I did it! by Cayenne Michaels

I actually did it!

And I think it’s taken me almost up to now to realize it.

A couple of weeks ago I packed up my whole house. Well, technically the brick building is still standing, but I stashed all our belongings into the spare guest room and basement. Then I jumped on a plane to move halfway across the world. To study literature. Continue reading

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No man is an island… by Cayenne Michaels

Entirely of itself,

Every man is a piece of a continent,

A part of the main.

John Donne

It’s something we take for granted in our everyday life. Most of us, at least. We might feel like eccentric outsiders. I can’t be the only one that has a tendency to occasionally withdraw from conversations, and the apparent lack of interest have caused some tense moments now and then. But you see, in my head an irresistible scene is taking form, where the most gorgeous man says the right words at the right moment, and I join my own heroine in a swooooon– Continue reading

Oh the Places Characters Go! (With Me) by Kate DeHart

Writers are a strange bunch. Everyone knows this. And if you are a writer yourself, you probably agree.

I mean, I’ve actually done internet searches on “exploding smoke bombs” and “how to disarm a gun from an assailant”. Along with “smoke traps for burglars that collect DNA”(so cool!) and “mind-altering medications that  increase sexual desire”(don’t ask). And that’s all for one story! Continue reading

Woven Into Knots

Earlier this year, one of my favorite places on the internet, TWOP (TelevisionWithoutPity) was shut down. Thousands of pages of forum posts that meticulously snarked and broke down hundreds of television series were suddenly gone from the internet. I don’t want to admit can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent after watching a series, then reading and responding in discussion about things I loved and things I didn’t.

I was crushed. I’d learned so much reading those threads, and would miss it every time I discovered a new-loved series.

One of the most interesting things I took from my years on that board(mostly reading and lurking) was how many different ideas people had about how a story could go.

As a writer myself, I’m often seeing how true that is, and how even the tiniest decisions are tied to a thread that weaves through a carefully interwoven plot.

One huge plot point in the current story I’m writing has haunted me in this way. In my first outlines, I had two characters come together. I planned out how it would affect them emotionally, but after comments from a friend, I realized how I hadn’t explored in-depth how it would affect their relationships with the people around them. All of a sudden, I realized that some of the those changes would permanently shift the relationships of multiple characters in my story in a way I wasn’t sure I wanted.

It felt uncomfortable to me, and while it could have been interesting, I realized that it would have put a dark cloud over the entire rest of the series. I already have a fairly complex and dark story, and didn’t want it to become so depressing there was no lightness or hope in the read. So, I did what any author does, and adjusted the story to scale back the scene. And then, like the insanity that writing brings, I kept re-adjusting, and then re-adjusting again. With each of those tweaks, I pulled a different string that had links in different parts of the story.

During this and a few other changes, I realized that the thread pulling wasn’t linear, and my woven piece was more like an intricate knot. If I pulled, other things tightened around the piece and shifted everything else. So those adjustments needed to be thoughtful, and I always had a fallout to the decision.

In trying to come to any decision about my story, I’m noticing a trend where I feel frozen and unable to move forward. My most recent bout of this is actually not about the above mentioned plot conundrum, but was about a simpler one, that still weighed heavy on me. My solution is to usually do what others call procrastinating, but I like to call stepping away to gain perspective. So, I Netflix and Prime any free-time away and then catch up on the gossip on message boards. Doesn’t that sound productive?

Anyway, while re-watching one of my favorite shows(Veronica Mars in case you’re interested), I stumbled across another snarky but deeply thoughtful message board with a thread about the show. I wasted explored some time there, and was engrossed in reading their early theories of what direction the show could/should/would go in. There were so many different, yet interesting ideas that I again was instantly fascinated with the fallout that each suggestion created. Out of every five or so theories that were thrown around, at least three usually seemed enjoyable and even plausible.

I was  slapped in the face with the notion that there wasn’t a ‘right’ way to tell the story. Just equally different ways. That could easily apply to my own writing as well. My constant fear of course is then making a decision that leads me into a corner, or into a place that’s not relatable to many. That’s part of the adventure in the process though I guess, and one I should embrace because it’s what makes each story unique.

I’m still unsure exactly how far I’ll take the characters at that point in the book. I like the messiness of it, the realness of something coming together that probably shouldn’t but does because the stakes are high. Playing and bouncing it around in my brain will get me to the final decision. And whatever place I decide to go, it will be the direction that feels most intuitive for me in a sea of many I could take. There’s something so lovely about that, and it’s probably what draws me to writing in the first place. It’s like life. There’s no right answer, just a world full of options that lead us to interesting twists we have to figure out.

Chapters as TV episodes

Hi my name is Emily, and I’m one of those relatively unpublished authors that you were warned would be part of this blog. I don’t know why I felt the need to AA-style introduce myself, but deal with it… oh and keep reading. Even though I’ve been writing since I was in high school, I’m one of those people with a thousand beginnings, maybe two fleshed out ideas, and absolutely nothing polished.

I’m am (probably way too excited) to say that this month I had a flash fiction story posted on linguisticerosion.com and a short story published in romance magazine =)  http://www.fictionmagazines.com/shop/romance-issues/romance-magazine-vol-02-06/

Okay, now that I’ve gotten my shameless self-promotion out of the way, I want to delve into my topic. Every time I’m binge watching a show on Netflix, I can’t help but think of how it parallels to a book unfolding. My brain wants to view each episode like a chapter. The easier this is for my brain to do this, the more I find a show satisfying.

This led my to think of each chapter I write as an episode (of my own fantasy show). Sometimes this concept is easy a la Game of Thrones season one. In fact, I constantly find myself wondering, just like with a novel, if TV show writers have an outline for their plots or if they are just making shit up as they go (sans GoT because I know they have like 10,000+ words of an outline). I mean, it felt that way with Lost. Nothing added up and some things were simply just forgotten as the seasons went on. And what was that ending?

I thought the biggest difference between novels and TV episodes was that while novels are constantly moving forward, TV episodes tend to have an overarching story with episodes that loop around. However, I think the same thing could be said for some novel series that I have read.

After binge watching Lost Girl yesterday, I decided to call these sub-plot-loop-a-rounds. Each episode branches off into a sub-plot that gets neatly wrapped up by the end of the episode; however, there is still that overarching story that pulls the show forward. The same could be said of a novel series, especially the kind that lead to 20 books.There is a main point driving the books forward, but each individual novel has a subplot that is explored and concluded.

The comparisons led me to wonder if this is just a natural progression of the way we expect stories (on TV and in novels) now? Personally, I’ve always preferred stand alone books, and satisfying season finales. I hate cliffhanger endings, I think they are exploiting. Maybe even a cop out of writing a complete story. I thought TV was the primary villain in this regard a la Grey’s Anatomy, but the same thing seems to happen with some books too. Matter of fact, I lose interest in shows and books after about (book) season 3. It almost always seems to be downhill from that point. It always seems like writers are reaching for ideas. I also hate that when there is no conclusion in sight. I’m also a little butt hurt still about the conclusion to Lost, but that’s a different post topic.

Speaking of Lost though, I’ve noticed a far amount of misleading clues in TV shows. Mostly Lost Girl since that’s what I’m onto now. Is this acceptable in novels? Is it acceptable to lead your reader astray in order to surprise them? I’ve been told that makes an unreliable character/ narrator, but if it’s accepted in TV, why not? Do you feel cheated when shows pan into something (like a dead body) foreshadowing-ly and then next episode you find out dude was just passed out in his zombie make-up?

And just like the Lost writers, I made it this far and forgot what my conclusion was…after all my complaining about satisfying endings, I’m feeling the pressure now. Granted from someone who has written The End on one (dreadful) novel, I guess I shouldn’t be pointing too many fingers.

So, I suppose, I’m asking. Do you see your novel as a TV show? Can you see your chapter unfold in your head as you write it? Do you end the chapter and wonder if people will tune in next week i.e. turn the next page? Oh, and how many subplots are just too freaking many?

I also have a infrequently updated tumblr : umyeahrightokay.tumblr.com

And my email is emmaleigh234@gmail.com. And as soon as I’m hip to all that other social media, I’ll update my contact info =)

Herding Cats

I am blessed with a community on-line through Scribophile, and in that community, a “neighborhood” called Writers Who Love Romance.

Along with my membership in Romance Writers of America, this community has done more to motivate me and keep me focused on writing, editing, and publishing than anything else I’ve tried.

Another huge part of the Published-Author-Making-A-Living-Through-Writing puzzle is marketing. This starts with self-promotion. And I recently discovered many introverted authors are terrified of that.

Understand that I love to do public speaking. At my current employment, whenever a speaker is needed, my peers know I will gladly volunteer. So it never occurred to me that some folk would be scared of blogging. Really? You can sit naked at your computer, post your blog, and delete comments that you don’t like. Why be worried about that?

Using the theory that there is security in numbers, I proposed to the neighborhood that we do a group blog. The response has been overwhelming. Now, getting these shy and creative creatures to all to the same process is similar to herding cats. And it’s not a simple process.

Step One: Create a log-in and password on WordPress.
Step Two: Send me an email so I can invite you to the blog.
Step Three: Be sure I have the correct pen name to use.
Step Four: Find a topic and write your blog, some place besides on WordPress. I’ve lost a number of blog posts through crazy, random happenstances before. I finally figured out that I need to write the whole thing in a Word doc or similar program, save it there, select all, copy, and paste it into the blog.
Step Five: Select your name as the category, so that people will know it’s yours, and select or create tags, to tie in to Google searches.
Step Six: Make sure you put it out on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media platforms that you use.
Step Seven: Look for comments over the next few days, and reply if needed.
Step Eight: Start thinking of your next post.

That’s all it takes. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.

The actual group of authors is a mix of published, unpublished, expert bloggers, and first timers. They are all charming, funny, imaginative folk whom I am proud to call neighbors and fellow bloggers.

I ask that you read the future blog posts with an open mind and a cheerful heart. Let us know when you like things and/or have suggestions. After all, we are doing this to connect with you!

See you next time.