achieving the first of my New Year's resolutions in three and a half weeks when I will run a 1/2 marathon. This goal has been on my agenda since, you guessed it, Jan. 1, 2010. Its been on the calendar since March and the training is going about as well as my writing this year...inconsistent at best.

What is a girl supposed to do when faced with a huge task and very little time? Give up? Throw in the towel and say, "Better luck next time. Maybe next year my schedule won't be so packed, and I'll fit in a diet and some training?"
Yep.
That's what I say...to myself. Then I remember Howard Tayler's advice. "It's hard to get worse at something you do every day." And I spoke with KBC (Kick Butt Coach) LIZZ, who said, "You could finish the half marathon today if you HAD to do it. So the question is do you want to do it or not?" (paraphrased that a little).

If you have met me, then you probably know that giving up on something that I want is very very difficult for me. In fact, I'd walk 13.1 miles and take all day to do it rather than admit defeat.

Lizz is right. I could walk the half marathon today if I had to (or if someone offered me enough chocolate.) So what did I do?

I set up a crash course of training, made a salad and ran 3 miles. Resolution #1 watch out cause I'm coming.

Next it's on to Resolution #2-write another novel.
Tell us about goals you are not going to give up on, despite the odds and life and such.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Your Dreams

I can tell that my writers' group is working.  All the things taught are finally sinking in.

How, you ask, can I tell?  Is it because my writing is getting better? No.  Is it because I am able to outline a better story? No.  Are my characters more real or dimensional? No. 

It is because last night my dream had a full story arc.  It had a begining, middle, and end.  It had antagonists, protagonist, cool side characters, unexpected dialogue, and a great ending.  The characters all grew and changed.  It could have been a movie.  It even had a begining-of-act-three montage.  I was totally blown away that I had such a complete dream.  All the Inkers' efforts must be paying off.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ARGH!!!!!!!


I know. I should've posted hours ago. I have only two words for you: "McLeod's Daughters". It's this stupid Australian outback show that has me completely hooked. And now I've wasted an entire afternoon that I will never get back! I'm just going to close my laptop and make dinner. I can do that, right? Right?! ARGH!!!! I'm typing, but all I hear is an Australian accent!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Psychic Persuasion

The World Cup is now over. I followed it pretty closely and am disappointed that I won't be able to flip on the TV to watch cup coverage for the next four years.

There was one thing about the Cup matches that began to intrigue me this year. It wasn't the refereeing, the different country dynamics, or even the nice legs of the players (although all those things certainly kept me watching.) The thing that had my curiosity kicking and my interest increased was Paul, the psychic octopus.

Paul was 100% correct in all his predictions for the 2010 World Cup. How weird is that?? It's like a game of Heads or Tails, and the chances of anyone always being right is astronomical. So, is Paul really psychic? Or maybe his reputation preceded him. Did the team he picked get a boost of confidence that turned the tide of the game?

Here is a clip of Paul picking (correctly) the final World Cup match between the Netherlands and Spain.

What are your thoughts?

Happy Monday, everyone. I feel like it's been ages since I've posted!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who needs Dr. Phil?


Over two years have passed since I recommitted myself to writing, beyond what is required for work. There had been a long hiatus for me since I previously attempted a personal project.

I owe a nod re: my creative resurgence to fellow Inker Diva Donna who invited me to my first LDS Storymakers conference AND founded our writing group, which has been a great source of motivation and inpsiration to me.

I've been plugging away at my first novel, writing as often as I have the time and energy to focus on it. Recently, I had an intense couple of months at work with many overtime hours. During that period I did not write anything for my novel, and it has been difficult to get back into the groove of the story.

However, I am writing again, slowly but surely, and I have had an epiphany - writing is great therapy for me. There has been such a big difference in how I cope with stress and my general outlook when I am focused on writing vs. not.

Although I wanted to be further along by this date, I'm grateful for the time away from my novel for making me realize how important writing is to me. But, even if my story never makes it into book form and my characters live only in a file on my computer, I'm determined to finish it and give them their happy ending. They deserve it, and it's much cheaper than a therapist.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Photogenic vs photophobic


You asked for photos, did you not? Well here's proof that I'm not photophobic. The pictures from Sushi were really just BAD!







Plus the other Inkers haven't seen these yet. So I can brag about my photogenic friends. Check out Deb's skirt in the red. DJ totally sewed that for her the night before the conference cause she is super nice that way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer

I love summer.  My WIP (work in progress--I know the industry term is MS, but I have the disease MS, and I don't want to think about it.  Besides WIP sounds so cool!) I digress.  My WIP is about summer.  About one magical summer.  Did you ever have one?

My most magical summer was the one between 8th and 9th grade.  I was living in Mesa, AZ.  There was a group of kids and we all lived within walking distance and we just hung out. In the 120 degree heat you live in your pool during daylight hours.    When the sun would finally go down we would converge on the street.  We swam, watched movies, and played basketball.  I don't really remember the specifics--except my best friend walking to my house barefoot and burning her feet.  But to me it remains a magical memory.


At the end of the summer my family moved to Seattle.  I had a great time in Seattle and always tell my parents how grateful I am that we moved, but that last summer in Arizona was my summer of magic.


Do you have any summer magic memories??

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Surprise!




I spent the Fourth of July weekend at my sister's house which was completely fun and entertaining. For example, in the midst of the chaos of lighting fireworks on Sunday, my sister had all the little kids line up along the sidewalk so they could get sparklers. They were so cute all lined up in a row, waiting patiently for their sparkler to get lit, but when she was just in the act of lighting the first sparkler, my husband interjected with, "Wait, Jen! Those aren't sparklers. They're bottle rockets." Of course, they were sparklers, Scott just likes to pull a harmless prank now and then. Unless you've lived with him for a few years, you too might get caught. And my sister definitely got caught! The thing I loved about this little scene was how he saw the opportunity and took it. He didn't have to go through any elaborate set up. He just exploited the situation. In many ways, this is how great writing happens. If your characters and plot are strong, the right situations arise without almost any effort, just waiting to be exploited. i.e. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The entire book. Each character plays into the plot so effortlessly it's ridiculous. So, go reread it for kicks or a how-to lesson on how to reveal information. Delightful!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Inception


Next weekend I will begin a glorious 17 day vacation period off work. Although I wish our budget would allow for a week-long stay at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or similar, I am excited for the time off and the "staycation" we have planned, indulging in fun activities close to home.

I plan to have at least one movie date with hubby and was excited to see a trailer for Inception, the latest film from Christopher Nolan. I am a fan of Nolan's work, especially Memento and The Dark Knight.

Here is a plot summary from IMDB:

Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.

The cast is promising. Even though Leonardo DiCaprio sometimes annoys me, he's good at intense (see Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet). Also, there is Ellen Page, who I loved in Juno, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But the real star is writer-director Nolan. I hope it is another success for him.

I'm totally there!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Shower of Inspiration


The new budding idea of a story is so exciting. Then there is the moment when the missing elements come together, a plot glich is smoothed out, a new character appears to save the day or maybe a brand new element comes to life.

So many times the best ideas--the ones that have been ruminating in my busy brain--seem to get washed to the surface in the shower. Is it strange that my mind works best in the shower? Did someone enchant my water pipes or something? Maybe its just the one place a busy mom gets a minute or two to think. It happened today when I figured out a completely new direction for my latest story...I'm in outlining stage so its great timing.

Where do you all get your best ideas and plot problem solving done?