Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Just when I thought there was nothing left

Some days I am incredibly insightful and creative. Other days I'm like a deflated balloon and I couldn't come up with something creative if it hit me over the head.

I dread those uncreative moments, especially when they last awhile.

I've been battling with myself over my writing. These funny little things that pop up, brainstorms you have to have with yourself until you get things right. It's worse when you can't brainstorm because you can't think of one thing. Not one.

This has been going on for...well, ever since I completed my last novel (which I haven't talked about yet because it is in limbo, and so I don't like to talk about it). I also finished a novella about a month or two ago. In 1-2 months, yes 1-2 months, I have not been writing much!!!

I hate to admit it, because I was worried I had nothing left. I think it's a worry many writers have, but I seriously thought my career was over. Until I realized I had to give myself a break. I remember going through this same thing last year, and I was in the middle of my story then. This time, I'm at the beginning.

I read that Nora Roberts writes everyday, no matter what, because "you can't edit a blank page". She doesn't believe in writer's block and believes that a writer is going to write. So imagine the pressure I've been feeling because I can't seem to write.'s what I did.

I gave myself a break. I just completed and submitted my third 100K novel, I finished and submitted a 40K novella. I have every right to take a break. To feel emotionally exhausted. To feel like every word has been detracted from my body. So once I finally realized this, I accepted that I just needed a break. Then I did other creative things, like created a character sketch for my characters.

I had a character sketch already, but I didn't care about my characters. I didn't care about my story and had no idea. But once I gave myself that break and realized I deserved it, everything was better and I actually wanted to work on the story. This sketch is very cool, almost a poster board type sketch only it's on my computer (I printed it to hang on my wall), with pictures and facts about the character. Maybe I'll show it to you one day, but for now I have to keep it to myself. It is a WIP, after all, and I never talk about my WIP.

So...just when I thought the well was dried up, water burst forth, and I've written some fantastic scenes this evening. Ones I am so proud of!

Oh, and I realized that just because a certain author does it a certain way, no matter how successful she is, doesn't mean we are all that way! We have to do things that work for us. What worked for me is finally telling myself that I deserve a break and will get back on track. It didn't take long to get back on track once I came to this realization on my own (doesn't matter how many people told me to take a break beforehand). I only hope I stay on track for awhile...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Emotions in Characters and Pet Peeves

I used to think I didn’t have a pet peeve when it came to reading. I dislike books that don't catch my interest right away, for whatever reason, but I'm fairly easy to please.

I’ve since discovered maybe I'm not so easy to please.

There are so many ways to draw a reader into a story. My favorite? Show me how the character is feeling by revealing—through his thoughts and senses—how he is feeling. The weather, usually very overplayed, if done right can be a great revelation of emotion. There are moments when a scene requires a slight nudge to show me the character, another when I need to be banged on the hand with the information.

I was reading a book from one of my favorite authors, (NYT bestseller, but I'm not saying who) and I can't make make it past the first chapter. Why? I wanted to know how the character was feeling, but every other sentence told me. Yes, in highly emotional scenes it is good to super empower the sensations and thoughts of the character, but readers can’t stand to read in a super empowered state at every sentence. (At least, I can’t).

Another pet peeve? Thoughts. I hate italics. If I am in that character’s head, I do not need italics. It jars me and jerks me out of where I want to be—in the character’s head. Some editors believe that a character’s thought must be italicized. I believe in going deep into the character’s POV. Everything the character sees, touches, experiences is what I experience. His thoughts are my thoughts. If the grass looks purple to him…well, you catch my drift. But I don't like italics. It's just my personal preference, and I know others will disagree, but this book has italics on every page. I'm not kidding. More than once, sometimes, and it makes me want to throw the book across the room.

What’s your pet peeve?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Keep Moving Forward

I love movies, but rarely blog about them. I could blog movie reviews all day long and tell you what I liked and disliked about them, but the movie I watched last night deserves commenting on.

I had just come home from my aunt and uncle's, where I spent the weekend. Hubby and I decided to relax with a movie and a pizza, because it had been an eventful and tiring weekend. We watched Meet the Robinsons.

The movie had its good moments and it's "let's get this on with it" moments, but the overall theme of the movie is what touched me. Lately, I've been in a bad place mentally. Writing can be such a stressful and lonely occupation. Challenging. Frustrating. Demanding. Add in an exhausting full time job, and you have days when you just want to give up. It's easy to follow your negative stream of consciousness when self-doubt reins stronger than the joy of writing.

My aunt must have known the frustration I was feeling, because she said something I know, but something I needed to hear from someone who loves me for me (besides my husband...because sometimes, well, I think he's just trying to make me feel better). "Not many people get to realize their dreams," she said. "You have, and you should be proud of that." Other things were said about my job, but you get the point.

Back to the movie, Meet the Robinsons...about a kid who is ready to give up on his dreams until he sees the future he'll have if he "Keeps Moving Forward" (the mantra of the movie). Of course, he has the opportunity to fix the bad things that happen and everything ends up happily ever after.

We don't have the opportunity to see our future, but can you see how many opportunities we have to throw our future away? What if the next rejection kills my hopes and I never pick up a pen again? What if I let my job stress overwhelm me so much that I decide writing isn't a future I am able to pursue?

What if J.K. Rowling stopped at her third Harry Potter book?

If you give up your dreams, you give up a part of yourself. Sure, you'll have a different future, but think of the future Lewis would have had in Meet The Robinsons as opposed to the one he did have, because he KEPT MOVING FORWARD!

I believe that God sometimes uses people and things to tell us something, and while part of me wonders why He would support my dream of writing romantic suspense (I'm not out saving the world), the other part of me realizes the good that can come of it. I grew up reading romance, and each book I've read, each author, has touched me deeply, though I never knew and probably will never know them personally. My mom, who would have been the biggest support post of all, is no longer here to pursue her dreams, but I know she would offer wisdom if she could. So with that in mind, I'm ready to KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

On another note...I wanted to wish our veterans a HAPPY VETERAN'S DAY. I wish I could personally thank each and every one of them for what they've done for our country.

Recently, I did some research on the Vietnam War. I just completed a novella targeting the Vietnam era (patiently waiting to hear back from my publisher) and how it affected the relationship between a man and a woman, and I bought a couple of books from true Vietnam vets who spoke of their experiences. While all war is catastrophic and changes the lives of many, I learned how Vietnam was different. Those men went to a foreign country with little training and came back after a year with little to no support. They didn't have a fanfare waiting for them, and sometimes their families didn't even recognize them. They were supposed to get a job or go back to work with no debriefing when they returned home. It was hard to know who their enemy was, even after they returned home.

Many of them experienced outbursts of rage and still have nightmares to this day. They were trained to kill, dehumanize, and hate, then come back home and return to a normal life.

What is normal? To them, everything had changed and they'd miss out on what should have been the most important part of their life. Many of them right out of high school and most of them young, they saw more death and destruction than most people could possibly imagine, and many of them never came home. Most people gave up believing in the war and many didn't believe in or support the soldiers anymore.

No matter how you feel about war, if you know a Vet, or anyone who is in the military, give them a hug and shout out your appreciation. We all know what they do isn't easy, but I hope they know how much we love and appreciate them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Following The Muse

I want to do what I want to do! I want to write what I want to write!

But my muse won’t let me.

For those of you who don’t believe in a muse, I’m here to disagree, but I’m not going to try to explain what I think it is. I have no way of knowing. Something internal, some creative aspect of ourselves that seems to know exactly what we should say, do, think or write. Some kind of internal dialogue with ourselves. I can even liken it to a spirit. If you believe in the Holy Spirit, I think the muse is something like that. And when you tap into that muse, when you are “one” with that muse, everything seems so perfect for awhile.

But man, it’s hard to stay there. I always try to run ahead, and leave my muse behind. Then when I stop and wait for the muse to catch up, I look around waiting and wondering what happened to it, but it’s lost. There are other times when I lag behind. My foot gets wrapped with twigs and briars as I run through a forest of ideas, and I trip and fall, calling out for the muse to wait for me.

I’ve lost the muse.

Okay, so it isn’t quite like that, but the muse is a wonderful, terrifying part of most writers’ life, and it seems to want me to write a story I didn’t think I was ready for.

The bad thing about the muse is if I try to force a story without its support, it usually sucks. Eventually the muse may come around if I keep forcing it, but I’m not happy with my work if I don’t have the muse’s support. The good thing about the muse is if it’s there, everything flows perfectly. It’s like something else is inside me, writing.

The worst part is if the muse if there, clapping me on and chocking me full of ideas, and I’m ignoring it. I’m doing everything but writing. I’m tuning it out, pushing it away, telling it to leave me alone.

Writing in my blog instead of writing what my muse is urging me to do.

Why, oh why, would a writer do such a thing?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Professionally Creative

I think we pulled off "professionally creative". Minus the eye patch and head piece. Actually, I did have the head piece, but it was "professionally creative". I guess I should have taken a "before" picture.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween, with lots of treats!