Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNo Day 30: FIN!

10/10 would jump.

Hey hey hey! Great work! Congratulations to those who participated. 

1) What did you learn?

2) Did you enjoy it?

3) Will you keep writing?

4) What was your final score?

5) Care to share anything else?

Seriously though you guys, this is harder than it seems at times, but it is so rewarding. Whether you hit 50K or you hit a different goal for yourself, great job. Give yourself a pat on the back, and get some sleep. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNo Day 29: Almost There

No tips. No number lists. Nunna that.

Today is the penultimate day of NaNoWriMo 2012.

Get back to work. You can do it. Make us all proud.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNo Day 28: Don't Beat Yourself Up

Even if your novel looks like crap, don't fret. The above picture is concept art from the cinematic turd Battleship, featuring Tim Riggins, Rihanna and the guy from Taken. It could have been great, but it wasn't. (Haven't seen it. Will. But haven't.) This can still be you, though: a cool alien vessel that floats like a crocodile.

1) Think of a turd movie you've seen recently. How would you make it better?

2) Ever read a book and thought "Great, except for that one character?" Kill that character, replace them with someone else. Then share with the class. 

3) What movie are you excited for most this December? Besides Les Mis and Hobbit. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NaNo Day 27: The Engine

Look, some guys put up posters of models in bikinis, I keep pictures of chromed engines on my hard drive. What. 

1) The above car is owned by Jay Leno. Have him drive through the scene you're writing today. (Or imagine it. Whatever.) What happens?

2) Don't worry if your engine looks like a rusted out piece of crap that doesn't fit the space intended: when you edit, it will look like this.

3) What does your MC drive?

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNo Day 26: CyberMonday


I don't care if it's the biggest Internet sales day of the year, you still have five days left to hit your goal (including today) so hit it. NOW.

1) Where are you in your story? First, second, third act?

2) Jump ahead in your story if there's another part you're more excited to write. Try it.

3) What cancelled TV show would you put back on the air? Besides Firefly.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NaNo Day #24: 80% complete!

Seriously! Eighty percent! And it seems like only six days ago it was sixty percent! Math is a cruel mistress. 

If the above is an apt metaphor for your WiP in its current state, congratulations! You are doing NaNoWriMo.

1) How many words will you write in the next six days?

2) How much will you write after that?

3) What's your favorite part of your book so far?

Friday, November 23, 2012

NaNo Day 23: On This, the Blackest of Fridays

I think you're gonna need a bigger sword.

Editing your NaNo WiP is no easy chore. So do the American thing and put it off until you have to do it!

Right now you are merely planting and growing the sapling that will later become an overgrown elm, spewing sludge onto your front lawn and busting the foundation of your home with its unruly roots.

The important thing to realize is this: you can't prune a tree that isn't there. Neither can you burn it to the ground. You have to create something before you can fix/destroy it as necessary.

So DO NOT EDIT. This is NaNo-WRI-Mo.

1) How many words have you not edited today? This month?

2) Can you name the character in the above photo?

3) How big a sword will you need to edit your WiP?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 22: Thanksgiving

"And please bless whoever invented pumpkin pie..."

1) Take a moment to be thankful for your blessings. If you so desire to count them here in the comments, you are more than welcome to do so.

2) Did you write at all today? It could technically be a day off, given that most of us will have to cook, but if you can write anything, you're the hero.

3) What is your MC most thankful for?

I personally am grateful to the Inkers for being my friends all these years, for the encouraging words and the confidence you engender. You're all wonderful people and I'm blessed to have you as friends. Keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 21: All Your Base Are Belong To Us

1) Come on. Report. Give us the numbers. TALK!

2) You know how action-driven writers always tell you that you can break through writer's block by blowing something up? Well, it's true, but it's also a kind of rookie move. Let me suggest instead that an alien robot dinosaur drop out of the sky and demolish city hall where your MC lives. That oughta spice things up.

3) 9 days left, folks. We're in single digits, and this is technically Hell Week. If you can get some writing done during Thanksgiving, you can do it all month long. Which isn't long, but whatever.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 20: Oh-oh, you're 2/3rds of the way there...

Oh-OH! Livin' on a prayer!

(That's the lyric, right?)

Hessians stand even less of a chance against George "Mopar" Washington

1) Today I want your total word count (not your daily word count) as a percentage of your goal for the month. Yes, children: tonight, Darth Graham is assigning you math.

2) Yesterday you gave your character a weapon that wouldn't normally have. What happens when you put one of your characters in a vehicle that is removed from their time? (See display above.)

3) Look back on your career as a writer. What has been your greatest moment? (Best thing written, maybe you won an award, your favorite writing piece, etc.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 19: Penultimate Monday Edition!!!

1) You know the drill: word counts. I need them.

2) Take any one of your characters and give them a weapon they wouldn't normally have. What happens?

3) Have you done anything freakishly implausible in your book for the sake of maintaining momentum? Do share. :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaNo Day 18: 60% complete...

This awesome piece courtesy of Fstarno

1) On a scale of 1-10, would you live in the above castle? What potential dangers would you face?

2) What's your word count for today? You have twelve days left, so readjust your goals if necessary and keep on gunning for it.

3) What have you learned about NaNo thus far? What have you learned about yourself as a writer?

You guys can do this. It's a day-to-day thing, and if some days aren't that great, you can make it up later. But there are less than two weeks to go, so manage your efforts wisely.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNo Day 17: Another Week Ends

So says Blast Thickneck!

1) Do you feel like you've got downhill momentum yet?

2) What's your word count looking like?

3) What has distracted you this week?

Take an awesome picture of yourself. Send it to the group. I'll post it to the blog. Like this:

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNo Day 16: Bolt Van Der Huge!

1) Tell us of your daily progress.

2) What writing music are you using (if any?)

3) Who would you want to direct the movie of your book?

Scale of 1 to 10, how strange is this chick on a deer statue?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Oh, and Bob Johnson! Wait, that's not a tough guy name.

1) Daily and month word count. (Double this number. Is it your goal?)

2) Are you injecting any of your own personal life anecdotes into your WiP? Tell us more.

3) Have you learned any cool tricks for writing when you feel blocked?

Would you ever do this? Discuss.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNo Day 14: Crud Bonemeal!

1) What did you write today?

2) What flaws does your main character have?

3) Make your antagonist and protagonist switch roles. Anything interesting happen?

'Bout how large would you say my shirt is in this 2001 photo?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNo Day 13: Fridge LargeMeat!

1) How far off-track are you? (Or how far ahead?)

2) Have you gotten any new book ideas along the way?

3) Would you write your book from the POV of one of your side characters? Why or why not?

First word that comes to mind when you see this:

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNo Day 12: Big McLargeHuge

1) Daily word count!

2) Monthly total!

3) Best line you wrote today? Or the worst? Whatever, just share it!

Caption this photo:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Sunday Edition

Forgive me, I wasn't able to throw up a boatload of posts in advance this Sunday, so I'll just have to wing it.

1) Where are you at in relation to your goal so far?

2) Did you get anything written today?

3) What's your overall impression of the NaNo experience up to now?

For the record, I wish I could write in my current WiP as easily as I write my personal history, but it's just a given that that is going to be easier. I'm much more knowledgeable about my personal history, and snark covers a multitude of sins.

Like this crime against fashion, for example.

Ladies, contain yourselves.

So yeah. If I'll say anything about it, I'll say this much: keep it up. Don't let 11 days be your max. You can all reach your goal in 30 days, no matter how high or low you set it. (My personal best for any NaNo is 103K, in 2008. I don't expect I'll ever do that again, because I was single and had non-interventionist roommates.)

Keep it up. You got this.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 10: Stump Chunkman!

THE DECADE! I don't know if it's actually called that. I know a 100-mile bike ride is called a century, so who knows. But who cares? You made it!

1) Right?

2) Daily word count, montly total

3) If you're short of your goal average, what sort of drastic measures will you take to make up ground over the next twenty days?

Speed on!

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 9: Gristle McThornbody!

Fact: if you have a "tank" character in your book--a big tough person who can take pain and deal out damage with swift carelessness--and don't know what to name them, you can use any of the blog post names from Inking Cap throughout the month of November. It will be awesome.

1) Did you reach your goal today?

2) Give a big hug to your fam & friends for supporting you throughout this endeavor.

3) I recommend checking out the NaNoWriMo Twitter feed for more motivation.

4) Is there a book to which you would compare your current WiP?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 8: Buck Plankchest!

Thus far I have named all of the NaNo writing posts with exceedingly strange nomenclature. There is a reason for this: I did the same thing all throughout November of 2010, using the same names I'm using now.

Why, you ask?

Well, because I'm crazy.

I'm also a huge fan of MST3K. All of the names I've used are from this episode:

Anyway, to the important stuff: Sharing Time!

1) How much did you write today?

2) Are you satisfied with where you're at thus far?

3) If not, how will you remedy that over the next 22 days?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 7: Rip Steakface!

Wow, a whole week! Can ya dig it?

1) Report your daily count and total count.

2) What's the biggest/most obvious/best thing you've learned in the first week?

3) If you could eliminate one distraction, what would it be?

If you need to find a place without distractions, don't rule out the option of sitting in your car with the laptop, guys. It's totally valid. I studied in a closet for a while when I had trouble focusing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 6: Roll Fizzlebeef!

Pro tips for tracking your NaNo word count:

1) Never delete anything that you've already written! Just go back and strike it out, or color them red, then write after that. You wrote those words, you should count them! It's like Thomas Edison and the light bulb: he found thousands of ways to not make a light bulb, but he was still working. You're just finding ways to not write your book but you're still working and it still counts.

2) Create a new document called "NaNo 2012 Dump." After you're done writing for the day, copy and paste what you've written into the Dump document. I do this because my outline and my draft are two different documents, but I often write a more detailed outline of the chapter before I write the actual chapter, and I want my effort to count. This helps me track it more accurately.

I suspect that you Wrimos might have higher word counts than you've been reporting (not that you haven't been doing a stellar job thus far!)

Now for the standard stuff.

1) Word count today?

2) Word count total?

3) Would you like to live in the place where your book is set?

That's all, folks! Back to work!

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 5: Flint Ironstag!

Monday, Monday, back to the battle! Yesterday we didn't really work on our main WiPs--we've been using Sundays for side projects. Did the downtime help you clear your head or resolve any niggling plot issues?

1) How much did you write today?

2) Word count so far?

3) How can we encourage you to do better?

And some inspiring words: "The Internet is a big distraction. It's distracting, it's meaningless, it's not real. It's in the air somewhere." --Ray Bradbury

Less Internet, more write!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNo Day 4: Trunk Slamchest!

I know it's Sunday, so most of us aren't working on our current WiPs, so here's what I would like to know:

1) What are you writing on your "day off?"

2) What's your total word count for NaNoWriMo as of today?

3) Are you having any trouble with your current WiP? If you are, let us know in the comments!

Keep at it, you guys. We're only 4 days in. Even if you're a little bit behind where you wanted to be, you can still make progress.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo day 3: Slab Bulkhead!

Okay Wrimos, here's what I want to know:

1) How many words today?

2) How many words for the month?

3) Who's your favorite character in this book so far?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2: No slackers here:)

It's 11 pm so I'm posting on behalf of those who want to post comments under day 2!! This is in no way a coup d'etat or usurpation of Graham's powers. Okay so I can see how it might be a bit of a coup, but I hope we can avoid bloodshed.

Post your word counts:
1) today
2) total
3) Your most amazing moment of the day!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 1: Dirk Hardpec!

Don't worry if you don't understand the title. It will make sense in time.

So Wrimos, how'd your first day go? I want to know three things:

1) Your daily word count

2) Your total word count

3) Your favorite part of what you wrote for today.

Have at it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Morituri Te Salutant

Today is Halloween. 

This is good. We like Halloween. Spooky, dark, spectral, the forerunner to a colder season spent at home with a mug of something hot and tasty and a nice program on the brings us many happies.

Also, if you're a writer, it reminds you how it feels to be alive.

To be on fire.

To be unstoppable.

Yes, boys and's time for NaNoWriMo.
(Go there and set up a profile!)


50,000 words. 30 days. (Or however much you want, from Nov 1 to Nov 30.)

This is the writer's bloodsport. This is the forge, the refiner's flame, the gauntlet. The one obstacle in the Coliseum that the Romans feared so much, they didn't bother letting historians know about it. 

Your mission, Writer, is to enter this gauntlet and slay the beasts within. Only after thirty days of the most brutal trials will you be allowed to exit at the other side, clothed in the pelts of endangered jungle cats, stained with their blood, carrying the wilted pages of a draft in your trembling hands. 

You will be tested.

You will be tried.

You will endure the fear and pressure of a once-great predator in a new and unknown environment.

It will change you.

It is a pathway to powers some consider to be...unnatural.

If you are reading this, it is too late to back out.

You are already committed to this program.

Keep your chin up. Don't be afraid to ask Clint Eastwood Ninja Turtle for help, should you need guidance. 

Every day, you are to report back to Inking Cap. You will find a new blog post recapping the day's events. 

You can leave a note about your word count, something one of your characters did, a joke you thought of, or anything else related to what you wrote that day. The bottom line is, you must return and report.

Enjoy these final dwindling hours, Wrimos. For tomorrow we jump into the frigid unknown.

See you on the other side. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Hello Cybe-Space

As with all things in life, the Inker's have had to face changes.  Change happens, how you respond is the real question.

We can easily give up. Say things are just too hard and its time to end this fun journey. But we are made of tougher stuff than that.

As things go, life has become even busier. Sir-Kirk-A-Lot moved away and started on a Law Degree.  And the rest of us are trying to manage family, sports, jobs, and our dream of a writing career. 

We are celebrating our 4th year together. That is remarkable in my humble opinion.  We've managed to stay together and stay focused.

But like I said at the beginning, things change.  Right now our format is no long a monthly get together laden with rich foods.  Currently we are getting together via Google Hangout.  It is great for seeing everyone (though the web cam angle is terrible for one's self esteem--so not flattering) and using the screen share feature allows us to put our work up so everyone can read along as we share our writing.

So over the years we've changed and we've adapted. And we are still going strong.

Keep writing, keep adapting, and keep smiling.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pixar Story Rules

I subscribe to the belief that the reason Pixar's films have been so successful goes beyond the advances they've made in animation-- that it's the storytelling that is really their ace in the hole (up to, ahem...Cars 2). I don't recall many movies that have touched me as much as Toy Story 3 over the past decade. 

So, when I saw a link to this post titled Pixar Story Rules on Twitter via the author Carrie Ryan, I had to share. Lots of good tips here. Hope it's helpful!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Frankenstein Effect

A few years ago I completed a manuscript of about 100k words. Long yes, but super cool...or so I thought. Then my writers group worked it over and gave me great feedback, so many places to tighten the plot and cinch the story into shape. Please note that I was more than willing to 'kill my darling sentences', chop subplots, and had cut it back to 80K words before these edits began. This was not a first round issue. The problem I faced with all the great feedback was HOW to implement it. I took all the ideas and totally Frankensteined my story into a monsterous mess. Fitting all the chopped bits together without leaving gross scars in the story posed a problem.
The good news is, I recognized my best efforts weren't working. So I shelved it and started on something else. The starting on something else here is key. Keep writing.

Recently in helping a friend work through her manuscript I was able to explain that a great edit will bring the pieces of your story together like a mosaic. Fitting interesting new bits into the context of the larger picture, or taking out the ones that confuse the image.
How do you know when you are editing the right aspects of your story?

Well this is what we came up with:

Much like this mosaic of fish all swimming in the same direction, a good edit, addition or cut, will help all the elements of the story "swim together" instead of being forced into a stitched mess. Working with Inker Debbie the other day, she suggested a change to her finished manuscript. As we discussed the change, other plot elements suddenly became more relevant. It added to the motivation of her characters in subsequent scenes and it brought a WOW factor to a lot of what she had already written. This is a mosaic change, one small piece that makes the other pieces of her story look better and feel more real.

A Frankenstein edit is one that puts a strain on the other elements or causes you to dissect what is working and stitch something else in to keep it consistent.

Let's put it in a practical situation:
Imagine Cinderella without her ugly stepsisters-an interesting idea that would put major holes in the plot and create a dilemma for the author who has to invent new ways for Cinderella to suffer so that we can sympathize with her. (Potential Monster edit)

Now imagine Cinderella with one evil selfish stepsister and one kind sister-both more beautiful than she is...this opens new avenues of suffering and character development where the future princess can show compassion and sisterhood but might find she feels insecure in her beauty when compared to her sisters. This works within the elements that already work in the story. The sisty uglies already work as antagonists we're just making them more interesting bad guys.(Potential Mosaic)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Random Poll

Today I was talking to Inker Donna about cloning and a question came to mind:

If you had an exact clone of yourself, would you be friends? Why or why not?

I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be great friends with myself. Luckily I have surrounded myself with patient and long suffering friends...if it were me, I'd drive myself crazy :)

How about you?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Point of View Preferences

I've started work on a new project (women's fiction/romantic comedy) and have been debating myself over whether to use a first person POV, like in my first completed novel, or use third person. I've only written half a page, but I chose third person because I thought it would be good to get out of the first person mindset.

However, I keep wondering if first person wouldn't be better, and I think it's mostly because I tend to like to read stories written in first person. I like getting inside the head of the main character and taking the journey with them. But, since third person is the most commonly used POV, I'm thinking there must be good reason for that, leaving me questioning if I'm leaning toward first person because it is easier for me.

So, rather than continue my internal debate and going in circles, I'd love to hear from you about your POV preferences. Perhaps your feedback can help me to make a choice and get going with it already. Because, to be honest, I'm beginning to wonder if this struggle isn't an excuse to procrastinate digging in to the new story. ;)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Keeping my word

Writers and runners have a lot in common. Both begin with seemingly impossible goals and all the optimism in the world. Both need training and patience to build the skills to finish the race.

The stages of a race are much like the stages of writing a novel. You need to know the course, but no matter how well you know the map it will not be the same when you hit the road.

Then there is the hard middle when the enthusiasm of the start line is far behind and the glory of the finish line is still out of sight. This is the time when both writers and runners have to dig deep and it is also the easiest time to quit, tap out, or start walking and hope to pick up some momentum after catching their breath.

Those who push through and chisel away at the distance will eventually close the gap to the finish line and then it is a matter of mind over body. The Final Sprint. In the end, scores are tallied and performance is measured but in the moment of crossing the finish there is a split second of pure joy in accomplishment. The END. The Finish Line. The applause and the crowd. That second of time is why runners run and writers write. Why they suffer the hard middle and worse the gut wrenching, nauseating, lung twisting final sprint. If it were easy everyone would do it, but its not and they don't.

So what?
For anyone caught in the hard middle or the dizzying challenge of the final sprint on any goal in life, especially in writing. Keep your word. Keep your promise to yourself that you will at least cross the finish line.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Zoom In

At Writing For Charity, the writers conference I mentioned a couple of months ago, I spoke to Jeff "The Genius" Savage (my nickname for him, not his) and he gave me some great advice that I've thought of many times since he spoke it. You know when advice crosses your mind repeatedly that it has to be great!

He talked about setting a scene in your writing. We start zoomed way out, surveying the setting, catching a few glimpses of the world we're in, what life is like. Then the camera zooms in and we catch a few specifics, and as the camera narrows in more, we get to the point of the scene and that is our focus.

Something I have a tendency to do is once I get to the focus of the scene, I can inadvertently veer away. In analyzing several scenes I've written, I've found that this is a common problem for me. Right when you get to the good stuff, you don't want to diverge to a less important conversation, or wax poetic about the color of the sky. Imagining the scene as a camera lens slowly focusing in really helps me to stay the course.

Great advice from a great writer. Hope it helps!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Growing Pains

A few months ago, one of my sons woke up in the middle of the night. He was crying and rubbing at his ankles and legs, complaining of pain. After checking for any additional symptoms, I determined he had growing pains, gave him some ibuprofen, and sent him back to bed with a hug and kiss.

I love the term "Growing Pains." We all suffer through them, whether physically, emotionally,'s a part of life. It can be a five-year-old child waking in the middle of the night, clutching his ankles with tears in his eyes, or an adult waking in the middle of the night, clutching their tear-stained pillow. The good news is that on the other side of the pain, you'll come out a little taller, perhaps a little wiser.

Growing pains are so essential to the characters we create, not necessarily the hurdles that need to be overcome, but those internal struggles, the quietest of battles that determine who they become.

One novel that completely succeeds in this (in my opinion) is Catcher in The Rye. I remember reading it in high school and feeling connected in a way that I never had before.

So let's offer a rousing favorite Princess Bride cheer:


Monday, April 2, 2012

Disney Romance

Last week Donna, Kirk and I went to dinner with the lovely Bree Despain and Brodi Ashton. We ate thai food, discussed books, and talked writing. I can't really think of an evening I enjoy more!

Bree, who is really quite brilliant, shared some advice that I liked so much I wanted to post it. She talked about the three different kinds of romances, and identifying the type of romance you might be writing.

The first is the Cinderella romance, where the woman is in love with the man, and trying to catch his attention. (See also Little Mermaid).

The second is the Beauty and the Beast romance, where the man is in love with the woman and trying to catch her attention. (See also Aladdin).

The third is the Sleeping Beauty romance, where the couple is in love but circumstances keep them apart. (See also Snow White).

Although I'm not writing a romance, per se, there is a romantic element in my book. While trying to fit it in to the three categories Bree talked about, I realized my romance didn't quite fit.

So I'd also like to submit a fourth romance for suggestion. In keeping with the Disney theme, I think there is also the Tangled romance, where the couple doesn't begin in love, but through time and circumstance that pushes them together, end up falling in love. (See also Princess and the Frog).

I think my romance might be more of a Tangled contender.

What are you writing?

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Need Your Charity

This weekend, a group of us Inkers (and our friend, Comrade Uhrey) attended the Writing for Charity Conference. The conference itself was reasonably priced, only one day, and included a barrel full of talented authors. I would highly recommend it.

There are a few pieces of wisdom I came away with that I wanted to share.

Clint Johnson, in speaking about writing and editing said, "The only thing you can't improve is nothing." And also, "Invest in yourself as a writer, not just in the book you're writing."

I also went to a class presented by Jeff Savage, who if I had forgotten is the coolest author on the planet, I was reminded. He talked about query letters, and his amazing four point structure to describe your book:
1- protagonist and why we should like him/her. 2- What is the protagonist's goal? 3- What obstacles will the protagonist face? 4- What are the stakes or success and failure?

For anyone who has written or will write a query letter, this advice is priceless!

Brandon Sanderson gave a class on plot, talking about when you make promises, dole out the information appropriately and have a sufficient ending that keeps the promises.

All in all, it was great. For the cost (even lunch was provided), a one on one critique with a published author, and the classes, this is the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to writers conferences. I just wish they'd change their logo because it looks like a girl reading on the toilet.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


True Story:  I LOVED Xanadu as a little girl.  I wanted to grow up and be Olivia Newton John.  I listened to the Xanadu record all the way up until 1992 (that is the fateful year we moved to Seattle and somehow in that move I lost all of the good records.  Simon & Garfunkel, The Beattles, Elvis, The Judds, Annie, and Xanadu).

Monday night my sweet hubby took me to see the musical Xanadu.  I was so excited until I realized that its a spoof.  Then I read the program.  It made me question my taste:
"Fans of the 1980 movie Xanadu, (all ten of you) and haters (many, many of you) . . ."

I was feeling rather embarrassed.  (Now truth be told, its been at least 10 years since I've seen it and I think I was a little disheartened when I did see it.)  I wish I had known going into it that it was a spoof.  I would have enjoyed it from the beginning.

Now, that was a really long intro to get to the meat of what I want to say to you.  Again I quote the handbill:

When ...Xanadu...opened to disastrous reviews and low box office performance, it sent shock waves through Hollywood.  How could Hollywood's hottest star, a magical roller derby, Greek muses, pop music, Zeus, and disco skating go wrong?

As a writer's group we've discussed this very problem: Cramming too many cool things into one plot.  Sometimes the idea factory gets going and we have all these AMAZING ideas.  But then our plot starts to look like a Xanadu disaster with roller skates and shockingly short shorts. (Quick side note: we saw this in a small theatre and had front row seats, which meant that I leaned back when the dancers kicked.  I was at eye level with Sonny Malone's thighs much of the night.  Way too much hairy skin for my taste.)

So, avoid being a Hollywood disaster and write down those cool ideas and use just a few for each plot.  This way you'll never run out of story ideas.

Happy Writing.

PS I am listening to the original Olivia/ELO soundtrack as I type this.  Sometimes music transcends crappy story-telling.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Will Silence Be Golden?

The Academy Awards ceremony will air tomorrow night,and one of the nominees for Best Original Screenplay is The Artist, a movie with no spoken dialogue. I have not seen the film,but the nomination gave me pause and spiked my curiosity regarding what a screenplay for a "silent" movie is like.

I found a copy here for those who are interested.

For me, to write a story with minimal dialogue seems a painful exercise, as my stories tend to be more dialogue driven. I applaud Mr. Hazanavicius for the accomplishment. The film has received many awards ahead of Oscar night, including Best Original Screenplay at the BAFTA's (the British Oscars).

My question is, does having minimal to no dialogue make it a loftier accomplishment than another story with plenty of dialogue? Is it a gimmick or a piece de resistance?

I have only seen two of the nominees for Best Original Screenplay - Midnight in Paris and Bridesmaids. I'd vote for Bridesmaids. It made me laugh (hard), made me cry, and had a great romantic subplot.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Make today Extordinary and a life changing book

To those of you who are new to this blog. Welcome. You will notice that Blush aka Linda has been carrying us for quite a while. We love her posts and would like to invite you to visit some of the archived posts. Someday I might even do my top ten from last year. There were some good ones.
So what is new this week? Well, if you were at LTUE last weekend then no doubt you have heard James A Owen's keynote address about "The Power of Choice." It was fabulous. Meeting James and having dinner with him and our awesome writing group was even cooler as I was able to discover that he is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He cares about his readers and he is a crafty marketing guru. Most of all he doesn't sweat the small stuff.

This week on his blog he has made his book "Drawing Out the Dragons..." available on ebook for free for five days. He said to share the link with someone we love. I must say that I would like to share it with everyone I know. My 10 year old read it and he said, "It changed my perspective on the world." He has been drawing dragons every day since.
Here is the link. Go and download the book and read it with your family this weekend.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Advice For Young Writers (and Others)

I found this letter from Mette Ivie Harrison (who I got to talk with over Sushi after LTUE last week) and thought I would share:

Dear Young Writers,
I started writing my first novel when I was in tenth grade. It was a fantasy time-travel book and I sent it out to one publisher. It was rejected with a nice note encouraging me, but saying that the book didn’t fit the publisher’s “list.” I worked on other things on and off, but I think that first experience gave me a good look at the reality of publishing and it frightened me. You could write well, but be rejected by some reason that you had never thought of. You could spend hours working on a book and get nothing but experience out of it. And clearly, as I listened to the adult writers struggling with the business, even if you were published, this was not exactly a career that you could depend on for day-to-day living expenses. So I listened to my father and to all the other sensible voices around me and moved on to what I thought was a more “stable” career.

The only problem is, it turned out that everything else I ever tried to do, I was telegraphing to people that what I “really” wanted to do was to be a writer, and that other things were only “bread and butter” in comparison, until I got up the courage and invested the time necessary to do what I was meant to do. It was a very painful experience for me to finally recognize that it is impossible to hide from yourself and that there is nothing worse than giving up what you really love for something “stable” and ordinary. So I made a leap, admittedly with the help and encouragement of my husband who now supports our family largely, and quit my job. I do not necessarily recommend this route for everyone, but for me at the time it seemed there was no other choice.

I see now, from the inside of the business, that there are many ways to make a living as a writer. There are always publishers who are looking for writers to work on series that have been pitched by someone else and are already selling well. There are Christian publishers, workbook publishers, craft publishers. There are people looking for technical writers, for writers to write newsletters or software manuals, and on and on. But it is also true that working part-time, for two hours a day five days a week, I make as much as I did at my other job. And there are a lot of perks. I write what I want to write. I write stories that I wish I could read. I write fantastic stuff that even I can’t believe, and I write contemporary fiction or picture books or mystery novels, whatever strikes my fancy at the time. I have what I think of as my dream life, the life I never believed I could have when I first tried and failed. My advice—don’t give up on the dream. There is a way to do it. You just have to find the way.

Mette Ivie Harrison

Just the encouragement that I need.  Write On!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Watch Your Mouth!

Inker DJ shared a great word this week:


An unpleasant or harmful odor, secretion, or discharge.

Then Inker Kirk shared another:


1: having the hand on the hip and the elbow turned outward

2: set in a bent position <a tailor sitting with legs akimbo>

Since I've been neglectful of purposely expanding my vocabulary lately, I thought I would share and issue a challenge to use these words in a sentence or share another interesting word here.

So far I have failed in my commitment to manage to use both in conversation at the office, but I'm still keeping them in mind for just the right moment.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I am absent today, so I have attached a facsimile of myself to represent me (see right).

I have a good excuse though. I am a mere two chapters away from finishing my first complete draft of a novel. That's right folks, after three years of writing it and many more years formulating it, that sucker is almost d-o-n-e. Well, as we all know, it will not be done, but at least it is written down from beginning to end.

My goal is to have it finished by the time the Inkers meet Tuesday night, so I cannot afford to spend any time here ruminating this week. I'll be back next week, when I hope to be deep in the editing process (but will save a little time to ruminate).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Distraction = Fear?

I read this interview with debut author Jennifer Shaw Wolf and the following Q&A from it really spoke to me, so I wanted to share:

What is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?

My biggest distraction from writing any book is my own lack of confidence or fear. It takes different forms; my family, my house, the internet, my own to-be-read list, whatever. What I’ve learned (and am relearning all the time) is that distraction is another word for fear. As a writer, I get distracted most when I’m afraid to move forward. What if this doesn’t work? What if I spend all this time and it’s is no good? What should I be doing instead of writing? What if I’m wasting my time? (This thought is usually followed by a couple of hours on Twitter or Facebook, looking for some self-affirmation.) Finishing a book (no matter how rough) is a triumph over distractions and fear.

To read the whole interview, click here.