Sunday, December 26, 2010

What am I going to do?

Yesterday I achieved what I wanted. I rewrote a part of my story that bugged me. I felt it was too long, maybe dragging on and there had to be a better way to write it. So I spent all day working at it. I wrote a few paragraphs then deleted them. Copied and pasted sections I wanted to keep then deleted them. I worked and worked, gaining a few inches but giving up feet. At one point, I stopped for dinner and a short walk with my boyfriend. Then I went back at it. Finally, around midnight, I finished. I didn't do the rewrites I thought I would and I didn't cut a ton, but it was different. It was rearranged, cut, added and then some. I was happy and that's what mattered. I printed out the rewrite, emailed it to my friend, Erin, who is kindly reading through it multiple times with a red pen, (she is having fun and doing a great job, I can't thank her enough!) Then I went to bed.

Now it's a new day and I'm thinking maybe I need to take a break from Tommy and his world. Just set his story aside and.... What am I going to do?

Seriously, folks, what am I going to do? I've been slaving away at Tommy's story for months! The idea of working on something else or *gasp* not writing at all has become SCARY! There are things I need to do, a move to finish packing for, jewelry or knitting that needs to be worked on, piles of books to read, but when I think about not working on Being Human I hit a blank wall. It's truly hard to think of doing something else when I've committed so much time into this one story! Even now, my blog is still talking about Tommy, my mind consumed with the events of his life.

What am I going to do?

There's more to that question than what this moment holds for me. One day Being Human will be done. It will be as finished as it can get and I'll set it free into the world (aka be published, remember to think positive!) and I'll be asking myself what am I going to do now with no idea what the answer is. I'll sit in a stump, knowing there's plenty for me to do, but not quite ready to dive into the next story (or pick up my knitting needles or finish that bracelet I started months ago.) Eventually, I'll recover and start the process over, diving into the next story, getting so absorbed that when I think of taking a break or the time comes for the story to be done, I'll stare, terrified and thinking, "What am I going to do now????"

I can not wait!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tommy's first Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and the house was dark and silent.

I roamed the living room, pacing and waiting. My anxiety filled the room, thickening the air. How long could it take, I wondered. How long to get around the world and give presents to the good children and coal to the bad? I had no clue. I didn't even know it was possible, but my brother assured my niece Santa would be here before the sun rose.

My anxiety grew as I fingered the stockings hung by the Christmas tree. My niece would be crushed if she got coal. She gasped in fear every time Rissa mentioned it. My brother assured her there'd be no coal in her stocking. He said she was certain to be on the good list. I knew better. My niece always got in trouble, Rissa alway yelling, scolding and sending her to her room. There was no way Santa would leave presents no matter what my brother thought.

Therefore, it was up to me.

It was up to me to convince Santa that my niece wasn't naughty, that she deserved presents and not coal. I was confident I could do it. I was a vampire, all I had to do was press my will and make him listen. And if he didn't, well, I'd kill him and take the presents.

I didn't like the idea of Santa breaking into the house anyways.

The stairs creaked and I whirled around, fangs shooting out. Santa didn't appear. Instead, my brother and Rissa snuck down the stairs, faces obscured by presents. I watched as they arranged the pile around the tree, whispering to each other.

"She's going to love this one." My brother whispered.

"Put this one in front." Rissa whispered back. "It's got Santa's name on it."

"This one says Santa too." My brother passed a present.

 I couldn't stay silent anymore. "Where's Santa?"

"Jeez! Tommy!" My brother gasped as both he and Rissa dropped the remaining presents. "What are you doing hiding in the dark?"

"I'm waiting for Santa to make sure he gives her presents and not coal." I replied, moving closer. I picked up a present. From Santa was written in Rissa's handwriting. I tilted my head. "Why did you write his name?"

"Oh boy." My brother muttered, glancing at Rissa. "Do you want to explain or should I?"

"He's your brother." Rissa whispered with a smile and turned back to the presents.

"Okay, how do I explain?" My brother rubbed his face as I waited. He looked me, slight defeat in his eyes. "Santa's not real."


"Santa is fake. He's not real."

I tilted my head causing my brother to shift uncomfortably. "But why did you..."

"It wasn't to hurt her." My brother interrupted always knowing the paths my mind took. "Believing in Santa teaches her to be kind to others, to give and not just expect to receive. This time of year is a time to remember how fortunate we are for all we have and to help those in need... those who need help to survive."

"But if you can't survive then you don't deserve to live."

"Maybe that wasn't the way to put it." My brother sighed. "We're just trying to teach her to be kind to other by using a symbol of that kindness and one day she won't need that symbol to motivate her to be that way. And just so you know, when we were little we believed in Santa."

My eyes widened in awe and shock. "Really?"

"Yup, but we eventually figured it out and so will Mackenzie." A smile glimmered on my brother's face. "And don't worry, she won't be mad at us."

I nodded, still confused.

My brother stretched and yawned. "Don't worry lil bro. Just be prepared."

"For what?"

"All done!" Rissa whispered. She threw me a warning look. "Don't tell Mackenzie Santa isn't real!"

Before I can respond, noise filled the air above. A squeal pierced the air, feet pounding on the stairs. My niece appeared, all smiles and giggles. "I heard a noise! Is Santa here? Did I miss him? Did he eat all the cookies?" Her eyes widened at the presents under the tree. "Look at all the presents Santa left!"

"For that." My brother sighed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I might have to disagree with my title. While the holiday season is a great time, this week in particular.... well, if you could see the line of tickets I have at my job for Christmas orders you'd be a bit sour too. That's not including all the last minute orders of 'I need two dozen green scarfed snowmen sugar cookies NOW!' or all the normal stuff that people are buying more of because of the holidays. My boss today asked if I was going to make more Christmas cookies. I looked at her like, Are you kidding??? Because not only on top of all the orders, I started training my replacement because my boyfriend and I are going to be moving soon. And since we are moving, we have some friends we need to see and give Christmas presents to and say goodbye. Then at some point today I realized it was a new week and that meant I had to squeeze at least one blog post in and I nearly head-desked because I had no idea what to say. (Hence this rant of a post.)

So let's see, I have a dozen custom orders to get done by the 25th, an unknown amount of last minute orders, my usual workload, training a new baker, goodbyes to friends and a move coming up. It's exhausting thinking about it!

So wish me luck on my fun filled week! Hopefully I'll get some editing or writing done. Hopefully, later I will have something more interesting to blog about. Hopefully I won't contract diabetes from looking at too many sugar cookies!

PS those are my hand turkeys for Thanksgiving. They are about the diameter of a soft ball with frosting piled on, more frosting for the design and then we top it off with sugar sprinkles! These are ones with the lesser amount of frosting too. The wreathes I do for Christmas have a quarter inch thick frosting around the edges.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A grain of salt

There are two main reasons I started this blog. First was to keep myself motivated, to ensure I didn't chicken out on my journey or say, 'I can't do it, it's hopeless.' The second reason was to post resources or helpful information to other aspiring writers. Encourage them as well as myself. So far, I haven't posted a lot of information. There's a few links I put in the sidebar, but mostly, I haven't found any writer's insight that I thought, 'OMG I have to blog this!' There's been a few articles I retweeted, but it wasn't until today that I felt I had some insight worthy of blogging.

There's a number of authors and writer advice sites I follow on twitter. Every day I look through, click links that interest me, read through articles in hopes of finding something useful. I usually do find something helpful. Whether it be an article on grammar or general writing advice, there's always something. Today, though, there was an article that put a knot of dread in my stomach. The article talked about tips for writing a query letter or cover letter and once sentence in particular stuck fear into my little, writer's heart. It was utterly demotivating.

I quote: 'The biography in your cover or query letter should be good—and while this article stresses the importance of having strong publication credits, it’s not unheard of that a writer with no experience at all will gain national attention'

Now while the first part is true and the whole article had good tips. It was the second part that made me deflate. The way it was worded made it sound like if you're a writer with NO experience you have a slim to none chance because agents and editors really only care about queries by a writer with a degree or an arm's lengths list of publication credits. (Later in the article it stated not to worry, every writer starts out with no publishing credits. Even then the tone sounded patronizing, like the person writing that article is laughing at all us inexperienced and uneducated writers.) And maybe there are people who believe that. That's their prerogative.

After reading the article, I felt quite discouraged, a glimmer of doubt and worry wiggling into my mind. Then I remembered another article I read the other day and the doubt and worry was quickly defeated when I pulled it up and reread it. The article basically said that every bit of advice out there a writer should take with a grain of salt. Advice can be right and wrong at the same time. It depends on the individual. What works for me may not work for you.

That's what made me feel better, reminding me that the previous article was just advice, one person's suggestion on how to approach agents and it may not be the best approach for me. I need to find my own way to write my story or approach an agent or hook an editor. It's up to me to slog through all the advice, experiment with each suggestion and find out what works for me. Same for you. All you can do is try it, see how it works. If it does, hooray! You've found a great way to improve your writing. If not, don't sweat it, move onto the next bit of advice. Never give up, keep trying, keep experimenting and one day you'll find the perfect equation for you. That's my advice for you.

The articles mentioned in today's blog:
Write and wrong
Query letter and cover letter tips

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Point of view

I realized something about the point of views in my stories: They don't really follow the usual POV. By usual I mean in a lot of young adult paranormal books you have the POV of the girl. She's the one that gets the most time as she wonders what is up with mystery boy, why is he so secretive, why won't he come out during the day. Even if the girl is the paranormal, there is still a mystery guy that has her wondering what his secret is. Maybe it's because the target audience is female and the author figures girls relate better to girl characters. Which isn't untrue. It could also be because the author wants the mystery, wants the reader wondering and discovering along with her.

I don't.

I like to put my reader into the mind of mystery boy. Of the vampire the girl is wondering about or the boy that's harboring a great secret that our heroine is determined to discover. I love getting into those character's minds and almost all of my stories reflect that.

Take my one story, Forever Ebony (which isn't finished by the way, but pretty close.) Forever Ebony is about a boy and a girl, Jackson and Ebony (aka Candy but she hates that name.) Jackson is a vampire and Ebony is a goth girl and it's a love story between the two. Very cliche right? But the story doesn't follow Ebony, wondering with her why she only sees Jackson at night or any of those cliches as she strives to understand Jackson's mysterious behavior. The story starts out from Jackson's POV. Even though I switch to Ebony and tell some from her POV, Jackson is the main character. His POV is the one I want to show readers the most, his mind is what's laid out in the story. We see what he is thinking, why he has to keep being a vampire secret and why at one point, he pretty much says, "Screw it. Eb, I'm a vampire."

I could write it from Ebony's POV if I wanted, follow her as she lives her human life, wonders what Jackson is hiding, the eventual discovery of what he is and the challenges it presents both of them and their relationship. Maybe it'd make a good book, but honestly, IT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE! Twilight anyone? Hush Hush, Fallen, Evermore, Shadow Hills, The Hallow. Those are all good books, but they follow the same path: The girl as she quests to understand mystery boy, discover his secrets and how it will affect their love.

Give me something new, put me in mystery boy's mind! Let me see what he's thinking, his motivation, his challenges. Let's delve into something a little different. (And let me just point out, I know there are stories like that, ones that follow mystery boy. I've read a few. I'm just saying, I don't think they are as abundant.)

That's why I feel my stories are different. What sets them apart from other stories. The POV. Even if my stories are like other stories out there, the POV isn't. I couldn't tell Being Human from a POV other than Tommy's. Forever Ebony wouldn't be the same if it only Ebony was talking. The stories would switch from being about him to being about her. That's not what I want, that's not whose story I'm trying to tell.

PS: If I'm wrong and you know of a slew of books from mystery boy's POV, (or any POV that doesn't follow the usual characters,) let's hear them! Post them, I would love to check them out and I bet others would too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surprise! I'm here!

I never set out to be a writer. In high school I was all about art. Drawing, painting, sketching, I loved it all. (Except pottery. I liked it but couldn't throw a pot to save my life!) Writing wasn't even an option. Mostly because I wasn't any good at it. I couldn't sit down and write anything. Not even a short poem. So the fact that I'm on the third edit of Tommy's story, writing a query letter and thinking up more stories is amazing!

When inspiration hits and a story forms in my head, I usually only see the beginning. I see the main characters and a few scenes. From there I start writing. I don't plot out my story or make an outline of what I want to happen. I just start writing and let it take me where ever. Usually I don't even know the ending, I wait, writing and learning about my characters until they decide to reveal how it all ends to me. Which makes the whole writing experience exciting because I don't know what's going to happen! It's a mystery and surprise.

The biggest surprise for me when writing is surprise characters. Characters that pop up and stay for the long haul. Or characters that inspire the main characters, keeping them on track, helping them on their journey.

Like Amy and Mackenzie in Being Human.

Amy is vampire, one that befriends Tommy. Which is no easy task. The vampires in Being Human are highly distrustful of each other and try to kill each other when they meet. But Amy becomes Tommy's friend, easing his distrust, showing him how vampires really are. She turned out to be a really sweet person, her personality mirroring the innocent child-like appearance she had (minus looking dead of course and being at least a century old.) I have to say, I'm quite fond of her and would love to have a story just for her. Maybe in the future I will.

Mackenzie, Tommy's niece, wasn't so much a surprise. What was surprising was how involved in the story she became. The whole third part she is Tommy's driving force and it continues through the story. Tommy summed it up pretty well in one chapter: I let my life revolve around my niece. She was the first human I saw when I came home, last one before I left and the reason I made sure my need never got too strong. I wasn't willing to risk hurting her in any way. I had to protect her from everything. Even myself.

Every story I've written has had at least one surprise character. Someone I had expected that kept appearing again and again, moving the story along, helping me tell it. Maybe if I tried plotting out my stories, I'd discover these surprise characters sooner, but honestly, where's the fun in that? Part of the fun of reading is the suspense, on the edge of your seat as you turn the page to discover the next surprise or meet someone new. For me it's no different, as both a reader and a writer. I can't wait to discover the next surprise, the newcomer that gives the story more depth or the ending I couldn't have imagined a few chapters earlier. It's part of the experience, the journey.

Fun fact, Being Human has three surprise characters: Mackenzie, Amy and Rissa who is Mackenzie's mom and isn't the least bit afraid of Tommy. I love that about her.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Impromptu Holiday Contest

 Thank you everyone for all the comments! Cathy's Chatter, you won via number paper in a hat and my boyfriend! lol! Pop your mailing address and rings size to me at kurro @ so I can mail it out.

December is here and I've been musing on non-writing things. Mostly my
little craft business and my last craft show of the year that I haven't made any hats for.(PL Treasures for those of you who don't know what I do when I'm not writing, or what I should be doing instead of writing at times!)

With various holiday celebrations coming up fast I thought I'd have a little contest featuring my most popular item: Sterling Silver Mood Ring.

So tell me, what do you plan to do this holiday season? Comment for a chance to win. I'll pick a winner on December 20. And don't forget to tell me your ring size!