Friday, October 28, 2011

Another break for the Holiday's

This holiday season I'm going to be very busy polishing my book to start querying in January, so I will be posting fewer until it is completed. I also have to give some feedback on the two beta readers books who I swapped with so that will take some time.

I will be back I promise, and I will still try to post, but if I don't it's because my life has become too chaotic with everything.

Take care.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WiP Wednesday

It's time, my current project is in the hands of Beta readers and now I have to the enviable task at writing a synopsis. The most dreaded thing of writers that most hate and make them want to run into a corner and cry. For me though, I don't mind it.

It's sort of like an outline after I've already written the book. I like to go back and summarize the entire project in about four - five pages. It helps me figure out if the plot arc works and if not, where it falls apart so that I can then go back and fix it. Thankfully, I usually don't have anything glaring that needs fixing, but sometimes I do notice some small pieces that need to be fixed like a character arc that doesn't make sense and such.

Also, writing a synopsis is something I've done a lot in both screenwriting as well as in novels. I find screenwriting easier, but some of the things that I do is when I go through my book/screenplay I try to summarize each chapter in these ways:
What happens:
Who does it:
Any new characters introduced:
Subplots:
Conflict:
Relationships:

Now with my current project that deals with a three sided conflict, my synopsis will mainly deal on the conflicts against the main character, with small hints at the other conflict. I will also try to build up and show the relationship triangle that goes on between the main character and two others. But other than that it will just be a break down of my story.

Synopsis? Why do you fear them? Why do you love them? What are some of your strategies with tackling them? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holidays in books

I've been thinking about this lately. What books aren't holiday books, however, they do deal with holidays in a new way. I can't recall many, but some do mention the holidays in passing. However, the one that really shows it is the Harry Potter series and they do a wonderful job using those holidays to really build the world. Different types of gifts, different types of food, heck they even have different types of beliefs around it.

It got me thinking in my one of my previous books, I had Christmas later in the story, it was a sad scene because of the recent loss of family members and such, but when I wrote it I found something out about my characters. They used the somber attitude and turned it into a great thing, lots of laughs, memories of the deceased and best of all it showed a way for the characters to solve their dilemma in the story.

So have you ever used the holidays in your stories to build the plot and characters? How did it work out for you and what were some of the interesting situations it put them in?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Holidays, writers block accomplice

The holidays, the wonderful time of the year where you get to stuff your face, spend time with family and sleep in. All good things, but with this busy schedule where do you find the time to write? Nano is a good option because it motivates you to get it done despite the hectic schedule.

What I do is keep with my schedule regardless. Spend the evenings writing after everyone is in bed or get up early before anyone and slip in a few words here and there. I've also started to use Evernote on my smartphone to jot notes down on breaks and lunches at work.

So what are some of your tips for the holidays, do you shut down around the time and focus on the important things outside of writing for a couple months? Do you have a secret place you hide away from the craziness to git in some useful writing?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A friend's Awesome contest

This Monday, a friend of mine posted a contest that I wanted to let everyone know about. It's from my blogging friend Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog : click here for more awesome information.

Besides that little big information, I also have my first cold of the season which is such a pain in the head. So enjoy the contest, and I'll be back on Friday, hopefully feeling a lot better.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nano Time?

It's nearly that time again, Nanowrimo. I've participated two years in a row in different ways. One writing a new project and one using the time to edit a project. Both had differing results. The writing one I completed in the time frame, yet the editing one I didn't really complete. 

This year I decided I'm just going to sit out. Don't get me wrong, I love writing and the whole process, but right now I feel that my editing of my current project shouldn't be rushed, nor should I push myself to do it. 

I think my favorite part of Nano is the writer support and community that builds around it. I do enjoy talking writing, and really getting down to the nitty-gritty of it. I might look in my area where they are gathering and spend some of my time there to get that vibe.

So what are you guys planning on doing? Are you going to participate? What is your favorite thing about Nano?

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Anniversary

Today is my 6th wedding anniversary. So I'm taking the day off.

Everyone enjoy the weekend and I'll be back on Monday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What happens with good news?

I have been reading a lot about writing/blogging friends gaining contracts and their books being published. It is completely awesome news for them and gets me excited just hearing their good news. I like the different things they are doing to promote themselves, promote their books and spread the word.

I have bought or will buy their books when they are released.

So my question for the day is, if you haven't been published or signed with an agent, what would you do to celebrate when that happens?

Me.... I would probably go out to dinner with the family to celebrate and that's about it. If I had some extra money, I would probably go through a bit of a celebratory shopping and buy some new toys to keep me busy while I wait on edits/revisions from said agent or editor.

So if you had some great news, how would you celebrate?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Schedules

As many of you know, my work schedule has changed to a night shift. Now some people like this because it gives them the mornings to accomplish things, however, me, I hate it.

Now I can understand the benefits for some people, but to me it's a horrible schedule for me. I get home around 10:15pm, and then eat something and then its like bedtime. I'm a nighttime writer, but writing at 11:00pm after trying to spend some time with the wife before bed makes it difficult to stay awake and create powerful prose.

So what should I do?

I've been thinking about writing during the day, however, my wife runs a daycare in the house so that's a negative aspect of lots of noise. Go the library? Good idea, and one that I'm thinking of trying soon.

The biggest thing is that I usually write at night, it's been my schedule for years now, but I guess as times change so should I.

Have any of you had changes in your schedule that modified when you had time to write? How did you deal with it? Did you adjust or just take a break until things returned to a normal schedule?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Greatest writing moment?

So I've been writing for almost 15 years now. I have quite a few moments that stand out for me, such as my first completed screenplay, or my first completed novel. Don't get me wrong both of those are great achievements, but I was thinking of something else.

The first time I wrote a short screenplay back in early 2000 for myself and on a whim decided to enter it in a contest. I've done it before for other writing things before and this was the first time that I actually was given a positive reaction and it made me feel proud. Made me feel qualified. I remember reading the letter saying that I made the top ten in the contest of about 15,000 entries.

Second would be when I got my first request for ky novel off of a partial request that was exciting because it gave ne hope that I know how to write which is a great motivator for all our future tasks.

Unfortunately both of turned into failures but they still remain very important steps in my writing careers. At least my screenplay might someday be produced by my director friend someday.

So my fellow awesome bloggers what was one or a couple of your favorite moments that either gave you hope or justification that you can do this?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Great Beta Reader search

So for the past few days, I've been searching for some beta readers to read my current project. I've posted a post on Agent Query, as well as Querytracker.net, both places I frequent. I even used facebook and so far only have 2 interested people. Both are either friends or family, which is great, but I'm looking for other writers.

This got me thinking, maybe October is a rough month for writers, lots are deep in revisions of their own, some are planning their Nano novels, and some are maybe just getting back into the swing of things after school started and other daily things returned to normal last month.

What is everyone up to? I've been busy rewriting with my new night work schedule so my writing time has been a little hectic on my part. I've been still keeping up with my crit groups schedule no problem, and balancing life with all the other things. So my question is simple, what is everyone doing this fall? I hope to start querying in December/January if I can, but the lack of available beta readers is making it difficult to reach that goal.

Anyways, I hope everyone has a fun filled fall and talk to you Friday.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Football weekend

This weekend was football, and you all know how I love the game. 

I have recently joined a fantasy football league with some friends, which I think I've mentioned. I have to say that having the fantasy team makes me more inclined to watch other games closer and other players closer, which makes the Sunday's more enjoyable, however, I get less done around the house. 

I hope everyone had a good weekend, as it's very rainy and wet in Oregon right now.

What are some of the things that distract you from doing tasks around the house when you should be doing them?

Friday, September 30, 2011

What I look for in Beta Readers

It's that time again for my current project to be looked about by trusted beta readers. I just wanted to see what everyone looks for because I think it my vary wildly.

I look for readers that are going to be:
Honest - Don't worry about hurting my feelings. As long as it's not a personal attack and about the writing, I can handle it.

Knowledge - They know the rules and know where I make mistakes or when I am bending the rules for the story.

Understands the genre - I like readers that have experience in either reading or writing the genre that I am looking for feedback on.

I think these are the three things that I look for in test readers for my writing, what are some of your ideas for an ideal beta reader?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Endings

I've written about endings before and they are usually difficult for me, but when they click, they click well. I just finished another draft of my current project and looking to send it out to beta readers this weekend.

I'm happy with the ending. I think it ties up a lot of the plot lines, and leaves a couple open for a possible sequel. What are some of your favorite endings of books? I really enjoyed the ending of the Lord of the Rings, after the ring thing and returning to the shire.

I also found the ending to the "Gone" series by Michael Grant, each book ends the main plot, but things are left lingering with a few more things that carry the plot forward for the next book in the series.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manic Monday

Now that I have two children in school, Monday's have become chaotic because they get to sleep in during the weekend then have to wake up early to get ready for school. It's a bit a trying at time, yet we get through it.

This morning reminded me of some of my writing habits. Sometimes when I'm working through the revisions, I am sort of like them. I read the sentence, think in my head that needs to be punched up, and move on. It is sort of lazy, I know, but I can't help it all the time. Currently, I am working through my revision and have been reading it out loud while doing so, and have found it to be useful to actually make the changes while I'm reading because otherwise I will forget. It sort of kills the flow of my reading and I have to read the corrected sentence to make sense of it, but it helps.

My question for my readers is, what sort of lazy things do you let slide by at times while doing your writing? Do you read a sentence and know that it needs work and pass over it, or do you do something else that you are embarrassed of in your writing?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Character Interview - Blink

So I have another special guest for my blog today. His name is Philip, but everyone calls him Blink because of his special ability, so please welcome..... Blink!

No one sits in the chair opposite me.

Everyone sits silently until a young man appears. He smiles, his green eyes sparkle. What's going on peeps.

Hello Blink. 
What's up?


So I heard that you have been busy since the end of the story, what have you been up to?
I have been trying to find others who would join our cause. You know step up to those maniac's The Followers. It's not easy, usually when I mention Mr. Stevens it complicates matters.


What do you mean complicates matters?
People didn't like that Mr. Stevens made all people with powers outlaws. 


But I thought he fixed that? Didn't he?
How could he? He's not the mayor any more.


Good point. How do you feel about the whole thing?
I'm cool with it. I know him. He's not a bad guy. Do I wish he never made the law, sure, but not much I can do about it now. 


What about your relationship with Rebecca?
She's a cool chicky-do. I like hanging out with her. Since Natilee isn't around anymore, I think she's the most powerful gifted I know. She's been training a lot lately and has got some new wicked things that she can do. I'm going to say much more than that, but just know, The Followers are going to have a challenge if she decides to go after them.


I thought she already decided that? What is she up to?
That's not my place to say. You'll have to ask her. 


Understandable. So I have one last question for you. What's it feel like to teleport?
Feel like? I don't really feel anything. The one thing that's sort of annoying is the way that if I have a lot of sounds between the two spots I get both combined during the process. But I've grown used to just blocking it out otherwise I would be nuts about now. 


Well, I want to thank you for your time. I hope things work out for you in the near future. Do you have any last words?


Blink vanishes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I learned from my job lately

So my old contract left and I had to find a new one. This new one is more sales oriented and I have certain goals I have to meet to keep the job.

This job is about me trying to convince people who want to cancel something to keep it. Now with the economy the way it is, this is much harder than it had to be in the past, or so they tell me.

I have learned that despite having a fast start on getting a bunch of people to keep the product, my day can still take a turn for the worst when a bunch of people drop the product. It's about the law of averages, and eventually it will turn around again for the better. So what this has taught me and how it relates to writing is that determination is key. It only takes one yes to succeed, such as a querying, but along the way you have to keep your head up and keep plugging along to reach that goal. Along the way you are going to take your lumps and people saying no, but when you get that yes, it just makes it that much sweeter.

So I have been polishing my query like mad to prepare for the fall querying season for me. So what are some of the things that your job taught you that can be related to a process in writing.

**PS. I kept the details of my job vague because I sighed a non-disclosure agreement so please don't ask what product I was talking about.***

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kids being kids

I write young adult fiction as most of you know and I enjoy it because it gives me a chance to explore the tough times that teenagers go through, such as being accepted for who they are.

Some of the things I come up with are from watching my own children. Just today, my ten year old who is struggling with math and division in particular. So this morning included in her normal complaining about waking up at 7 in the morning is that her stomach hurts, and her head hurts. After giving something for the headache, she is sitting on the couch complaining that she has to run today and shouldn't run on a sore stomach. I told her it will be fine by the time you run. She continued to complain... anyways, to make a long morning shorter, right before she left I mentioned to work on her math. She stopped complaining and looked at me and said, "I hate fifth grade math."

I smiled, knowing that I hated math in fifth grade too and told her that the only way to deal with it is work harder and spend more time with it. She knew that was what was needed, and acknowledged it as such. The rest of the ride to school, my wife mentioned that she didn't complain once about being sore, or any pain. I nailed the real reason she was not wanting to go to school. It was the fact that she has to do something difficult.

I think this is a good example of a youth using everything they can to get what they want (Staying home) but when you confront them with the real issue they will usually come clean. (Hating math.) What do you have your characters do when they are trying to hide their true feelings? Do you make them try to manipulate those around them with sympathy, or do you delve right into the meat of the problem. I think having them bounce around the real problem would make it more believable for the youth reading your story, what do you think?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Football has started

Yes it's that time of the year again, football season. It's almost like a holiday for me every Sunday. lol.

Anyway this year I joined a fantasy football league with friends from my poker group and after the first week, I'm in 7th out of 8. Still early, but not a fan of being so low so early.

Also, I have rejoined the PFOA, the (Portland Football Officials Association) so I will once again be officiating some youth and high school football games. Due to my work schedule change I'm missing all of September games except for weekends. Hopefully that will change once I get out of training and get a new schedule. This is my 5th year officiating, but after a two year break, I'm honestly a bit rusty.

So besides writing, what are some of your other hobbies? I'm curious.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WiP Wednesday

I have been working feverishly on getting my book ready for querying this fall. It's nearly polished, but will be seeking some beta readers again in the near future.

I am really enjoying the rewrite process because I can see it getting clearer, cohesive and just a more complete story arc. It's pretty fun.

I have started a new process for this book and that is to read it out loud, which is helpful to get a sense of run on sentences, sentence fragments and just the flow of the words. I have a tendency to read out loud very fast, which  annoys my listeners at times, and they have to tell me to slow down. It helps to slow down to really enunciate the words and has helped me catch a few places where things needed to be clarified.

So what are some of your techniques during the rewriting process?

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm back!

Well the previous 5 weeks have been crazy. Going through rewrites on my current project and trying to develop the query have been very taxing.

As well as my kids going to school again. My middle daughter just started kindergarten and I have to be honest, I got choked up. She's very smart and so far enjoys it.

The biggest thing that has proved to be an obstacle to my writing is the new schedule I have at work. I work 3pm to 11:30pm for the past two weeks, and for another week. Then it will change 12pm to 9pm, which isn't as bad, but this has been trying to get my writing back on track. I usually write at nights and getting home at midnight isn't conducive to that. So I have adapted and started to write during the day while my wife is out picking up the kids. I still get about an hour to an hour and a half, which is my usual time frame.

So while I have been gone, what have you been up to, and how are your writing goals coming along?

I have started to get feedback on my query and am almost done with a reading of my novel where I read it out loud, so then I will be looking for Beta's again for a final polish. I hope to have my book ready to query in December, and that is my current goal.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taking a break, but for a good cause

So the rewrites of my current project are under way. They are going well, so well in fact, that I don't have time to spare to the blog for the time being. I will be back when I'm back. (Not setting a deadline right now), but I hope to be back sooner rather than later.

Everyone have some great writing related fun while I'm gone, and maybe I'll come back with some fresh ideas on revisions, and some good news from my blogging friends.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The busy schedule of a writer

This week has been hectic as I've been trying to work through my Beta feedback. I've had to adjust my schedule to get up earlier and stay up later to get time to fit writing around the life of my summer-enjoying kids.

It's going pretty well, but I'm starting to get exhausted being up late and getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Now I'm not complaining, because when I get that time with my WiP it is peaceful, and I accomplish a lot. About two chapters a day at this rate. I should be done with the notes from my Beta's by the middle of the month, which gives me another chance to polish and get it ready for a Fall query.

What is one thing that you have had to sacrifice during your writing journey? I've read a lot of people neglect cleaning, or do less things with the kids (Having 3 kids makes this nearly impossible)?

I give up sleep and hope that its worth it in the long haul.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Receiving feedback

I have recently received feedback and I did the normal stuff, I read it, let it sink in then put it aside until I'm ready to actually do the edits.

This allows me two things, it allows me to get perspective away from the immediate emotion of receiving the feedback. It also allows me to think about the advice for a while and decide what is useful and what isn't.

I have done this with most of my feedback for my life and it has worked out. My current project is still in a very early draft so the comments such as grammar and sentence structure is helpful because I know it's needed, but having examples pointed out help a lot. The one good thing is that my plot, which is what I was worried about, is still solid and works.

So what are your techniques for handling feedback from your readers?

Monday, August 1, 2011

WiP Update

So after getting my feedback from beta readers, I get to start the next draft of my book. So far most of the comments have been some technical issues that I will work out easily, but the ones about plot and characters will take time. So as I usually do, I will start with the technical issues that I missed and I have a Twenty five chapter book, so my goal is to be done with my next draft by the end of August.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to review my beta feedback and use it for my book? What seems to be the major hiccup in your first drafts?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review - "Divergent" by Veronica Roth

This was one of my birthday present this year and I'm excited that my friends picked it up for me. I thought that the characters were completely awesome, even the bad ones. I really liked the pacing and felt that the present tense of the story helped add to the characters feelings of being different in a place that is completely like how she grew up.

I finished the book in a week which is about average, but wished that I could have spent more time in the world. I did read that there is a sequel in the works, which is awesome and I can't wait.

Since this is one of the most popular books going on right now, I think I read it was number 7 on the NYT Bestseller list, what did you think of it?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Football's back

For those of you that have been following me since last year, you understand how much I love the game of football. Now that it's back with a shortened offseason, my heads on a swivel looking for all the news that I cna find. So I have been busy trying to keep track of my team.

All I can hope for is that my Carolina Panthers can do a lot better than last year. Sorry, but I'm excited for this and I know that this isn't writing related. I'm just excited.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Captain America" - Review

My wife and I wanted to complete the Avenger stories before the next movie comes out next year and saw the last of the origin stories, "Captain America" this weekend.

Now this movie is a bit different from the others as it is set in the 40's during World War 2, which makes Captain America the oldest hero in the Avengers. This movie didn't take itself too seriously, and I think that worked in its behalf. The characters were well done, especially the never give up attitude of Captain America.

The special effects of the movie were good, especially how they made the actor Chris Evans, who played the Captain, puny in size before his transformation. It was well done and I wouldn't have known anything if I didn't hear how they did it before the movie.

Now the plot was a bit up and down in terms of how things flowed. I didn't really care for his little show stuff that they had him doing before he got into the war, but once that passed it was a pretty good action flick.

Overall, for those of you that are comic book fans, this is a must see. For those that have no real idea who the Captain is, then might want to rent. 4/5

Friday, July 22, 2011

Character Interview - Kellen

I got this idea from one of my other crit partners and thought that I would try it with my current character cast to help everyone understand them better. This first one is going to be with the main character's love interest - Kellen

Thanks for joining me today, how have you handled your new found relationship with Rebecca?
She's one of a kind for sure. I think that I've been supportive, helping her out when she needs it. It's been fun chilling with her since the incidents in Peakside. I just hope that I can keep up with her.


Keep up with her?
Yeah, I mean she just took on that Cole guy which from what I've gathered is one of the strongest Followers in the nation. That's got to mean something.


How's your relationship with Alex now, you know, after the whole Peakside thing?
It's a bit different. I'm dating his sister which is awkward, but he seems distracted if you know what I mean. He's a good guy, but it's not the same anymore. We've sort of grown apart, but we're still friends you know?


Yeah, I can understand that, it's hard sometimes. So what's your plan now?
I still plan to graduate from Peakside High this next year, then I'm not sure. I haven't really thought that far. Maybe college, maybe be Rebecca's sidekick. Hahaha, no but for real, I want to graduate from Peakside High and then see where things are then.


You still want to go there after all that's happened? Why?
Because that's still my home, my friends are still there, my family still. Despite the changes, I still call Peakside home. Now Rebecca on the other hand...


That's cool. Do you think Peakside would welcome her if she wanted to return?
Yeah, I mean, she did do some pretty brave things and all. It might be weird at first, but over time things calm down and return to normal.


I don't think so, but if you say so. What do you think is next for Rebecca?
I don't know. Since everything that's happened, you know, she's grown up. She's seen a side of life that not many of us will ever see and survived. 


That sounds sort of scary, do you think she wants you around still?
Yeah, we still hang out and do the couple thing, but sometimes I just see it in her eyes. She wants to be out there saving people and such. She's not shy anymore, she's enbraced who she truly is and that's one tough chick.


One last question then I'll let you get back to your day. What do you think is going to happen with The Collector now?
You mean since he's not dead and all?


Yeah.
I don't know. I mean there are still some questions whether or not he'll wake up or just remain in the coma. I just don't know.... And I don't think Rebecca or Alex know either. Thank you.


Thank you for your time. 


So what did you think of Kellen? What did you think of the interview, especially for those who have read the book? I don't think I gave anything away, but still kept it true to his character.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Critiques

Sorry about missing Monday, I had the day off from work for a wedding and just completely forgot about blogging beforehand.

On to today's post, I have my manuscript out with Beta readers and so far have received a bit of feedback. The rest shouldn't be back until the end of the month, so about two weeks. In the meantime I'm Beta reading for a crit partner and have noticed something in the way I critique.

I am a more story oriented person, looking at plot and character inconsistencies. I notice the grammar, spelling, or punctuation  if it stands out, but generally I read for story. I don't know if that makes me a better or worse partner, but I have noticed that it's the way I work.

Maybe that's why when I go over my own work, I miss things that should be easy to spot such as a comma instead of a semicolon. One thing I did learn that I probably learned years and years ago, was the comma after sentences in dialog where the said tag is after the dialog. Seems like such an amateur mistake too, oh well.

What is your method of feedback for others? What are some of the mistakes that you can see in others work, but miss completely in yours?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to me

So today is my birthday so I'm going to share a post with pics.

First let's all say:

Then we will open these:
Finally we will:

Everyone enjoy the day because it's mine and I said too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Google +

This past week I was invited into Google +, the new hot thing in Social Networking. It's basically a direct competitor to Facebook, but in my opinion better.

The pros:
I like the way your circles dictate what information you want to read. I don't have a constant stream of stuff that I can't sort and make heads or tails of at times. This way if I'm in the mood to read stuff my my fellow writer friends, I can just look at what those in my "writers" circle are talking about. Same with friends and family. It makes organizing what I am looking to read easier. Unlike Facebooks everything in the same screen approach.

I like the way that it is connected to the other google services, and will be more tied in the future. So far I can see the possibilities with gmail and blogger. Really excited about these.

The Hangouts. I haven't gotten to try this yet. I plan to get some writer friends together to give it a test run as soon as I can. I think this could be very beneficial to have a sort of web/live crit group going at times. Even just to have company while writing if you like. If they can tie this into Google docs it can also be used collaborate over projects as well.

Sparks, haven't used much so I can't comment on it, but what I gather it is about certain interests and pulls relevant news stories for you to read. I'm not sure as like I said I haven't used it much.

Cons:

The limited release so far. It's got far fewer people on it, so connecting with old friends or classmates is more difficult, but this could change in the future as more people adopt it.

That's it for cons now. Like I said I've only been playing with it for less than a week, but so far its impressive as another Facebook. Right now I still use both, but once I get more used to the Google + features, I think that it could be a full time replacement. Only time will tell.

Btw, Monday's post was written using my new cell phone and the blogger app, did anyone notice any difference? I think with all these new toys, I will have to do an updated technology for writers post with some new gadgets that I have implemented into my toolbox recently.

What do you guys think of Google + for those of you that have it? If you would like an invite I will see if I can do so, but I think I heard it might be open for all google account holders now. If not, and you want in, please let me know in the comments with your email and I will send you an invite so you can see for yourself.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How rearranging a bedroom relates to writing.

So the weekend we had to rearrange our bedroom to make room for a new desk. It got me thinking how much we rearrange our books before its finished.

We might move a character from a scene to make a better entrance later on, or to set up something later. We might also move a certain scene for more impact. In my current project I expect to move certain things around to make it better. How do you guys handle the rearranging of you book? I bet mystery writers do it more than others.

Are you guys like me and have a separate file for things to save field later? I use it to store things that don't fit yet but could work later on. What are some of you writing techniques for organizing your novel?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Movie Review "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon"

Now I want to preface this with the comment that I grew up watching these cartoons and have enjoyed the previous two for what they were. Summer Blockbusters.

My wife and I saw this movie Sunday and I knew going in that the reviews were terrible. Now I'm not one to really care what reviews say, but they did keep me from expecting much. We decided to plop down for 3D, our first in about a year. Yikes $22.50 for the two of us. Good thing we didn't bring any of the kids.

Now I'll first say that I thought that the 3D was used well in the movie, jet smoke coming out, bits of robot flying toward you, but there is a scene where there are skydivers, and the 3D was pretty pretty amazing.

The story was passable. Blah blah robots fight, some die, some live. Nothing to really write home about, but for a Summer Blockbuster it was enough.

The characters, Shia did a good job for his role and I agree with him that the story of Sam is pretty much done. The new female lead was no better or no worse than Megan Fox, she's there for eyecandy that's about it. The robots, they did focus more on them and got the audience emotionally attached in this one more than they have the others, which I thought was nicely done.

The overall package wasn't great, but my wife and I like these types of movies because they are mindless fun that you can enjoy without thinking too much about it. Pretty good time at the movies. I give a solid 3/5.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Trouble with Endings

I just finished my WiP 2nd draft, and still am struggling with the ending. I think that it's rushed, but not sure how to slow it down. Since I promised Beta's that I will be sending it today, actually that was supposed to be last Friday.

I am going to take some time to think about it and how to tie it up better. I will let my Beta's give me their feedback and take it into consideration, but ultimately it's up to me. I have to decide whether it works for the characters, or if its too forced. Maybe it ends too fast, or maybe too late and I should end it earlier. So many options.

What are some of your favorite endings in books, maybe I could get some ideas of how to end it?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

I hope you all enjoy the day with your families. I volunteered to work today for the extra money. :) Everyone be safe and have fun.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Feedback, what kind do you like?

Now that I'm about to send my WiP out to some Beta readers, it made me wonder what sort of feedback do I like. I'm all about story while I'm writing, focus on plot, action, and characters, but I also know my weakest thing during the first draft is the character relationships. I usually have a great main character, while the rest of characters are only partially complete.

I also know that I can get into a passive voice at times, which is hard to notice while writing and is usually picked up on subsequent readings.

My plot usually flows pretty well, I think I enjoy moving from one action to the next without much in the ways of missing parts, however, for a first draft some of the things that show up later need to be introduced a bit earlier.

If you're following, when I send it out for readings, I like a lot of feedback, nothing is too small or too big. I also feel that I have a thick skin, meaning lay into me, I won't mind, because I'm of the mindset that if one person notices it, its just that person, if two people notice it, it's something that needs to be looked into and if three people notice it, then it's something wrong.

What sort of feedback do you like when you are getting read?

Oh yeah, next step, thanks to comments on Wednesday's post is the query letter and synopsis.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First draft done, what next?

Editing. :)

My first draft took me six months, the longest first draft timetable for me out of any of my completed books. I don't know why it took so long, but it did and there it is.

I am now doing a polish, then I'm planning on sending it out to some Beta's to get some feedback and hopefully get back to revising sometime in August. In the meantime, what should I do next? Write the query? Outline another book? Something smaller?

What do you do to occupy your time while you await feedback?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Small Vacation

This week and next Monday I will be out of town visiting family in California. I will get back to posting next week, either Tuesday or Wednesday. Until then everyone stay safe and enjoy the local weather.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Battle: LA Movie Review.

We rented this moving last night and went in not expecting much from it. It looked pretty cheesy from the previews and didn't do very well in the theaters. I now wonder why?

It's pretty much pure action from start to finish. Lots of drama with the characters, and overall a good pace. I can see that a few of the things that people didn't care for such as the lack of character development for most of the people except for a few. But the few that were there it was standard action stuff. Not a lot of depth, but enough to connect to the character. I didn't feel sad when any of the minor characters died until near the end when some surprises happen. I found the special effects to be decent. Nothing wonderful, about a step up from SyFy movies.

The one thing that I think was my favorite aspect of the movie was that it was an alien invasion movie, yet it dealt with the military in a different way. It was a platoon of ground troops, not air force, not navy, but some grunts on the ground doing all the dirty work. It felt different to me. I enjoyed it overall, but don't expect too much. If you go in expecting something wonderful. Taper your expectations and it might surprise you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Building an audience

I've been writing for close to 16 years now trying to get something published. Pretty sad that I haven't yet, but then again I've never really given short fiction a fair shake and I have dedicated myself to more longer pieces, novels and screenplays.

Until about two years ago, I started to focus on building an audience for my books, also called a platform. Now I'm generally a shy guy, like to keep to myself at parties, don't like to make waves, or be the center of attention and now I am finding that to get an audience of fans, I need to do this more. Maybe not wave my arms and shout for people to look at me, but I need to build close relationships with others.

I've witnessed Elana's rise to superstardom over the past couple years since we were in a crit group a long while back. Followed her blog, friended her on Facebook, follow her on twitter and all that. I am amazed at how she managed to put herself out there. Kept true to herself and really showed people how friendly, helpful, just plain kick ass of a person. So my question is, what are some tips to get myself out there. Should I throw some contests? What are some of the things that worked for you guys? Most of my followers have bigger followings than I do. I'm just curious. I'm a nice guy, but shy. How can I show the world this? Heck how can I show just North America?

Monday, June 13, 2011

I took a small break from writing and lived to tell the story

This past weekend, I decided not to charge my laptop, which I write on, because I needed a breather. My characters were upset that I wasn't going to spend the weekend with them, but for my own sanity and health I needed to get away so that I could better understand their position, their problems, and then I could come back and help them along their journey.

Now this break was only three days, but during those three days, the characters reveled in the freedom, they had no work to do and now it's Monday and we all seem on the same page. I can see the next scene in my head, I can see the next few things leading up to the ending and I needed this because I was becoming too close to the story. I was sort of not seeing the forest for the trees so to speak. 

I got lost in the minute details of everything, most of it might be cut in the revision, some might be polished up to make shiny and stick out, because it makes the book stronger. 

My question for you, my faithful readers and commentors, when you take a break, if you do, what do you find the most fun when getting back at it? What do you think draws you back to the book and not just shelving it? My reason is the characters. They won't leave the heck alone. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

WiP Update.

So after doing my rewrite of my last twenty or so pages of my WiP, I have hit my stride. I am looking at about another 40 pages to be complete or so. I actually have an ending visulized, and the next scene ready to go for when I get some time tonight. I've got the excitement back in my writing which had been missing during last week.
So my little break last weekend and going back to a few earlier chapters helped spawn new ideas. Wonderful how that works.

By the way, I've decided not to put a timetable on completing this draft,(I've already missed two self imposed deadlines) its already taken longer than expected, but I think it's better than it would have been if I just tried to bust it out quick style.

This got me thinking about how long do your first draft usually take? I consider mine more of a draft 1.5 since I've been getting feedback while doing the draft, which could explain part of the time it took me to write it. At least now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it makes me a bit giddy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In honor of Possession by Elana Johnson

I know I don't usually post on Tuesday's but today is a special day. My friend Elana Johnson's book "Possession" comes out today. I critiqued it many many months ago and it's great to see her reach her goals of being published. I am participating in a contest for it and a way to spread the word so I need to write a post on a time I broke the rules. So here it goes, it goes back a long time ago, I think I was between twelve and thirteen, maybe younger.

My sister lived in an apartment complex behind my parents house when I was a preteen, me and my friends used to go over there to hang out and watch MTV way back then. One day she wasn't home, so we started to climb the garage building. It was cool, dangerous, and looking back sort of stupid. However, it got worse. To get down, we jumped off the roof and landed on the hood of a dusty car that looked like it hadn't been used in years. We didn't think anything of it, except for how fun it was to jump off the roof of a building and to land on something. Sort of like an action movie. I remember denting it pretty good on a few of my jumps and so did my friends. We put some major work into it as we jumped on both the hood and the roof. So after doing this for about an hour, like normal kids, we got bored and left to do something else. When we returned a day or two later, police were there asking questions.

Now that was one of a few dumb things I did during my youth and regret now. So what is something you did that broke the rules?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Breaks

My current project has got my head spinning and its frustrating to know that I was unable to figure out the reason behind it. So this past weekend, I did no writing. I did some yard work, hung out with friends and family, and gave myself a weekend to relax and recharge my batteries.

When do you know it's time for a break? Do you ever get the feeling that you are surrounded by the impossible task of writing a novel? What do you do to relax? I did do some brain storming while I was relaxing, and think that this week will be a good one. I might have figured out a solution to my problem part.

Have you ever taken a break to try and see a problem from another angle? How long did you take? What were the results?

Oh yeah, just in case anyone didn't know yet Elana Johnson's novel Possession is coming out tomorrow June 7th. Go check out her blog to find out where her blog tour is going to be taking her? Have a great and productive week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Plaugue" by Michael Grant

I've been reading this series over the last year and this is his newest creation. The kids have been alone for 8 months now. Some crazy stuff has happened to them during this time. About half the kids developed powers, the other half haven't. Creates a lot of tension.

So this book starts off where the last one left off. (I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll try to keep it vague.) They are low on water, so they send the MC out to search for water leaving the town in capable hands. That is until an old friend returns to seek revenge on the town. This book upped the tension with so many different problems. Water and Food shortages. New bugs that are nearly impossible to kill and if they bite you you become infested, people not trusting one another, humans vs mutants, and the list goes on and on. These poor kids have it rough.

The characters of this one are as good as they have been all series. Deep, realistic, emotional and their actions have weight behind them.

Lots of twists and turns and some sad moments, which makes me excited for the next book in the series. I give this book a solid 5/5. You should pick it up as soon as you get a chance, but after my friends book that comes out Tuesday the 7th of June. Possession by Elana Johnson.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spectacular Contest alert

A friend of mine just released her first novel as an indie author and is having a contest. You should check it out as there are some cool prizes:

http://rebeccaknightbooks.blogspot.com/2011/05/legacy-of-empress-launch-day-giveaway.html

Also, I think its pretty cool that she published on her own and following her journey is becoming a fascination. Good luck to her.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Going to enjoy the day with family and I hope you guys do to.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When is a series too long?

This past weekend I saw this movie with my oldest daughter and my wife.

Now I was probably one of the people that thought that it ended alright with the trilogy. I didn't think this was necessary and seemed more like a milking of the cash cow than for story expansion. Can we say Scream 4 (Which I loved as with this movie.)

But my question isn't about the movie so much, because it kicked butt in the box office and I really enjoyed it. It made me think, was it needed? I love the character of Jack Sparrow, more so than Will or Elizabeth. So I didn't mind it for that reason, yet in books, have you ever read a series that seemed to go too long past its prime. I don't read a lot of series, and most of them are made a series because they are one big arc, yet this movie wasn't part of the same arc. Different bad guys, different quest, the only thing the same was Jack. Could a book survive under the same circumstance?

I don't think so and that's probably why it doesn't happen very often.  What are your thoughts on book series that go too long?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Three sided conflicts?

I know I've been writing a lot about my current project and this is another post about it.

My antagonist is two different people. It's a three sided conflict and it's making me wonder if that is too much as I can't really recall any books having three sided conflicts. Maybe it's just late (or super early) when I'm writing this, so I'm looking for examples so I can read them and see how they did the pacing.

Any suggestions of books? Or just how they managed it? Any of your own struggles with this sort of conflict?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Supporting Characters

In my current project, I have many characters. My crit group thinks that most are pretty important, however, one that I think is important, and will be playing a big role later on isn't coming across well.

I am having trouble thinking of a way to integrate this character better as she's the girlfriend of the main characters brother, so she's only in a few chapters until chapter 9, then she's in more of them. I need to make her likeable, she's a good person, yet if my main character doesn't interact with her much, how can I get this across better? Maybe have them get forced into a situation where they are alone? Maybe have her brother talk about her more? What would your suggestions be? I'm up for anything right about now because I've been spending so much time building the main characters reactions to the world as it's changing around her that this one minor character sort of got left in the shadows.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Trance by Linda Gerber

This is another book that I received from Michelle McLean during her book giveaway.

I liked the cover right off the bat, the way that it sort of sucks you in. The title is enticing because it reminds me of the kind of stuff that I write, supernatural action.

Now once I got into the book, it was good, just not what I was expecting. I was expecting a stronger action plot. Now there is action here, it's just not the main thing. It's about a girl trying to find her place in life after her mother was killed in a car accident and these trances that she has, but has never been able to prevent.

I would classify this more as a thriller mystery. It has a lot of elements going on. A trance that she can't figure out, a new friend, and a boy who is hot.

I think that the thing I took most away from this book was the study of Numerology. The wiki definition is "Numerology is any of many systems, traditions or beliefs in a mystical or esoteric relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things."

I thought that was a cool thing to have in a book. I've vaguely heard about the study, but learning it in the creative space that Linda took it actually peaked my interest in it. I remember after reading the book, I researched Numerology because of the way that the main character is explained it was cool.

Now this story handles itself well, it plays a nice balance between the trances and the main character trying to figure them out, but it does a wonderful job of really showing us her changes. The way she is unsure, timid after the accident and what she blossoms into

I would give this book a sold 4/5.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are we writers or typers?

My 10 year old called me a "Typer" this past weekend. She said that instead of writing the story on paper by hand, that I type it. Now granted technically that is correct, and I told her that writing is more than just the way you put words down and more about the craft of storytelling.

I think it would be more prudent to call us storytellers even though we don't always verbalize our stories. (I still wish that class in college was in a time slot I could have taken.)

The craft of telling stories is what motivates us, not the process of how we do it. Heck I know writers that still do it longhand and then copy it onto the computer to edit. My wrist hurts just thinking about that.

So what do you think of the term typers? Am I right or is my ten year old right? (She'll be reading your comments.)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

How I write.

This past week, there seemed to be a lot of posts on how individual writers write their story and I wanted to get on the action. I'm always the kid that seems to be left behind, maybe I should make some noise more often.

*Whines, cry, and shouts.*

Okay, now that is out of the way, I am a Pantser. I like to sit down, hang out with my characters and just go along for the ride.

Now this is bad for a couple reasons, one is that my rewrites can usually take a little longer than others because mine is a lot of stuff that needs to be expanded or cut.

This also works for me because honestly, I don't think I could spend a month outlining the book and still enjoy the story after that. I like the surprises, the twists, the turns, all the fun stuff that gets me pumped for writing.

My four novels I have written this way and they usually take about 6 weeks to write the first draft. The most recent book I'm having critiqued by my crit buddies while I'm writing it so it's taken me.... I'm go on the low end 4 months. So more than double my previous books. This would be worrisome, except that because of the feedback, I have a feeling that my first draft will be sharper than it usually is, meaning less time revising in the long term.

So hopefully I can stick to my plan and have a first draft done by the end of May. Only about another 100 pages over 15 days, I can do it! And you all will be along for the journey.

So what sort of writer are you? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger went down...

And I don't have time to write a post now. Maybe I should go back to writing them in advance. Anyway, next week I'll be back on schedule barring any technical difficulties.

H ave a good weekend.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Subplots

Subplots? The great underlying plot that sort of floats under the radar except for the times it doesn't. The poor subplot gets second billing, isn't usually as liked as the main plot, and feels inferior in that case, but it doesn't always have to be inferior. It can be used to strengthen the story in ways that we don't see at first.

What are some of you favorite subplots?

I seem to see a lot of romantic subplots, and they are fine and all, but what other kinds are there?

There is the mystery subplot, where there is something brewing then usually pops up at the end to reveal something that the character needed.

There is the action subplot, this is usually a main plot, but occasionally it can be a subplot. Usually its more of a infighting sort of thing and between minor characters, but it can be big and have lots of effect on the main plot.

So those are a few of the ones that I'm playing with my current project, what are some of your favorite subplots?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Family and Writing

I got this idea from Elizabeth Craig's Blog Mystery Writing is Murder and thought that I would post the things I do to balance writing and family.

I used to write after work for as long as it took to get a chapter done. This ended when my work shift changed to a later time in the day and I didn't home till around 6:00pm, instead of 4. So when this change happened I struggled finding time to write, eat dinner with the family, relax and just spend time playing with the kids. I would usually stay up late after everyone went to bed and wrote while it was quiet. This wore me out as getting up at 6:30 in the morning every day and staying up till midnight wasn't conducive to my body.

And a tired body leads to a tired mind, which leads to uninspired writing.

So I knew I had to make a change. My 4 year old at the time was struggling going to sleep in her own bed after doing it for a few months on her own. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I would write in her room, while she laid in bed.

This allowed me semi-quiet time. She had a knack for talking to me while I was in her room, but that only lasted for about twenty minutes before she conked out. Since her bedtime is 8:30, meant I started writing earlier and still actually having time to spend with my wife after the kids were asleep.

I was able to write in peace for about an hour, which is all I can dedicate to my weekly writing. Weekends, I usually go to the local library to write for about 2-3 hours more.

So there you have it, how I became flexible to my family needs while maintaining my writing habits.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Review "a blue so dark" by Holly Schindler

Another one of the books that I received from Michelle McLean's contest.

This book was difficult for me to read. Not because of the language used, or the font, but the subject material was intense.

The main character is dealing with a mother who is schizophrenic, which makes her normal life impossible.

I'm not going to spoil anything, but I have to say that the way Holly shows us this disease through the eyes of the daughter was scary.

I did enjoy this book, but am not sure if I know anyone personally that would enjoy it much as the subject matter is more on the depressing side. A good book to read if you are interested in schizophrenia, or mental illness this would be a book that interest you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Editing?

I was reading the wonderful Nathan Bransford blog yesterday and he had a post about editing and his process. It got me thinking of my process and how it has changed depending on the project.

My first novel I blazed through in about 3 weeks. It was easy because I wrote the screenplay first and I just had to adapt it. I was naive and my first draft only came out to about 180 pages. I looked at it and decided that if I used two POV's then it would add length and allow me to show more of the story. It worked, it moved to 311 pages. I then began to edit it. After a month of editing, I sent it out to some crit members and they started to comment on the difficulty of writing in present tense. I wrote screenplays, present tense was my baby, but alas after really thinking about it. I changed it to past tense. Such a pain.

After about 5 rounds of edits, I thought it was polished enough to send out. I was right. It got some requests, it got some partials to fulls, however nothing turned into an offer. That's cool. I was working on another project at the same time so I was chill.

Fast forward to my Nano project. Wrote it in 30 days. Edited in two months. Started to get feedback from a crit group and realized that it stunk. Full of flaws and I shelved it. I still like the story, but am not ready to go back to it.

I wrote a few other novels during this time. The sequel to my first novel. Another novel that I haven't finished yet, but still love the main character.

Now on to my current project. This one is different. I've been working on it since early Jan. I'm about 190 pages in right now and am using a technique that Nathan mentions in his blog. Every night when I sit down, I reread stuff I wrote the night before and take about 15 to 20 minutes to edit it. It does two things, it gets my mind back into the story, and it gets me writing. I like this method best because I feel that even if I hit a wall, or a distraction comes up I accomplished something. I usually write a chapter in two days this way. I hope that when I complete the draft, it will be basically a draft 1.5 because of editing a bit as I go.

Anyways, enough with my process. What is your process? What are some of your favorite techniques that you want to share? I would love to know what you think of my current process.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hard work

I know writers have to have a thick skin to handle the criticism and rejection.

Writing is hard work, maybe not back breaking unless you are sitting hunch over for hours at a time, but it still is hard, grueling work.

This weekend, I did my normal yard work, mowing the lawn, etc and it got me thinking how hard writing is.

First of all you have to develop an idea. Sometimes it can just be an image, a word, a place. You will have to take this nugget and throw your own spin onto it, because it can't be like anything else that has ever been developed before. It's got to have your touches, what makes it yours.

After you have spent days, weeks, months, developing the idea, we have to go back and remold it. Usually this isn't as intensive as the first mold, but we need to make it smooth and flawless if we want anyone else to like it.

Then the worst part comes up. You have a perfect little gem that you adore and are ready to share. You have to lock up that small voice telling you that it's not its time because you know in your heart that it is. So you send it out there and it takes its lumps, it comes back dented and chipped. So you go to working those kinks out of the idea.

Now when they are finally out and now the small voice has faded away you send it out to agents. Things can take forever now so you start the process over.

Maybe we're crazy or maybe we're just the harding working individuals in the world. What do you think? Can you relate to the hard work that is making anything writing related? I sure am, and honestly I couldn't picture myself doing anything else.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Review "After Tupac and D Foster" by Jacqueline Woodson

Another one of the books that I picked up from Michelle Mclean's contest.

It is about two young African American girls growing up during the time when Tupac was going through his troubles before he died. They meet a girl who just comes out of nowhere and they become fast friends even though they don't know a ton about the new girl.

That's pretty much the book. I thought that the way the author developed the time period and the characters was well done. I really liked the narrator and how we get to understand her and her life.

However, the problem that I had with the book and this was just me, I wanted more from it. I wanted something else to be happening. The girls sort of live their life, but don't have much in the way of input. It seems like most of the story revolves around the death of Tupac and their reactions. Maybe the meaning was lost on me, and I'm not afraid to say that. I enjoyed it for what it was, a character study of life in an African American neighborhood, but really thought that there were missed opportunities to have the main character get more involved in the world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WiP Wednesday

I haven't talked much about my current project, mainly because I've been busy working on it.

I have started to get into a swing of things in regards to the characters and really living through the main characters eyes. There have been a few twists and turns along the way, but they have worked out better than I anticipated.

The only thing that is happening to me right now is I'm in the second act of the book and things are happening and things are generating conflict and all that good stuff, but I feel in my first draft that the pace is sort of up and down when it should be pedal to the metal.

I know it will get fixed in the rewrite and will smooth itself out during the many drafts that are to come, but right now it has me feeling antsy, like it might not work itself out. Have you ever felt that way? Felt like the second act in the story, where all the cool things are happening, is sort of up and down? How did you handle it? I know what I'm going to do, and that is continue along the course and relook at the couple of scenes that need to be tightened up. I'm not worried in the least, but thought that it would be interesting to see how you guys work out the second act.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Family Update

Since this blog is about a little bit of everything, I am going to update things about my family.

Since I can't remember the last update I gave, I am just going to dive in.

My ten year old has started doing choir. It gives her something to do and keep her away from the television and computer which she was previously spending way too much time on.

My five year old has started gymnastics and already moved up one level up to the "Sparklers" level, which is exciting for her. I think she's enjoying it immensely and really getting her more acquainted to being in an organized activity, which hopefully should make the transition to school easier.

My two year old has started to really talk and show personality. I really like these years because its very cool watching them develop into small people.

So to keep this writing related, we did an easter egg hunt at the zoo on Saturday and at our house on Sunday and it got me thinking about writing.

One thing that this made me think of was how while we are writing is how we like to slowly reveal the secrets (eggs) and develop the plot so that the reader (hunter) finds them in the order you want for an engaging story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

This is another book that I won in Michelle McLean's blog from a few months ago.

I didn't know what to expect when I picked it up. I'm glad I read it though because it raised a lot of questions. I really enjoyed the character as she seemed so real and relate able, despite the fact that she's going through her own issues.

The best part was the way that Mary Pearson slowly revealed the secrets of Jenna. It kept me wanting to know more. The pace was slow, but it developed along its own path and worked for this sort of story.

I don't want to spoil anything for you, but will state that the twists in the story surprised me and the ending is very heart warming. I would recommend this book for people that are looking for a different take on the character study.

The Classics

I have been out of modern books lately and decided to delve into some of the free classics on the Kindle store.

I downloaded about 11 of them so far, ranging from "The Scarlett Letter" to "Frankenstein." I started reading them last week and started with "The War of the Worlds," by H. G. Wells. Now this book was written back in 1898 and I mention that because I think it's important to my point.

The book drags, there is a lot of time spent on mundane details that do nothing to add to the plot. The characters are fabulous though and I really enjoy the action when it gets to it. However, I think writers back then had a different style that got you published.

Now days, you have to start off with a bang and keep the action going throughout otherwise the reader will get bored, distracted, and you lose him. Back in the early 20th century, a lot of the same distractions weren't around, so books were a very big source of home entertainment.

What do you think about the Classics now? Can you sit down and read them at the same pace you can books from today? I can't. I'm not afraid to admit it, but I still get through them, they just take me a lot longer.

Do you agree or disagree with my assessment?

Monday, April 18, 2011

This generation

I went and saw Scream 4 over the weekend. Now I'm a huge fan of the series, so far in that I actually have posters of the 3 first films somewhere in my closet. If I wasn't married probably hanging up...

Anyway I really enjoyed the movie, particularly the way that it handled this younger generation. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still not too old, but I'm talking about the Young adult market of today. The kids that are living high school (That glorious time...).

The reason that this matters is because they really showed how kids now days are media savvy, they don't read as much, they watch television, go to movies, play on facebook, play video games, almost a dozen other things that don't involve picking up a book and reading it.

So it got me thinking, now that writers have to compete with so much different interests, what do they bring that will draw the audience away from all of the flashy things. People don't have time to waste on things that don't interest them. I think I have the answer, well at least in my mind. I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments.

I think the writers have to work harder than they did before to grab the audience. That's why the first chapter, first page, first paragraph, heck even the first line is so important. You have to show the reader who has other things to waste their time with that you can keep them entertained. Not only that, but you have to keep reinventing yourself throughout the book to keep them hooked. One wrong step and uh oh the reader is going to go play some facebook game.

I think this is also why writers have to be involved in social media, because kids now can relate to it and if you can create a bond through the media you can get them interested to at least give it a shot. What you do with that shot is up to you, but it better live up to the readers expectation.

So what do you think? Am I way off base? Or do I have some clue what I'm talking about? I would love to hear what you think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Characters taking over.

Have you ever thought your story was going to go one way and then as you are writing it, it takes a turn you didn't expect.

My current project just did this. A bad guy who I didn't think would be a bad guy just revealed himself. A bit early, but allows for major drama between the two throughout the rest of the book. I'm roughly 140 pages in.

Do you force yourself back to the plan you had in mind or do you brave it and let the characters take you on this new journey?

Right now I'm letting my characters take me on the journey, but I still have an end goal in mind and playing it out in my head, I think I can make it to that end goal while staying true to these turn in events.

What would you do in my position?

"Savy" by Ingrid Law

I won this book from Michelle Mclean's contest a couple months ago.

It is a simple book with a simple plot of getting to see her dad. Now after this, it gets all twisted and turny because of all the various things that happen during this trip. I don't want to ruin it, but the thing that I found most interesting is the cast of characters. Each one is so different from each other that it makes a normally ho-hum journey into a magical discovery of a story.

I really liked the voice of the piece. It's simple, yet effective because of the way that the main character sees the world. It really drew me into the world that the author was developing. Small things like how they try to hide their savy from the outside world while being surrounded by people who think they are just weird.

Things like this are what endeared me to this story and characters. I found out that there is a sequel, yet I'm not rushing out to buy it. Mainly because this was such a perfect little plot that I think any more might be too much. Has anyone read the sequel? How is it?

This might be a story I will be reading to my younger children when they grow up because it would be something that will stimulate their imagination. I recommend this book for anyone.

Parents just don't understand

I'm a young adult write, or I try to be. Lately my current project was called out because I was spending too much time on the parents. Having the kids relate to them, having the parents drive the action a bit. It will change more later, but I believe that the parents (the father especially) needs to drive it a bit because he's the mayor and something he says sets things in motion in a bad way for the main characters.

My question is, what is too much parental involvement? I've read books that the parents are there and you only get a small sense of them, basically you know they are the mom and dad and that's about it. Then I've also read books where the parents are there the entire time, almost like a pseudo-antagonist. Always getting in the way.

What do you think is the job of parents in Young Adult fiction?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Splatterhouse PS3 review

I haven't done a video game review in a long time and felt that since I will be finishing some books that I won in a contest (Thank you Michelle McLean) I will have reviews of the books I won coming up soon.

So on to the video game review. This game is a redone version of an early game back in the Genesis days. It's a beat'em up game with a gory twist. I found the gore to be fitting and the humor to be just right. I really enjoyed the combat and the satisfaction I got from destroying the various creatures.

I thought that the blood looked believable, with the gore in the splatter kills to be nice and realistic.

One of the things that became a nuisance was the camera had trouble at time. It sometimes became a distraction that could lead to your death at times. The biggest issue that I ran into were bugs and glitches that should have never been. It just showed bad quality assurance and left a bad taste in my mouth after I played it a lot.

I found the pacing of the story to be nice. It didn't seemed rushed and I thought it covered a lot of ground in terms of story. The characters were there and that's all they needed to be.

I would give this game an easy 4/10, and only because it's pretty easy to get through with some major glitches that would reset my system, or completely freeze it.

Grabbing the reader

I have noticed in my readings that sometimes the books don't grab me right away in the first chapter. There are some questions and I keep reading to find the answers, but overall if I don't get something by the fifty page mark its difficult.

You have probably heard that your first sentence has to hook your reader to keep them interested, so my question is, what do you do if you are reading a book and that first sentence doesn't hook you? Do you power through it regardless? Do you put it down and come back to it when you have nothing else?

In your writing, do you fret over the first line of your project? Do you want to make it sparkle because you need it to draw the reader in? I'm guilty of that. Very very guilty.

So how important do you think the opening sentence is to the book? The opening paragraph? The opening chapter?

Wrestlemania 27 and how professional wrestling can relate to writing.

I am a wrestling fan. I have been a reinvigorated fan as of 2009 roughly. I'm not a big fan at all, but I enjoy the matches sometimes. Now that it is out of the way, I was invited to a Wrestlemania Party today with some friends.

I have to admit that it was a very good show overall. Lots of drama, lots of action, and some "Oh my God, he didn't just do that moments."

I have to admit that despite all of this I enjoyed it for the entertainment that it was. It got me to thinking about my writing and I know wrestling isn't the pinnacle of writing, but they do emphasize something that every writer should practice.... A balance.

You can't have too much of one element in your writing. Too much action and your reader gets bored giving them the opposite effect you are looking for. (I've been guilty of this in my earlier writings.) Too much drama and the audience gets bored because they keep getting a build up that doesn't pay off as the ending is too anticlimatic. Too much bit stunts, you have to keep your high points within the reason of your story. If you go too far out there you lose your reader, which is the cardinal sin for writers.

So what do you do to keep the balance in your writing? Do you outline? Do you write on index cards (I'm thinking of doing this once I get my first draft down.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Screenwriting rule 3

This is the third rule that I still use in my novel writing.

Use the dialog to express subtext:

In screenwriting, since you can't write your character was feeling this way or that he thought this way of someone else, you had to have layers of your dialog. This can be simple enough as him saying, "I believe you" with a smirk and a dart of the eyes, or it can be as complex as "You ruined my life" when they are talking their parents because they caught them sneaking out. This works doubly in novels, because you have the added presence of the inner thoughts so you can go further and really expand on the initial comment. Use the dialog, "You ruined my life" as an example. The character could have been sneaking off to see their friend who is leaving the country, or it could be to see their secret boyfriend. But you can play with this in ways because you have the inner thoughts of either the one who got caught, or the one doing the catching depending on the POV.

So I have pointed out three of the major tools that I have learned and developed in screenwriting and implement into my current novel writing.

Have you ever used anything you learned in another field in your novel writing? Research, or job related? I think I know of a specific writer friend who uses her job experience in her writing.

Screenwriting rule 2

I started this segment on Monday, so if you have any questions about the history of how this subject came about you can check it out below, or above, or to the side. However you have your blog reader formated.

The second rule:


The character names are supposed to be in Capital letters when you first introduce them. This was useful for me because it made it hard for me to forget the character even if they only showed up once in the entire script. This helps me now because when I create a character I develop a character one sheet for them. This is basically their history and the minute details of them. I don't refer to them all the time, but if I forget a character who has been out of touch in my book for a while, I can get reacquainted.


What are some of the ways that you get to know your characters? How to remember the minor ones? What are some of your favorite character traits that you have come up with?

Screenwriting rule 1

Has anyone thought about attempting writing a screenplay?

I started writing them back in 1996, during my junior year of high school. My English teacher of the year was having us go through poetry, screen writing and short story writing over the course of the year. A 3rd of the class on each section, and during the time I was really into video games, and wanted to do something with Computer Science.


The teacher in question inspired my creative side in ways that I hadn't experienced before. The way that she presented the material was different to me, because she gave us freedom to explore the stories that we wanted. Weirdly enough, as you might have known by the title of this post, is that I really got interested in screenwriting.


The format was strict, the rules were there and you had to follow them. This was enticing to me because at the time I was a skater, who played sports video games with friends. I didn't really have much in the ways of goals outside of working in video games.


So I wanted to share with you some of the things that I liked about screenwriting over this week.


Rule 1:


If the camera can't see it, you can't write it. This rule wasn't that hard to grasp and I liked it because back in my teenager self, I had trouble dealing with internal emotions and conflicts. I did find out that I could write one mean action scene, and my dialog was realistic.


Have any of you tried another format to tell your story? What did you learn about yourself during the process.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Soundtrack of your book

For some people, music plays an integral part of the story. Without it, they lose their place and things get mixed up.

Right now I have been listening to Green Day as my music to keep me focused. I have a lot of action going on and need the fast beats.

Some of the other things I listen to is The Corrs, for soothing music with some pop to it.

I listen to Avril Lavigne for my teenage angst scenes.

So what are some of your favorite musicians for when you are writing?
Romantic scenes?
Action scenes?
Tender scenes?

I would love some suggestions, because my ipod needs an update.

Tough Chapters

I have been working on a chapter for a couple weeks now. Its in my first draft, but its a pivotal chapter that is causing me headaches. Mainly because I can't decide what way it should go.

I have tried to write it a few times now and gotten to the end and started over because it left me with a cold feeling at the end. Like it was against my character's will to go this way or that way.

So I have decided to take a small break. Let my characters rest. Let me refocus on the goal of the chapter. Hopefully when I come at it again this week, I will have the intelligence to stand out of the way and to let my characters lead me through the fog.

What do you do with tough chapters? What are some tips you can share with me?

Toolkit for writing

As many of you know I came from a screenwriting background. I have written a few feature scripts in my day.

I wanted to list a few of the things that I use when writing.

Microsoft Word. The flexibility of this program works perfectly for me. However, I have never tried any of the other writing programs out there, so I might be a little biased.

My laptop. I like laptops for the ability to write anywhere. Granted I have limited battery power when not near an outlet, but that can be a good thing in that it sets a determined time for me to write and I use it to keep my focus.

A thesaurus. I like to use varying words for the same thing. My added spice.

Dictionary. Word has spell check, but still it misses words sometimes.

So these are my basic tools for writing. What are some of your favorite tools?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Visualizing characters

I didn't get the response that I was expecting for the pictures of my characters last week. So it made me think, what do you do to picture your characters? Do you draw them? Do you write the details down?

What works for you? I'm curious because the pictures sort of gave me a new perspective on my characters.

Building Fear

I've been watching a lot of scary movies lately. Some have been pretty bad and the reason they have been bad is because I don't fear the monster. Some were because the characters were shallow and I can sort of root for them to die.

So I started to think what makes a good scary book/movie/story?

One thing that I think is necessary is something that is realistic. The fear has to be something you can understand. Some stories try to be to complex in building the bad guy that by the point you get to any fears you are tired of the build up that you are disappointed in the outcome. I think the movie "Cloverfield" is a good example of this.

Another thing that there are too many scares too close together that you get tired of being scared. Some of the "Saw" movies have this effect. So many traps that by the end when the big traps are supposed to make you cringe you are just plain exhausted. Bad thing.

A good example of building fear is the book "Salem's Lot." You have a vague introduction to the bad guy. You have a slow deterioration of the town. You have the unreliable priest. You have the characters that you relate to being put in situations that you can relate to. All of these things combine into an ending that is satisfying and makes your blood pump with fear.

I know this isn't all of the things to build fear, so what are some of your examples? What do you find effective?

Memorable Characters

I have been reading for a really long time. I have an award in 5th grade where I read something like 110 book during the school year. So I've read my fair share of books throughout the year.

Some of my favorite characters that I remember reading were Harry Potter, Hester Prynne, It, Cujo, some others that my cold induced head can't think of right now. But as you noticed some of my list above were antagonists.

Are they okay to be Memorable characters? I think so because they are memorable for being so bad. Some of them aren't even human, which is also okay since they don't have to be. What about the rats in Secret of Nymph? I think there are some in there but I can't recall any names at the moment.

I think one thing that makes a character memorable is the fact that they have something you can relate to. Either a fear, or a skill that you admire.

Do you think Cujo wouldn't have been a success if the fear of dogs isn't a very common human fear? Do you think It would have been scary if people didn't fear clowns? I'm not afraid of either of these things, yet these antagonists were still scary. Cujo because he was uncontrollable and smarter than some dogs. Not sure if it was the rabies, or something more. It's been a while.

Harry Potter is memorable because he is the awkward kid that sticks out, we've all been there. Hester Prynne might be harder to define, but it still boils down to her being an outcast. I can get behind that sort of character. I like to root for them when the odds are stacked against them.

What about character makes you remember them?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pictures of your characters part 2

On Wensday, I showed you what I felt were my main female characters. Here are my 3 main male characters.


Alex Stevens: The brother of Rebecca, strong, takes charge, and doesn't back down:



Kellen: Best friend of Alex. More reserved, but dependable:





William Stevens: Rebecca and Alex's father. Mayor of the city and very well liked by most people: (And yes I know it's Alec Baldwin, but it fits.)





So these are the three main male characters. What do you think? Any suggestions?

Pictures of your characters part 1

A member of my Crit group brought up using images to visualize her characters, so I wanted to give it a shot. Below are 4 of the main female characters in my current project. I would love to know what you guys think?

Rebecca Stevens: The main character. Shy, but strong willed. Very intelligent.


Yasmine Gray: The girlfriend of Rebecca's Brother Alex. Sassy and fun loving. Fiercely loyal to Alex and Rebecca:


Sue Stevens: The mother of Rebecca. The wife of the mayor and a previous woman with anger issues:

Natilee: Mayor's assistant. Member of a group of gifted people trying to live peacefully in the world:


I would love to know what you think of these 4. I might do this again next week for the antagonists.

Setting

As most of you know, I write mainly supernatural sort of things. The only major difference is the fact that my characters and their opponents are super powered. The world remains the same. I do this for too reasons.

1.) I like to keep my world easy to recognize.

Second.) I think the most fun is to alter something you see on a regular basis and make it new again.

What are some of your favorite things in the settings of your books? Do you like a real world or do you like to play with the reality? Do you set it in the past, future, or present?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Deadlines?

I have been working hard on my current project, trying to get it finished before my self imposed deadline of the end of march. I'm currently at about 17,000 words. I have found myself taking it slower than I normally do because of it being critiqued as I write it, so I go back and edit previous chapters as I get feedback.

Have you ever set yourself with a personal deadline? What did you treat yourself to when you reached it? What did you do when you missed it? Should you set deadlines like this?

Writing Strong Male Characters

Continued from Monday, I wanted to flip the coin and write about strong male characters. I have written the male character from the macho doesn't fear anything POV, as well as the timid and reclusive boy. The one thing that I noticed in both of these characters is that they both reach a point where they have to make a choice to either be the same or make a change to overcome the obstacle.

For the hero it was realizing that he wasn't at his strongest until he learned to accept help and together they were stronger than he was by himself.

The reclusive boy was that to make things write in his life he would need to journey outside of his comfort zone to realize his full potential.

I enjoy writing male leads for a different reason than female leads. They can be strong, confident, yet have a softer side, I don't usually give them any sort of special powers, except for what they are capable of based on that character. Also it's fun to write a male character because I can share some of my experiences and can relate to them on a different level.

What are some of the things that you think make a strong male character? They don't have to be super macho, but my genre usually has one of them in there somewhere. Who is one of your favorite male characters?