Thursday, June 30, 2011

From Dress to Fin and Back Again

I've been watching H2O Just Add Water on netflix with my kids. In the show three Australian teen girls get transformed into mermaids. Its cute and the mythology is fun. They have super powers all related to water and life is hard on the Gold Coast of Australia if you instantly grow a tale when water touches you.

Here is what the transformation looks like:

So the thing is that their clothes morph with them and when they dry their clothes, including whatever shoes they are wearing, morph back to normal. Is clothing optional when it comes to transformation magic? I have a shapeshifter in my latest story (not a mermaid) and I'm trying to figure out the clothing issue.

Should clothes morph with the magic, such as in the mermaid story or should it rip up and fall off like the shapeshifters in Stephenie Meyers' stories?

What do you all think? Dress to fin or fin to skin? Both scenarios present obstacles and advantages.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Inkers Met Last Night

I hosted Writers' Group last night.  I had forgotten that I was hosting until about 5.  Unfortunately I had to take my boy to football at 6 till 8 (when everyone was slated to show up).  Good thing I had the house in decent state but there was no time for the traditional goodies . . .

I digress.  We met and tried to write.  Linda, Arlene, and Donna all did great.  Debbie was sitting next to me and she wasn't in the mood to write.  Add to that the fact that I haven't written anything for months and I was less than prolific.  The biggest struggle I had was because its been so long for me.  I opened several WIP's and tried to get back into them.  They are good and I need to finish.

The other Inkers are all plugging away nicely.  Sir Kirk-A-Lot is working on lots of freelance projects.  So, do find people that make work difficult (in a totally fun way)?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


These are my old boots, newly conditioned. Exciting! Right? Picture to come later. :) Scott and I are going on a backpacking trip soon and I've spent countless hours researching what I'll need to be prepared and comfortable whilst hiking 9-14 mi per day with 30 pounds on my back. Boots, apparently, are top priority. (They get you in and they get you out). As well as a bear canister which keeps your food supply out of the paws of bears and other critters. And a water purification system. Other things, like shelter, something to sit on and cooking gear with come waaaaaaay down the list!

However, when looking at gear lists, I've noticed that everything on them is essential including a journal with a pencil and a book. While I'm looking forward to time well-spent with my spouse, I'm also looking forward the peace and serenity found only in the wilderness. Time with some paper and pencil outlining characters, plots and grand endings is something I am eagerly awaiting. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Attitude Problem

I have an attitude problem this week. People are bugging me, and since I don't happen to own a private island, I need to deal with it.

I consider myself a fairly easy-going person but lately my fuse has been short. The following behaviors have set me off:
  • People who don't say thank you
  • Two-facedness
  • Bullying
  • Lying
  • Businesses whose employees/owners act like they're doing you a favor by taking your money
  • ...among others
Fearful that I am headed on the road to becoming a grumpy old woman, I've tried to turn my frustration into a positive by thinking about the sources of irritation for the main characters in my WIP. What is the frustration breaking point for each one? How is this reflected in the story, if at all? If it's not in the story, should it be? Here's what I came up with:

Elizabeth - her anxiety
Jimmy - his inability to get Elizabeth to admit she loves him
Niles - having an underling take his position
Nan - loss of the upper hand
Angela - people not agreeing with her point of view
Nick - Elizabeth rejecting him
Guy - political correctness

So, if anyone has any other suggestions of positive ways to blow off steam, you know so I don't get myself fired, arrested, or similar, feel free to share. So far getting back to writing and exercising is helping. See, I've got a smile on my face. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Secret Lives

In a lesson on character development once I heard that the instructor always gave their characters a secret. Not that the readers would necessarily ever know it, but just something deep inside the character couldn't tell anyone. So I added a line to my character sheets right after the name of the character that is their deep dark secret. Things about them that even their best friend doesn't know.

We all have secrets that we rarely share. Are you afraid of spiders? Do you fantasize about being a figure skater? Do you have six toes, a receding hair line, or a relative you are ashamed to claim as family?

Sometimes our secrets are harmless and sometimes I give my characters harmless secrets as well. But other times the secrets that we keep can haunt and hound us until they seem impossible to face. Our characters should have these secrets too. Not every character needs a drastic, life threatening, ax murderer type secret, but everyone of your characters will be more realistic with a secret and a dream. It makes them easier to write and almost automatically more interesting as you write them.
So now your either thinking about your secret or wondering what mine is. Which ever it is you can channel it into your character development.

I had a character whose secret was that she was a fairy godmother, posing as an attorney and old maid. She couldn't tell because then she would lose her powers. Obviously this one the readers were in on.
Another one hated her mom's famous meatloaf, but ate it everytime mom made it because she couldn't bare to hurt her mom's feelings.

What secrets do your characters have? Why can't they share them?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


As I work to finish the last quarter of my novel, I've been concerned about hitting all the marks of a "good" story. My experience and education is in journalism, not creative writing (although some may argue journalism is the same as creative writing these days). Sure, I could take a class on story structure, the art of writing a novel, or similar, but who has the time? So, I am forging ahead, using the knowledge I do have from reading and attending conferences, just wanting to finish and "fix it in post" as they say about mistakes in the film world.

I know my super awesome writing group, the Inkers, will call me out on anything that doesn't ring true. But as I was fishing around on the internet for some sort of checklist to help me judge if I'm on track with all the essentials of storytelling, I found a blog featuring a scorecard of sorts that I thought I would share in case it is helpful to others. It made me feel a bit better about my direction, although there are areas that definitely need to be strengthened.

Now I must go and actually write something so I can get that last quarter done.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm totally late, But This Is Good!!

Its not my day to post.  I missed my day.

Its me by the way (DJ Rose), in case you were totally confused.

But I read this post (and even though I follow his blog I usually don't read it.  I must have been inspired to read it.) and thought I totally needed to share it with all of you.

One Good Piece of Advice

Summed up, it says you need to give yourself permission to suck.  And I so needed to hear that today.  I am way too hard on myself and my writing.  So, starting today, I am going to keep writing and not worry about the massive amounts of suckage that is pouring off of my keyboard.

Happy Writing.

And go read the article for crying out loud.  Its a good one!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two Things

First- Writing short stories is a lot of fun. I keep telling Donna that I'll eventually work on a short story that I love enough to develop into a full-length novel, but it hasn't happened yet. So, I keep writing short stories. Two things I've realized while writing are: a.) short stories don't write themselves. I still have to put some time and effort into them and it has taken me much longer to write one than I thought it would. And b.) writing short stories is a great way for me to practice important aspects of my writing such as meaningful character and plot development as well as good pacing and development of scenes.

Second- Dessert for breakfast = a happy morning. My sister shared a recipe with me recently that almost made me swoon. It's an Italian dessert called Pasticciotto. Essentially, it's a pastry cream pie. If you love pastry cream, then this is the dessert for you!

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Get Your Head in the Game

After three weeks of a fairly stressful work schedule that included 40 hours of overtime in 10 days, I began to pull up my WIP last night and was horrified to realize I had no memory of precisely where I left off in the story. If it had been printed on paper I would have had to blow the dust off the top sheet.

I reread the two chapters leading up to where I stopped, to reacquaint myself with my train of thought, and slowly started to feel some of my mojo coming back to me.

It reminded me of something the author Gennifer Choldenko said at a conference I attended. When asked about her writing routine, she said she writes during the week and takes the weekend off, but she never lets more than two days pass without writing because the story gets too cold. I really want to adopt this habit, although I will likely use the weekend as two of my writing days and skip two during the week.

I always like to hear about other people's writing routines, so please share yours if you care to. Are you a night owl, early morning, on-the-go writer or something else?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Antagonists- a love/hate relationship!

Antagonists are my writing nemesis. I love a great antagonist like Snape from Harry Potter. He is complex and duplicitous but consistent in his actions once you understand his motivations.

However, when it comes to building an antagonist from scratch for my novels I find that I don't channel evil well. They usually are shallow and show up many just to torture my protagonist. Which is the antagonists job of course but a job doesn't make a character well-rounded. Their hopes, dreams, goals, and heartbreak make them who they are.

Take Dr. Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. He has ambition, drive and a dream of ruling the "Tri-State area." All that he does is to meet that one goal. Obsessive yes. But also funny and quirky and fun. Not very complicated.

I've spent about a week trying to capture the essence of my antagonist and build an evil soul-stealing witch into something real and scary rather than just a cookie-cutter bad girl. Wish me luck. I'm trying to channel the dark side and my own fear of the dark makes exploring these traits a true exercise in creativity.

What antagonists do you love to hate and why?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Editing and Old Projects

How long do you wait after finishing a WIP till you go back and edit?

Do you ever revisit old projects and tweak them to make them better?  Or are they just rejection bin fodder?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Joining The Rejects

Two blogs that I follow posted on rejection today. It must be in the air. Like a heavy rain or a swarm of mosquitos.

The heavy cloud of the rejection bug is a'bitin'.

I've had a few myself recently. But that's okay. I've just put on my waders and slogged through more queries.


Nigel Lythgoe, a judge on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance talked about rejection last Wednesday (coincidentally while they were auditioning in Salt Lake City, UT, my home town). He said, "You go to many auditions and you will be rejected. That is part of our lives as a dancer. Why anyone would want to do it, I have no idea."

And from the audience someone shouted, "Because we love to dance."

Well friends, I love to write. And I'll take those rejections, and keep moving forward.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Reading

Are you a big summer reader?  Does your summer reading habits tend to follow Summer blockbuster trends?  Do you change your reading material for summer-time?

How about the kids in your life? Do you keep them reading?  Do they change their reading habits?

I love reading outside in the summer time.  Summer I usually read middle grade books, especially award winners.  I set a goal years ago to read all of the Newberry Medal books.  I'm still not there (cause some of them are downright depressing and I just don't go there.  There is a reason my nickname is DJ Rose.)  But for whatever reason I love reading about kid books during the summer.

Some of my favorite medal and honor books are:
Princess Academy
A View to a Saturday
Whipping Boy
Westing Game
Out of the Dust
The Graveyard Book
Al Capone Does My Shirts

        My list could go on and on, but its my boys birthday and I am needed in the kitchen!

You can see a complete list of winners here.

Happy Summer Reading!!