I’d love for you to come visit my new site.
Yep, it’s official, I’m procrastinating adding a chapter. I can’t seem to see the scenes in my head and every time I try and write it, it sounds artificial and stiff. I know the scenes need to be added or the story will come to a screeching halt, but as an organic writer, I’m struggling with forcing it.
So, I decided to procrastinate a little more and throw these questions out to blogland. Do you ever struggle with this? And if so do you force it? If that’s a yes, did it turn out well, or did it require lots of revisions?
For now, I’m going to skip this chapter and work on the others until it comes naturally, or until it becomes necessary or enough people let me know that forcing it works.
Need feedback, but don’t have a critique group or beta readers. Or are you interested in a professional opinion? There is a fairly cheap way to get it, enter contests. Most of them are judged by agents and editors or published authors and some will critique your entry. If you take first, second, or third place, you can include that in your author biography paragraph of your query letter.
I’ve stumbled across a few and I thought I’d share them.
Crested Butte Writers’ Contest: Deadline is February 12, 2012. Categories are Romance, Mainstream adult fiction, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, children’s/YA. For a complete list of rules or to enter, go to http://www.crestedbuttewriters.org/ to enter.
Unknown Writer’s Contest (Colorado residents only): Deadline is March 31, 2012. Categories are Poetry, Nonfiction, Fiction. To enter- http://dwpconline.org/writing-contests/
Writer’s Digest Contest: Early Bird deadline is May 1, 2012. Categories are Inspirational Writing, Memoirs/Personal Essay, Magazine Feature Article, Genre Short story (mystery, romance, etc) Mainstream/Literary Short Story, Rhyming Poetry, Non-rhyming poetry, stage play, television/movie script, children’s/YA. Rules/Entry- http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions/writers-digest-annual-competition
Each contest has their own rules and rewards. Make sure and read them. If you decide to enter, good luck.
Today is New Year’s Eve and I admit I hate resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for improving yourself, but if you know you should change something or you desire to make a change, why wait until the end of December? Why not do it when you recognize it? I could write pages and pages of why I dislike this tradition, but I’ll spare you the drivel.
Instead, I thought I’d like to share three personal things about me that have nothing to do with my writing. Things that if you don’t know me in person, you might not know.
1. In person, I’m warm and very friendly. People comment on it all the time, but what they don’t realize is that I’m very guarded about certain things in my life. As they say, I keep things close to the vest. You might have picked up on that while reading this blog.
2. I am not tactile. I don’t like people encroaching on my space. In fact, I feel uncomfortable when people pat my arm, hug me, or try to hold my arm. There are a few exceptions, my husband, my children, and my parents. The funny thing is that until five years ago, I’d say I was tactile, but my husband and sister started making fun of my “man hugs”. You know the one, where your butt sticks out, your torso doesn’t touch the other person and you pat them on the back. It took me a week to finally admit that they were right.
3. I am not an adrenaline junkie, but I love to Rollerblade. Somehow I don’t think this is acceptable for women my age. I have yet to see other moms blading, but here’s the thing. I don’t care. It brings me such pleasure to feel the ground moving beneath my feet, the tiny bit of air I get when I jump a curb, or the liberating feeling when I race down the hills. Seriously, if you haven’t tried this, you really should.
Tonight when you are toasting the New Year and probably making your resolutions (ugh), I hope you take a moment to remember and appreciate the things that make you…you.
Have a happy and safe New Years and I hope to hear from you in 2012.
This is just a quick post to wish you a happy holidays. Unfortunately, due to company and school vacation, I will not blog again until 2012. See you in the new year.
Recently, a newly published mystery/thriller author received an odd question from a journalist. He asked, “Are you half Asian?” Caught off guard, and unsure what this question had to do with her writing, she responded, “No I’m Asian all the time.” The interview ended with both of them laughing at his stupid question. However, this story gave me pause.
My husband is Norwegian and Creole (a mixture of French, African, and Spanish-his is Cuban). When he was little, he had a blonde Afro, blue eyes, luscious thick lips and very white skin, think paper white. Growing up, people assumed he was Anglo-Saxon and made very prejudice remarks in his presence.
Fast-forward twenty years, to a more receptive, supposedly open-minded society. I’d argue that in some ways we still don’t accept diversity because we carry stereotypes of how a mixed person should appear. Let me explain with several examples.
My oldest is blonde hair, blue-eyed and fair, but when she was younger, her pediatrician was flabbergasted that she carried the sickle-cell gene. I explained that my husband was black and she whipped her head and stared at my child in disbelief.
My sister-in-law is Asian/Hawaiian and her husband who is Creole too have the same problem. When she is running errands with her son, people, constantly, stop to ask her if she is the nanny to the blue-eyed, curly-haired blondie.
I want to know why does it matter? Who cares??? I go back to the story of the author and wonder what did her ethnicity have to do with her writing. If she wrote a good story, it wasn’t because she was Chinese or Filipino, or Japanese or White. It was because she can write.
Unfortunately, my husband still hears inappropriate remarks and it makes me wonder what the future holds for my children. Hopefully by then, we truly will be more accepting.
What do you think?
About a year ago, I was speaking to my baby sis about a forensic conference she attended and she said that the speaker could usually tell if an author really knew forensics or not, by their word choices. His example was “blood splatter”, which is commonly used on television and in novels. However, the correct term is “blood spatter”.
At the time of my sister’s revelation I had written splatter in my manuscript. I had no idea that I was flashing the world my ignorance and since then I have tried to be more accurate. Here are several solutions that I have found helpful.
1. Use your city’s resources. I recently had the opportunity to tour a metro crime lab and it’s very different from what is portrayed on television.
2. Attend a college forensic’s course.
3. Read credible forensic blogs. One of my favorites is fiction4writers, written by a retired senior criminalist especially for authors.
4. Purchase or checkout forensics textbooks that are used in college courses.
5. Use the indexes in the textbooks for additional information. They will have a list of additional books or websites.
6. Subscribe to forensic magazines. There are online ones, such as Forensicmag.com
What do you use to stay current?
I don’t usually repost an entire blog, but it is well-written and informative. Originally, it was published on The Kill Zone blog.
Bonding Agent by Joe Moore.
Almost every day we read or hear about tragedies in the news; earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, fires, mass killings. As human beings, even the most distant, obsure nwes of fellow humans losing their lives or encountering other tragedies usually draws some emotion, even if it’s fleeting. But unless we’re directly conneced–a bonding agent–with the people in those news stories, our emotional reaction and interest is often shallow at best. Why? Because we know virtually nothing about them. They are just numbers and statistics. If we take the time to read the article, we may see some additional details that make the people involved more real. There may be a human interest angle that grabs our attention for a moment or two before we turn the newspaper page or click on the next link. But basically, we don’t care deeply because we have no emotional connection with them.
As writers, when it comes to our readers, if they have little or no emotional connection with the characters in our books, they won’t care what happens to them. And if they don’t care, we’re in trouble.
An emotional connection is created when a reader formulates conclusions about our characters’ personalities based on what we show the characters doing and saying. It’s not good enough for the narrator to “tell” the reader what a brave and generous guy our protagonist is or that our antagonist is a heinous villian. We have to show the reader through the characters’ actions, dialogue, interior thoughts and reasoning, and the way they treat others and their life choices from one situation to the next. Then a connection can start to form.
A solid approach to establishing each of these is to ask: what would you do? How would you react to a situation that you’ve created in your story? It doesn’t matter whether you’re assuming the persona of a protagonist, antagonist, secondary character or mere walk-on. You are a human and so are they. They should act and react like humans, think like humans, and reason like humans. Only when they do will the reader form the critical bond or connection. Otherwise, all you have is two-dimensional paper-doll cutouts lacking depth and dimesion.
Some helpful techniques include using universal experiences. Who has not told a lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? Who hasn’t been faced with deciding between what’s right and what’s easy? Who hasn’t felt animosity or even hate for someone who has wronged you? When your character is in a similar situation, examine how you would react?
If you want your reader to like your character, analyze what it is that makes you like or love someone in real life. Use those emotional traits to build your character. And the opposite is also true. To create a character you want the reader to hate or despise, look for someone you dislike and figure out why. Are they egotisitical, self-centered, mettlesome, cold, cruel, or mean? Utilize those universal feelings to build a strong antagonist. But never lose sight of the fact that you’re dealing with humans. Even Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader had strong human characteristics, good and bad.
One universal element that we all can relate to is pain–both physical and mental. Don’t be afraid to dish out the pain when it comes to developing your characters. Its’ okay to put pain in their path because it gives them an opportunity to overcome something and by doing so become stronger or wiser or both. Pain, like any other obstacle, is an opportunity for growth.
The more human you can make your characters, the better chance you’ll have of your readers forming a connection with them. Always consider how you would react, then have your characters act in a similar, logical manner. And throw in a shot of pain once in a while to keep things interesting.-
Today’s post is a list of things that I’ve been too scared to admit.
Confession One: When writing, I constantly ride the roller coaster of self-doubt. When I’m up, I think: that sentence sparkles…it dazzles…it’s pure magic, but in a matter of seconds, I’m at the bottom and I think: the whole ms. is junk…I’ll never get it published…I should just delete the whole thing.
Confession Two: I read a blog post, from an agent I admire, where she wrote that she can’t handle reading novels involving terrorist, and that she knows many other New York agents who feel the same way. I understand. Really I do. But what does that mean for my novel and others?
Confession Three: Yesterday, when I submitted my contest entry, I felt pure abject terror, my hands shook, my heartbeat increased, and my breaths were shallow. I almost talked myself out of it. I’ve realized that putting yourself out there is scary, but putting your loved and cherished manuscript out for the world to read is worse. Far worse.
Confession Four: I’m addicted to writing…don’t want to ever give it up. When I die, they better bury me with a manual typewriter, paper, and lots of liquid eraser (does that still exist?), or at least several packet of pens and lots of notebooks.
What are your fears?
My baby sister is a High School Chemistry teacher and part of her curriculum is that she teaches a Forensic Science course. On Friday, I chaperoned a field trip to the Metro Crime Lab, County Jail, Evidence Storage, and listened to THE District Judge. I could write for hours on the things I learned, but I thought I’d share my favorite. At the crime lab, we saw a 3-D recreation of a crime scene on a laptop. The county received a federal grant and with the money bought a laser that scans crime scenes. Once, the scene is scanned, it transmits it to a computer where it recreates a digital image and with that they can do a variety of things including pasting on top an actual photograph so it looks like you are almost standing at the spot yourself. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I had no idea.
On this trip, I had an epiphany about several things I needed to do to make my book more accurate, more real, which I can’t wait to change. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, that I’m very grateful that I could attend. (She gave it to me as my birthday gift! Thank-you.) And my husband’s step-mom watched the bambinos. I’m thankful for everyone who made this possible for me and if you ever get the opportunity to see any of these places, go, go, go.