Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stuffed Winner

Thanksgiving was good. Great food. Incredible family stories that are quietly filed for later story writing.

Aside from getting stuffed, I also finished my NaNoWriMo effort. Two minutes to minute, I validated my word count and got my special winner badge.

The story still has a long way to go. It's moving into the editing department as we speak. But Editing is taking a long weekend. I'd have a talk with that department, but I wouldn't want to get me in trouble.

Besides, I've been working on several other things. All of them time consuming, mentally tiresome, and unpaid.

Don't be surprised, folks, if my posting gets sparse in the coming weeks. Several things are colliding at the same time-- Dec. 15th is the magic date. Likely, a huge part of my life will take a dramatic change.

I wish it was the signing of an agent or the something writing related, but writing is going to be shoved aside-- not even to the backburner. Writing is probably being pushed into the fridge to wait until later. This was not how I planned to end the year.

Any tips for trying to squeeze twenty-nine hours of activity into a mere twenty-four hours?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Writing as Therapeutic Process

I've heard many a writer has found writing to be therapeutic. I thought I'd give it a whirl in my NaNo novel.

Bo Fexler is a character who is detached from me and my life. She shares mainly surface traits-- drinking Diet Pepsi and driving little cars being two of them.

But with Niki, I took a different route. I including in her story, and back story, many pieces of my own life. I even let her deal with them the same way I had-- with avoidance and in-depth musings. I thought I'd see if there was any relief in that action.

But I can't write when I'm angry. That's about the only time that I usually can't force myself to write. Happy, frustrated, even depressed still allow for writing. When unhappy, the writing is escape into a world I can control.

With Niki's history (and how it mirrors my own), it made me angry when I wrote. And then I would stop writing. When I picked up again, I would just jump to something else-- action instead of reflection. There was nothing therapeutic about the process.

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that writing these things in a story was not more therapeutic for me than discussing them with hubby or anyone else. I can't fix the problems, can't change what's been done or, worse, where things have ended up. So, I'll go write about something else. Something that doesn't piss me off. Something fun. To escape.

Oh well. Not all writers are created equal. Maybe writing won't help me deal with my own issues. Maybe something else will. But I think I'd best keep writing separate from my issues-- I won't get anything done if I don't.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Femme Fatale

Click here for some interesting reading on the femme fatale by Emily Veinglory over at Cliterature. (Great site! No clicky if you get offended by sex.)

I'd like to think that Bo's a femme fatale... but in the best way possible. She is a cross between the cunning detective and the stunning beauty who will have her way at any cost. She is dangerous... and I think that's one of her best features.

Of course, I'm not sure folks are ready for a female lead who can think even when a swoon-worthy man enters the room. Or who can keep control of her own sexuality.

There are a helluva a lot of cultural stereotypes about women that Bo has to fight against. Probably starting with the old double-standard: a man with lots of partners is a stud while a woman with lots of partners is a slut.

What some other gender stereotypes you can think of? And how true are they?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Quiet Ones

Watch out for the quiet ones. We may not be as innocent as we appear.

We may not swear or say much. We may have our noses in a book or pad of paper. We may do what we're "supposed to."

But we may have other plans. Other lives.

Mine include tales of sex and violence. Doing some research into erotica (yum) has lead me to believe that the first Bo Fexler novel may be an erotic mystery. I'm good with that. Erotica is fun. Sex is fun.

Except for that romance and happily ever after stuff. Gets in the way of the fun part. ;-)

Few people who know me in real life would expect this from me. What about you-- what do people not know about you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh Dear

So, I was musing along in my NaNo, trying to think of a way to make Niki Gipsiss, my new character, into a fuller character.

I decided to have her get laid. Which would have been good for word count too... ignoring the fact that her boyfriend wouldn't comply. (Damn character get these ideas that they can dictate their own actions...)

But shortly there after, I realized that Niki is a very sexual character. She quickly became a fuller character once I started to explore her views and thoughts on sex.

Niki's different from Bo, but sex is a big part of Niki's character too.

Looks like Niki has a tendency to turn to sexual thoughts. A lot. It's fun. I think, for now at least, this is my calling as a writer. (Sorry Ma! ;-)

This is fun-- exploring new writerly worlds. I think it's important as writer to try new things. New stories, new characters, even new processes of writing. Shake off the ordinary and explore. I'm not sure if I can pull off 50k this month, but I'm happy for what I've gotten that doesn't show in word cont.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting Involved

Niki is such a different character from Bo. One of the big differences is that Bo's hired to do her investigations. In the NaNo novel I'm writing with Niki as the star, she's dragged into the investigation because it very much involves her. After this, I'm giong to have get more creative in how to put Niki on the case. How do writers keep the amatuer sleuth involved in all sorts of dangerous, harrowing investigations, without ending up like Jessica Fletcher. (Now if she ever showed up on my town, I'd be heading North, and fast!)

I suppose I could run through Niki's friends and family for investigations. Ora friend of a friend needs help. I'm interested in keeping Niki around for a while. But I worry about how many times Niki can get involved in some sort of mystery without it seeming cliched.

Any ideas for how to involve the amatuer sleuth in different sorts of cases without it seeming just a little to coicidental that she's involved *again*?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Plots R Us

Several of the last books I read all had rather standard plots. Now, I realize that many stories will have the same basic plot.

For example, there's the Revenge Plot. Something bad was done, now I must kill you for it and spend the entire book to get there. I will have to overcome many hurdles, including (or especially) you trying to kill me first.

Another is the Clear My Name Plot. I have to run around and hide to clear my name of the thing I'm being accused of. In the process, I will find out who is framing me and have to defeat them. And more than likely, they'll be after my ass, too-- lucky me.

The secret, or so I'm told by the gremlins that type things on my computer and call it the internet, is to have a situation and/ or characters that is so compelling that it overcomes any plot short comings.

My problem? I'm not nearly confident enough in my character-creation or situation-development to think that I can over come a potentially cliched plot. This poses some serious problems because so many plots have been done before.

If nothing else it forces me to stretch my brain. Makes me think in new and different ways so that I don't feel like I'm reusing that old and stained plot. But it's not easy.

No one told me writing good was this hard...

What are some other plots on the shelves at Plots R Us? Let's have some fun with this. I could use a chuckle. =)

Image from Stock.xchng

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When the Words Won't Wait for My Fingers

Sometimes, I get on a roll with a story. The words, sentences, scenes seem to come from my fingers at an amazing pace. They seem to by-pass my brain so that it hardly seems like I am writing the story so much as reading it while some magic puts the words on the computer screen.

These are some of the greatest moments as a writer. They are always too short. And almost always interrupted by something that disrupts the flow. And then it takes a while for me to get the flow back.

The one thing that seems to flow easily from my fingers the most often is descriptions. Often of people, but sometimes of scenery. Once I start, I can go several paragraphs describing the view.

But as a hyper-vigilant-- and hyper-critical-- writer, I always get squeemish about passages of description. I know description is important to a story, but I'm not confident enough in my own writing to know when I've put it in the right spot, or if it's enough, too much, or whatever else can go wrong with descriptions.

Sometimes, and this is my most favorite time, a piece of action, usually with dialogue, will come tumbling from my brain at high speed. The scene will unfold as words on a page, always with snappy lines and great dialogue and I sit back and go "WOW!"

These times don't happen nearly enough, as far as I'm concerned. But I love them.

Any ideas on how to get those scenes to come forth like water? Preferably when I don't need to be doing something else.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Town Monday: Mountain View

And yet I'm still talking about Livingston County. Situated just west of Brighton is Mount Brighton. This is a man made "mountain" that reaches 250 vertical feet.

Local rumor says it's made of trash. I don't know if that's true or not.

Either way, it's a ski hill. They have skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Since I am very much an indoor critter, I spend much of my winter where it's warm. That doesn't include skiing, snowboarding, or much else that takes me outside longer than necessary. Except brushing the snow off my stupid car.

In recent years, Mount Brighton added the Jackal Golf Course around the backside of the hill. This is an eighteen hole golf course.

I don't golf either. I grew up next to a golf course and still don't understand the appeal. I'd rather be at home with a book or my internet.

And another thing that's new to hill that we call Mount Brighton in summer is Sphereing. This nauseua inducing activity involves climbing into a giant inflatble hamster ball and rolling down the hill.

I have never done that either. I have innards that are dreadfully sensitive to spinning and rolling and other motions. Growing up, any car trip included a stop for my breakfast to make an exit...

I have nothing against any fine folks who participate in these activities. But my involvement with Mount Brighton is limited to the "Mountain" Vista it provides and trying to make a turn from Challis onto Bauer roads. Bauer is one of those just-busy-enough roads that makes a turn difficult at best. And if you're turning right from Challis, Bauer is an extra steep hill. Try *that* in a stick shift car!

Mount Brighton is one of our landmarks around here. I remember driving into Brighton winters ago and watching them make their own snow. Still, I drive by and watch the people skiing and snowboarding down the hillside.

And all I can think is, "Aren't they COLD?" But I have a serious aversion to cold. My abhorrence of the cold would make one think that I would move to some place warmer (maybe down where Travis lives.)

But I'm Michigan born and bred. This is my home.

No, I did not see any snow this weekend. I very much did not. I know it was reported, but I refuse to admit I saw nothing.

Make sure you visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts. Travel the world from your computer.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Few Words Every Day... Adds Up

I am firm believer that you don't "find" time to write, you make it. If you are serious about writing, it becomes the activity that you can't wait to wedge into your schedule between work, dinner, laundry, and buying a house.

Many people I talk to often question, with great incredulity, how I manage to write so much. Especially, when they here I've written a novel. (Somehow writing over 60,000 words in short stories has less impact, but that's a separate issue.)

I only work three jobs. And I get minutes here and there in my teaching job while the slugs are oozing slime over their books and papers or eating my pencils.

NaNoWriMo is another one of those times when I take a close look at when and how much I'm writing. I push myself harder during NaNo to get those precious words. I'm not a very good loser. Ask my Hubby why we don't play certain board games anymore...

But as I have pushed myself to add words to my word count each day, even if it's only a bit, I realize that I could be making a lot better progress on my non-NaNo writing than I have been. I could have more short stories written. And I could have many more words, sentences, and chapters in Bo's second novel. If I only pushed myself harder.

Now, granted, there's a fair amount of dreck in my NaNo. But it's still proof that I have not been pushing myself to write nearly as much as I could.

I think I'm adopting a new habit-- one that will hopeful persist beyond NaNo. Write a chunk. There's a thread over at Absolute Write's Water Cooler (OMFG, I do spend too much time there!) that's the "Page a Day Thread." The idea is to write 250 words a day, everyday. Such a nice managable chunk. So, as I sit in the Independent Study class watching the kids work, I realize I can put in 250 words real quick. It won't take long. And I do.

Or those few minutes while Hubby is getting ready to go somewhere... and I'm already ready... yes, I do wear the pants. I can plop at my computer-- which is on nearly 24/7 anyway-- and poke out another 250 words.

Bit by bit. Like eating an elephant.

And the sense of accomplishment from having continued to up my word count... it's a nice feeling. I've started the habit. I hope to continue it. And hopefully, I will have more short stories, and more novels, to show for it in the coming months.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've never talked about politics here, but...

I have no intention to start. I'm going to talk about characters and NaNoWriMo.

I'm writing a new character, Niki Gipsiss, for my NaNoWriMo project. I wouldn't exactly call this endeavor a novel. It'll be novel length, and it'll have a plot somewhere under the excess verbiage. I'm not padding my word count, just exploring the thoughts, feelings, and histories of this new set of characters.

Before I go on, let me reassure my dear readers, that Bo Fexler is no going away. I love her character. If Niki ever develops, she'll just share time with Bo. Maybe I could do two novel series, one with Niki and one with Bo, alternating books or something. Of course, first I have to get ONE series going... but I dream big. Very big.

Anyway, Niki is very different from Bo. She's not nearly as hot. She's attractive, but more in your average girl sort of way. Brown hair, brown eyes, only slightly taller than the average woman (5'6 to Bo's 5'10 1/2"). Niki's more cute than ohmyfuckinggod hot.

Right now, I'm noticing that Niki doesn't have much character. She's pretty vanilla. Bo's got serious attitude that oozes from her every sentence, swing of the hips, and curve of the lips. She's a bad ass right to her core.

Niki's different. I'm have some trouble figuring out what her flavor will be. She needs some sort of character, but it's not that easy for me to just come up with one. Especially since I tend towards the bitter and snarky... like Bo. I don't want to write another type of Bo-character.

But I'm going to give Niki 50,000 of her own words to figure out who she is. I think it's time to stretch my writerly abilities and see where it will take me. Maybe no where-- maybe I am a one-trick pony.

At least it's a fun trick.

Keep track of my NaNoWriMo progress on the right over there with my NanoCat progress meter. Mew.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wow-- When Did it Become Tuesday?

I found time to vote-- which actually ended up being the easiest, quickest thing in a slew of busy, crazy events.

In the midst of everything, I am one of the pack of fools who's participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You can see my ticker in the sidebar. I'm doing okay on progress.

I'm actually giving Bo Fexler a break for a month. It's a truly strange experience given that I've been writing Bo stories almost exclusively for some three years now.

But, I decided to explore a new character, and NaNoWriMo seems to be a good place. All my musings can become part of my word count. I tend to think better when I write, for some reason. As if the mere act of committing things to paper-- even virtual paper that I use for typing-- forces me to think through things more than I do when just thinking.

Surprisingly, NaNo has not be the big time-sucker these past few days. That's been Hubby. ;-)

Get your mind of the gutter. There's not enough room there for the both of us.