Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year, New Ideas

So tomorrow is New Year's Eve in my part of the world (Sunshine State and Lightning Capital of the World, funny right?). Lots of exciting stuff has happened this year, one of the most exciting still hanging over my head with an ominous e-mail of epic doom yet to come. Not telling what exactly that is until it happens, though, so let's hope it's soon! I've also been thinking that since starting this little blog, I've actually enjoyed using it. It's one of the few new things I've started that's actually stuck. And I've found some really good places and even better writing advice through it (here's looking at Nathan Bransford, My Inner Fairy, My Writing Masquerade, So close, but..., Damsel in a Dirty Dress, Pimp My Novel, You're Write. Except When You're Rong., and above all Writer Beware!).

Just to mix things up, I decided to add some new features to the blog. Since I don't have nearly as many classes next semester, I'll actually have more time to accomplish them too! The first is, in my quest to read more, I decided to review a book every other week. So every other Friday/Saturday I will have a book read and a review written up about it. So, any suggestions would be appreciated! My interests lie in anything medieval, historic, fantasy, and with a strong romance. Expect to see those predominantly. I am willing to branch out with a good recommendation, however.

The second feature I'm thinking about will be in an endeavor to sustain my sign language skills. By now, I'll be expected to interpret various things for school. Anything from medical appointments to every day conversation. So, has anyone ever been curious about how to say something in American Sign Language? I'm not talking single vocabulary, I'm talking entire sentences with grammar and everything. I'm in no way an expert (I'm not Deaf), but this is what I'm going to school for, and I know people I can consult to make sure the interpretation is valid. So, if anyone has a chunk of text they want translated into ASL, please post it in the comment section of this post or send it in to cheesysigning @ . The weeks I'm not doing the book reviews, I'll post up a video of your interpretation on the same day for your education and enjoyment. :)

So, if either of these interests you, please leave a comment or send in an email. I look forward to hearing from you and wish all of you a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ardent About Angst

On a first note, Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays, all that jazz. The gifts are mailed from Amazon with expidited shipping (costing a bundle by the way, the price of procrastination), now last minute wrapping must commense! Thanks for all the comments on my little dancing tale, I'll be sure to post at least one picture of my gussied up self when I can figure out how to get them on here. I lack a camera, just a cell phone and a webcam, and the cord to one is lost while the other has horrid quality. But before I get to that, I am happy to report I was able to write 1000 words, the longest session throughout this season I've done yet. And the driving force behind this spur of the moment inspiration? Character angst!

I've noticed in the past, that a lot of enjoyment in my writing comes from the really emotional scenes my characters are going through. It's when the description is most enjoyable, when they're at their most fascinating. Strong happy emotions are fine and dandy, but the juices flow best when there's a big conflict that makes the tear jerking rage really show. I do a consistent first person point of view usually, too, so it's all the more vivid. Those section are the most fun to read back no matter how many times I go over them.

My only conclusion to this seems to be that I delight in character torture. As a reader, that's the thing that keeps the pages turning for me, that hope for a resolution to those hard feelings. I'm the type who craves a happy ending after some really hard conflicts, or at least a meaningful tragic ending. Logic dictates that if I want to write what I like to read, my characters are going to see a lot of hell before they see any happy. A writing book I actually read called Thanks, But This Isn't For Us by Jessica Page Morrell had a chapter all about building suspense, page turning experience, etc. and the core rule of it was to just say no to your characters. That was the key of the entire thing. I equate that with character torture, and I've got to say, sometimes it is delightful.

What's your take on this? Do you like torturing your characters, telling them no constantly? Do you like that as a reader? Is there such a thing as too much angst for a character? I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Girly...

The holidays are upon us! For my family, it's Christmas in particular. Christmas, for me, and the entire month of December, means no homework, plenty of family, and lavishing my attention on friends! This past Wednesday, I had the most glamorous experience I have had since my dad's wedding. I got all decked out in a new black flapper dress with leggings and character shoes. I spent half-and-hour on a really high ponytail that made my scalp ache, gussied up my face until I finally decided on about a pound of purple eye-liner (left my good makeup at school), and I plucked my eyebrows for the first time in my life. It didn't hurt nearly as much as I thought and they turned out great! Don't worry males, the neutral part is coming up, I promise.

So, after all this, it was out to dancing! Swing dancing to be exact. It's an amazing form of ballroom that usually goes with music from the 40s-50s era, but it can go with any kind of 4/4 count music. The crowd is older than me, I'll admit, but man can some of those guys dance. And there's no romantic pressure whatsoever, I highly recommend looking up a local club for it. But, moving on. Me and three of my closest friends had a lot of fun, met a lot of cool people from around the area, and went through near five whole gallons of water between the four of us. After that, well we were hungry, believe it or not. So we walk out of the swing club and wander around a bit with the 40 degree weather (it's Florida, that's really cold), and low and behold we come across this really fancy, hole in the wall, gourmet French restaurant, right as it was closing! Turns out, the owner of the place was the only guy there and he was our waiter. We were the only people in the place, so not only was our service quick, we also got spoiled and free coupons on the meal! Since the bill was split four ways, we really got a bargain on such wonderful food. Even the glazed cabbage was delicious!

So, that amazing experience was probably the best thing that's happened to me during this Winter Break. My writing progress has been...lackluster. Too much going on, too many things making me blocked. That's no excuse, of course. I've gotten 700 words in one session, that's my record so far this month. I'm hoping for more successful sessions in the coming days now that I've gotten all my Christmas shopping done. For now, I hope you enjoyed the light hearted post and you're having some great experiences of your own this joyful season! Feel free to share in the comments. I've love to hear about them. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Limits of "Looked"

I've taken time today to start editing my Nanowrimo from last year, the sequel to Faerie Games, and I noticed there's one word that keeps popping up in my first person style. "Looked" has become the bane of my existence within the first chapter. That's a word with a lot of synonyms, too, but not all of them are appropriate. There's stared, glanced, gazed, peered, beheld, gawked, gaped, perused, examined, all kinds! And yet, I keep writing this one word, over and over again. It's useful to use a ton of synonyms for Finn, he's all old fashioned and fancy. Melissa is a modern girl with a gritty attitude, though and that kind of diction doesn't have that many variations of the word "looked" at its disposal.

This is going to be a very long book at this rate...close to 110,000 words so far. I have to whittle out all these little instances of look to make sure it doesn't get too repetitive, or is this word like "said" in that it just gets looked over? And there it is again! Then again, there are a lot of little words that get repeated a lot in the first draft. Grins, smiles, those are popular expressions for someone to give. There are just so many of these words that are so common! There can't be synonyms for all of them that are appropriate in every little circumstance.

Edits are frustrating no matter what stage of the process, or whatever the issue. This is, by far, my least favorite stage, perfecting the language till it shines. I would much rather change things like plot, characters: revisions! But edits are necessary and going through the manuscript with many fine-toothed combs makes it all sparkly, right? I'll make that sacrifice to get my writing top-notch.

That doesn't mean I have to enjoy doing it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Exciting Experiments!

Exams are upon me as are the last days of the semester! I couldn't be more thrilled. Finally I can get back to isolating myself with no looming concerns and write like crazy. I'm looking forward to winter break so much it's not even funny.

So, while Korean Pop music is blaring in my ears (it's what's inspiring me right now, I'm not questioning Brigid), I am presently working on a new project. And for those of you who read about the blog a book idea I ran across last week, you know I have decided to try this for fiction. I'll give you three chances to guess what those two have in common, and the first one doesn't count. That's right, I'm going to blog this new project as I progress on it.

The way I'm going to make it work is set up a different blog dedicated exclusively to this project, do a brief intro post to explain the premise, then post an entry every 500-700 words until the entire rough draft is posted. The theory is, by making a blog dedicated to this book and making it a read as I write it kind of thing, it should garner a readership by the time I'm ready to start querying, and thus better promote a writing routine for myself with that motivation. I hope the experiment will pay off and feel free to use this format or make your own improvements if you feel like trying it out.

The project is an urban fantasy where faeries are running loose right under the nose of modern America, and people are dying because of it. That's why the Fianna were made: groups of faerie attack survivors whose job is to hunt these creatures and stop them from striking again. Lucy Harper and her mother, Helen, sought asylum with the Fianna, and now fight these things under the leadership of Yoel Schwartz and his daughter Kaida. Unfortunately, when members of Yoel's group turn up dead, there is reason to think that something is hunting down the Harper family on in addition to the faerie that drove them to the Fianna in the first place. Now Lucy and Helen must find a way to catch both faeries chasing them down before they and their entire new home become the fae's newest victims.

If you're in any way interested, check it out! And if you still like it after that, tell your friends!