Sunday, August 26, 2012

Character Journals

There is a new trend in blogging, or at least new to me, that I have recently discovered. People blog journal entries for their characters. The idea baffled me until I stumbled upon a blog that does this. The entries are relatively short. As I read it, the ideas started to turn. I have one series that is in the works. Currently The Curse of Atlantis is the first published, but I have finished a second book and have started on the third. I love this series. I never would have thought I would write one, but the characters just captured me. I thought, it would be perfect to do a journal entry for Pandora. She has been through a lot. The trouble is, how to do it so as not to give anything in any of the books away. But it would also be a great way to explore this world I created and have fallen in love with.

The first obstacle I have when thinking about this blog is capturing the character. I can’t write her as she currently is…she’s had three books of experiences most have not read. I must write her as she was at the end of the first book. As I thought, I remember a writing book I once read. CreativeJuice by Terra Pressler is a book I purchased as a teen. It is meant as a prompt book to help create authentic writing. I never used it for this, but what I did use it for was to build a character breakdown sheet. I looked through the prompts and put them together into a worksheet. It is by far the best way for me to dive into who my characters are. It actually helped me write The Lord of Nightmares. That was such a weird character, when I first wrote it, he came off feeling flat. After, I using the worksheet, I would like to think it fleshed him out some. I decided for this week’s blog, I’d share the information. Hopefully it will help you whether you are diving into a character from another author or one you’ve created.
Health and appearance:
Educational background:
Marital history:
Family background:
Intelligence level:
Values/Spiritual beliefs:
               How tightly held 1-10:
Greatest desire:
Greatest obstacle to that desire:
Deepest fear:
Need to control environment 1-10:
Self esteem:
Where live:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pioneers...the newest Authors

I decided to devote some time to the publishing process. Mainly because I want to sort my own thoughts and this blog seemed perfect. In the world of writing, there are common avenues authors pursue to publish. The first is the traditional publishing house. When I was young, I wanted to get into a big NY publishing house. That means you need a big NY agent, which I almost landed on my first attempt. However, fate decided that way too easy, so it didn’t pan out. I have since decided that goal is like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Who knows…I may get there and decide the years spent pursuing it left me with a pot that was more the size of the mini skillet I cook my solitary egg in rather than a pot.

Recent years, I have been desperate to leave the publishing house I am with now. It’s mainly politics and boring business that I won’t go into here. But, that has left me looking at the alternative to the big publisher which is the small publishing house. The best reason? You don’t need to wait and wait for an agent to contact you back only to repeat when the agent pursues publishers. But, what I find is that I must still wait for the publishing house. For someone who readily admits to patience issues, this waiting game is quite the challenge. For one house, I submitted, didn’t hear from them in about five months, resubmitted and heard back after another three. They wanted changes to the manuscript. So, I spent about three months changing things (which I agreed would strengthen the story) and resubmitted yet again. Now, five months later, I am still waiting. I know this is normal. Most authors considered a five month turn around quick. But, with the marketing I’m doing and the stories I keep writing, I just want to BE THERE!

The newest trend questions why go through a publisher at all? In the day of technology, why not self-publish straight onto Amazon Kindle and get to it. I watch these authors and they are pioneers. They know how to market. More so, they know how to watch the industry and make adaptions before big changes hit. They are always evolving and growing. More than that, they are ever insistent that this is the way the writing world is changing. Most would agree that Kindle and the Ipad have changed the field of books in many ways. Big publishing houses are going out of business at a scary rate.

So, as an author, do you wait or jump on this new and exciting voyage? For me, it’s kind of like the day of the pioneers. Some jumped in a wagon and crossed the Oregon Trail for the prospects of a better future. Some of these were successful and…if you played that old computer game you’d know…many ended with a grave marker part way through. Others chose to stay back until the paved road was created. Me…I guess I am this third. I’m too scared to venture on my own…for now. But I am also growing very tired of waiting for my life to start. At some point, I wonder when patience turns into silliness and missed opportunities.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On a Schedule

When I was younger, I held the philosophy that I would write when the passion struck me. I remember talking to a college English teacher about writing on a schedule. I feared writing would turn into a chore if I tried. Plus, why bother to try? I was in high school and had all the time in the world to write. Even in college, I held this luxury. In fact, one Friday night, my brother and I went to watch “The Recruit” with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell. I was so inspired to write, don’t ask me why because I was writing The Lord of Nightmares at the time, that I stayed up until one o’clock in the morning writing. It was awesome. My dog didn’t agree. That was also the night we received our first snow dusting. My brother woke him up early to go on a walk in the snow for the first time. This resulted in a hysterical picture of a tired, cold dachshund in the sweater he hated huddling by our front door.

But this is not the point of the post. :) The point is, no matter how hard I worked, life was easy when I was young. I had minimal responsibility. Now, I find myself running to stay ahead of the bills. I am out and about more, trying not to be a complete hermit. I found myself never writing. I think I went over a year. Now, before judging me and saying this is proof I really shouldn’t be a writer, that I don’t have the desire, I must say during this time I felt like a part of me had died. I was grumpy and depressed. I had shut down the most important part of my identity. It didn’t feel right. Yet, no matter how much I tried, I could not find time to write. And, worse, the longer I went without writing the less the ideas came. When I did find time to write, the ideas came stilted.

At the beginning of this year, I told myself I was going to write on a schedule. In fact, the deciding factor to “sell out” came when I heard about my idol Mary Higgins Clark. She was widowed at an early age. With kids to raise, she would wake up early every day, write, and then wake her children. She wrote on a schedule and I loved her writing. So, I finally decided to write. Ten minutes every morning. It seems like such a small amount of time, but was more than nothing. I was writing…and the ideas started flowing again. I still struggle to make writing a priority in my life. Not just marketing, but actually sitting at the computer and writing. I think back to the girl I was and shake my head at the naiveness. That’s the fun part of growing up. Now, I whole heartedly believe in writing on a schedule. We have to make time for the things we love. Otherwise, nothing will ever move forward.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


My high school reunion is coming up this year. In many ways, I can’t believe it is already that time. But, the event has caused me to think back to my first novel. I wrote The Curse of Atlantis while a sophomore in high school. I actually finished it junior year. When I think about the kid I was then, I sigh. I was that student who didn’t want to be called on. I would rather go through invisible than to gather any sort of attention. For that reason, I didn’t tell many peers about my writing hobby. In fact, many are shocked to learn I wrote my first published novel while attending classes with them. I wrote on the weekends, on holidays instead of going to the greatest parties or events. I went to my senior prom only because my father forced me to. Like I said…I was one of those people. :)
While I am still, for all intents and purposes, an introvert, I look back at that time and never want to go back. In fact, the only time I even entertain the idea is when I wonder what it would be like to go back as the person I am today. After those brief moments of insanity I realize being a teen is not something I would like to relive.

Upon this self-examination, I began looking at my growth as a writer. Everything from sentence structure to plot development to character growth…it all has matured along with me. I have experienced and seen more. I am no longer locked in a room. That can only add to the stories I write. My understanding of the world and how it operates has grown. How could that not reflect in my stories? Bet even my self-assurance has helped strengthened my style.
Life is all about patience. From waiting in line at the convenient store to waiting for a dream to be fulfilled….or a computer to come back to normal after crashing! Everything takes patience. I, for one, lack this trait. Yet, I don’t think growing in the craft is a process one can rush. It’s kind of like baking a cake in the oven. You can yell at the oven all you want, the cake will be done when it gets done. I think there is a reason why so many authors are not in their teens, even though many of them will admit they have been writing that long. Allowing a skill to mature and develop is the most important part. Are there things we can do to help the process? Sure. The cake won’t bake itself. But patience is important.

Would I go back to that person (or writer) I was in high school? Never. Do I ever regret going through that experience? Absolutely not. It is what made me who I am. Am I done growing yet? No. But isn’t the ride the best part?