31 December 2011

Happy New Year (And Welcome Back Everyone!)


Writing, blogs, writers
Photo Copyright by Tim Green
 Wow, it's amazing...I think blog time is a LOT slower than real time, because even though I've been gone a week, it feels like I've been gone a MONTH.


Every now and then, I like to write a post that sort of centers me, my readers, and my goals for my blog (and even my writing!), and this is a post to bring us all back together and remind us, "Why are we here?" (Okay, not that big cosmic question we all want to know the answer too...but the much smaller question of why, you (and me), are here...on this blog.)

First, I have a huge, kind of cool announcement...I have recently rekindled a relationship with someone...we've been sort of on again, off again for a long time (ten years in fact). And we finally decided to try to make it work.

I've rekindled a relationship with my fantasy novel, "A Light Burns At Midnight" (what were you thinking I was talking about? Hee-hee-hee). Don't know what fantasy novel I'm talking about? Read this post...

I'm actually doing really well with it...I'm already working from Chapter 9, so I don't have to much more to do. But I'm handwriting the book (yes, it's a handwritten novel...don't ask, it's what I like to do with my first drafts), and that makes the writing is a little slow. But, my goal is that by the end of February, my book will be done. And then, by June, I want it edited. It's time I finish it. Even if it's just for me. I don't think I can grow as a writer without finishing it. It's a part of my writing history and I need to finish it.
My second goal? (And that's where you come in, my dear reader)

I want to completely recharge my blog. It's really easy for me to get bored with certain writing topics and then I just end up repeat myself a lot (I do love repeating stories though). And to fix that, here's what I plan on doing...

Monday Posts

I will be asking a question within several writing communities and social networking sites I'm on (my first one will be coming up this Monday, January 2nd) and it will be questions on our habits, behaviors, and lessons we have learned as writers. And you know what? I need your help! Like my Facebook page, follow me on Google Plus or my Twitter account, and keep your eye out for one of my blogging questions. If you answer, not only will I will quote you, but I will provide a link back to your blog (site or book) within my post. Isn't that great?

I'm doing this, because I know that even though writing is an isolated task, learning about writing doesn't have to be...and that's what I hope this new feature to my blog post will do. It's way for us all to learn together (not alone).

Wednesday Posts

As always, I will continue Writer Wednesday Blog Hop! And I really encourage you to do this, the more people who do, the better. We all gain new followers, meet new writers, and you get to promote your writing site. Want to know what a blog hop is? Read about it from my last hop!

Friday Posts

I will now be introducing a "Writer's Toolbox" feature on my Friday posts! There are a ton of resources online for us - some that we need (like resource to help us as we write) and some we don't necessarily need, but they are so much fun to have (like some adorable notebooks and other writing materials I have come across recently).
Basically, I want my blog to be fun and informative for writers everywhere, at all stages in their writing. I will, of course, throw in other posts to inspire and to also talk about what is going on in the writing world (like this one....and this one), but I really want this site to be a place you can find what you are looking for.
And I promise not to get overly obsessed with changing my blog design. I'm dying too. I just haven't settled with a new one yet (and if you know of any really good blog design sites, let me know.)

What are your writing (or blogging!) goals for next year?

20 December 2011

Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

(This is being reposted from last week! The link is still live, though! Link up!)
I'm back again! And I hope everyone is ready for an awesome blog hop!

I feel hopeful that everyone will get new followers...today's the day!

As usual, I have our dancing Santa - whoo! Go Santa!



And make sure you grab a button made by Lacey D. Ferris (check out her blog here)





And here's the rules!

1) Follow your blog host (Me) (if you want to co-host, let me know if the comments! Or remind me that you want to!)
2) Follow at least three other blogs (if you post your link early, make sure you come back and check out the other blogs)
3) Let the person you followed know that you are following their blog

4) (Optional...sort of): Tweet about the blog hop! (Use hashtag #WWBH and #WW when you do!) - Thank you to all of you who have featured this hop on your site!! I really appreciate it!

And all you do is link up below! You can link up your writing site, your blog, your twitter account, or your facebook page. I'm flexible, and I know my other awesome hoppers are too. We're a cool bunch.

So, get a'hoppin!






12 December 2011

How to Avoid Just Basing Characters Off Yourself

So, I actually have something to confess.

I have the tendency to base characters off myself.

I really don't like it. And it isn't like they are entirely based off of me, but really the voice of the character (whether first or third person)...I know who the real voice is...it's mine.

And here's the interesting solution to all of this. Something a bit more...obvious than I care to admit. It came to me after reading over a writing project I had put aside for a very long time. And after reading I read over the last entry I had done, and I realized something about the main character.

My main character, I will admit, was partially based off of my own personality. And maybe in the first chapter or so, this was the case for the most part. Well, the chapter I had stopped at (and I am now continuing on) is now at Chapter 9. Things happen. People change.

Characters change.

Can you believe how long it took me to realize that?

As a writer, I should know that the whole purpose of a book is for something to happen to the character. Right? I mean, something needs to happen to the character...that's what a book is. Stuff happens.

Like my own experiences, after that "stuff" happens, I change. How can you not go through something and not be changed in some way?

When I read this latest chapter, I realized the character had changed. She wasn't me anymore. I wasn't the one telling the story. She was. It was her journey. Not mine. And I couldn't believe it. Because it all comes down to one simple solution. If you base your character off of yourself and you feel like it inhibits you somehow...just remember one thing:

Make something happen to them.

It may be you telling the story for the first few chapters before that something actually happens, but when that something happens? It won't be you telling the story. You're character will change. They have to, because that's life.

Because in reality, change can suck. Change can hurt. Change doesn't always feel good. Change can make wish things were "like they used to be."

Change...



can make you look weird.

Change...



can make you cynical.

Change...



can force you to realize home isn't what it used to be.

Change...



I Have Such Doubts




Doubt

— MOVIECLIPS.com


can cause doubts.

Change...



can cause relationships to fall apart.

Yet, despite all of this, change makes stories great. If it weren't for the painful changes we all face and overcome in life, there wouldn't be any great stories to tell. And if you make your character go through the same amount of change you had to deal with to become who you are, then your character will no longer be a version of you, but an entirely different, individual self.

And like Mark Twain said, "20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Just make sure your characters remember that after you put them through the wringer.

09 December 2011

Happy (Many, Many) Birthdays To You!

This post is sponsored by American Cancer Society
 



I so rarely ever do sponsored posts, but when I believe in the cause, I'm all for it. As writers, we can't help but use the experiences, personalities, people, relationship of the ones around us. I remember I got inspired to write a short story because of a train trip my family and I took from the Bay Area (when we were living there at the time) to Houston, Texas. It was my first three day train ride........ever. Lots of time to think when you're on the train that long.

Anyways...

We were going to Houston to see my mom's best friend from childhood who had cancer for the second time and she was going to be going to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Although prior to this, I have not had the opportunity to meet my mom's best friend, I felt like I already knew her so much. My mom has told me so many funny stories about their experiences together.

The trip, for many reasons, was eye-opening. You learn so quickly how precious life is when you see the people around you face things like this. Today my mom's best friend's cancer is in remission. And for that I am so thankful. But I can't help but realize how much cancer affects the lives around all of us. Not only my mom's best friend has been impacted by cancer, and so has my mom's own father. And so, today, I'm dedicating my posts to the people in my life that have been impacted by cancer. To everyone out there who has been impacted by cancer. To the doctors, nurses, family members, friends, support systems...everyone out there who has been there for someone and has helped them through this awful disease.

So Happy Birthday to all of you. Happy many, many birthdays.

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
~Albert Camus

06 December 2011

Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

I don't know about you, but this week has felt really slow. Maybe it's the cold. Right now it's gray, cloudy, and freezing here in Oregon (literally freezing...it's 32 degrees outside). I know some of you are probably in colder temps...and if you are let me know in the comments to make me feel better! Ha ha...

Anyways...it's that time again.

Time for Writer Wednesday Blog Hop! Yay!! I'm so excited.

As you can see, a few adjustments have been made. I added a new way to add comments (although if it doesn't work, and you can't add comments, if someone could contact me in some way, that would be all kinds of awesome). Also, I have added some new and easy ways to share my blog with your friends! Yay!

And we have Santa back...this time he's waving our Blog Hop in (ha ha...) *waves* Hi Santa!

And also make sure to grab the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop button, too made by Lacey D. Ferris -check out her blog)




And now, let the hopping begin! Here's the rules in case you are new to the hop:

And now for the rules!


1) Follow your blog host (Me) (if you want to co-host, let me know if the comments! Or remind me that you want to!)

2) Follow at least three other blogs (if you post your link early, make sure you come back and check out the other blogs)

3) Let the person you followed know that you are following their blog!

4) (Optional...sort of): Tweet about the blog hop! (Use hashtag #WWBH and #WW when you do!) - Thank you to all of you who have featured this hop on your site!! I really appreciate it!

[Guest Post] Fiction Fears

This guest post has been written by Lara Schiffbauer, who writes contemporary fantasy and general fiction. She has garnered some publishing success, strangely enough, in the genre of horror. By day she works as a school social worker in an elementary school, and at night juggles writing, playing with her two adorable little boys, and doing everything else that has to get done in a day. She'd love to have you visit her blog at motivationforcreation.blogspot.com or to get to know her twitter style at @LASbauer.

The human imagination is amazing. Nigel Thomas, PhD, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and historian of science and psychology wrote a fabulous definition of imagination. It’s a tad medical, but I particularly like the last line. “Imagination is what makes our sensory experience meaningful… It also produces mental imagery, visual and otherwise, which is what makes it possible for us to think outside the confines of our present perceptual reality, to consider memories of the past and possibilities for the future, and to weigh alternatives against one another. Thus, imagination makes possible all our thinking about what is, what has been, and, perhaps most important, what might be.”


Can Berkol @ http://photographyforsoul.com/


It is our imagination that gives meaning to our experience. We need our imagination to re-experience our past, and to decide our personal future. Not only that, but our imagination works the same way when we write. It allows us to call upon our past experiences and weave them into alternate realities also known as stories.

I have a great story idea involving aliens. I don’t really have a specific type of alien in mind, but since the aliens are the bad guys, they probably resemble the “Greys” from Whitley Strieber’s Communion.

I think it’s safe to say I have a phobia of those little guys. I don’t know why, other than when I was six-ish years old, I watched alien shows on the television, and they definitely scared me. For a really long time, I wasn’t able to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind without having an anxiety attack, especially at the scene when the aliens take the little boy. When I was a teenager, an uncle hinted that I may have been abducted some time in my past. I think he was trying to scare me. He succeeded, and I think made my phobia worse.

When I started writing several years ago, I hadn’t seen a whole bunch of stories about aliens in the contemporary world, so I thought I’d give writing an alien short story a try. I figured that since I can now watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind without needing a paper bag to breath into, and even like the aliens at the end of the movie, I’d be fine.

Nope.

I tried twice to write two different short stories. I started with one where the aliens come for a visit, and ended up freaking myself out enough that when my husband went out of town, I pushed a chair against the door so that if anyone (thing!) came in, I could at least hear it coming. I also let the dog sleep in the bedroom with me.

Feeling extremely foolish, I thought that maybe my absurd reaction was because I wrote about the actual aliens. Determined to not give in to fear, I decided to attempt another story about a man who had been abducted, but wouldn’t necessarily write about the aliens. I ended up with nightmares where I was being abducted. Thus ended my attempts at writing about aliens.

The nice thing is that I know I’m not alone. Just last night on twitter, I read a tweet from a woman who was writing on her work in progress that has a demon in it, and when she heard a noise in the dark, got scared and had to check it out.

Most writers have super-active imaginations, which is what makes us great story tellers. It is an amazing gift, but also a potential curse when we delve into those darker emotions and memories. In order to be the best story teller I can be, I will take the bad with the good. And in the interest of my personal mental health, I’ll stay away from writing stories about aliens.

How about you? Have you ever scared yourself with your writing, or drudged up emotions you preferred to leave locked away?
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