Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Focus bludgeons you in the head...repeatedly...

They did this to us for work training. Well, not the bludgeoning bit, but they made us take the following "Awareness Test."

Here, try it yourself. See how YOU do...

Did you watch it??


Well...I FAILED IT. And it made me think...

Here I am, Miss Try-to-Observe-Everything-and-It's-Shadow (um, HELLO!? I'm a WRITER) and OH MY GOSH! *hangs head*

Well, I very promptly came to this conclusion: Focus Kills.

I mean, not all focus is bad. Focus is how we reach our goals, accomplish things, beat Final Fantasy XIII....er, uh....

Without focus, our heroes wouldn't be heroes, dragons wouldn't be trained (TOOTHLESS!!), Harry wouldn't have destroyed all the horcruxes, and Sauron would be ruling the world.

But what about too much focus?

Apparently, it's something we are ALL prone to - including my MC, Daria Jones, and it almost got her killed - because not a single person in our class of 30 saw that moonwalking bear (so don't feel bad). It reminded me that, no matter I'm reaching for, appreciate the here and now and the people around me.

We love stories because we love the journey. We love to watch characters struggle and face obstacles and succeed when the entire universe and all its stars are against them. We don't go straight to the end to make sure Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star.

As the main character in your own story, it can be difficult enjoying the journey, especially when you're results driven (cough, cough). But if you don't, you'll miss all the important parts, the people and blessings along the way, and you may just end up bludgeoned in the head by a moonwalking bear. :D

What about you? Ever get so caught up in something you got sideswiped by something else entirely? Or are you pretty good at keeping perspective?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Seven Deadly...

...Key Commands.

Ha! Thought I was gonna say something like "Sins," didn't you? (or "Zins" if you're a wine-oh)

Well, Ben sent this to me, and I thought it was hilarious. It was also very appropriate because I've been spending a ton of time pinning down my characters' flaws for book 2. Why couldn't it just be this straight forward?

My one is "wrath." What's yours? :D

On another, happier note, today is Pay It Forward Friday! (Thanks Matt and Alex for hosting) The idea is to introduce all of us to everyone else, and I'm to link to three blogs you guys should check out. SO HARD PICKING ONLY THREE! 

1. Peggy Eddleman - She's got some of the most entertaining posts about writing, and has such a unique perspective! Plus, she likes to be mean and throw in pictures of cookies all the time which really challenges my morning diet...

2. Ashley Nixon - I just love her to pieces! She's got such an awesome attitude about, well, everything and writes tons of good posts about writing and finding inspiration for stories (something we all need at times). Go say hello!

3. Julie Tuovi - Another awesome and energetic blogger I wish I could keep in my pocket. She's got a lot of great insight on writing and is a great resource for blogfests and contests.

4. Cherie - Now, I'm a new-ish follower of her, but she's fabulous! Very encouraging and supportive, and writes a tone about writing and is also a great resource for blogfests and contests.

(yes, i know i listed four. it's not in my nature to follow directions...at least not very well...)

Remember, it's never too late to join the blogfest...and please, go pay a visit to the bloggers above.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When Those Imaginary Friends Won't Talk...

Today is the first Wednesday for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Go visit all the participating bloggers! I couldn't be happier about this "help group," because I find encouragement in seeing how other writers deal with writerly issues. (This would be a good spot to say that misery loves company.)

Since I'm in the process of writing a new story, I would like to discuss some of the challenges I've had in writing that first draft. You go from one finished product, and right back to the drawing board! (I have nightmares about the drawing board. It has fangs and tries to eat my hand.)

This was my most recent crisis, and I'd love to know if some of you can relate:
There I was, writing so fast I was proudly wearing down my keys, and...nothing. I stared at my computer screen for hours - days - until it started looking like a Magic Eye book, and I started thinking English wasn't my first language anymore. In fact, I didn't know if I had a first language.

Well, the above slogan was very timely brought to my attention by my good friend, Misty, who, in her infinite wisdom, reminded me that when I get stuck it isn't my fault.

It's theirs.

Now, I know we all write our stories differently. Many of you are pantsters, but I'm not. It stresses me out. I outline. Mind you, my outline isn't as exacting and precise as the blueprint for the Transamerica. Mine's more like a fence, but the kind of fence you can roll under, hang from, and climb through. I get all these ideas, jot them down with arrows and bubbles everywhere, offer them to Ben for ridicule, shape the "improved" ideas into an outline, and then write.

You'd think with a story already sort of laid out, I wouldn't hit any rock walls (pits of despair? an endless abyss? Sharks with lazer-beams attached to their heads?)

Rule #1: Never assume your Imaginary Friends follow directions.

Really. We should know better. We wrote them that way!

Sure, they smile and wave and tell you everything's fine, but then one day you wake up, and you can't find them anywhere. Instead, what you find is this:

Dear Tyrant,

We didn't like what you did to us in Chapter 19, and, quite frankly, 
we're tired of running from evil men in capes. We're on a beach on 
one of those islands you haven't named, otherwise we'd tell you where 
we were. 

Un-Sincerely Yours,

*I.F. = Imaginary Friends

They didn't like my outline, obviously, and I wasn't sure I liked it either, but I promised myself I would save the editing until the end. Finish that draft first! There's just one little problem:  you can't write a story without characters. *hits head on desk* So, after much whining and grumbling, I let them have their fun, and let the story "simmer" a few weeks.

And then I started getting impatient. (and scared and afraid that I'd lost them forever...didn't they realize what they'd done? They have a sequel to get through!)

Rule #2: You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it...with a club. (compliments of [info]starlit_grphcs.)

I set off for this unknown-island-from-my-own-imagination in order to find them. I read through all my journals, poured through all my notes and maps, studied all my character descriptions - anything to get an idea where to go. At some point I had to jump in the boat and start rowing. So I did.


Some days it was only a few leagues (three hundred words). Then a few more (five hundred). But eventually I saw them out there, laying on the beach drinking Mai Tais under a cabana. I did everything I could to lure them onboard - even promises of perfect endings! -  but none of it worked as fast as I'd hoped. Then I started playing music. I gave them each their own song and had it on repeat until they felt safe to open up to me again.

Story proceeded, and I'm writing fast. *wipes brow* And it really helps knowing it was never my fault to begin with :)

So, my weapon of choice isn't really a club. It's more like an accented half-note.

Ever go through this battle? If so, how do you get your characters to open up? What's your weapon of choice?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blogfests, and Blogging, and Merlin...OH MY!

Today's post is a melting pot - so many things to say. (Melting pot is wrong. They're all sort of different. How about jambalaya? I like jambalaya. Mmmmm....)

First, I've reached 100 Followers! Thank YOU for being such a wonderful and supportive blogging community, and for reading along and leaving awesome comments. I learn SO much from you! *BIG GIANT HUGS* Now, I've got to think of something to celebrate the occasion... TO BE CONTINUED! :D

Next up, Merlin. If you have not seen the BBC show, Merlin, DO IT! I rarely watch TV (no TV channels. Yeah, the hubby and I sorta live in the dark ages), but we Netflix'd this and COULD. NOT. STOP. WATCHING. Here's the new Season 4 trailer (if you are really annoyed by pixelation, HQ version is on their Facebook page). I particularly like the soundtrack:

Also, Alex J. Cavanaugh, has a couple of upcoming blogfests. There's:

1. Insecure Writer's Support Group - It's a place for writers to support and encourage each other. You know, like those times our imaginary friends frustrate us so much we start threatening them with erasers and delete keys? The blogfest will be held on the first Wednesday of every month. Go check it out!

2. Pay it Forward Blogfest - The idea is to introduce all of us to everyone else. This "social" event shall commence on October 14.

And, as you know, I just released my book, GAIA'S SECRET last week! I've been AMAZED and HONORED by how completely supportive you all have been, downloading and leaving comments. THANK YOU! If you're interested, I've got a blog interview with the one and only Ashley Nixon (if you don't know her, she's incredible! go check her out...) about GAIA, and you can find the interview HERE.

Now that the dust is finally settling, I feel like my brain is free to finish working on the sequel to Gaia (3/4 done with draft 0.5!) *wipes brow* While I love being back at the drawing board, I've developed a motto. I'm sure some of you can relate: Never trust a blank page. They look all sparkly and new, but they have too many plot-strings attached.

I love mottos. Do any of you have any current mottos you'd like to share?????

Have a wonderful Sunday, and happy writing!
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