Monthly Archives: March 2012

Script Frenzy

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Since I discussed procrastinating on Tuesday, I figured I’d let you guys know I’m totally procrastinating on finishing the rough draft of Near Death‘s sequel, Staying Alive.  How am I doing it? I’m taking a month off to write a script!

“A script?” you say.

“A script,” I reply.

“What the hell for?” you ask.

“Because I can,” I say.

Script Frenzy is April’s version of NaNoWriMo. It’s a 30 day challenge to write one hundred pages of a script for TV, theatre, webcast, graphic novel, etc.  While I don’t really have any plans of turning my script into a short film, I think it’s good to spread my wings and stretch my boundaries. Certain things I know I wouldn’t be good at writing, like poetry, but  I think I could pull out a decent script. I recently made a friend who is involved in film and whatnot, so who knows, maybe we can work on making something of it if it comes out good. I also have another friend in the industry who would probably give it a look and tell me if they think I have any talent for it.

I’ve been reading scripts and seeing how they differ from novel writing, and I think I can do it. I’m excited to give it a try and hopefully it’ll get the creative juices (which is always kind of a gross term to me for some reason…) going again so after I can finish the other novel. Here’s to hoping!

Anyone else going to give it a try? It’s not to late to sign up and give it a go!

Procrastination Station

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If there’s one thing I’m known for, it’s procrastination. For example, I came up with this topic on Saturday, yet I’m only settling down to write this on Monday night after 9 pm and as I’m writing it, the T.V. is on and I’m flipping back and forth to check email, Fark and Facebook.  I’ll probably write another couple of sentences and then maybe go play a couple rounds of Bejeweled, check my Amazon standing and OH! I have to check-in on Get Glued to get my “The Voice” sticker for this week! Can’t forget to do that.

If I can find something else to do, to keep me from writing, there’s a good chance I’m going to do it.  It’s not that I don’t like to write, because I love to!  I’m just a procrastinator my nature. Why do today what I can put off ’til tomorrow?

What I need to do is give myself deadlines, which as an indie writer can be difficult. If you’re deadline oriented like I am, here are some ideas to help you keep on it and get it done.  If you use Gmail, Google’s email program, you have access to their calendar program. Pick a deadline and have email and pop up alerts set to remind you that the deadline is looming. Also, set up contests and giveaways. If you commit to a contest and don’t follow through, you’re going to make some other people quite unhappy. Goodreads is a good place to set up those contests. Not only will the deadline help get you writing but running the contest will get the word out about your upcoming book. Then you’ll have people pining for your amazing story and if you don’t hit the deadline, think of all the people you’ll be letting down! You don’t want to do that, now do you?

Another good idea is to join a writing group, whether it’s online or not.  If you know you have to do a reading at some point, you better have that stuff done! There will be no mercy and no passing when it comes time to read! If you have an online writing partner or group, they can pester you and kick you in the ass as well. My writing partner Patty has made her own group called “Are you writing now?” where you make monthly goals that you’re accountable for by the end of the month.

Whatever path you choose, make sure you choose something or you may be like me and just keep putting things off. Then those novels and sequels and blog posts will never get done and a whole lot of people will be sad they can’t read (more of) your work.

Suspend Disbelief

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How important to you is it that the stories you read make perfect sense? Are you one of those nitpickers who read a book and think “they never could have gotten there in time” or “oooh sure, she just happened to be turning the corner when he was about to give up on ever finding her”? Do you find you can’t stomach fantasy or sci-fi stories? That a paranormal tale is ludicrous because there are no such thing as werewolves and vampires?

In my opinion, when it comes to fiction, one needs to be able to suspend disbelief in order to really enjoy a story. That’s not to say if you’re reading a contemporary romance and an alien comes down and swoops up the villain, that you shouldn’t be all annoyed thinking “WTF is going on here?!”  I’m talking about the little things, like timing and the fact that someone didn’t suffer the right kind of kickback from using a specific kind of gun. Well, I’m talking the big things too, like dragons and fae and whatnot, but if you’re picking up those books to read, you’re already suspending your disbelief.

People need to remember fiction is fiction and the author controls the story. While outcomes may seem unlikely or fantastical, they are written for entertainment purposes. They’re written knowing the reader will have to just play along for the sake of a good story.

Have you ever read anything that was so unbelievable that you couldn’t take it? Did you have to put it down without finishing it or did you suffer through just to get to the end?  I have one book that comes to mind (which I won’t mention). I did finish it and then I reviewed it discussing its flaws.  That’s not to say I didn’t mention the good parts, because I think even the worst book can have a redeeming quality in there somewhere.  Sometimes you want to believe, you want to enjoy the story, but the author pushes things so far that it’s just not possible. Thankfully, I haven’t run across that situation too often. Hopefully things will remain that way.

A picture’s worth a thousand words

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and as a writer, you should be pretty quick to agree with that statement, but how many of you ever use pictures to help your writing?

When I’m not banging out words, I am often taking pictures. I love the colors captured, the textures, the “feeling” or mood of the shot. These are all things that can be translated into my writing when I look back at the image. Now I admit, I don’t look back at them all that often when I’m sitting down to write unless I’m stuck and really trying to work out a description. Still, even without looking, I can think back and remember little details to add, like the veins on a leaf, the waxy shiny texture of the top as compared to the dull flatness of the underside.  It makes for a more realistic, more vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

Challenge yourself. Take a picture (the one above or link one in your response) and write at least a paragraph worth of description on it. Really look close at the image. Imagine you were describing it to someone over the phone or in a letter. Make it so they can see it in their mind’s eye.  Post it here (along with the image or if you’re using the one I’ve posted, say so) and I’ll randomly pick a contestant who will win an ARC copy of Tears of a Clown  (which I admit is NOT ready yet, but should be shortly, so you’ll get a surprise in the mail at some point! ^_^). I’ll leave the contest open until the end of the week, Sunday March 25th, 8pm EST.

I’ll post my own attempt so you have an idea of what I’m looking for:

Framed by a series of branches, one budding bloom stands apart from the rest. Like an explosion, the slender white petals erupt. Still caught in the shadows of the mid-morning sun, there are only a few that the sun’s rays hit. Those few are blinding white against the lapis lazuli colored background of the cloudless sky. A couple of the reaching petals curl, as if the weight of the world bends them. The gray-green of their former prison is covered with silky cream colored hairs that would tickle the touch. Many of its neighboring brethren have yet to join in the escape from their pod captives, but it’s only a matter of time until they join in the celebration of the Spring sun.

A Middle Grade Discussion

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I’ve been talking a lot about Young Adult literature lately but thought I’d stop and take some time to dig a little deeper into Middle Grade and help explain what it is and some series I enjoy.

Some people out there may be scratching their heads about now saying “What the heck is Middle Grade literature? Books for middle grade students? Novels with sub par writing?”  No, it’s not either of those two thing.

Middle Grade (MG) literature, often grouped with YA lit, are novels that are aimed at readers aged 9 to 12.  While there is no set word count to a typical MG novel, they do tend to be shorter than YA work geared towards the older teen.  I could mention (and probably will further down) several series where that is not the case.

One of the main differences between the MG and the YA is that the MG protagonist is more inward thinking, coming to terms with themselves, focusing on coming puberty, etc. whereas YA lit has their main characters trying to fit into the world and how they  are affected by external situations rather than internal.

I don’t believe any novel with sexual content are allowed to be considered MG. Violence is more acceptable but it won’t be graphic or in detail.  Think of the type of violence portrayed in the Harry Potter books. It’s there but not described as all blood and gore. Middle Grade novels can have a romantic aspect, but it won’t be central to the plot like it often is in YA literature. It’ll probably be more in the form of a crush and hand holding.  The protagonist will be young, but probably slightly older than the average MG reader.  I also think, unlike YA lit, you’ll find that parents will be more visible in many of the stories.

Some of my favorite MG literature (Check it out for yourself or your kids!):

The Inkheart Trilogy – Cornelia Funk

Gregor the Overlander – Suzanne Collins

Dragon Slippers  series – Jessica Day George

Leviathan , Behemoth & Goliath – Scott Westerfeld

Zombie Tag – Hannah Moskowitz

Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan

The Kane Chronicles – Rick Riordan

Young Samurai series – Chris Bradford

Bartimaeus TrilogyJonathan Stroud

The Hallow Kingdom – Clare B. Dunkle

Also, here are some other great articles about what MG is and the difference between MG & YA:

How to write Middle Grade fiction by Karen Pokras Toz who is the author of the MG Nate Rocks series.
Middle Grade, what is it?
It’s a thin line between Middle Grad and Young Adult
Dale Robert Pease author of the MG Noah Zarc series, recommended a bunch of great vlogs from Literary Agent Kristen Nelson:
The difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature
Talking Middle Grade

Please feel free to share your knowledge of Middle Grade and any great books/series you enjoyed.