For the Criminally Inane

For the Criminally Inane

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month. I didn't participate this year. Next year though. One of my writers friends finished his first novel. He can now call himself a novelist :) In my opinion, novels are like running a marathon in stilettos. Writing a good novel is like running in stilettos, wearing an evening gown, and juggling. Great writers make it look so easy. Good novels make me laugh cry and entertain, all while going to the distance!

My favorite novels:

Gone with the Wind
Princess Bride


What are your favorites and why?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Writing emotionally

I think that writing emotionally comes from writing honestly, but I think that to do that, you need to paint the picture of emotions not just scenery. Everyone has in their own head, an idea of what the main character looks like, but you need as a writer, to convey her emotions. I think my new mantra in writing is feel what I feel not see what I see.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Who can be a writer?

-Anybody who knows a lot about something.
-Anybody who knows a little about a lot of things.
-Anybody who has something to say.
-Anybody who has a story to tell.
-Anybody who has a dream to share.
-Anybody who has an agenda.
-Anybody who has a passion.


First, anyone who knows a lot about something. Yes, these are our experts. I read a book about how to do real estate. I thought maybe the guy had learned from his own experience. Nope. Turns out, he got his information from another guy and the author made money selling a book of another guy's secrets. I felt a little ripped off. But here you are. If you know something, you don't even have to have experience, write a book and make your fortune.

Second, anyone who knows a little about a lot of things. These are your jack-of-all-trades guys. You know the ones, the know-it-alls. I fall into this category. I know enough about stuff just to get me into trouble, but not enough to make a living at it. I'm the resident know-it-all. It helps that I say my opinions with such authority. Why am I qualified to write a book? Well, I'm not, but I'm the type of person who knows just enough about a subject to make it seem real, not enough to write a how-to book on it.

Third, anybody who has something to say. Had a bad break up, divorce? Found yourself while eating pasta and touring Italy? Had a life changing moment when you climbed Mt. Everest? You too can write a book about it and maybe even option it for a movie!

Fourth, anybody with a story to tell. I have friends that can spin the darnest yarns. They are true story tellers. THey hatch out a whole plot line before they've even sat down to write. It's like storytelling is a natural extension of who they are. I've also noticed they are very good liars.

Fifth, anyone with a dream to share. These are your fantasy writers. Of course, my husband says all romance novels are fantasy, but that's not the point. These are the people who live in another world. They are the dreamers. Reading their work is like dreaming with your eyes open. It's fun, it's scary, it blows your mind.

Sixth, anyone with an agenda. I hate to say it but we all have our soapboxes, even writers. Movies are pretty obvious these days with their not-so-subtle agendas. Oh, no, the polar ice caps are melted due to those horrible humans. Writers have an agenda. It comes out as their theme. It's what we believe is true. Men are scum, or you must have a happily ever after wedding in the end.

Seventh, anybody who has a passion. I saved this one for last because as a writer, you MUST have a passion. It is what sees you through those tough times. You must believe that what you are writing will benefit the canon of literature all ready in print. You must believe that you can do it, that this is not all a waste of time. It is passion that sees you through.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

writing honestly

I think that the best stories told out there are the ones written honestly. I"m not saying that everything in the story has to be true, because of course, that's what makes fiction, it's fake. When I talk about honesty, I mean that the real feeling comes out. I think this is why books like the Twilight series are a big hit. Stephanie Meyer wrote them with honest emotion. Too many writers think they have to have big and new and interesting words, clever plotting, and sizzling dialogue. Yes, you need all those things, but don't forget to open your heart a little and pour out yourself on the page. Ms. Meyer did that and she succeeded. Now, it takes some courage to write your deepest fears, your sexiest dreams, your worst part of yourself. But it's when we let ourselves go, that we find ourselves and find ourselves connecting with others.

On a different note...don't you hate it when you get a good idea but you are not a good enough writer to pull off your idea. It sucks. I sit here thinking, if someone else were writing this, this would be good as I stumble along with stilted dialogue and hackneyed descriptions. Oh, well, if I don't practice, I can't get any better.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why I'm thankful to go to the doctor

Went to a new doctor yesterday. Every time I go, I have to fill out one of those healthy surveys with questions like:

Do you have, ever have, intend to have any of the following . . . and then they list horrible things. Thankfully, I can strike through the column of illnesses. It makes me grateful that I have never smoked, never drank and never took drugs. Makes me thankful that I have been blessed with a healthy body. I think of my predecessors who passed on some healthy genes and rejoice in my good fortune.

I like having a dose of perspective every once in a while.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

FableHaven

I just finished book four of Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. I'll have to say, the first one started a little slow. My hubby read most of it out loud to my six and three year old. I admit, I got a little bored. Toward the end, it started getting my attention. We checked out the second book from the library and I was hooked. Well written, but also imaginative. It's like there's a fourth grade boy stuck inside the adult body of Brandon Mull. I liked being surprised, amused, amazed and transported to a whole other world. So far the third book is my favorite, the working against the clock makes a great page-turner. Finished the fourth book last night, as I said. My hubby did too, then today he ran out and bought the fifth one and is reading it right now. Who says independent reader books are just for kids?

As a writer what did I learn from Brandon Mull. Well, I learned that I need to be more creative with my plots and characters. At each page turn, I was amazed at the scenarios he came up with, the conflicts, the resolutions. I loved how he revealed, dug deeper, had more secrets, more details, more complexity. Fun to read. What I liked about his books as opposed to say, Harry Potter books, which were also filled with creativity, I found Brandon Mull's character Seth, though constantly disobeying the rules, there stood consequences and results instead of excuses because of being the famous Harry Potter. Quite refreshing, more realistic and instructive.

Anyway, I recommend them. If I can wrench my hubby away from the fifth book, I'd like to start reading it too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Writing Emotionally

I read this book, "A Truth Universally Acknowledged: Why we read Jane Austen" about, imagine this, Jane Austen's writing. One of the essays really hit me. The author talked about how Austen used an emotional description in her writing. This is really more powerful than describing every little detail because it allows the reader to imagine the hero/heroine in her mind, but with the careful guidance of the writer. What does Darcy look like? Well, now he looks like Colin Firth to the majority of the people out there, but before A&E's adaptation, what did he look like? Whatever I wanted him to look like, imposing figure maybe, but it more of what I felt about him. I knew him emotionally not from a line up of guys. I knew that he needed to be respected, that his presence commanded respect. Well-groomed, perhaps because he was wealthy. We know people who are rich and how they wear their clothes, so we can imagine what he was wearing without being explicitly told.

But how to write in that powerful emotional way? Isn't that the trick. When I figure it out, I'll let you know.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

First three Chapters

I think they are finally polished enough to let them go out into the world. I wonder if mom's feel this way when they send their kids off to college? Kindergarten?

Yeah. Had to reorder my chapters yesterday on my story after my amputation of 30k words. When I'm done with this one, I think I'll start revising, reworking my humorous book about a girl heroine. Or write another one. I've got tons of ideas I'd love to start working on. I wish my hubby had the time to collaborate on a middle-grade fiction idea. He's the one with the humor!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review

I've been on a reading frenzy lately. I've been writing too, don't worry, even 8.5 months pregnant, I don't neglect my writing.

Read "If I Tell You I Love You, I'd have to Kill You" by Ally Carter.

When I read the back cover, my first reaction was, "Man, I wish I'd thought of this brilliant idea!" Now that I've read it, I'm glad I didn't. Ms. Carter did an excellent job! I found her voice engaging, her characters fun and the plot hilariously outrageous. Having said that, I was a little sad that the boyfriend, Josh, was a little two-dimensional. Sure, he was a nice, sweet, forgiving boyfriend, but I'm not sure he had much personality. But really, reading back on my jr. high journals, I really didn't know the boys I had crushes on. I mostly saw that they were hot, and hoped for this ideal that couldn't possibly be expected of a young kid at that age. Anyway, I enjoyed it so much, I think I'll try submitting to her agent and see how it goes. My book is sort of the same, fast-paced, humorous, completely unlikely. Ms. Carter is way funnier, but it was the same old joke of "well, I thought of all the ways I could kill him" that after a while I wanted some other joke.

Second book:
A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth Brunce
I actually met the author at my local indy book store and I owned a signed copy. Nanner, nanner. This book won all sorts of awards, hit Oprah's must read list and it deserved it. It was well written, impeccable language, wonderful imagery, bewitching use of verbs. Having met her in person, I could almost hear Ms. Brunce telling this story. But it will never be pulp fiction. It's too good. Read: it was dense, I had to think, it was inspiring. It was not a quick read. It reminds me of a blog post written by Shannon Hale, I'll see if I can post the link here, if I can find it again. She mentioned that there are several types of authors, those that are an overnight success, to everyone's surprise (think S. Meyer or Ms. Rowling), those that write beautiful prose, win awards, but nobody reads the book, those that are midlisters, meaning they write a book a year, and they do well enough that the publishers let them keep writing and keep selling their books but nobody's ever heard of them, they've never broken out. There might have been some more types, but I think it's interesting that she asks, what type of writer do you want to be? So I'm answering that question here. I'd love to write a beautifully written book that is praised by Oprah and quoted by others, but honestly, that's not my personality. I want to be a break out writer. I'm ambitious, I hope that I think big and act big and never do anything by half-measures. But how many of those midlisters also feel the same way?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Signed book collection

I've decided to work on my signed author collection. I have four books right now. I'm hoping to have another by the end of the week. This is a huge commitment right now considering our budget.

So, I went to see Holly Black of Spiderwick Chronicles and Cassandra Clare when they came to our local library. I was astounded when on the cover of Clare's paperback I saw a blurb by Stephanie Meyer. I was not surprised she blurbed it, but I was surprised that under Ms. Meyer's name was "Author of Twilight." Like we have to be told?

My husband is my preview reader. He's going to read the Clare book and let me know if it's something I would like to read. (I'm a bit of a sensitive reader. In my present condition, I cannot read anything sad or depressing. ) Anyway, he reads a good deal, too, and wrote two novels when he was 14. Completed, though not edited or revised or even rewritten, but that's still a heck of a lot more than some people can boast.

So, my first YA novel. Still reworking it. Adding layers of depth, cutting some breadth. My middle is muddled and I only have three weeks to make it as good as I can. Time is running out...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Melding

Now I have two versions of my story. One that is 20k words and one that is 79k words. I think if I can meld them together, I might have a pretty good story. One comment from my brother in law, when he read it. He said, I wanted more. Surely, with nearly 80k words he didn't mean more plot, I think he meant more depth. So, instead of breadth, I tried in my 20k version to make it deeper, more intense feeling. More personal thoughts, less action. We shall see how it turns out. I went back to the first version and cut it to 63k words and am infusing it with depth--maybe.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ambition

So, I read this blog entry on why I should write because I have a passion, not because I want to make money by publishing.

I thought that was the stupidest thing ever! I mean, you should do whatever you do (work etc) because you love it. If you aren't, then you are in a temporary job. But what gets me is that he makes the argument that you shouldn't write or just write to get published. Maybe he's trying to rationalize why he's not published or discourage people from trying to have their work published. But to that I say, that's like telling someone who has studied a role in theater, went to every rehearsal, went through the make up and costume routine never to perform. Nobody would want to do that, even if they loved theater. Why? Because part of the passion is sharing. If you don't want to share your craft, you do not have passion.

So, yes, I love to write. Yes, I feel there is personal fulfillment just in the journey. But I have a goal, a destination to achieve and maybe it will never happen, but if that's not my goal, it most surely will not. There are some things you learn only by going to the distance. I will not stop until I have arrived.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Temptation/Distraction

You know what tempts me the most? Beautiful, calm sunny days. I sit here on my computer feeling the energy invigorate the outdoors, calling me to come play. During the winter it's easy to sit cozy under blankets and my warming laptop, gratefully thinking I don't have to go anywhere. But nice days, are such a distraction. There's shopping to be done, parks to go to, yard work to do, friends to see, heck, even playing in the back yard sounds fun. But self-discipline overrides them all! Hahahahahhaha!

Or is it boohooohooohooo?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mondays

Mondays are hard for me to write. I take one day off a week, Sunday, and try not the think of my story--not to plot it, figure out some secret of my characters, think of funny things to say. But then when I get to Monday, I can't get back into it. My story is so far away, I have to reread a bit, write some awful stuff, then finally, two hours later, get something worth keeping.

Rewriting one of my stories. It's offered some interesting insight. My husband suggest I go ahead and change some scenes, see how it might happen differently. It's hard because I like some of my scenes and rewriting them, I feel, is betraying my characters. Some scenes will benefit from rewriting, others, I really like. Rewritten the beginning six times now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Did I mention?

Did I mention I started a new story. It's about a girl....nope! It's about a boy! Are you surprised? I started it thinking it would be a challenge (and because my husband didn't think I could do it) but it's coming along! Different to write a boy story than a girl story. I have to think differently, write differently. It's a great exercise.

Also decided to completely rewrite one of my novels. Actually, all of them. It's kind of depressing to think about it. They are just so far away from what I want them to be.

Differences between writing for girls than boys:
Girls: the boy has to be perfect and the girl flawed, but he still loves her.
Boys: the love story is second to the action, though it has to be there, the action comes first.
Girls: suspense is increased by tension in the relationship, will she end up with him?
Boys: suspense can come form conflict in the relationship, but there darn better be something else being blown up, shot up, cut up or otherwise destroyed.

Well, it's slower going. I have to get in touch with my inner boy, which is a little weird. We'll see how it turns out. At 38 pages or 23,000 words. Still could bomb. Writing is slower when I'm pregnant, no late nights foraying into my semi-conscious sleep-deprived creative mind.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another rejection

I forgot to mention I got my second rejection while I was in the hotel waiting for our house to be restored. I'll have to say, I didn't take it very well. It was just the culmination of all the other heartbreak of the season that when I got that rejection, I was so bummed. I've decided to rewrite the whole thing. But that prospect, like rehabbing a whole house makes me think, maybe it would be better to start from scratch. So, I've put it off, hoping that it will rewrite itself. I have started another story. This one is a boy story, completely different than anything I've ever written. My husband is skeptical that I can write an adventure for boys. I have 1000 words of crap so far. And it's slower going being pregnant. I want to write but fatigue and well, putting my house back together takes a lot out of me. Excuses aside, this one will just take a little bit longer.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Music

I think it's amazing that one song can conjure all sorts of memories. Like a few strains of "With or Without You" and I'm immediately transported to my high school days, wearing a frumpy dress in a church gym at a stake dance and I'm dancing with a guy my brothers called Spam Bones.

So, life's been crazy the last few months. We had a house fire and were out of our house for a month. Writing is difficult for me when I'm pregnant under the best of circumstances. But non-existent in a hotel with my kids jumping from bed to bed. I couldn't even read. Life gets in the way.

Read three books in the last three days though:
Shannon Hale's Forest Born
Jeanette Rallison's It's a Mall World After All
Jeanette Rallison's Revenge of the Cheerleaders

I actually talked to JR while I was at the hotel. It seems she's friends with my MIL's friend and sent her phone number along. She was wrapping presents. We talked for about forty-five minutes and had a nice conversation. She's a great lady. I wish her the best and recommend her books to anyone who likes good clean comedy. Nice easy read.