Monday, October 31, 2011

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Schedule Your Writing

The suggested word count to beat NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words per day, every day. November is a short month. If you're in the US, it's even shorter because of things like Thanksgiving and Black Friday. With several days out of commission, you need to be super-focused when it comes to writing and front load your word count.

I understand my methods won't work for everyone in The Lurkdom. I'm lucky in having way too much free time, no children, and a husband that's totally on board with me hiding away with a computer and doing nothing else.

During the first week of NaNoWriMo, I like to exceed the daily word count goals. Since you're in the honeymoon phase of writing anyway, this shouldn't be difficult. Instead of a daily goal of 1,667 words, round it up to 2,000. Even that small of a bump, gives you five free days. The first few days of NaNoWriMo, I aim to double my daily word count so that way I have more days to play with in case there's a day where my word count is nonexistent.

Once your daily word count is determined, set your writing hours and treat this time as you would a day job. Take your computer (or notebook if that's how you roll) and sequester yourself until you meet your word count. If you have a day job, you can get additional words in during lunch and breaks. Last year, I would show up to work two hours early and write out a scene or two.

That's it. As yours truly has all the time in the world this month, I'm going to challenge myself to complete my draft in two weeks.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How are you going to schedule your writing time?

Also, I was interviewed at The Kelworth Files. You can check it out here.

_______ hit of the day: Better Off Dead by Anathema

Friday, October 28, 2011

Create a Story Bible in 6 Easy Steps

You should know what you're writing about by now if you're doing NaNoWriMo. If you don't, then I know what you're doing this weekend and may I suggest you read my posts on plotcards and character/setting deets?

Another tool that I can't live without while prewriting is the story bible. Most writers have a version of this whether it's a bunch of scrawled notes or a highly detailed folder with charts and Word documents. A story bible is a one-stop shop for all of your story related items: plot, characters, settings, notes, pictures, and whatever else applies.

Creating a story bible isn't a lot of work. Mine is modeled after an article I read on XtremeLife a few years ago. (The original link is dead, but you can access an archived version here.) At heart, I'm a paper and pen girl and that's how my story bibles come out. For this NaNo, I used my very awesome Circa notebook, which made it much easier for me to move sections around. If you follow the instructions below, you'll be on your way to an easy-peasy bible too.

1. Divide your notebook into five sections and label them CHARACTERS, SETTINGS, PLOT, RESEARCH, and UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.
Section tabs
2. Fill out your CHARACTER section using the quick bios you already created. Make sure you leave some additional pages to backfill information at a later date.
Character notes in the prewriting stage
3. Fill out your SETTINGS section with pictures and setting notes. Depending on how hardcore your set pieces are, these pages might fill up fast. For mine, I like to include little drawings that highlight location and other things that are in my brain, but would take too much time to locate online.
Note the art skills.
4. Fill out your PLOT section. The first thing I do is include a rough logline detailing my story's premise. After that, I take my plotcards and transfer them scene-by-scene into here. I make sure I include a scene title, where and when the scene takes place, who is in the scene, and a more detailed description of the scene. This should be the longest section in your bible*.
Detailed breakdown by scene.
5. If you have to do research, do it and put all relevant information in your RESEARCH section. Even the most mundane story has research elements. This is the nifty place for it to go, even if it isn't until the revision stage.

6. While you are drafting, if there is something you don't know like "what is the highest a midget can jump?" you would jot the question down here.

That's it. The finished product is easy to carry around and, if you're the type to compulsively check your notes, you can use this without flipping between multiple programs.

What method do you use for keeping all of your project notes together?

* After research most likely.
______ hit of the day: Walk Like a Zombie by HorrorPops

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zombie Pumpkins

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Four more days until Halloween! I'm excited, what about you guys? I've definitely been enjoying the horror movies on television and specials about things that go bump in the night. In particular, I watched a pretty cool two hour special about zombies on the History Channel, of all stations. It brought up some really interesting points and comparisons of a zombie plague to some other epidemics we've experienced in the history of human civilization. But more on that topic next week!

These photos were literally just shared with me, and in the tradition and spirit of Halloween coming up on Monday, they were too good not to share!

At the New York Botanical Gardens, right now on display until the 30th, you can view the record holding world's largest pumpkin. But not only that, it has been carved and transformed into a zombie nightmare! Artist Ray Villafane has turned the pumpkin into a scene of zombies bursting from out of the ground, hungry and ready to kill.

I've seen some awesomely carved pumpkins and jack-o-lantern art, but this example is highly impressive. I can't even imagine what it would take to carve something like this.

Have you carved your pumpkins yet? If so, take a picture and share your link with us! I will most likely be carving mine on Saturday night and will share with you all. Happy Haunting!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Reviews: Silence & Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday. 

Today's topic: What was the best book you in October?

Funny thing about today's topic: what I considered the best book I read this month was not the one I rated the highest. Allow me to explain...

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick got the highest rating and there's a two-fold reasoning for this. One, I love paranormal and urban fantasy, so they generally rate higher* than other things. Two, it was leaps and bounds better than Crescendo, which had a shitty cover and a cop out cliffhanger that made me throw the book.

So while the highest rated, not the best of the month. That honor goes to Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

 Blurb from Goodreads:
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

What I liked about it: Everyone I know who has read this book talks about Tiny Cooper and how awesome he is. It's true. Tiny is gay-tastic to the point where he wrote a musical about himself called Tiny Dancer: The Tiny Cooper Story**. Character-wise, Will Grayson #2 was my favorite. He was snarky, honest, and had this awesome dark edge to his humor.

What you should know: This book has gotten *tons* of love with the awards to prove it. John Green and David Levithan show how dual first person POVs should work. The writing styles of these two mesh so well that I couldn't tell who wrote which characters (Will Grayson's withstanding as that was obvious).

Since I'm in direct contrast with everyone else and Tiny, sway me to like Tiny more than Will Grayson #2 below.

* There are always exceptions to this rule, especially since I love well-written contemporary as well.
** Which is hysterical because the first thing you learn about Tiny is that he's anything but. His girth and personality are enormous.
_______ hit of the day: The Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Character and Some Setting Detail

One week from today will be NaNoWriMo and I completed my preparation last night. My plotcards are written and organized. My characters and settings are in decent shape. By decent I mean enough has been determined to crank out a first draft.

That's the key with character and setting: you have to have enough to make it work.

Character Detail
For years, I subscribed to the character sheet* level of detail where I had to know everything about their schooling from preschool on up, their allergies, favorite pair of earrings, etc. Filling out these multi-page sheets would take up a lot of my time. My first idea for NaNo this year got derailed by these character sheets too.

The problem was that with the focus on creating all of this information about my character so they'd be more three dimensional, I was losing out on these things occurring organically through my writing. Talk about a light bulb moment.

When you pare your character development to the bare minimum, your inner pantser throws a party**. The creativity isn't forced and you can focus more on figuring out your character for the story you're going to tell. It's also less time consuming.

So for the sake of NaNoWriMo, here's an abbreviated list of character details you should know. Every project is different, but as I said before, this my blog so you get my opinions.
  • Name (and, if applicable, nickname). If you did your plotcards first, you should already know your character's name. I like to know their given and their surnames because it helps make them more life-like.
  • Age. This doesn't need to be exact and depending on your genre, the age is sort of implied. My current NaNo is YA, so my characters are all in their teens.
  • Physical appearance and fashion style. You should know if your character is tall, hefty, or wears headgear. You should also know if they have an affinity for sweatpants. You shouldn't have more than a couple of lines dedicated to this.
  • Brief narrative involving their personality and quirks.
  • Narrative explaining how they’re going to change through the story. This will also include explaining anything else that you think needs to be addressed during the story.

My character sheets are written up in a 8.5x5.5 notebook and they don't take up more than one page front and back. For your initial draft, yours shouldn't either.

Setting Detail
I've mentioned before that for years my settings were pretty much done up like a soap opera set. I'm getting better, but it's still hard to break that habit.

The beauty of plotting out settings is you get to do a lot of looking around on Pinterest. The best thing to do is snag a picture and then make notes about how it's going to be used, what's missing from the picture that should be there, and note anything that is different.

Rudimentary maps are also useful. If you're writing a space opera, your map might have more detail than if your entire story takes place in a playground, but you still need to know where things are located.

Again, I stress these sheets are for planning only. If you keep it simplistic, there is more room for your creativity to take over during the drafting process. As long as you remain open-minded, you'll find that characters, subplots, and locales will write themselves the further you go.

Do you have any tips on planning out your characters and setting? Share below!

* When I used the term "character sheets" to Hubby the other day, he asked me what color hair would they have if I rolled a  6.
** Whether it's a raging kegger or a dinner party remains to be seen.
____________ hit of the day: Love at First Fright by Murderdolls

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stop! Haiku Time!

Welcome to Monday, Lurkdom. The day job is busy and the interns are chatty. It's also a week from Halloween.

Zombies delight me
Enlightening my grave thoughts
Towards death I go

Stay tuned this week for some more NaNoWriMo tips and other things. 

______ hit of the day: The Virus of Life by Slipknot

Friday, October 21, 2011

Best Ages! With Pictures!

Today's prompt from Paper Hangover is hard as hell. The 5 best ages of my life? I'm lucky if I can pick one because that's how I roll.

Yours truly can't remember much from my single digit days, though I think I had a decent year 5*, and we'll totally overlook the middle school years because that well and truly sucked. That leaves age 14 to present**, which I'll group into different chunks. This will include more than 5 ages, but I had too much fun collaging.

Because it's Friday, I'm going to rate the best ages based off of the fun-o-meter, instead of lessons learned.

Ages 16-18
Even with the crap that sucked: the huge blowout with Bestie Danielle, the drama of liking the same boy as Bestie Michelle, and not knowing how to deal with hormones, I had a lot of great memories from this time period. I traveled without my family three times: Florida, DC, and NYC. I did a lot of stupid stuff and didn't get caught. I had fantastic hair***.

I had three major friends during that time period: Michelle, Danielle, and Amelia. Each friendship brought something different to the table and I grew a lot from being friends with all of them. (It's because of Amelia, the blowout with Danielle ended, which I'm eternally grateful.)

Also, this included my senior year, which was the best part of high school ever. It was either because I stopped caring or everyone really got over the clique and snobbiness thing. I was my most outgoing then, which totally helped making it a memorable year. First kiss boy and I were even back on speaking terms by this point. (Though you will notice he is missing from my collage.)

Ages 19-23ish
College, also known as the time of many exciting things and photographs****. Though I lived at home during college, I still managed to do a lot. I met Bestie Steph right away, my Aerosmith fandom kicked into high gear.

I continued my outgoing streak and auditioned for a play. The next five years I thought myself a thespian and focused more on Shakespeare than my writing. Once I realized that acting wasn't my thing, I moved towards the technical end of theater, which was better. I was single towards the end of this stage and crushed on way too many guys that I had no chance with and spent a lot of time in divey bars getting the stink eye from girls. The besties also found their future husbands during this time, which while awful for Single Alicia, was still awesome because those two guys are great and I love them both.

Age 25 Onward
25 has been the best year ever for me. I met Hubby, started writing again--for real, and finally moved out of Chez Gregoire. Without seeing my mother every waking moment, this is the time I realized that she's hip.

I also had the best birthday party ever with a lot of my out-of-state friends coming in. (If you look closely, you'll see Miranda.)

This is also when a lot of family and friends were getting married. For some reason, this meant we had to act more ridiculous than we did in college or high school. So the second half of my 20s included weddings and a lot of ridiculous poses plus double the amount of concerts I saw in high school and college. (I became a bit of a music nut around 26.)

So this is my five best ages, which I guess is technically is about 6*****. What has been the best age for you so far?

* This might have everything to do with it being my final birthday party. Yeah, you heard that right.
** Which is 29 on repeat.
*** After the awful DIY perm of middle school, it was a miracle I had good hair left.
**** Many of which are incriminating and will never be seen on The Pie.
***** Disclaimer: you should know by now Math and I are not friends.
______ hit of the day: Gravity Eyelids by Porcupine Tree

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zombies! They're Bacccckkk!

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Zombie Thursday is back! And with a vengeance! I have a few zombie related topics to discuss after my absence, so I hope you will forgive me and that Alicia won't kill me (mostly because I don't want to come back as undead)!

First off, let me apologize for my disappearing act. October is normally my favorite month and the best month ever. This October has been particularly trying for me. Beginning on the 1st, I got sick. Again. Horrible cold, coughing, slight fever, all the icky stuff. For the first time ever, I even called out of work. And unfortunately now, I do not have health insurance, so no doctor. I'm still sick and coughing everyday, almost three weeks later.

Another major thing going on this month was my flying trapeze class! Despite being ill, I still managed to get to class (well, I missed one and had to make it up from being sick). And last Saturday, I performed in my very first trapeze act/show and had an awesome time! Needless to say, I was very stressed and nervous about performing well, which sucked up a lot of my energy in addition to the sickness.

But here I am! So let's get to it!

First zombie related topic, The Walking Dead premier! I won't go into major details because I don't want to give spoilers, but who saw it? I very recently got rid of Comcast and switched back to Dish Network, so I was able to record all of season one and then the premier of season two and did a marathon viewing. I've been hearing a lot of complaints about the season two opener. It was boring, it wasn't the same as the book, etc etc. Well, as far as book consistency, of course not. What book to movie is ever exact? As far as the pacing, I found myself thinking the same thing about this episode as I did about the very first episode on Halloween last year. Yes, the pacing was a bit slow (especially for a ninety minute episode). But I understand why they do this. It is set up. The last episode was back in December and it ended full of action! They needed to reintroduce the characters, remind us what happened and go from there. The show is not a movie. They can't have hordes of zombies attacking every ten minutes-- that would get boring!

On the note of Frank Darabont being fired from the show... only time (or the season) will tell exactly what affect that will have on the series. He was still listed in the opening credits as an Executive Producer, probably because he hadn't been fired yet. So, the first few episodes (or this whole season?) should have his imprint on them. Maybe we won't see the flaws until season three when he is officially gone. Thoughts?

Next up! Something that my dad actually sent me. Not many people really know my dad, but he usually doesn't "get" the zombie stuff and often makes fun of me for doing things like wearing black or reading certain things. But I got an email from him last night (and please keep in mind, I don't think my dad has ever sent me an email. EVER.) and it was an article from msnbc talking about how an architecture firm is hosting a contest to see who can design the most efficient zombie proof house/compound to protect the living from the dead. Zombie lovers were called to design the ultimate anti-zombie fortress for ultimate survival!

There are some pretty cool entries posted and the winner will be decided by votes! Your votes! You can check out all the entries over at the Zombie Safe House voting page. So far, it seems the favorite to win is a complex that is designed to be up in the air with zombie driven turbines down below. I am fond of a birdhouse design... I don't think it would ever work out, but I enjoy the idea!

Go check them out and vote for your favorite! Voting ends on Halloween.

And finally, even though I have been away, I've been representing the zombies with greatness. My trapeze show was Halloween theme, and guess what I flew as? You got it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why I Write

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: What's your numero-uno reason for writing?

This is such a great question and oddly one that no one in my life has asked me. I guess it's a good thing some of them lurk here. *waves to The Lurkdom*

I write for the prestige, of course. That and the money because we all know that writing is a get rich quick scheme and I know that I need to find a hot pool boy for the house I'm going to be moving into. Don't worry, you're all invited.

Best. House. Ever. Source: via Alicia on Pinterest
And while this house is awesomely fantastic*, it's not the reason why I write.

I write because there's nothing else I would rather do. I love it and if I go a certain amount of days without it, you better steer clear. Writing makes me happy and complete. If this was my day job, I'd be the happiest employee in the world.

Don't forget to stop by YA Highway to see what others are saying.

* Not to mention has the funniest house description ever.
______ hit of the day: From Dust to the Beyond by God Is An Astronaut

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Fill in the Blank Plotting

I promised to review Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting more than once, but never got around to it for some reason. My apologies for that.

Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting by Linda George is the easiest book on writing ever. She explains how to combine The Hero's Journey and the Three Act Structure into a tighter, more cohesive plot. If you're not familiar with either of these plot structures, it's time for a quick breakdown.

The Hero's Journey was made famous by Joseph Campbell. The Hero's Journey is universal with myth and folklore. There are 12 big steps within the journey. The story of Hercules, for example, follows the Hero's Journey. Wikipedia gives a good explanation of all the steps if you want to learn more now.

The Three Act Structure is what most of us know when we talk about plot structure. It's what we learn when we're in school. Within the Three Act Structure, there are key items that have to happen: inciting incident, climax, turning points.

If you're unsure about the different parts of either structure, she includes examples using Treasure Island throughout. These examples help in informing what is supposed to happen at each point in your own story. The book is short enough that you can read it before you dive into a plotting session.

You should know that this type of plotting is rigid and I wouldn't recommend it to someone who plots loosely. If you like the freedom of the loose plot, then Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting would work better for you during revision.

If you've used Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting, share your experiences below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

________ hit of the day: Darkfall by God Is an Astronaut

Monday, October 17, 2011

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Plotcards

It's that time of year, not of foliage or way-too-soon Christmas decorations, but of words and words and words. That's right. It's NaNoWriMo time. If you're new on the block, this weird word stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Sounds crazy, right? To quote the Cheshire Cat, "We're all mad here."

In order to successfully complete NaNoWriMo, you need an attack plan. There are many ways to achieve this, but since this is my blog real estate, I'm going to share with you what works for me.

Plotcards involve index cards and ideas for scenes. If you're a pantser, this is the closest plot method to what you're used to. I first learned about how to use them through Holly Lisle,* but have modified the process since.

Going into the plotcards, you will need to know who your characters are. They don't need to be fleshed out yet, but you should know the basics: name, sex, story role (protagonist, antagonist, billy goat, et cetera).

Take a pack of index cards and write on each one a scene you would like to write. If you're writing something with multiple points of view, you should know which character the scene is attributed to as well. The more detail you have here, the better.
Okay: A monkey jumps through the window.
Better: Sandra's pet monkey crashes through Joel's living room window in a rage.

Once you come up with about 50-60 scene ideas, it's time to examine them for duds. Discard anything that looks like a duplicate or doesn't seem like a strong scene. Then, take your remaining cards and organizing them into an order. Some of these cards will have been created in a logical order, but there will be others where you will have to find a home.

What's nice about the index cards is that you can shuffle them around anywhere and however often as you need until you have a plot to your liking. It won't be solid and there is still enough wiggle room to create enough of the story that you're not stressing out.

Have you tried this technique before? What has been your experience with it?

* Who has a wonderful, robust site on a variety of craft topics. If you haven't been to it, go there. Now.
_____________ hit of the day: Sleep of No Dreaming by Porcupine Tree

Friday, October 14, 2011

Read It Again, Sam

The day job is breathing down my neck, so I can't get truly dive into today's Friday Fives topic. However, I put together five of the books I couldn't get enough of as Single Digit Alicia.

Just looking at these is totally making me want to go read them. Right. Now.

What were some of your favorites as a kid?

_________ hit of the day: Stand up by The Prodigy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Am the Tortoise

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

This is YA Highway's 100th RTW prompt. How awesome this that!?

Today's topic: What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

Writing has always been an integral part of me, but I've always been too chicken to do anything "more" with it. Sure, I have taken classes, but it wasn't until eight years ago that I drummed up enough courage to put my work out for someone other than for Bestie Danielle to see. I wanted to be a published writer--I should have shown my work much sooner.

Hatching out! An African Spur-Thigh Tortoise (Geochelone Sulcata)Sharing something that is such a big part of you is difficult, as I'm sure many of you could attest. The writing workshop I took was my firststep into the indimidating world of workshopping*. After my first critique, I went home in tears. The story was awful. People were confused. I had no plot. My writing was horrible. Basically, I sucked and should take up macrame instead.**

The workshop was a setback, but a much needed one. I did learn something important: I loved writing enough to continue to persue my goal.

Since the Disastrous Workshop Semester of 2003, my writing road trip has continued to be slow-going. I'm driving a beater that's worse than The Ghettomobile*** and I hate highways****. So while I have three novels written, I only have one query-ready. The other two are in different stages of revision. The majority of the time I'm okay with my progress--I've never been the swiftest person--but, at times, I do get frustrated with myself for taking so long*****.

This is why I have friends. In recent years, I've met some of the most amazing, inspiring, and fantastic people in the kidlit community. Without these friendships, my journey would be lonelier and more boring. I love my writer friends.

As to where I'm heading, I decided to go back to school and am currently researching which MFA programs would be the best fit for me. The future holds possibilities and that's what I'm excited about.

* And when you first start, it is intimidating, scary, and panic-inducing. These people know so much more than you. They've taken workshops with big name authors and at important Ivy League institutions.
** While no said these things to me, this is what I had internalized. (Since today is Honesty Day in Alicia's brain, I might as well admit I got through these emotions every time I get a critique or beta feedback back.)
*** My first car.
**** True fact: If I can get there by back roads, I will, extra driving time be damned.
***** In my fantasy world, everyone wants my novel because I'm incredibly briliant. So brilliant, in fact, the first agent I queried became my agent in a day and my book sold at auction for an unheard of sum of cash. I've been published for six years and have my own private island with a smoking hot pool boy. As you can see my fantasy and reality don't mesh at all, you can return to the main text.
___________ hit of the day: Blue by The Verve

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where I Will Write

Thanks to all in The Lurkdom who said happy anniversary to Hubby and I. We had a great day filled with waffles, fish, hipsters, and Marty McFly. Even with that, the long weekend wasn't long enough and we're now in another race to Friday. Work is kicking my ass this week with meetings on top of meetings, so today will be short and visual.

When I talked about the Great Book Reorg of 2011, several of you commented on my writing area. I didn't have the heart to tell you then that the "home office" area looked like a bomb zone. There was no room for the office chair, laptop, or myself.

Since then, Hubby has been uber-industrious*. He's tidied up our office space, streamlined our DVDs, and created more space in our living room**! This is awesome because NaNoWriMo is hot on my heels and I need more spaces to commute and write.

Here's the revised desk area. I've done some extra tinkering around the area which means I've deep-sixed the monitor and gave myself more space on the desk portion. I'm hoping we can do a bit more with it before November 1st.

All the books on the left are writing-related and the books to the right are the ones we have yet to read. I'm open suggestions to reading faster.

Hubby also moved all of the totes so now we can access the couch that's in there. Or, the cat can access the couch that's in there. Because she doesn't have enough places to lounge and show off her superior sleeping skills. Any seat with a cushion she automatically claims as her own, so of course the couch is NOTHING DIFFERENT.

(When Hubby took these pictures to show me, he didn't realize that The Stripey One had photobombed the shot.)

I have to admit, I'm loving Industrious Hubby and I'm loving the new organization of our workspace. I fully attend to use it to my advantage over the winter months, even if I have to drape a tapestry over the entryway to block out the lure of the television.

Lurkdom, where do you do most of your work? Or, if you're like me, where do you plan to do future work?

* Which is a more awesome use of his time then tempting me with homemade cupcakes. (Note: this happened several times in May.)
** This is partially due to the fact our gigantic picture tube died a sad death a week and half ago.

______ hit of the day: Haxprocess by Opeth

Friday, October 7, 2011

Where Can I Find Some Inspiration??

Today marks 4 years that Hubby and I nixed that "living in sin" thing. We had the world's shortest wedding ceremony and for one day understood how celebrities feel with the paparazzi. We also had cake.

So with all of this in mind, I'm blogging ahead of time for once. By the time you read this, we will be stuffed with waffles and watching penguins swim as our anniversary date.

Onto business.

There's been a lot of talk about inspiration on The Pie as of late*. I've covered images and WIPs, people who've inspired me, and pictures that have inspired my writing as a whole. Now we add a fourth.

First, some background: this week I decided to scrap my original NaNo plan because I was too trapped in my head. This meant coming up with a new story. No pressure, right? No. None at all. Thank goodness there are some techniques for getting inspiration when you most need it.
  1. Snuggle with the cat. The White One's pliancy makes it too easy to curl up with him and think. A lot of times this results in sporadic napping.
  2. Have conversations. One of my conversations this week included Marcel Marceau**. This gave me another ridiculous scene that would work with my new NaNo project.
  3. Read. A lot of times if I'm stuck, I'll go read. For some reason, nonfiction jangles free the block and ideas pour out of brain. This is the main reason why I installed Evernote on my phone.
  4. Free writing. The ratio of intelligent thought to the word cheese*** is 1:400, but when it works, it really works.
  5. Pull it from the ether. A lot of my ideas (not the current SNI) just show up. The assassin project? Just showed up. Phoenix Rising? Showed up. That random story about the squirrel photographer? Sort of showed up. (You all know about my squirrel problem.)
How do you get inspiration when you need it?

* When you're a chronic pessimist, 3 posts in 5 months seems like a lot.
** Ha, you thought I'd help you on this one. Look him up.
*** Truth: Every free writing session I've done starts out with the word "cheese" written at least 5 times.
_________ hit of the day: Something to Believe In by Poison

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

About Co-Starring with a Co-Star*

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

Blame it on the day job, but I couldn't get my head wrapped around it. Thank god Bestie Danielle is chained to her desk as much as me has a desk job like me.

With Danielle on board, it was a matter of figuring out what we would like to see.

With the truth behind Edward's sparkle denied from my editorial department, it was back to the drawing boards. It's worth mentioning that we were still confused on whether the topic was for the character to star in a novel as a spinoff or as a retelling.

Because it's both, we've decided to talk about both. This would be a fantastic time to mention that these conversations are the norm for the two of us. Except we don't have conversation bubbles.(Though as you can see we talk and type all lower case and horrible punctuation.)

With that amazing conversation, I bet you want to know about our spinoffs. It's really hard to escape all the intelluctualism that Danielle and I rock.

Happy with our choices, we were about to move on to some other important topic like lunch. Then this happened.

Lurkdom, it's your turn! What secondary character would you like to see as the star? Also what crazy conversations do you have with your friends?

A big thanks to Bestie Danielle for helping out with today's topic.

* If you came here thinking this was going to be all cinema and TV, I'm sorry. You should still stick around. We have awesome things.
_______ hit of the day: Santa Monica by Everclear

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On Anxiety Disorders and the Query Process

For those not in the know, anxiety is a blanket term that covers everything from phobias to generalized anxiety, so a lot of people suffer from it. Not nearly enough get treated for it*. Anyone who suffers from general anxiety knows that functioning on certain days is difficult enough, but if you get a panic attack?

You might as well pack it in for the day and take a nap.

It's known that stress triggers anxiety, and what is more stressful than querying**? You're waiting to hear if your manuscript is good enough for Agent A, Agent B, and Agent C. You're creative life is on the line. All your friends have gotten requests and deals and everything and--

You get the picture. Just writing that scenario made my heart spasm. Everything you do is under the srutiny of you. Is it good enough? Are you good enough? No one is going to take you on. Everyone is going to hate it. Your crit group was just being nice. If you get an email back, the heart spams start anew: is this good news or bad? What happens if they want to see more? That's the thing about us chronically anxious people--we're worriers.

So how can you handle the query procress without going into full-blown panic mode?  I can't speak for everyone, but I can talk from personal experience.
  • Have a cheerleader. As a chronic worrier and pessimist, having someone who sees things the other way is hugely important. So important, in fact, I have two.
  • Do some cardio. Aerobic exercise helps reduce anxiety because of the endorphins your brain produces during exercise. Just like the runner's high makes you happy, it kills the stress.
  • Meditate and have a mantra. Tell yourself "this too shall pass" and go someplace quiet. The less distraction in an area is best to clear out your mind. Sit quietly and breathe it all in. Relaxation is crucial.

These are just a few ways to handle querying on anxiety. What tricks do you have to keep the anxiety at bay?

* Like yours truly who pretty much dislikes all types of doctors.
** I know, there are lots of things more stressful, like unemployment, ailing family members, etc, but bear with me. I'm trying to make a point.
__________ Hit of the Day: Seesaw Sway by Peter Murphy

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cuteness Alert!

Monday is being difficult. So I leave you with a video of corgi puppies playing.

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