Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I want to be a princess!

I was at a conference a few years back and one of the speakers talked about how telling people you want to be a writers was a lot like saying, "I want to be a princess." I laughed so hard because it is so true for all of us want-to-be authors.

It feels about as likely. Finding some prince and marrying him, give me a break. Finding an agent that wants to represent me, then having that agent get a book deal, and finally have enough people read and recommend my book in order to make it a career. Seriously, sounds like a fairytale to me.

The thing is, I actually have a life. I mean a husband, two kids, and a house that I can't seem to get clean enough. Not to mention volunteering at the school, grocery shopping, and most important of all keeping up on my weekly tv shows. I also enjoy reading a book now and then.

So I often wonder if I am wasting my time with this dream chasing. It feels far too out of reach. The problem is, my mind won't turn it off. It is just how it works. I have been thinking of book and story ideas since kindergarten. I also think, if I don't at least try, I will regret it later on.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Ever since I started studying writing I have lost my passion for reading. It is just so confusing trying not to critique a book the entire time I am reading it. And it isn't like I am some amazing writer, it just somehow affected the way I read. I hate it.

That being said, I have been reading a book that I seriously can't put down. I was up until midnight, way late for me, reading it. I love the story- it has such believable inherent conflict.

And the characters, I'm telling you, every last one of them feels like a friend. I want to spend more time with them, I'm dreading the book being over, but can't stop reading it.

My one complaint, as usual, it could use just a tiny bit more romance. It is there, and it is good, but it has sentences like "He kissed me." I'm like, and.... How was it? Tell me more!!!!

Anyway, I am definitely recommending the book Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen. I'm also thrilled to learn she has published eight books and hope they are just as good.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crtique Groups

I am really starting to hate them. A lot of published authors I follow go on and on about how they couldn't have done it without them. I have no doubt they are useful, it is always useful to have someone else read your story, particuluarly a writer - but what if you can't find one.

I have been searching for one for about a year. I talked to people in the writing associations I belong to, not interested or already have one. I went to a conference specifically looking for one, everyone pushed me off. I even went on-line to a few websites that were recommended to me to find one. I left messages for other people. No response.

I am starting to think if I wait around for a critique group- I will never send out my manuscript. I am toying with the option of paying a local company to do a content edit-exactly what a critque partner would do (only free). I am just tired of waiting, but I guess I should get my mind right. Writing is nothing, if not a waiting game.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cut to the chase

My dad has said this all my life. It is when someone is telling a story and giving you all of these unimportant and usually irrelevant pieces of information. You just want to scream, "Cut to the chase!" You know the chase, like the exciting part of a movie. The part where things are actually happening, the interesting part everyone wants to skim to reach.

I find myself yelling this at books all the time. I know how hard it is to start a story. I have rewritten my first chapter at least 5 times and I'm still not sure it is right, I mean you have to have some background in order to make things interesting.

I read a book recently that had a good idea of how to cut to the chase. Make sure every scene is somehow pushing the book forward. Make sure there is a specific reason for it to be there, that it has something to do with the ending. Don't write things just because you think it is a cute, cool, or fun scene. It is tempting, we all do it, but it slows down the story, even takes the reader out, and then sometimes (if they are like me) you don't get them back.

This is something I have been working on and I think it is worth a thought.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


You know what they are, even if you don't know you know. I don't know if it is the correct termonology but it is the word I am going to use for it.

My kids and I were watching Goonies and my oldest son asked a question about the kids with the asthma inhaler. He didn't know his name, but he knew his tagline. It is a great tool to identify each of your characters, make them memorable, and in this case give the hero a weakness. Steven Spielberg also used things like, data- the smart kid with the all the gadgets, or chunk for the chubby kid. It is brilliant when you have so many characerters.

In the book I am currently reading, Crashed by Robin Wasserman, she keeps referring to a minor character as 'just call me Ben'. It is perfect because he is important but hardly there, so it helps you remember him.

I took a class and we were told to give each of our characters some kind of quirk or physical defect. I love this tool for writing. It gives an interesting tidbit along with a identifiable characteristic. I recommend it to all writers, and challenge readers to find them when they are reading, or watching movies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So it goes ....

"Slaughter House Five! Isn't that an awful name?"

"Slaughterhouse-Five? That's a great book."

"Maybe in another town it's a great book."

"In any town."

Ten points if you can tell me where that come from.

I have been reading/listening to Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Disclaimer, I am not exactly recomending this book. I can definitely understand why it is contreversial, but I am also not, not recomending it. It has some great lines like:
"It is hard when you have to pinch every penny until it screams." Man do I know that story.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that reading classics is a good idea, and everyone should read a few, as an adult. It doesn't count when you are in junior high and highschool and the teacher forces it. It is different when you are grown up and have more life experience. Plus you don't have math and science homework you need to get to.

The reason I read classics is so I know what people are talking about. After I started reading them, I couldn't believe how many references are made to them. Case in point with the Footloose referrence above. I know why she thinks the book is awful and I know why he is defending it.

These books are called classics for a reason. They stand the test of time, and thought they may not be your bag, I still think it is a worthwhile activity to pick up one now and again.

My suggestions are: Wuthering Heights for romantics.
Uncle Tom's Cabin for political and historical interest.
Catcher in the Rye for teen angst.
Anna Karenina because it has a cool ending.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why I write.

I have heard it said, people who write stories are partly if not completely crazy. Not crazy in the 'I need to be institutionalized' way, but crazy in the I like to do really hard things that I don't actually have to do. I think I can agree with that.

I remember the first time I wrote something. I was in kindergarten and my mom made me enter the Reflections contest. I wrote a short paper about how I wanted to be exactly like my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Fitts, and I won. The next time I wrote something significant was a poem in the ninth grade. Honestly, it was not good, but somehow it caught my teachers eye, and was published in a book of poems by junior high kids. I still have the copy of the book. When I was in high school, I had an assignment to right a short story. My teacher accused me of plagiarism, and it made me feel like a professional.

Still, it took years for me to actually write a book, though I have tons of first chapters strewn around my house in different drawers and boxes. I was inspired by a well known author who wrote about her dream. I had an interesting dream one night, and decided I should write a book about it. I wrote that book from start to finish four times and it still sucks, but it was a valuable experience. It made me realize how much I loved writing, how amazing it feels for words to flow out of me creating an entirely new story. I love the written word, and I love when I come up with something that causes people to feel real emotion.

Because of all of this, and because some day I am going to be a published author, I decided I should start a blog. Few people have actually read what I have written, so I wanted to expand my readership. I will be sharing my thoughts on writing and books I love and even ones I didn't love so much. I hope it is helpful and interesting.