Archive for November, 2010

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The day before Thanksgiving I took my sister (aka the die hard Harry Potter fan) to see the Deathly Hallows.  To prepare, I watched the Half Blood Prince the night before, because those of us who have kept up with the movies, you have to know what happened before in order to appreciate the movie.  Before I went I already heard great reviews of the movie, so my expectations were high and I was totally psyched.

I have to admit, I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, which is such a shame because my brother and my sister have read them all!  But I’ve followed all of the movies, with each one giving me just a little more of the plot.  I think if someone didn’t watch all of them, they would be completely lost and wouldn’t enjoy them as much.  I expected them to be a little slow, more info than action, because it was all leading up to the final showdown between Harry Potter and Lord V  (I dare not say the name! LOL).  Before this movie, the Order of the Phoenix was my favorite and the most action packed in my opinion.  So, with all that said….

Deathly Hallows made watching all of the other movies totally worth it!

It was action packed from beginning to end and started tying up the loose ends from the other movies.  It confirmed that Harry Potter is indeed the one ( to everyone and himself).  Yes, Bellatrix is psycho.  The Ministry of Magic is up to no good.  I still can’t stand Snape.  Draco is all talk.  Ron is an awesome friend (who has more courage than even he knows) and Hermione is a witch that cannot be messed with!  It was great seeing the three of them maturing and finally coming into their own.  Though Dumbledore is gone (and I’m still upset about that from the Half Blood Prince), he still had a significant role so I didn’t end up missing him too much.  Then again, I guess it was necessary because I always saw him as Harry’s training wheels and if JK is going to end the story the right way, Harry needs to handle this on his own.

I don’t want to give too much away but this was indeed the best movie of all of them!  What a way to bring in the final act of the story!

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After coming back from an emergency trip out of town, I thought my writing schedule that I had perfected to a T so I could enjoy my weekend would be shot.  I thought my heart wouldn’t be in it.  My mind was wandering all over the place.  My motivation for sure was done and thought trying to play catch up would be the ultimate chore.  Instead of starting out with my initial to-do list, I decided to work on some short stories I promised my Visual Adjectives colleagues awhile ago.  I stared at the blank screen, not having a clue what to write about.  I typed a few words and it was all she wrote.

I ended up doing two short stories in a few hours (while starting on a third).  I felt awesome not only because I finally got those stories done (and thought they came out rather well).  I felt awesome because it was a great release from all of the stress I encountered with my novel and my personal life that just went batty in a matter of days.  I was able to forget things for a little while by letting my mind stretch and take me wherever it wants it to go, not where my heart was taking it I found myself taking stock of all the little things around me that life can make me ignore.  Things such as the way the leaves blow in the wind ,how my husband makes that crazy face before bursting into laughter, or how soft my pillow feels when I finally get to bed.  Suddenly my deadlines weren’t so pressing and I was able to get up today and knock out so much of my neglected to-do list,

It’s moments like this one that I am thankful to be a writer.  Putting my words to a page is my therapy, making me appreciate everything that is around me right at this second and thoroughly enjoy it.

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m Thankful to be a Writer.

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After fighting my POV monster, I must admit that my manuscript is looking so much better!  I’m still going through and chopping, rewriting, and reordering scenes and chapters and all of them are going pretty smooth.  But this wasn’t so bad, at least not as bad as writing the first chapter.

Why is that first chapter so freakin hard?  You would think the middle would be an issue, due to the fact that it’s where your climax dwells.  The end I thought would be hassle only because if my book ended on a sour note, it would make reading everything before it a waste of time.  But no, the first chapter has been the bane of my existence ever since I started this novel two years ago.  At this point, I could probably make a novel out of my chapter 1 rewrites! 

After thinking about this for a little bit, I have come up with a reason why the first chapter can seem like the hardest:  It’s called:

Chapter 1 Pressure

What is this pressure exactly?  It’s the pressure to hook your reader in the first three pages.  It’s the pressure to introduce your main character, your setting, and the conflict, while making your reader actually care about your story.  It’s the pressure of not dumping back story but give your reader just enough information to keep them reading.  As a fantasy writer, it’s the pressure of not boring my reader with tons of details about my new world but letting them know that this story doesn’t take place on planet Earth BUT not confuse the mess out of them either!  First impressions are often lasting impressions and this is my first novel.  If the first chapter totally sucks, the rest of it doesn’t even matter.

So how do you get over this Chapter 1 Pressure?

Well after you have a glass of wine (or mixed drink of you prefer), just write the damn thing.  Write it knowing that it will probably stink the first go around and it will take you a few tries to get it right (and you still may not like it!).  You have to get over that hump and take your novel to the end of the line, i.e the end.  When I finished my first draft and saw where my story ended up, it made rewriting the first chapter a lot less painful.  That’s because:

I knew where my destination was.  I knew where my main character Damaris would end up plot wise as well as in her emotional development.  As for plot, I have already written the climax and resolution of the plot of this book by finishing it.  Now I can go back and make sure the first chapter doesn’t start too far away from the climax.  That alone helped me eliminate a ton of back story.  When it comes to my main character, Damaris is on the verge of being a total bad ass at the end of this book, so I have to make sure she’s the naïve and sweet little girl in the first chapter. 

I know more about my world now. In the beginning, you can do all of your world building to a T, but I learned firsthand that during the course of writing the story, certain things have changed.  I also took opportunities to introduce new things about my world Epsilon through other chapters, scenes, and character exchanges.  Therefore, I had a better grasp of how much the setting I need to explain without a massive info dump – which is a chapter 1 no-no.

Have any of you writers had this much trouble with your first chapters?  I would love to hear how you dealt with it!

myseveralworlds.com

This day has been absolutely hectic!  Holding down a day job and trying to establish yourself as an author can be downright bananas (oh yeah, I forgot I have a thing called a “home life” too!)

So before I run off back to the million things that has kept me from writing like I want to, I thought I would take the time to share some great reads I’ve come across reading some of my favorite blogs.  Developing my secondary characters is something that I’ve been doing a lot of lately during my editing  and these blog posts have been SUPER Helpful!

Structure Part III–Introducing the Opposition from Kristen Lamb’s Blog (Awesome read on crafting your Big Bad Troublemakers, as she calls it!  I also suggest reading Part I and II as well!)

The Flip Side of Our Character from Mystery Writing is Murder (A great way to take different approach to your character’s flaws)

The Dark Side of Your Novel Hero   from Publetariat (my hero definitely has a real dark side so this came around just in time!)

Five Steps to a Strong Main Character from Scribe Sisters  (this is a new blog I just discovered and so glad I did!)

Bringing your Characters to Life series from Visual Adjectives  (this is a great series that my friend and mentor Ed Stinson has put together and has helped me put together the fundamental groundwork for all of my characters)

Hope these posts help! Happy Writing!

Fighting the POV Monster

Posted: November 15, 2010 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

 

Last week has been one of the roughest writing weeks for me – EVER! 

I had a great friend of mine do a critique of the first chapter of my novel and one issue she pointed out to me related to POV (Point of View).  Up until a certain point and even after a certain point, my story was being told in Third Person Limited, or, through my main character’s eyes only.  I thought it would help maintain a level of suspense in my story as well as have my reader go along and discover my world with my main character.

However, as I was going along, I realized that I was doing some head hopping, or revealing what a supporting character felt, quite often.  So my first method of attack was to just eliminate all of that head-hopping all together.  What I was left with was a dull, shell of a story.

The POV monster totally kicked my ass.

After a day of doing some serious (yet unnecessary) panicking and (figuratively) beating my head up against the wall, I did some reasearch into POV and I realized that for my story and consequently my epic, I needed to expand my point of view.  Instead of my book being told through one point of view, I would tell it through a few of the main characters points of view.

I got that POV monster dazed a bit with that punch.

To not have my reader confused, I only changed POV with a new chapter, with my main character having a few more chapters in her POV than the others.  So I basically had to break my novel down, start some major rewrites of my chapters, and give my supporting characters a lot more depth and a lot more story to them while keeping the focus around the main character.

The POV monster is about to fall.

It took me all of last week plus all day Sunday to get through three chapters.  But, I’m seeing my story take on more life and have more depth because through other actors I was able to reveal a lot more about by world and how my main character was perceived by others that I wasn’t able to do before.  Is it a lot of work rewriting some of my chapters from another POV?  Hell yeah, but it was all worth it!

The POV monster is down for the count.  I totally kicked it’s ass!

Have you had any serious issues with POV?  How did you overcome your POV monster?

As a fan of the original, I was very anxious to check out Starz version of this classic story.  In case you aren’t familiar with the story, Spartacus was a soldier who was betrayed by the Romans and sold into slavery as a Gladiator.  This series takes a look at his struggle to win his freedom and save the woman he loves.  

I just finished watching the first four episodes of Season 1 and I thought the storyline so far is awesome! Each episode had me wanting to watch the next, watching Spartacus develop from a hot head to a legendary gladiator.  I loved the fact that his character is flawed and took many hard lumps (to put it mildly) as a result.  The cast of actors is another aspect of this series I like so much.   My girl Lucy Lawless is back in full effect, playing a character I would never imagine her playing.  John Hannah (your remember him as the funny uncle in the Mummy) is also out of the acting element that I’m used to seeing him in, even though the  good nature I remember shines through every now again.

With that said, the storyline is the only thing that keeps me watching this series.  The use of CGI was such overkill, especially in the first two episodes.  I understand the gladiator games were bloody, but I don’t need the extra emphasis on the blood.  Another major annoyance of the series so far was the use of the theatrical “slow down”.  Slowing down one or two parts for emphasis is fine.  But when it happens three or four times in a short fight scene, it’s a bit much and totally unnecessary.  A third thing that the series can skimp back on is the sex scenes.  I’m not a prude and having some sex scenes can enhance a movie.  However, there were just some in here that were totally unnecessary and not essential to advancing the story.

I still plan to continue watching Season 1 with the hopes that some of these mistakes are corrected in later episodes.  If it wasn’t for the gripping storyline, I would be completely turned off.

Have you seen this series yet?  What do you think?

I learned of this book after seeing this movie trailer a month or so back.  From what I know so far, it’s due to come out in February and the trailer alone looked so good, I had to get my hands on the book.

Favorite Parts of the Book:

I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to give it too much away, but my favorite part of the book was the big battle scene at the end.  It was what I was waiting for through the entire book and didn’t disappoint!

Favorite Character:

Though book for me didn’t have too much in the way of character development because the action was just nonstop, I did have two favorite characters: Sarah and Sam.  I liked Sam because he was a total nerd/conspiracy theorist that made him such a colorful character. His new-found loyalty to the main character John towards the end was also very admirable.  I also liked Sarah, John’s love interest and a mean-girl turned good turn girl who loves photography and really loves John, even when she finds out what’s really going on.  Gotta love a girl for that!

The Good News:

This book is nonstop action from beginning to end!  With my hectic schedule, I devoured this book in two days which says a whole lot for me.  The book was constantly moving, even during the down time where I about the new alien race, the significance of the numbers, and why they were here on Earth.  I loved the fact that main character’s powers developed through the book, building up to his awesomeness instead of laying it all out in the first chapter.   The fight scenes were vivid and the use of flashbacks was just right.  I didn’t feel like the information was just dumped in one section of the book.  The ending was a cliffhanger, just the way I liked them and I am definitely waiting on the next installment in this series.

Now for the bad news:

I haven’t read YA fiction in a really long time, so with that said, I thought the writing itself was just a little too simple for me.  I know the book was written in first person, however, I just thought some sentences were way too short and abrupt, especially during the downtime of the novel.  I also thought there were some spots I thought were written out of convenience.

I’ve finally fallen back into reading for pleasure again and with all these new books I plan on reading and writing about, (such as this one I reviewed last week) I can’t forget about those books that made me fall in love with the sci-fi and fantasy genres in the first place!  When I was kid through high school, I read a lot!  I took a lot of english literature courses and had such awesome teachers who taught me how to truly appreciate the classics.  I learned from reading those books how plot structure worked and what it meant to have fully developed and relatable characters.  The stories are timeless and whenever I sit down to write, it’s always my goal to have my work be just that.

So here is an ode to my five favorite science fiction and fantasy books that always hold a special place in my heart!

*all summaries are courtesy of Goodreads.com!

 

amazon.com

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle:

Meg’s father mysteriously disappears after experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel. Determined to rescue him, Meg and her friends must outwit the forces of evil on a heart-stopping journey through space and time. A commemorative edition with an Introduction by the author. A Newbery Medal winner.
 
I identified with Meg so much and I’ve read this book twice already.  I also have the other two book in the trilogy in an awesome box set.  Though the concept of time travel was a little hard to grasp the first time around, I appreciated the second time!  This book never gets old and I will probably pick the book back up and read it again!
 
 
 
 
 

amazon.com

Beowulf

 
Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel’s mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface.” “Drawn to what he has called the “four-squareness of the utterance” in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.
 
I read this book in high school in the Middle English version.  That alone was a challenge but once I got through it, I totally loved the story.  It is a classic epic story with Grendel as the menacing monster, his mother a wicked and conniving temptress, and a hero who seeks nothing but glory.  It doesn’t get more fantasy than that!
 
 

sfgate.com

1984 by George Orwell

 
Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a “Negative Utopia,” watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.
 
The scariest version of reality TV with Big Brother always watching and people waging a war they know nothing about.  I did my first literary analysis on this book my senior year of high school devling into the underlying concepts, meanings, and uses of symbolism, I truly appreciated this work that I would have otherwise found rather daunting to read.  I may revisit this book again.  I mean its 2010 and the concepts this book explores aren’t that far away from real life!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 
The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship …and horror.

Forget the commercialized version of Frankenstein because this one was downright scary!  I can still remember the scenes of Victor gathering dead body parts!  This story sent chills up my spine, taking me on Victor’s journey to absolute madness!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Animal Farm by George Orwell
 
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned–a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
 
Orwell makes this list again because behind this seemingly children’s story are underlying themes, ideas, and concepts that are utterly fantastic. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your turn!  What are you favorite classic books?

This is a weekly meme that I discovered on Confessions of a California Cheer Mom where published and unpublished authors can meet and greet.  I think this is an awesome idea so I’m giving it a try!

A little about me to those who stop by here on the hop:

I’m working on my first Epic Fantasy series called the Children of Epsilon.  I’m publishing through an awesome publishing company, called Visual Adjectives (of which I also work for).  I’m currently in the editing phases, up to my 2nd draft.  I’m hopping to have it done and on the market by Fall of next year, so my fingers are crossed! 🙂

Feel free to tell me about yourself and what you’re working on in comments! 🙂

Yes, Writers are Superheroes

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Writing
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You probably read the title and are like, “What is she talking about? Superheroes?  Seriously?”

Sure, we can’t leap tall buildings, pick up cars with one hand, or even turn an object to dust just by looking at it.  We don’t wear capes or crazy uncomfortable jumpsuits or even our own TV shows and comics.  Our pens don’t have magical powers and our laptops can’t transport us into the future.

But we are superheroes and here’s why:

Writer’s see things non-writers don’t

I got this idea from this post I read on What I saw about seeing something extradordinary that others my find just plain ordinary.  Writer’s have this special power because what may seem like a lowly picket fence for instance, can be the fence to a girl who watched her father get arrested from that picket fence.  (See what I mean!)  We can’t help it because anything and everything can be story. 

We have skin of steel

When I think of this superpower we have, I think of JK Rowling, whose manuscript for Harry Potter was turned down so many times it would make the ordinary man shrivel up in a corner and drown in pity.  Not her.  She got right back up and kept pushing (and I don’t have to tell you how huge she is now).  That’s why writers have skin of steel.  We can survive the snares of agent rejections, the knockout blows of publisher’s negative responses, and when editors tear our work to shreds.  Fame may elude us and money may seem like a treasure never to be found, but you know what?  We write anyway, getting back up after every fall and many times getting stronger everyday! 

We have multiple identities

Clark Kent has nothing on a writer!  He only had to manage one secret identity.  Many writers, on the other hand, have multiple secret identities – editor, mom, office assistant, college student, freelancer, marketer, promoter, social media mavens – I could go on.  Even as a professional, full time writer, you still have to play the role of a marketer and social media expert regardless of what publishing route you take.  I’m an administrative assistant by day, a writer by night, and a blogger/social media maven/businesswoman/wife on weekends.  Is it tough task managing all of those roles?  Sure.  But that’s what make writer’s superheroes – because we can handle it!

Writers unite!  What are some superpowers that you think writers have?