Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Am Spiderman ... or Rapunzel

I don't always join in on Road Trip Wednesdays but today's question was an easy one for me.
What are your writing and publishing superpowers (drafting? beta-reading? writing queries? plotting? character creation? etc.) -- and what's your kryptonite?
I wouldn't call these my superpowers but the two elements of writing that I love doing the most are:
Character Creation and Beta-Reading.

I spend a lot of time researching characters, obsessing about quirks, imagining them as I drive. I thrive on this, thinking about what could be.

Getting it down on paper is a different story. That leads me to what I consider kryptonite.

It's all fine and good planning what will generally happen through the book but when I try to write out each scene I get stuck on things like Dialogue and Where the heck am I supposed to go next? The perfectionist in me is very annoying.

It's so much easier to imagine a scene for a friend. That's why I love Beta-Reading, even more than writing (gasp!). Well, in phases. Truthfully, all the books I've read since ... July? Have been un-published and in revisions. I just love being a part of the process and being under the delusion that I'm helping improve a work of art (ego much?).

I learn so much from seeing how writer's change and evolve their work. It reminds me that I can get my own book done if only I would put words down on the page. After all, I love to revise, it's not the end of the world if I have to redo most of it in the end.

What are your Superpowers?  How do you deal dith weaknesses?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quotes From Friends: Part 1

These last few months I have been on a writing fast. Or maybe I should say "drought" because I wasn't exactly willing. I know we say this all the time but now I'm thinking it's really true - My mommy brain is a glob of mush and lost all juices of creativity.Looking back at the evidence I'm starting to believe it. Even my WIP, Treachery, was a play that I wrote in university (before kids). I took it and started turning it into a novel but once I got to the the point where I had to change the story, have new ideas, I froze (and have written only a few pages in months). Ack!
It's all dry, like in this poem (I only wrote the last stanza after having my first baby).

So, while investigating my old projects, I came across a collection I put together of quotes from emails. I don't have the emails anymore, so most of the lines are a mystery, and who said them. (each colour is a different person and the lines are in chronological order)

Part 1: June-December 2001 (grade 12)

Hey there Tough Guy

You really scared me.

"I need excitement from other lands.
To lighten the load from my hands.
I ask with all humbleness:
May I have your number Ms.?"

nice to me is something really stupid like a plastic pony.

yes its true, i did have a crush on you. happy almost birthday.

you dont wear depends do you? . that would just be weird.

hehe sucker.

yeah ive seen you cry. but ive never seen you get mad. i think that would be a sight to see.

i was in my litte car that only runs with the use of man power ( my massive legs). mmm kinda sound the the flintstones or maybe even the flintrocks.

why those poopy stinky monkeys! one of these days im gonna beat them!

i dont really wanna be good friends with him anymore...........i dunno maybe i do. but i dont particularly wanna be enemys with him. oh well.

guess what. im not quite sure yet, its still in question, maybe developing. but i think j___ might be my cousin! can you believe that. hes a total spoo! i dont know.........its just a possibility. maybe:s

this dog was holding a green banana. but of course things are never as they seem so this green banana was actually a green monkey egg. and then kaboom the green bananan hatched into a green monkey. and the dog and the green monkey and m__  lived happily ever after.

hey, just because im deaf doesnt mean we still cant dance with each other. it like would be like eating toast but never having cinnamon on it. just crunchy bread. eww thats why i have to dance with you. i dont want to be tasteless crunchy bread my whole life.

ahh i guess im just a short loser with nothing to say. although you were the short one on saturday. hehe sucker, see i am you big brother.

osh kosh bigosh

where its hot and warm and hot and humid and fresh and hot and water, lots of water.

due to my lack of inteligence, this email is really screwed up. kinda like me so i will talk to you later.




So, after reading these (along with parts 2 and 3) I can maybe see where some of my inspiration came from.

Is anyone else out there looking for ways to get their creativity back? Have any advice?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mystery

This week's Road Trip Wednesday asks:

What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?


I have noticed in my WIP and short stories that they are all set in mountains.
It's such beautiful landscape and anything could be hiding around the corner.


Another element that I always use is mystery. I love to hide things from the reader. I usually overdo it to the point of being confusing (until my beta reader lets me know that she has no idea what's going on).  I just always try to bait the reader a long, giving little bits at a time, even in scenes when I probably don't need to.
What about you? What kind of elements or themes do you notice in the different writing you've done?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Complicated: Contest #1

Rachael Harrie, host of the campaign, has given us challenge number one. You can go there to read other entries. Make sure to "like" the best ones in the link list (mine). Even if you're not in the campaign you can join just for fun!

We were asked to write a short story, beginning with "the door swung open". I decided to take the extra challenge and made it exactly 200 words ending with "the door swung shut".


The door swung open and I was face to face with the man who killed my mother. He wore a grey suite with sheen, too expensive for the humble fa├žade. Didn’t matter, I could see through him no matter what he was wearing.
Bartholomew, they called him, as he put his hand to the bible. He always hated that name but I was glad. I wouldn’t have to hear the childhood nickname I gave him. Bear.
A new rush of blood heated my face. My fingers went stiff and dropped my notebook. Leave it. I don’t want to miss a second.
“What was your relationship with the victim?” the Defence said.
Bear stared me down. Er, Bartholomew. Was he trying to scare me? I stared right back. This was the first we’d made eye contact since the police found us making out in the back of Bear’s Escalade.
Is that a tear on his face? That’s right Bear, milk it. “Well, I . . .”
The lead homicide detective burst through the door and stormed to the front. “Judge Spencer, we need to discuss-”
“Wait until recess,” the judge warned.
“We have a confession.” Slowly creaking, the door swung shut.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Extreme Sports, Awards, and Campaigns

I left for one week and a lot has happened while I was gone. We arrived at our building last night to find out that they are now locking the outer doors. No key for us, whoops. At least we still got in (carrying our babes).

Here's one thing I did while gone
that's me!

Not exactly an extreme sport but an achievement for me! I had tried wakeboarding before but this was the first time I was able to get up. Notice anything off about this picture?

I had an amazing time this week reading while the kids played at the beach, hiking through old train tunnels, and skipping across the border to buy 5 pairs of DC shoes for ridiculously cheap (not for me! though I was looking.)

While I was gone the blog world kept on turning without me. Time to catch up.


Thank you Cynthia from Random Thoughts for giving me a Liebster Award! And thank you also for your comments, I appreciate the support. I wish I could give the Liebster award to you but seeing as how you already have one - might as well spread the joy.

I now would love to pass the Liebster Award on to:
I now ask those of you who I awarded to pass it on. Find 5 deserving blogs with less than 200 followers and give them the Liebster Award. Comment on their blogs to let them know and post about it on your own blog. This is a great way to share the love!

I'd also like to give a belated thank you to Deirdra from A Storybook World for the Creative Blog Award. The button is beautiful.

And last, but not least, I'm a Campaigner!

This is Rach's third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. What a great way to bring the writers' community together! Check it out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pompeii - Road Trip Wednesday

Today's question on Road Trip Wednesday:
 What is the most inspiring setting you've ever visited in real life?

There are so many places I've been that are beautiful and inspiring and even more places where I'd like to go. If I really think about it though, this is an easy answer. There is one place especially that had my imagination running wild picturing the stories of people who lived there.


Pompeii - The Forgotten City

In 79 AD the volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman city of Pompeii.

Thick layers of ash kept the city in a frozen state for nearly 1700 years. When it was accidentally discovered in 1749 everything was perfectly preserved: the artwork, mosaics, even . . .

people
The cast of a couple caught in the ash
I wonder about people like this, where they lived. What the culture was like. Did they love each other?
A home
People had to cross the street on raised stones because sewage often ran down the streets.
A fountain


Have you been anywhere inspiring? Is there anywhere you want to go? (research for a novel is a good excuse)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alien Like You

I just finished watching the latest episode of Being Erica. I HAD to write about it before going to sleep tonight so I could tell everyone about it! It is my new favourite show in the world (I'm sure when all my other shows come back in the fall my favourite will change again).

About the show:
Erica starts therapy because her life is going nowhere and she has too many regrets. It turns out her therapy involves going back in time, reliving her experiences over again, and hopefully ridding herself of regrets. The first season has her going back to high school to fix boyfriend problems or stop herself from getting someone fired (it's pretty funny to see the different styles she went through in the 90's).

At first I kept watching because it was interesting but I didn't get super into it until the second season. Here's why:

Kai
Spoiler alert!

Kai is a rock star from nine years in the future. He's in therapy like Erica and has come back to her time to redo a part of his past. It is impossible to have a relationship because every time he completes the goal of his therapy the Kai that she knows disappears and turns into the 22 year old kid who doesn't know who she is. (what a brilliant concept)

I love this character. He's a vulnerable player with an amazing voice. Mysterious and fun. I so wish I could use him to inspire a character for my own book - maybe for the next story.

Actually all of the characters in the show are sympathetic, complicated, and flawed. Now I remember why I initially wanted to be a screenwriter (I just love a good series).

The actor is one of the Pigott Brothers and wrote the songs that he performed on the show.

Here is the song that I LOVE.



Are there characters out there that you can't get enough of? How are you inspired to create interesting, multidimensional characters?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rules, who follows them anyway?

So like Amy, I'm also not a writer...technically. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE writing, but only when it comes to writing about my everyday life. I'm just not creative enough to come up with an actual story - so I take my reality and liven it up a tad (honestly, just a little). But the point is: by denying myself the title of "writer" I am no longer constrained by punctuation or other literary rules. And I truly believe life is more fun when you can write how you want. I like to make sentences that aren't sentences. I like to use lots of "dot dot dots." Plenty of sentences end with words that shouldn't be hanging around anywhere near a period. I also start sentences with "and" all the time and I LOVE to lengthen a sentence with a beautiful little "-". And the use of run-on sentences gets me excited...because what could be more fun then a never ending sentence? Almost nothing.

My only rule when it come to writing is that the reader has to be able to read it...AND that they have to read it in the tone and manner in which I was thinking it in my crazy mind. So when I do write, I may....or may not call my mom up and ask her to read my words aloud back to me to test it out. And sometimes that's not good enough...because honestly, she's my mom. That lady raised me (and therefore, knows exactly how I talk and think and write). So in certain circumstances, I ask my poor husband to read my writing....and then we don't talk for the rest of the day cause we're so mad at each other. I mean really, how could he get my intended tone so wrong? We've been married for EVER! You think he'd know that I really didn't mean to share in detail the story about his nose hairs. Really....it could have been a metaphor. And besides who would read it anyway? It's not like EVERYONE reads my blog.

Anyway, I hope you get what I'm saying. I like to write about life. I don't dream up stories...I just re-create them. I like to write in my own style and form - i.e. I follow no rules. And most importantly, I like to have someone else proofread what I've written (preferably not the person who I've just written about though because that can get a bit hairy).

So, what are your rules when it comes to writing? Are you part of the grammar police or do you make your own rules? What do you write about? And do you share with others?


Monday, July 18, 2011

Write About Reading??


When my sister Emily asked me to join “Write About Nothing”, my first thought was that I'm not really a writer.  This will become evident as more posts follow, however, I am absolutely an avid reader.  A fact to which the odd day of neglect toward my family may attest.

I love discussing every book I read, whether I enjoyed them or not. I also feel as though I can really get to know those around me when we discuss literature: similar likes and dislikes, ideas, experiences, strong opinions or quiet indifference.  A sincere bonding takes place when these thoughts and feelings are shared between readers, and of course friends.  My book club meeting is the highlight of my month, where I have formed lasting relationships with each of these dear friends.

Due to my love for my own book club, I was able to find an immediate appreciation for my latest read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  What a wonderful novel!!!


The story takes place as England is recovering from World War II and is written as a series of letters between a popular author Juliet, her best friend, and her publisher. When she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams, from the island of German occupied Guernsey, a new friendship develops.  A friendship with not only Dawsey, but also every member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  As Juliet learns more about the courage of their founding member Elizabeth, and how the sharing of literature helped the members find friendship and moments of happiness during such a trying time, she decides to travel to Guernsey herself.  

Reading this story was a true delight.  The format being in letters allowed the character’s personalities to shine through and I found myself connecting easily with each of them, along with their little eccentricities. 

Here are a few quotes to give a glimpse into the charm of the book:

“My name is Dawsy Adams, and I live on my farm in St. Martin’s Parish on Guernsey.  I know of you because I have an old book that once belonged to you – the “Selected Essays of Elia”, by an author whose name in real life was Charles Lamb. Your name and address were written inside the front cover.”(9)

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive -  all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment”. (11, 12)

“None of us had any experience with literary societies, so we made our own rules: we took turns speaking about the books we’d read. At the start, we tried to be calm and objective, but that soon fell away, and the purpose of the speakers was to goad the listeners into wanting to read the book themselves. Once two members had read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight. We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another….we could almost forget now, now and then, then darkness outside.” (51)

“My guides are as various as the sights. Isola tells me about cursed pirated chests bound with bleached bones washing up on the beaches…Eben describes how things used to look…Dawsey says the least, but takes me to see wonders…Then he stands back and lets me enjoy them as long as I want. He’s the most un-hurrying person I’ve ever met.” (165)
 
A Guernsey coastal path. Photograph: Corbis

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Excuse - Poetry Schmoetry #3

Another poem for the blogfest!
The poem today is from before I "met" my husband and got married. Maybe around a year before. I didn't think of myself as a writer back then.

I have a vague idea of what I was thinking at the time I wrote that but reading it now I get something completely different from it.










Excuse


Why do I sense tears building behind my eyes?
I see the screen and wish to turn away,
But I can not;
I write.

I chase the images, abstract tastes and sounds,
Passing through associations,
Too swift for consciousness to grasp.
Then fit them into one space,
One time,
One dimension.

I must pursue and write that which I can not face;
Confronting opaque fears with hopes for peace,
Yet satisfaction denies me again as language translates
With words too sweet for truth,
Empty on the page.

And the feeling returns . . .

First swelling,
And now hollow.
I want to sleep,
But how can I attempt?

A vague memory stirs with protective arms and kind eyes.
I hold fast to the sight, to the warmth,
And try to clarify the source
of why I cry with no excuse.