Friday, December 2, 2011

But ... How do you write?

Been a long time. Je suis un Blogger terrible!  Forgive?
Anyways, recently I was speaking to a friend of mine and I casually mentioned that I write.

Friend: Write-write?
Me: Uh ... like, no - not sure what you mean?
Friend: Like ... books?
Me: Yeah, or at least I try. 
Friend: Cool. But, like, how?
Me: How what?
Friend: How do you, like, you know, write? 
Me: Uh ... I just write?
Friend: (after long pause) That's pretty cool.

And although I seemed to handle that conversation super well, the thought struck me: How do I write? Not in the grammatical learning third grade days, but more - what is my process? 

And I realized that I break my own process all the time.

Here's what happens:
(1) Brilliant idea springs to mind. 
(2) Write out the whole layout of the book in point form sentences that include a lot of sarcastic (but witty!) remarks.
(3) Start the actual writing. 
(4) Get caught up in the story and keep writing. 
(5) Get distracted, lose my place, consult the layout ... and realize the story is now so different there is no way back short of quantum leaps or mysteriously reborn characters ...
(6) Revise Layout, and repeat.

The Process-Breaking-Process seems to work for me. I like my revisions better every time my story veers off the layout. I think, in a sense, the story begins to have a momentum and life of its own, and that’s reflected in the mad writing that ensues. 

I mean, as long as you’re writing, is there really a wrong process? I don’t think so. 

How do you write?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Staring at Nothing, or, Why my Muse only shoes up when I am drivign Long Distance ...

You've all been there, right? That flash of an idea strikes you numb, your pupils dilate and your breathing hitches up a notch to match the frantic beating of your now excited heart, and your skin puckers, making your hair stand on end - you have an idea. 

Not just any idea - no! It started as this little acorn of an idea, just a flash of an idea really - malformed from the clay of your thoughts it struggled to right itself, to shape itself through difference and ingenuity, untangling itself from the cobwebs and shadows of your mind to form a real and proper idea. 

And it didn't stop there! Oh No! 

The idea grew, sprouting limbs of its own and proper dimensions. It spun itself from the muck of your mind and began weaving itself something that progressively looked like a story. 

The more your mind's eye focused on that one idea - that one potential story, the more it shaped, new avenues created in a blink, with new characters and new stories and you know this will be epic! 

And then someone honks at you from behind because you're staring at a green light ...

You rush home - or in my case, to the Boy's. You give him a prefunctory wave and rush upstairs to his computer, punching it on with impatient fingers, your hands hivering over the kayboard, ready to pounce. You get onto MS Word and ...

... and ...

Oh crap.

Now faced with that monumental task of extracting the idea fully from your brain and imparting it onto the blank page you've discovered to your dismay, again, that your she-devil of a muse has made off with the idea and your patience! 

This is usually when the Boy walks in and asks if you're still crazy. Throw that dirty sock at him - he deserves it for asking a question with an obviously discernable answer. 

Damn you, Muse. Damn.

Anyone else feel like the Gods are out to get their story ideas? ... and/or sanity?

Monday, August 15, 2011

To be Flowery, or not to be Flowery ...

That is the question. 

At least, it is today for me. 

See, i fall into the former, moreso then the latter. For example:

To his right a tall and thin bespectacled woman with coffee coloured skin and long curly hair up in a bun lifted her grey eyes from a paperback to glance at him. Recognizing him, her high cheek bones raised in a smile and she returned her nose towards her book. She sat cocooned behind a desk, cluttered with papers and postcards and old flyers that seemed to have an order in their chaos: the flyers spiraled from one end to the other, their different fonts and colours winking at him from in between postcards of aerial views of cities and natural wonders. The woman herself was sitting in a raised armchair, the arms no longer distinguishable from the piles of hardcover books that were crowded around her, towering up to grace the very bottom edge of an old clock that ticked away the seconds in precise, clipped tocks.
I always or usually fall on the side of waxing eloquent over every single little thing - like Stephen King but so experienced. I can go on and on about the colour of someone's hair and the way another person walks. I can drip over the feel of lace, or really delve into the anatomy of a werewolf. I am, yu see, always lost in the details. 

My question is: Is this good?

I like it as a reader. I am a reader who enjoys having a good setting from which I can inject my own imagination - like having the author describe the restauarant and the food then jumping into dialogue and letting me imagine the interpaly of the scene as I read. I love havign that background. But ... am I in the minority? 

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting your Inspiration from the Stain in the Glass ,,.

My bestest friend is getting married in three days - three days! (I know, I crissross on WTF road from OMGOMGOMG to Oh wow.).

And she's Catholic.

Which means I get to spend an hour or so in Church - which recalls me to that time period in my life when this was a regular Sunday thing - back when my grandparents refused to understand "sleep in" on Sundays (or Saturdays, they were cruel). At the time, in my itchy wool socks and pinchy shoes, I was bored out of my skull at these things. It didn't help that every Portuguese woman (because yes, we had to go to the Portuguese mass) over the age of fifty has a hereditary disease that both ruins any vocal chords and gives you an urge to sing - oh yes, dear readers, it was loud, high-pitched and led to flinching/wincing/crying from all children/people who didn't bring earplugs. It still does, actually - I was at another wedding last year or so, and my ears felt like they were bleeding ...

At those times, through my instinctive survival skills, I discovered I could look up at the pretty stained glass windows that adorned the Church and imagine myself away. Far away, usually.

And there were born my stories.

Now, I write and have always written about the supernatural (witches, wolves and spirits - oh my!), teenagers gone wild (babies and drugs and booze - oh yes!), medieval princesses who kick ass and in general, how we say ... not Jesus-inspired things. You would think it would be sacrilegious for me to even think about these things, let alone actively fabricate stories that would be embellished and lengthened through more visits to the Church on subsequent weekends. I thought up my wolves while rammed between my mother (who pinches when and if you dare move) and my sister who was picking at her nails, and I looked up and something about the awesome forest green around ST. Francis' head made me think of night time woods and grey wolves. And suddenly a character was formed, and I had to create a story for her, right? To have done otherwise would be cruel ...

The point is this: inspiration comes in a flash sometimes in the weirdest of places, and maybe that's a good thing.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yay! My Writing Buddy is Back!!

The OK Bar is over - and that means:

Smithy is back! 

Yay! Here's to seeing more from me from now on! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Inspiration in Shared Irritation ...

One of my favourite authors is Lauren Willig - she of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation series of books (if you haven't read them ... you must, I insist.) and Ms. Willig has a great website crammed full of her quirky little tidbits. Recently, she posted how a whole stream of former blog posts she claims got her through law shcool and so, on my lunch break, I started reading them ....

And as such, must post this bit. It is relevant to all authors! (From the Post entitled: The Simple Guide to Self-Torture Saturday, August 26th, 2006)

The first stage is blinding euphoria. This will be the book that Makes My Career (careers can only be made in capital letters). Dialogue, motivations, those tender Oscar-winning moments—I've got it all. The entire story has unfurled in my head like a triumphal banner flying from the turret of a castle. Hell, I can write this sucker in a month! (Forget the fact that all my previous books have taken the better part of a year). High on the brilliance of my Best Idea Ever, I fling myself down on my desk chair—and find myself facing a blank screen.

Wait. How did that get there? Doesn't it know that it's supposed to be full of Brilliant Prose ™?

I stare at the blank screen. The blank screen stares back at me. It wins. I break eye contact first, and go to the fridge to find something to fuel my creativity. Because, really, what great writer has ever set quill to paper without first eating peanut butter from the jar?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Somethign Funny

So I started with the Query Letters today and my friend, Smithy, linked me to this:

Enjoy! :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rejection, the First

So, my friend Smithy convinced me to enter the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest (ABNA, for short). So I did. And I did not make it to the next round.

I will consider this Rejection, the First.
Better luck next time, Ammy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Young Adult: Sex, Drugs ... and life lessons?

Alright, so I am a huge YA fan. For those not in the know, "YA" refers to the "Young Adult" section at the store that is nestled somewhat arbitrailty between "Children" or "Middle Grade" and "General Fiction" at the bookstore (I tend to find it, in actuality, between "Middle Grade Fiction" and "Home & Garden" for some odd reason. Why? Well ... actually, all of the explanations I have thought of include aliens and/or mind control, so ... I haven't an idea.)

I write YA. I read YA.

And here's my beef: I have read YA for about as long as I've read (I was never a picture book person - not sure why, but as soon as I understood that reading = freedom, I picked up novels and never looked back), and I genuinely like them - but I hate the implied censorship of them - always have in fact - when it comes to things like sex, drugs, dysfunctional families, swearing and other such taboo things.

I get the arguments - kids should not be exposed to certain things.

And to that I say - I'm sorry, what? Says who? And why? And why is it that our culture suddenly has this overly developed sense of protecting children for "their own good"? And where do adults come off as thinking that isolating teenagers from this will somehow make them less likely to engage in behavious these things allegedly encourage?

I was a teenager not too long ago. By that time, I was reading everything, not just YA. And I avoided YA for a while because I felt it was too ... baby. I mean, who says "Golly!" anymore? (K, so I can't remember reading that outside of those Gidget books and movies, but honestly, think of this as a metaphor for the wider issues). I started reading my Mom's romance books (without her knowledge) by the time I was ten or so. I started with So Worthy my Love by Kathleen Woodewiss, and it still sits in my bookshelf.

Why did I read that when I could have stuck with the Babysitter's club? I think, mostly, because I looked around and realized that a lot of the YA books were just ridiculously unrealistic.

More to the point, I desired something more to my reading. I didn't want this sunny and happy perspective where the biggest thing that went wrong meant being sent to your room without tv. My life was not like that, and I didn't want to read about kids who were like that.

I wanted sex and drugs and complications - I would read parts of books over and over, just for a hint of that. Like Caroline B. Conney's series of Christina novels (Snow, Fire, Fog) - the love triangle, the kiss in the cafeteria! - and her Milk Carton series - where they end up in a motel, trading sexual barbs - nothing happens, but the tension is there and it's complex. (I am a huge fan of Cooney's work, it must be said).

I didn't want to be protected from these things! Why would I? They just opened up a whole new world for me - a world that I was on the verge of exploring.

And that is why, when I write YA - I write for the teen I once was. I write in the sex, and the drugs, and teh swearing - when my characters talk, I hope they are just as awkward as teenagers are supposed to be - when they love, I want it to be with all the pomp and circumstance of a real teenagers.

I would never presume to protect my readers from the world - I am offering them a glimpse of what I have seen, a small taste of what the world could be - with all its complications, dirty and clean, smart choices and bad decisions - and I do this because I respect them. I have great respect for readers in general - and I would never presume to hide from them, things they would want to know about.

I guess, the point is - why are we really trying to protect our kiddies? And why from these specific things? Why always the triade of Sex and Love (you know, the bad kind) and Drugs? Is it that we do not trust our kids? Or do we just want to protect them in a world that becomes increasingly harder to cope with?

Anyways, food for thought.
Thanks :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thoughts on Getting Out There.

There is nothing as scary to me, then rejection.

Ok, fine, there are two other things - failure (which is just another form of rejection, right?) and vermin-like-animals (like hampsters ... and rats ... and squirrels).

The point is that sending out query letters, full of hope that someone will see that light that is shining under a bushel (i.e. me and my ever so apparent genius, right?) - and then getting LOADS of rejections is ... well it's like going to law school all over again, I think.

And on that note - even though at the moment, I hate law school as much as I fear squirrels - I sent out those applications, and I withstood the rejections I did get, and ended up in law school.

So I suppose, what I am saying is that I should stop procrastinating - I should stop allowing myself to be cowed by my own fear, and I should get out there and send in those queries!

Because hell, I may just get a million rejection letters - but at least I am allowing for the chance that one response will be "Hey - you're halfway decent. Send more?"

What are your thoughts?
Sorry, mine are a bit erratic, aren't they?

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 in Writing

Happy new year and welcome to 2011 ...


Now onto writing.

Truth is - I have been stuck at 70k words for about two weeks or so now. And I know the ending, I know where all my characters will be and how they get there ... but I need some bridge to get me to the "there".

And more music. Loads more, please - anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Editors ...

Currently, my second book - sequel to the as-yet unpublished first book, and precursor to the as-yet unfinished third book I am procrastinating on at this very moment - is being edited by my Mother and her artillery of purple hilighters.

To say that I am scared is beyond reasonable.

However there is something to be said about in-house (har har, literally) editors. She asks questions where I took things for granted, she pushes me to write "better" - and even when she bitches about the swearing, sex and violence, she does it with a literary take in mind.

Just thought I would mention that.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Writing to a Soundtrack

Yeah, I do that. And as soon as a song pops up that is not like the others ... I can't help it, I stop writing ... weird, right?

And then you have this conundrum:

I am writing, say, a fight scene. DMX and then Cauterize and then some Linkin Park is blasting through my ear drums, my blood is pumping and I am like, "Oh, now I will kick this character in the head and deal them a near fatal concussion!" or somesuch.

Then, suddenly due to the weird properties of "Shuffle Randomize" on Winamp, I suddenly get something that is not fight music. Like Six Pence None the Richer or Rihanna. And then the character gets a pass. No near fatal head blow.

Does this ever happen to you? Does music effect the way you write to the point where your scenes change to accommodate the new sounds?