Monday, April 22, 2013

M is for Money

Sprengben [why not get a friend] / Amazing Photos / CC BY-NC-SA
M is for Money

So, yes, I'm very, very behind on the A-Z challenge (but I'm still hanging in here gosh darn it!) AND, it is entirely possible that I may have been dumped from the Linky tool for not posting enough (have to check this!) BUT--I did just get back from four wonderful days at the Pikes Peaks Writers Conference in Colorado Springs and so I'm totally using that as part of my excuses. My other excuses are all boring and everyday, but the conference was fun, energizing, educational, and many many other adjectives.

The conference was also slightly controversial because of a keynote speech given by Barry Eisler, and reacted to by several agents and editors on the very public Twitter Universe. I have many, many, many thoughts about ALL of this, almost none of which am I willing to discuss publicly but have been dishing with personal writing friends (in the safety of actual physical conversations that are not recorded FOR ALL TIME) and what I will say, as a person who was actually there sitting front and center, is this: there is WHAT you say and HOW you say it, and I can't help but think, as a psychologist, the conflict sprouted somewhat from this gray soil.

And because you may be curious, here is the link to Joe Konrath's blog where Eisler elaborated on, and others responded to, the "PPWC 2013 incident."  

Oh, and M is for Money because between all the other stuff in that post, there is a nice description on standard money payouts from traditional publishers VS self-publishing that I think is very helpful and good to know--whatever side of the fence you are actively pursuing and especially if you're thinking about having one foot in each.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

L is for Losing

ViaMoi / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
L is for Losing. (a prologue post to S is for Submission *shudder*)

Because sometimes, we do. It's just a fact, that's all--sometimes we lose.

And that's okay. Actually, it's more than okay, sometimes it's the best thing for us. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt, doesn't pull at our heart and head in ways that feel designed to clobber us for good--FOREVER.

But some of the best opportunities that have happened to me (in many areas of my life) happened because I was free to walk into them since the opportunity I was pursuing slammed shut in my face.

And those slams hurt--A LOT. A LOT, A LOT.

Plus, at the time, I had no idea that there was a different opportunity out there, waiting for me to stop wailing, crying, and basically rolling on the floor in anguish. And that opportunity would not have fit into my life if I had been busy with that other one, you know, that one that walked out on me and tried to break me in two.

So, this is what I do now. Try to stay as calm as possible. Maintain the belief that all my "just right for me" opportunities are on there way towards me. It is my job to stay out of their way, to stay open for the many potential opportunities so that I can lean into the right one when it presents itself.

I want to talk more about this when I get to S, because S will be for Submission *double shudder* and that was a weird and dark place for me that stretched out for over a year of my life. A YEAR PEOPLE!

For now, I leave you with a quote I use everyday:

My ships come in over a calm sea--Florence Scovel Shinn 

Monday, April 15, 2013

K is for [K]over reveal--ASCENDANT Crescent Moon Press

Okay, so that's just plain cheating. But, my cover just came out today and I HAVE to share because I LOVES it. I will be posting more about my release as we get closer (JUNE!!) but I want you to see this gorgeousness right now! I'm so lucky--truly.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Just Do [what you can] !

Incase. / Foter.com / CC BY
J is for Just Do [what you can]!

"It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward." --Chinese Proverb

"I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing, you gotta keep your feet moving." --Morgan Freeman

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.  

"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want."
--Ben Stein  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I is for (Free) Internet Content?

I is for (Free) Internet content.

I have a question for you. I am toying with the idea of posting short fiction online--for free. Does anyone have any experience doing this either as a writer or as a reader of short, free, fiction? Did you post on your own sites, or is there a communal site you recommend? Do you read short stories online and if so, where?

I'm toying with a couple of ideas.

1. Creating a separate page on my blog for very short stories.
2. Creating a separate blog for very short stories.
3. Grabbing a couple other writers by their hair and making them join me. (Or asking them nicely if they would care to--haven't committed to an approach just yet.)
4. Find a preexisting source that already does all of this and has a regular readership. (Hence my questions to you.)
5. Letting the whole idea die a slow death.

Advice oh wise ones of the Internet?

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Gold-digger

G is for Gold-digger

Actually this post is about stereotypes, but gold-digger is a pretty vivid one. Okay, I want you to take a second, don't close your eyes because you can't keep reading with your eyes closed, and visualize a gold-digger.

Another second.

One more.

Got it? Do you see that gold digger in your mind. Great.

Now, was it a woman?
Did she have blond hair?
Was she tall?
Did she have big boobs?
Too much make up?
Clingy dress that showed all those curves?

Maybe, maybe not. But I would bet money you have some sort of stereotypical idea of what a gold-digger looks like. Now I'm not here to tell you that your writing has no place for stereotyped characters, stereotyped characters sometimes make great secondary characters. Maybe even a background character in a single scene.

But you need to watch out for this type of lazy dependance sneaking into the descriptions of your main character and antagonist. Why? Because stereotypes are cheap. Worse, they are boring. Stereotypes don't make me think very hard or try to understand your characters on a deeper level.

If you want to have a gold-digger (or any often easily stereotyped individual) as a main character, here is the example of how to do it right. Tell their story. Show us the WHY and the HOW and help us to leave our judgements at home.

Fancy, Reba McEntire
(Bobbie Gentry)

I remember it all very well lookin back
It was the summer I turned eighteen
We lived in a one room, rundown shack
On the outskirts of New Orleans
We didn't have money for food or rent
To say the least we were hard pressed
Then Mama spent every last penny we had
To buy me a dancin' dress

Well, Mama washed and combed and curled my hair
And she painted my eyes and lips (lips) then I stepped into a satin
Dancin' dress that had a split on the side clean up to my hip
It was red velvet trim and it fit me good
And standin' back from the lookin' glass
There stood a woman where a half grown kid had stood

She said "Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down.
Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down."

Mama dabbed a little bit of perfume on my neck
And she kissed my cheek
Then I saw the tears wellin up in her troubled eyes
When she started to speak
She looked at a pitiful shack
And then she looked at me and took a ragged breath
She said your pa's run off and I'm real sick
And the baby's gonna starve to death

She handed me a heart shaped locket that said
"To thine own self be true"
And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across
The toe of my high heel shoe
It sounded like somebody else that was talkin'
Askin "Mama, what do I do?"
She said "Just be nice to the gentlemen Fancy.
And they'll be nice to you."

She said "Here's your chance Fancy, don't let me down.
Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down.
Lord, forgive me for what I do, but if you want out
Well, it's up to you
Now don't let me down hon, you're momma's gonna move you uptown."

Well, that was the last time I saw my Ma
The night I left that rickety shack
The welfare people came and took the baby
Mama died and I ain't been back

But the wheels of fate had started to turn
And for me there was no way out
It wasn't very long 'til I knew exactly
What my Mama'd been talkin' about

I knew what I had to do but I made myself this solemn vow
That I's gonna be a lady someday
Though I don't know when or how
But I couldn't see spending the rest of my life
With my head hung down in shame
You know, I mighta been born just plain white trash
But Fancy was my name

She said "Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down."
She said "Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down."

It wasn't very long after a benevolent man
Took me in off the streets
And one week later I was pourin' his tea
In a five room hotel suite
(Yes she was)

I charmed a king, a congressman
And an occasional aristocrat
And then I got me a Georgia mansion
And an elegant New York townhouse flat
And I ain't done bad
(And she ain't done bad)

Now in this world there's a lot of self-righteous hippocrits
That call me bad
And criticize Mama for turning me out
No matter how little we had

But though I ain't had to worry 'bout nothin'
For nigh on fifteen years
Well, I can still hear the desperation in my poor
Mama's voice ringin' in my ears

"Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down."
Oh. "Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down."
"Lord, forgive me for what I do
But if you want out
Well, it's up to you
Now don't let me down hon, your mama's gonna move you uptown."

Oh, and I guess she did

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Forgetting

F is for Forgetting

When you are thinking about your book, or a revision idea, or have an AH-HA! moment that you absolutely love, the great, great amazing solution that ties everything together, that crystal clear shot of YES, THIS

--and then don't write it down.

Forgetting sucks.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Exercise

E is for Exercise

Health Alert: Writing might make you fat.

As I sit writing this, noshing on my giant sized bagel smothered in cream cheese, guzzling my sugar filled coffee, it occurs to me that I spend a ridiculous amount of time sitting. Sitting, staring at a screen, and hunched into a spine altering position over a keyboard that promises to one day leave me with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The tricky thing about writing books, is that it's not a 9-5 job for most of us. It it the forever nagging feeling that every spare minute should be spent increasing word count. You know that great writer advice: Butt in chair--Hands on keyboard. That is GREAT advice for increasing word count. The side effect is that when I'm not sitting at my desk, I'm thinking about how I should be.

And my desk is making me fat.

Now don't get me wrong, I do jog--sporadically. Like once a week; in all honesty it's probably more like once every two weeks. It's just enough to trick my brain into thinking I get to check that "moderately active" box on health inventories and online calorie counting calculators. It's the gentle lie I tell myself as the scale continues to rise, keeping a constant stride with my age.

Like many almost 40 women, I battle time. Not so much the getting older, I'm okay with that, but the insanity producing collective rush of all the EVERYTHINGS we manage day in and day out. We work full time (or more); raise kids and mange their ridiculous schedules; manage our houses; manage our fiances; manage our marriages; and some of us are trying to manage our dreams--like writing.

Is it any wonder that we end up too exhausted to manage our bodies? Even though we KNOW we would feel so much better if we could just make ourselves get out the frickin door with a pair of running shoes attached.

So, E is for Exercise...and last night, I bought a treadmill at Sears.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dedication

D is for Dedication

“Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.”
Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy 
“Don't ever give up.
Don't ever give in.
Don't ever stop trying.
Don't ever sell out.
And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment,
pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off.
But never, ever, ever give up.”
Richelle E. Goodrich, Eena: The Two Sisters

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.”
John Mayer


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Conflict

C is for Conflict 

Because if you are just describing what is on the table for dinner, and something isn't overcooked, poisoned, or a bloody writhing mess for your vegetarian boss--then I'm not entertained. I'm the opposite of entertained, I'm BORED.

When you don't have conflict, you might have boring.

Example: Boring

Sylvia had been looking forward to the night out for weeks. She picked out her favorite knee length cocktail dress and peep-toe sling backs and got ready to meet her husband's boss and his wife for the first time ever. The reservations were at a new, super trendy, restaurant downtown that had been receiving excellent reviews for weeks. She couldn't believe she would soon be enjoying a two hundred dollar steak--all on the company's dime!

When they arrived, everyone said their hellos and sat down. The dinner was delicious, the conversation delightful, and Sylvia got a lovely picture of herself and the boss's beautiful wife to post on Facebook. Her friends would be so jealous.

Example: Conflict

Sylvia had been dreading the night out for weeks. Despite the scornful glances she'd been shooting her rickety treadmill, she had yet to shed a single pound of the baby weight. As she stood in her closet, staring at the tiny, depressing reminders of how thin she used to be, a creeping panic pulled at her throat. Why the hell hadn't she just gone and bought something that fit? She reached for the only viable solution, the two piece maternity cocktail dress she'd worn to her brother's wedding last winter. She was going to look like total crap next to all the super hip, pencil skirted lawyers sipping brightly colored martinis they never had to consider paying for.

Never mind the boss's practically seventeen year old wife.

When they arrived, she couldn't stop fidgeting with her top. She had tried to compensate for her sad attire by digging out her old push-up bra from the back of her drawer and using extra eyeshadow. Unfortunately, since she was no longer a svelte, toned cat and was now a lactating cow, her enormous milky breasts hardly fit inside the shallow cups and were now bubbling over and threatening to spill a nipple at any second. When she pulled at her top for the twelfth time in as many minutes, her husband gave her a shitty look that practically melted her spine.

He was embarrassed. Standing here, in his slick tailored suit, next to her has-been body, she embarrassed him. The realization made a knot lodge in her throat and ignited an overwhelming desire to run from the room.

Blah, blah...but you get the picture.

In short, if everything is going just fine with your scene, everyone is getting along simply great, you have a problem. Unless of course that just great is going to get completely turned on it's head. Like if in my first example she posted the picture on Facebook and, after posting it, she noticed the way her husband and the boss's wife stood a little too close...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Behavior

B is for Behavior

So I write...yes. But I am also a school psychologist. One (of the many) things I do in that part of my life is called a Functional Behavioral Analysis. Basically I'm sent in to answer the question, "Why does Johnny throw chairs across his second grade classroom and 11:27 every Thursday?"

If you're a behaviorist, all behavior serves a function. Here are the primary reasons you, I, and Johnny do almost anything:

You--Get something (tangible, like food or a toy or a publishing contract *wink*)
You--Get attention
You--Get sensory stimulation (feels good--ahem)

I would also add that sometimes more functions of behavior are labeled (like Power) but fundamentally these can also be boiled down to one of the above four. Actually you could go so far as to say we are either trying to Get Something (more blog followers) or Avoid Something (the dishes in the sink)--and sometimes we are doing both at the same time (points finger at self--case in point.)

When I'm thinking of behavior and my characters, I think of these basic functions and double check to make sure that what they are doing makes sense. In ASCENDANT, my main character Charlotte WANTS to find her mother--but why? Because she loves her mother and her mother loved her and she wants her mother's attention back.

If her mother had been a horrible, abusive, beater who was trying to sell Charlotte off into the sex slave industry, having Charlotte want to FIND her mother wouldn't make as much sense. That story would likely be about Escape.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Abstinence

any self-restraint, self-denial, or forbearance
I'm participating in the A-Z challenge this month. So my first post is this--Abstinence (specifically that long, slow roll between when love interests meet and the actual hook-up.)
I love this. I will turn page after page, wanting, waiting, being teased then disappointed then encouraged again...until finally...I have to wait for book two, then three, then four.
Keeping your main characters from getting what they want, especially when what they want is another person. 
The sweet, painful, longing.