Friday, September 25, 2009

Steampunk! Industrial punk! Punk Everywhere!

"Punk" is an amazing word, isn't it?

It's kind of this cute way of saying, "Anything goes!" So you just stick "punk" onto the end of it. Like "biopunk". Hadn't heard the term before, but I'm as familiar with the genre as I'm sure you are... Bioengineering-type stuff.

I love steampunk. -_-

I'm very into post-apocalypse books and movies, but there aren't enough of them out there (hint hint!). But there's a ton of steampunk books... And a TON of steampunk COSTUMES. Don't believe me? Do a quick search for "steampunk clothes" and see what you find.

Tell me you wouldn't want to run around in THAT!

Okay, well, I totally do, and there's a convention near my dear home town next month: I just found it accidentally last night, and I couldn't be happier. The only tough part is figuring out what to wear without breaking the bank... I don't even buy work clothes (which, of course, results in me never having anything to wear... the bane of every woman's existence!).

Anyway, so I'm totally thinking that my next pieces are going to be in this steampunk cyber-realm. It's a hungry audience, and I would love to be skilled enough to meet that need. But therein lies another problem... What am I going to do about the ACTUAL science I know nothing about?

Hmm... It's a good thing this alternate history/reality allows a bit of magic, huh? ;)

I'll be out for the next couple of days, I think, depending on how the surgery goes, so wish me luck!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Experiences, New Writing!

I'm having surgery in two days.

The blocked tear duct means eye surgery. Which, you know, is lame. I don't want eye surgery... They can guarantee it won't scar all they want, but all that needs to happen is for me to cough in the middle of the operation and him to slip with the scalpel in my eye.

Then it's Bye-Bye Eye, starring Vivian Aubin du Paris.


I am trying to focus on the positives, you know? I've never had surgery before, so I'm trying to keep note about all of the things I couldn't know without having had surgery. Like what it's going to be like when they put the mask on me to put me out. Or what it's like to wake up and feel totally disoriented--if that's how you feel. I would say that you should expect to see a few more hospital/surgery scenes from me in the future.

Also, there is a writing competition I'm considering entering... I'm not sure if I'm going to, but if I do, I'll definitely post about it here. Anyone wanna beta read something for me if I do decide to enter...?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mommy, Where Do Ideas Come From? The Book Store, My Husband's Birthday, and a Wedding!

Mommy, Where Do Ideas Come From?

How many times have you been stumped for an idea?

Well if you're keeping a writing journal like I told you to (look back a few posts, you'll find it!), then this shouldn't be a problem. But maybe you're thinking, "Okay, Viv, babe, I've got my writing journal. Now where do the IDEAS come from? 'cause I've really just got a lot of blank pages."

Well, I can't tell you exactly. But, what I CAN tell you is where MY ideas come from. Sometimes they come from dreams (ala "Running Away" on my site). Sometimes they come from a real life experience (like when my friend told me that his girlfriend went to a race with another friend while he was racing home from hanging out with his friends to be with her... ouch...). And sometimes they come from good old-fashioned movies and TV.

But Viv, you say, you can't steal someone else's idea! That's plagerism!

Well, I don't disagree. I'm not telling you to steal the idea. I'm telling you to take the idea and make it your own. Everyone says that, but it's confusing, huh? Never fear--I have examples.

Take, for example, the movie "Doubting Thomas" (which I thoroughly enjoyed, because I am in love with Annasophia Robb). The movie is about a boy--Thomas--who loves to spin extremely tall tales. And by tall tales, I do mean complete and total lies. And then, as cliche as it gets, he finds out that the president daughter is going to be kidnapped, so he tells the truth, and no one believes him. (And if you can hear that plot and think no one in Hollywood steals plots, you're crazy.) But, in an interesting twist, there is an undercover CIA agent at the school, who the boy thinks is one of the kidnappers.

You may be wondering why I'm telling you about this children's movie. Well, number one, Rider Strong is the undercover CIA agent, and he's hot. Number two, Annasophia Robb (that's enough of a reason). Number three, I started thinking... "Wouldn't an undercover CIA agent be cool?" And, since I'm a YA writer, "He'd have to be guarding a girl just a few years younger than her... And her life would have to be in danger."

And, suddenly, there was my idea. The hot Rider Strong inspired a story in my idea journal about an undercover CIA agent whose mission is to protect a teenage girl--not fall in love with her. (Harlequinn Teen, I'm coming for you!)

I have other examples. I think I wrote down twelve in the span of ten minutes. I'll share them later, mostly because this post is getting REALLY long and I have more to talk about. I'm so long-winded!

The Book Store

On Saturday I was mailing a package to Anna over at Booknerds. In it was a copy of my book and a press kit, and I had the whole thing all put together before I went over there, addressed and in an envelope, so I was pretty happy. I'm never that on-the-ball.

Right by the mail place is this used bookstore that I've always thought would be a great place to stick my book. Not for consignment, mind you, though that would be pretty sweet. I just thought it would be great to have my book in a bookstore, and I could monitor its progress, and if it moved off the shelves, I would be happy and know that I could push something out of a bookstore.

As soon as I walked in, the woman behind the counter greeted me and asked if I had ever been in there before. I told her no, so she gave me a three-minute talk on the store, and how it's all laid out, even though I could clearly see the labels above the shelves. I listened patiently, sensing immediately that in this damaged economy that she had taken a hit. (I admit... Walking into that bookstore, knowing everything was going to be ridiculously cheap... it was going to be hard not to purchase something. But I held my ground.) When she was done, I explained that I was an author, and before I got much further than that, she started shaking her head.

"I don't do that," she told me, firmly, albeit slightly apologetically. "I don't put self-published authors in my store. It doesn't work. It's too much work for me to keep track."

"I don't want anything--" I tried to object quickly, trying to explain that I was willing to just give her a couple of books.

"I understand that," she interrupted firmly, then went on about a friend of hers who is self-published and whose book she's selling out of a favor to a dear, dear friend, who's trying to earn money for a library in his daughter's dedication. I just sat there, stunned. "Have I heard of you?" she asked, then.

I smiled weakly. "Probably not," I assured her. "Anything I've done has been online."

"Mmm. Because I was going to say, you're no xxxxxxxx."

I stared blankly at her.

"xxxxxxxx," she repeated. "She lives in this area. Writes xxxxxxxxxxxx. Really good books. You should check them out. They're so good." She leaned forward and looked me right in the eye. "They. Have. No. Resell. I don't get any copies of them. People won't part with them. You should read them."

By that point, I'd very much had enough of being insulted, no matter how subtly she thought it was. I understand I wasn't dressed like someone who was trying to get my book into a bookstore--I was, afterall, wearing jeans, my hair wasn't done, and I was wearing a Disneyland t-shirt--but I certainly didn't deserve to be insulted to my face over my dream and my life's work.

I thanked her politely for her time, and she faintly wished me luck, and I bolted from that store, hurt and angry.

But I'll show her. Somehow. I'm not quite sure how, but I will.

My Husband's Birthday

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. :) It was fantastic! We literally laid in bed all day long, except to get up to make food. We watched seven movies, in a row, I got a zillion ideas, and it was all-in-all an amazing day. Perhaps one of the best days ever. He kept thanking me for a great day. Maybe I should be thanking him (even though I was the one who had to cook...).

A Wedding



I have ALWAYS wanted to be a maid of honor. ALWAYS. They get to do all the fun stuff! They get to throw the Bachelorette party, the bridal shower, gather up the ribbons from the bridal shower to use as a bouquet during rehearsal, keep the bride sane during crunch time... I didn't have a bachelorette party (at request), or a bridal shower (at request), and I didn't go crazy during my wedding--just kind of went with the flow until the morning of. (Oh, except the one time my dad said he wanted me to bring my bouquet from a flower store instead of getting one made at the hotel we were getting married at... I sobbed for three hours, but in my defense, I told him all I ever wanted in getting married was a lot of pretty flowers everywhere.) The morning of was pretty bad, but that's a COMPLETELY different story and off-topic anyway.

So, one of my best friends, the same one I was with when we both met our soon-to-be and current- husbands while they were together at the Penny Arcade Expo, asked me to be her maid of honor. I'm ecstatic, I'm honored, I'm delighted, I'm giddy. I'm all of those super-happy emotions. The guy she is marrying is one of my husband's best friends, and has been for like, seven years, and he's an amazing guy who just loves her to pieces. I am so happy they're getting married. It's a wonderful, WONDERFUL thing.

That's all for now. (That's plenty, I know!) Until next time! <3

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Short Story! Based on a Dream...

When I woke up this morning, I refused to let my husband talk to me until I had finished typing up this story. It was written in the span of about fifteen minutes, embellished from a dream I had, so forgive me if there's some weirdness... There was even more weirdness in the dream, but this is the part I wanted to write about!

If you love someone, and they love someone else, do you love them enough to stay and watch them be happy with that person, even if it breaks your heart?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Editing is Hard

After five hours off-and-on of editing my latest piece (more like three in total), I'm on, drumroll please...

Page five.

I'm editing page five.


This is edit one.


Who vs. That vs. Which

In the sentence:

He was completely different from his older brother Trevor, the senior, straight-A quarterback football player who everyone loved… Including her.

Which would you use for the word in bold?

Check this article for the correct answer:

Yes, this is how I spend my time editing. ...and completely re-writing my character's back story. But I prefer to think of it as "flushing it out"...

Review! and, To Procrastinate, or To... Well, Not?

((Miss Anna at, you may not read this until you have completed the book and the book review because I don't want to make you biased!))

So here's how it happened!

I was on Twitter and randomly clicked on one of the people I follow. Found someone she had been replying to on her page and clicked on that person's page. Found out she reviews YA books, but didn't have a zillion followers, which is, frankly, intimidating, and people don't really seem to respond when they follow a million people and they have a million people following them. It's kind of sad. Anyway. So then I clicked on her site, cautiously optimistic, and lo and behold...

Total awesomeness!!!

Seriously, how cool does Anna sound??? I had this grand plan of copying pieces of her review policy over here to show how cool she is, but I couldn't actually pick out any random pieces of awesomeness. So you just have to read it for yourself:

Now go follow her blog. Go on. Shoo.

Anyway, so I contacted her and asked if she'd be interested in reading my book, and she e-mailed me back super fast and was as nice and sweet as she sounds on her website and said she would love to read my book. So, YAY!!!! I immediately shipped my husband out to the store to get the missing pieces for my press kits so I could ship the book and the PK out to her tomorrow.

And ship out Fuzzy's. Gotta ship out Fuzzy's. And of course the PK for Miss Joni. (Hi Joni!)

And in the meantime, I'm going to ponder editing my latest piece, or just letting it sit a little longer.

Letting it sit pros: I get to slack off and read manga, and I'll have a fresher eye when I come back!
Letting it sit cons: Potential to lose the momentum... And letting other characters seep into my work. -_-

Any thoughts or advice on this latest dilemma? I'll report back when I come to a conclusion!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unchanging Characters

I've noticed a pattern in my writing.

My characters don't really... change.

I tend to make my girls stronger as the story progresses (if they start out weak), and everyone generally kinder than when they started out, but for the most part, my characters basically stay the exact same.

Is that bad writing? Bad characterization? Or something else?

Well, call me biased, but I tend to think of it as "something else." I'll explain, before you start thinking I'm all full of myself or something. ('cause I'm not. Really. Or am I...? No, I'm really not.)

I tend to think of myself as a pretty strong person. Not physically strong--I scream at the sight of spiders and I whine at the first inkling of manual labor--but mentally strong. I don't let other people (besides my family and my work) tell me what to do. I'm pretty confident in who I am, what I want, and if someone that I'm friends with wants to do something I don't, I don't necessarily go with them unless they can't find anyone else. I'm not someone who tends to do things because I'm "supposed" to... Not really 'cause I'm a bitch (I hope!!!) but because I don't like to spend my time doing things I don't like doing. Nothing crazy about that, right?

How does this tie into my characterizations? Well, because I tend to be pretty happy with the way I am, and know what I like and what I don't, I tend to create characters that are the same way--flaws and all. Sure, they change a bit over time, but for the most part, they're pretty set in their ways, and the trick is to find the right person to match them with, not to change them. I think people SHOULD be happy with who they are and be comfortable with themselves, so my characters tend to be that way. (Except my latest, Annabelle. She's not exactly happy about who she is. But that's a different story.) Is that bad? I try to make them grow up a bit, you know, to stand up for themselves and become stronger people, but for the most part, they stay the same.

And I discovered, as I was talking aloud about this with my husband upon my realization, that I was pretty happy with this.

Stubborn streak? Maybe... But I'm happy with it! <3 Just like you should be happy with yours. ;)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Print Your Blog

Awesome. So much awesomeness that I can't even express it.

First Drafts, Character Sketches, and Why You Should Never Read While Writing

So now that the first draft of my latest piece is done, I find myself reflecting on the story and the characters. Sometimes when I think about them I get glowy-glowy happy. Other times, I hate them. -_- Yes, I'm an emotional person (I think it keeps me interesting!), but it really has to do with me vascillating between scenes and the motivations that drive my characters.

I'll explain.

I'm a character-based writer. I absolutely write characters who tell stories... I don't tell stories that have characters in them. I am always more interested in characters and how the plot affects my characters rather than how the characters effect the plot. But, it should be noted that when I start writing, I don't define my characters. At all. I don't say, "This character is this type of person, and this is what they like and don't like, this is what motivates them." I just start writing and let the characters unfold in front of me.

This can cause problems.

For example, in starting to re-read my latest story last night, I noticed that I had started the main character (her name is Annabelle, btw) as being friends with Trevor and hanging out at his house. She was talking to Will (our hero of the story) at the time, so it made sense. But then, because Trevor was the love interest keeping Annabelle and Will apart, I had to make it so that Annabelle loved Trevor from afar... And suddenly Annabelle had never hung out with Trevor outside of a group.

You may be thinking, "Well, that's just inconsistency that can be cleaned up in editing." You may be right. But it's those little minute details that if I had predetermined prior to writing would have made the whole story more consistent and reduced editing time.

On the flip side, I think it would have made the whole thing a HELL of a lot more boring. Why write something when you know exactly what's going to happen?

When I was seventeen or so, those e-mails "About Me!" were popular. They were about a zillion questions that you answered and then e-mailed back out to your friends, who filled in their answers and e-mailed back to you. Once, after reading a book on writing that suggested creating character sketches, I decided I would fill out one of these for some characters I was working on.

I never did anything with them again, and actually, when I finished, I decided that I loathed them. I think I still have those saved docs somewhere.

And it's strange... When I first started writing, I HAAAAAAATED going back through and cleaning up my drafts. I mean, I hated it with a PASSION. I couldn't STAND editing my work. It was too hard for me to even change a sentence of something that I had created. (Even now, when I edit, I save each edit as a different version. I don't like to part with things. I'm kind of a pack rat.) I think at the time I was afraid that I would lose something valuable that had come out of me the first-go around.

Now that I'm older, and having edited hundreds (possibly thousands) of pages of my work, I'm proud of editing. To my surprise, I discovered today that I was actually looking forward to going back and revisiting scenes. Now that I know the end for the characters and the direction they go off in, and their motivations and likes and dislikes, suddenly it seems that much more fun to go back in and put in little hints here and there about what's to come for them in the future. I WANT to draw it out and enjoy the chase.

Weird, huh?

Here's what I DON'T want:

I was reading this fantastic manga called "Parfait Tic" while I was still writing, during my occasional breaks. As I fell more and more in love with the character Ichi, I thought, "Geez... Wouldn't Will be super awesome if he were more like this?" And, "Wow, that's a cool idea... I should put something like this in!"


That's a problem. That's a big, big problem.

When you start to look at other character types, and let those influence your works in progress and your characters, you destroy the honesty you have in your characters. You can't suddenly change your character mid-story because you liked a new character type better... You either have to start over from scratch (and therefore recreate the interactions the character has with others), or start a new story with the new character type (which can derail your current work-in-progress, leaving it forever a WIP).

And, let's say you're writing a story about... I don't know... Zombies. But you start reading a love story where they go on a picnic in the park and you think, "I'll put a picnic in the park in there!" ... Consistency, how we miss thee. Of course, that's an extreme, but you get what I'm saying, right?

So if you're easily influenced by other writing (and I am, I'll admit it, I totally am) then you should never pick up another piece of literature while you're writing your own stories. You'll regret it.

So there's my advice, thoughts, and rants to all of you out there in writer-land! <3

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Story draft one: COMPLETE

Final stats--

Pages: 70
Words: 41,338

Yes, yes, I know. It's too short. But that's okay. Lots of places to go in and fill-in parts I skipped or glossed over.

I'm a little wary that I wrote it all in a matter of a few days, though... Guess I had it building in me for a few months! I kind of do that, though... Don't write for a while, then suddenly bust out something big. So I'll take it! <3

E-Books; Writing: Status, Story Flow, Editing, Chapter-a-Day

Maybe it's time to consider adding "Kindle" to my book format availability...

I've been considering publishing to Kindle for a while (see my LiveJournal for that post). And I've been toying with the idea of a Kindle myself because I'm all about the instant gratification... But on the other hand, there's just nothing quite like holding a book in your hands and turning the pages--literally.

We'll see!

Current writing status update:

Pages: 68
Words: 40,555
Status: In-progress. =)

I discovered last night, as I was writing basically the climax/end of my book, that I was thousands of pages short. But the way I write, I think, might be a little unusual.

For one, when I write, I tend to skip to the good parts. (I believe I've mentioned this before.) This makes my writing very short. But I also leave areas where I can go back and "fill in" scenes that have been omitted. I think that this makes me continue the story and not get so bored that I abandon it. It also, however, makes it so that I can never publish anything on the fly without going back through to fix it. Which is good, but not conducive if I ever want to publish a chapter-a-week online reading type of thing. Unless I've already written the whole thing. Gone over it with a fine tooth comb. But then I'd want to publish it in a book.

That's another thing...

I would really, really love to publish a chapter-a-week to try and intrigue some new readers. I think it's a fantastic idea. But if I do that, then I can't really publish the book. Then again, I'm not publishing the book now anyway. (This is my mental process, by the way.) So no one is reading it in the first place. But what if by some miracle someone reads it, loves it, and wants to see something else by me, but they hate the something else?

So then I think, "Well why don't I just put online some of my older things... Some of the things that are too short to be novels?"

And then I say to myself, "Because. I didn't go back through and polish them up because they're not my finest work, and that doesn't represent me as well as I'd like,"

(Do you see the viscous cycle here?)

So then I think, "Let's go ahead and polish up one of the older ones, then!"

And then I'm like, "But I don't like them as much as others."

But then I counter, "So fix it."

And then I say, "I don't really want to..."

And then comes, "So put up one you DO like."

And then I think, "But then I can't publish it."

... This is my MIND, people!

Struggling to get readers is hard, you know?

But that's really what it's all about... readers. I want people to read what I write. I'd love to make money at it so I could write full-time and support myself as comfortably as I do with my current job. But in order to that I have to sell books. In order to sell books I need readers. In order to get readers...

Well, that's where it stops. I don't know how to get readers! But publishing online for free is really starting to look good.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Latest (currently untitled) writing piece update!

Pages: 58
Words: 34,673
Status: Writer's block


Life in the Publishing Biz

Look what I found on Twitter about being an editor...

All I can say is... Wow. I will never, ever make it as an editor. And it kind of makes you think you'll never make it as a writer, either! Maybe I'll just start publishing my stuff online for free. At least people might read it.

And the guy that wrote this is amazing. I just want to talk to him. How elegant and beautiful is his prose?!

LJ Smith and Charlaine Harris (repost from LJ)

Reposting this from my Live Journal...

If you asked me who was the most influential writer to me that shaped my style of writing, without a doubt, every time I would hold up an LJ Smith novel and tell you, "Her, and you should read all of her books." I, in fact, own almost all of them. There is no other author I could say takes up as much space as her books do on my bookshelf. When I was a young teen, I would bury myself in her books, getting lost in the sweet romance and the stories that my young mind could comprehend but still felt it was expanding by reading. I felt smarter after an LJ Smith book--felt like I walked away knowing something I hadn't known before. She has always been a hero of mine.

Until last night.

I don't know if any of you decided to watch the Vampire Diaries, which is a new series on the WB written by Kevin Williamson (of the Dawson's Creek fame!) based on the series of the same name by LJ Smith. I grew up on these novels. I cherished them. They're the only books on my bookshelf that are almost destroyed from me reading them so much.

At 8:00 P.M. on the dot, my husband and I switched over to the WB to watch the show. I was almost giddy with excitement. I could hardly contain it. I think I even squealed... A sound that promptly died as soon as the main character, Elena, appeared on the TV.

Number one, she is an actress that played on Degrassi: The Next Generation, as a girl named Mia, who I hated. Not just the character, but the actress was pretty irritating, too, in all of her mannerisms and way of talking through her cheeks.

Number two--she's a brunette. With dark eyes.

Elena, the character this actress is portraying, in the books was describled as blond haired and blue eyed. In fact, that was a pretty big deal in the books. And don't get me started on Bonnie, who was a short red-head in the books. But my main question as I watched the pilot... "Where the hell is Meredith?!" (Who was my favorite character, because Elena was pretty much a bitch in the books, but she was supposed to be like that.)

I paused the show 15 minutes in and stared at the TV, trying my damndest not to cry. My husband looked over at me and stared, anticipation and concern marring his features. I could barely breathe. And then I ranted.

"She let them destroy her books!" I all-but shouted. "She let them bastardize her characters--her CREATIONS. They DESTROYED them. This has nothing to do with the characters! They took the name and the vague storyline and changed everything else! How could LJ Smith let them get away with this?!"

I can't tell you how devastated I was to see how badly one of my main writing heroes had sold out. After making my husband SWEAR to never, ever let me sell out to the same degree, I went and started searching on the internet about the show.

Then I found this post by LJ Smith on her website (

September 10: The Vampire Diaries TV Show on the CW at 8 Pacific and Eastern, 7 Central!

May I make a plea for everybody to try to be patient (especially with the pilot episode)? The Twilight Zone feeling rapidly diminishes after that. Ian Somerhalder is being recognized as a superior villain; and I feel sure that under those brown curls Elena's scheming mind is simply waiting for an opportunity to emerge. Really, guys, the series people have been nice to me lately and I get to hear about (and I hope get, to give to you) freebie things like posters and "sunscream" and "Fang" dental floss, all part--along with a blood drive ("Starve a Vampire: Donate Blood!) in New York. Even Brazil is all het up about the books and the show. I've waited this long to speak out, and my verdict is: give it a chance.

Slowly I started to calm down, as my husband told me that the post seemed to indicate that she wasn't super thrilled with what they did to her characters/story, either. She is, afterall, just the author of the books. When you sign over rights to someone, they can pretty much bastardize it as much as they want.

Am I still angry? You betcha. Am I still disillusioned? Yeah, sadly. Do I still think LJ Smith, being the famous and fantastic author that she is, should have been more involved in the evolution of her art? You're damn right I do. Will I ever feel the same way about this author again? If I had started reading her when I was older, and hadn't put her on such a pedestal when I was a child, probably. But the kid in me feels beyond horribly betrayed.

Now. Please allow me, if you will, to argue the other side.

My husband and I are huge fans of True Blood on HBO. HUUUUUUGE fans. We eagerly await each Sunday to see the show's progress as it just gets better and better. True Blood, as you may or may not know, is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. As I started to get more and more intrigued by the show, I went out and bought all of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, mostly to find out what happened in the series. (Yes, I am one of those people that thrives on "spoilers" and will still continue to watch the show.)

The books are really good. I'm not going to say they're my favorite ever, as they're full (and I do mean FULL) of filler stuff that feels like it was put in just to make the books longer. But her writing, though at times irritating, is also pretty enjoyable. I was pleased as punch with my purchase, and in 2 nights I ended up reading all nine of the books. Before you get all impressed, I'll admit there were parts I skimmed because it was just boring as hell and didn't push the story along at all.

What did I discover when I was done reading?

The characters in the novels are NOTHING like the characters in the book. Okay, they're something like them. But not a lot. I could do a side-by-side comparison chart of the books vs. show characters, but I won't. 'cause that sounds boring. Also, I'm sure someone else has already done it.

Does liking the books (albeit not as much as the series) mean that I'm angry that they changed the characters so much? No. Not even a little bit. Why? Because the characters on the show are exciting. They're fun. We love them and the issues they face. So why would I be so angry about The Vampire Diaries? Is it because I grew up with the Vampire Diaries and it didn't match what was in my head? Is it because I watched True Blood before reading the books? Is it because I like True Blood better than the books? Is it because it's different-but-the same enough to keep both good?

I don't actually know the answer. I just know that I'm generally one of the people who can appreciate books AND the movies that they're based on equally. I'm pretty good at separating the two. So it must just be because I grew up with The Vampire Diaries and I can't get over the betrayal. Because I can't help but look at LJ Smith and think, "You KNOW what kind of writer Kevin Williamson is. Yes, he's brilliant in thousands of ways and I personally love him to death. But marrying TVD and Kevin Williamson is not a good idea. The two can't mesh."

Whereas True Blood went to Charlaine Harris and said, "Hey. We've got a show idea for your books. Here's what we want to do." And I can't help but also believe that Charlaine Harris cocked an eyebrow at them and said, "Let's talk when you get it closer to my characters."

So, that's my post. Tomorrow look for a post on this awesome, amazing book I picked up called "Writing Shojo Manga." (Which doesn't actually have to have anything to do with manga.)

Until then!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Writing and the Zen of Research

Whoo!! Up to 30k words and still going! Such a rush, I tell you.

But in my momentary break from writing (which I've been doing since I woke up at 9:00 this morning, mind you) I wanted to talk for a bit about research.

As I discussed in my last post, for research I attempted this "Purple Party Pill" that I bought in some store that made me violently ill. (I'm pleased to say that the effects wore off after a few hours and I felt fine, but I couldn't sleep until 2:30 this morning.)

Well, last night, while I was temporarily stuck in my writing, I thought about my writing issues. I am horrible with filler, in case I haven't mentioned this before, so I decided that I needed to figure out how people talk. Break it down by conversation. What transitions their conversations? How do people get started talking when they see each other each day?

Where, I wondered, could I figure this out, besides trying to find a coffee shop or diner and easedrop on people? (Which I still might do, the jury is still out.)

Then it hit me. CHAT ROOM. I downloaded Yahoo messenger (I'm an MSN girl, myself) and started searching through chat room, after chat room, after chat room, looking for conversations. I won't tell you how many sexual advances were made toward me, but let's just say--chatting, not safe for kids anymore. (My response to each of those, btw, was "Married. Doing research for a novel. Not looking to talk." That tended to shut almost everyone up.)

I gleaned a few useful things from said foray into the dregs of society (and trust me, it really was the dregs). Most importantly when I disected a conversation that a girl who was running the room was having with two other guys. She didn't really know anything about the show they were discussing, so in an effort to rejoin the conversation, she compared it to a show she DID know, and spiraled off a conversation on that. It was interesting, but not as helpful as I had hoped.

Secondly. I am a complete and utter home body. I don't go out unless I absolutely have to, and even then, I'll try to send my husband in my stead. I only leave my home to go to work, or if I somehow get a WHOLE LOT OF ADRENALINE in me. I have always been this way, since I was a child.

This brings up several issues, but the most important one is that because of my unwillingness to go anywhere, I've never really experienced anything.

This is, of course, a problem because unless you know how to do something, you can't very well write it!

For example, this morning I spent an hour and a half trying to figure out how to start an ATV. I wanted to be able to describe, in detail, how to start and drive the thing, but I've never actually been on one. I don't even know if I've seen one in person. I searched and searched on the internet, but that can really only offer so much. So then I tried to find the closest ATV rental location. I didn't actually want to ride it, I just wanted someone to explain to me HOW to ride it. Then I found a store to buy one at, so I thought, "Okay. I'll just go there and tell them I'm doing research and not interested in buying." But even that thought was dreadful. You know those car salesmen...

And, ah ha! I thought. LIBRARY. The library has information on everything! I'll just go there and get a book on ATVs. And boating. And...

Again, my lack of desire to go out came back to bite me in the bum. And what? What else would my main characters do? I don't do anything, so how can they?

So then I researched my city's newspaper community section, and scoured for activities and events going on. There were a few ideas there, but nothing I could really use. I thought of a friend of mine, who had mentioned that he and a friend of his had gone berry picking and made jam. Now, to me, that sounds miserable. But that was just the kind of thing I needed to be able to think of for my characters.

The lesson for today? Writing what you know is a hell of a lot easier than writing what you don't know. And if you don't do anything, you should probably stick to fantasy novels, where you can just make everything up. (That's my future plan, anyway.)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Purple Party Pill

As a writer, when I'm faced with something that I can't possibly understand, such as drugs, I have a hard time writing it. I think the best writing comes from a basis of understanding, and having never taken drugs myself, I couldn't effectively write a party scene where my main character was dosed.

So my husband and I were in a store, and we saw this item called, "Purple Party Pill." Curious, we bought one, and approximately two hours ago I took it. Please note, I considered this LONG AND HARD before I took it, and in fact, did research on the internet about its effects. I figured that this was a great time to take it, as I don't have to work tomorrow, and in case something bad did happen, my husband was here, he had the package, and I could recover tomorrow. We had no plans for the evening... I was going to write and he was going to play his game.

It took about an hour for the thing to take effect. I could tell it was starting to do something when my normally extremely-pale skin flushed brilliantly, and I felt like the pores on my face had opened up, my ears had opened up, and blood was gushing forth from everywhere. I looked down at my hands, and to my dismay, the tips of my fingers up to my elbows was red. I don't mean just like, flushed red. I mean RED RED. Scared and alarmed at the sensations, I called for my husband and told him to take notes for me, because I never, ever, ever wanted to do this again.

I described in detail what I was going through, and that was when the uncontrollable urge to throw up struck. I swallowed some Pepto, hoping that would help, but it didn't. Instead the urge got stronger, so I made my way to the bathroom and promptly puked my guts out. (No wonder the pill says you should take it on an empty stomach...)

Literary research, I decided, was not worth this.

I wanted to try and sleep the sickness off, but when I put my hand under my pillow and turned on my side, a common way for me to sleep, I had this horrible vision of the blood that's rushing through my body somehow cutting off circulation to my hand, and that when I woke up, my hand would be shriveled and black and they would have to amputate it. I even saw myself in court, trying to sue the Purple Party Pill people.

Again I called for my husband, who brought me a glass of milk. He had noted that one pill contained approximately the same amount as 4-5 Cokes, which for me to consume in a day is not abnormal. In fact, it's quite normal, and I actually tend to drink more than that, on top of coffee.

For a long time I just lay there in bed, unable to move, staring at the ceiling. Moving caused nausea, and there was (and still is) currently a horrible pain in my stomach, right at the base of my ribcage.

If this is what the "legal" pills do, I thought to myself, no wonder kids take the illegal ones.

I again tried to sleep, having calmed down a bit, but instead I dragged myself out of bed to write this up, lest I forget it later. I had wanted to write tonight, but it seems like my thoughts won't focus on anything. I don't want to get up and dance, like the packaging on the pill suggested I would, but instead, I want to curl up in a ball and wait for this shit to get out of my system. This, dear friends, is NOT fun.

I promise I will never purchase one of these things again, and from now on if I ever want to do research on drugs, I'll ask friends that I know have taken them. This is a ridiculous, horrible feeling. I don't know if other people have had good experiences with it, but I know that if it were up to me, I'd yank these things off the market if for no other reason than false advertising. It should say, "Will cause nausea and an inability to move or concentrate" instead of, "Will make you want to dance all night!"

Now to try and sleep this off...

Viv out!

Writing, Books on Writing

I initially planned on making this a much longer post, but to my chagrin (and delight, I'll admit) I've been bitten by the writing bug again. 23 pages (approx. 14k words) in after just a night and morning of writing feels pretty good, I'll admit.

Here's what I'm struggling with... Filler. I don't know about any of you, but when I read books, watch TV, etc., I tend to skim to the "good parts." I'm a sucker for some sweet romance, and since, let's face it, I'm pretty much a young adult romance writer, I don't ever want to write parts that don't have my main two love interests together. 'cause that's the boring stuff, isn't it?

The answer, dear friends, is of course no. It's the stuff that helps round out your characters. You don't just spend all your time with one person, do you? No. And neither should your characters.

I used to be a big, big fan of General Hospital. I'll save you my spiel on why I stopped watching (viva Liason!), but the one thing that keeps you going on soaps is that they constantly tear apart love interests, only to bring them back together. What's happening on the outside of their life moves to bonding them closer together when the love interests talk about it--at length.

I won't say I'm trying to write a soap opera. Not exactly, anyway. But the days where my mains aren't on, I don't watch. I use the same thinking with my writing. If my characters aren't together, I don't care. I read spoilers to catch up on GH so I know why the mains are discussing what they're discussing. But I focus on my two loves, and anything outside that realm is beyond difficult for me to write--it's almost torture.

So you may be surprised to discover that in the middle of writing a scene with my two mains, I set it aside to write this blog. It may seem illogical, but it's really not. If I end a scene of them together, and then try to go back, I'm bored as hell and can't really force myself to keep writing. So I have to pause in what I consider are the exciting scenes so I can get back into it. (This is also advice I extend to any writer.)

Now. Let's discuss books!

I purchased a book called, "Writing Shojo Manga", though I am not a manga artist even a little bit. The information in that book is... indescribable. It perfectly depicts a wonderful way to write, some practices I already did and others I did not, but have tried to incorporate into my writing. My favorite part is the "scene" method of writing.

The advice for "scene" writing is that you literally lay out a bunch of "scenes", answering the questions, "Who, what, where, why, when, and how". Write them all out on a bunch of different pieces of paper, and keep them. When you get stuck for an idea, much like writing prompts, you go back to these scenes and pick one.

There's also deciding on a theme... You write out the answer to the question, "What do I want to write about?" And then create scenes based on this theme. Then order the scenes according to how you think the story should go, and viola! A story outline. I've personally always kept writing journals where I stored my ideas, but this just took it to the next level.

I know, I know, I've said a thousand times that writing outlines doesn't work for me, and it still doesn't. But I'm going to share an example from my writing notebook. (You don't have one and you're a writer? You need to get one. Like, now. Stop reading. Go to the store and get a notebook. This is your writing notebook. Take it everywhere with you.)

At the top of the journal page, I write: "CONCEPT" and then the date that I'm writing. I like to know when I write things. I don't really know why. If I'm just writing a quote or a line from something or a character, at the top of the page I write, "IDEA", "CHARACTER", etc.
The next line has the word "Theme:", which is followed by an answer to the question, "What do I want to write about?"
The next lines have "Who:" "What:" "Where:" "Why:" "When:" and "How:". I often don't fill out all of these lines, but I like to have them there.
Then, on the BACK of that page, I write down my idea of "scenes". Sometimes I add in things I didn't expect, and that keeps it exciting.

So here's my example:

CONCEPT 2009.09.01

Theme: Black Widow
Who: A woman who is fun, charming, exciting, loves to dance and party, and once she lures men in, kills them.
Where: Texas
Why: She is greedy and wants money.
When: Present day
How: Any way necessary


At a bar
Meeting for the first time
First date--maybe amusement park?
She really likes him--does she want to kill this one?
Partner-in-crime: Maybe he can help her
Her back story; why is she like this? She tells him.
Meeting the parents

Can it be any easier than that?

I really, really suggest that you go out and get yourself the "Writing Shojo Manga" book... You don't have to write manga. But it's the best book on writing I've ever read, and I've read a number of them. It doesn't mean this one will work for you, but it's incredibly interesting, especially if you like manga and were ever curious how they put their stories together. AND if you want a nice, easy way to help yourself write.

After all, it worked for me after months of not writing.

Also a huuuuge help of a book that I discovered a while ago and probably talked about on this blog already, is "The Ultimate Guide to Heroes and Heroines." It's fantastic for when you're trying to fill out the "who" above, especially if you only have a theme. The "who" can always help to shape more ideas for your stories.

That's all for me for now... I hear the siren's call of my newest work-in-progress.



Getting Started...

My intro to Blogger... I have to admit, this was much easier than I thought it would be!

I'm not going to post all of my old blogs from LJ here.... Instead I'll just include a handy link!