April 28, 2011

Thursday Authorial: Appendix Podcast Episode 14

Mystery and Historical Fiction! Howard Tayler and Josi Kilpack! Annette Lyon and Sarah Eden! And Robison Wells!

And me!

I seem to have gotten over the man-voice thing. This was a lot of fun. The games still make me nervous. I love the games (go see my comments in previous episodes. The games are fun!), but I'm a writer. I write. Working on the talking. And thinking while talking. Go listen and enjoy!

The Appendix Podcast.

You know you want to.

April 25, 2011

Monday Mess: Audience Feedback. Right.

I'm exploring a new genre with my new WIP. It's a genre I love to read. It's a genre my sons love to read. It's YOUNG ADULT FANTASY.
Now, I know that can mean a lot of things, but mine is Medieval Fantasy, in a parallel universe. There is magic. There are no magical creatures. Yet. I reluctantly asked the kids (who were trapped with me in the car this weekend as we drove to Grandma's house for Easter dinner), "Will I need to add a magical creature?"
The 12 year old, who was clear in the back, piped up, "YES!" followed instantly by the 18 and 15 year old who commanded, "NO."


I can't believe the self-doubt that is accompanying me on this one. I am really enjoying writing this and developing the characters and conflict. I LOVED creating the magic. The 15 year old helped me work out the war and politics end of things, and together we created a map of the countries, rivers, lakes, mountains. He wants to make a calendar. I have 61 pages and I plan on taking 15 of those to Boot Camp and the Storymakers Writers Conference in a couple weeks. I have no idea which 15 pages.

Because a member of my target audience (15-18?), my 15 year old son, is reading my story . . . and his feedback has been critical and helpful . . . he thinks I'm too wordy and yes, the female lead's character is a little baffling to him . . . but it's good and it needs something and . . . and . . . and I HAVE NO IDEA IF I'M DOING THIS RIGHT. Blah. Am I any good at this? Not just any good, but am I SIGNIFICANTLY good at this? Isn't that what a writer has to ask every now and then?

But I really am having fun writing it. I can't wait to get back to it. That counts for something, right?


April 21, 2011

Thursday Authorial: Excitement in the Air

On Thursdays I try to share what other authors are up to. Today I will give a shout out to a trio of ladies who are coming together for one lovely book signing!

I've read books by Michele Paige Homes and Sarah M. Eden and I know this will be a fabulous event. For more information, click here.

Also, I am counting down (along with hoards of other writers) to the LDStorymakers Writers Conference in Salt Lake City on May 5, 6, & 7th! Among the presenters are Larry Brooks, Elana Johnson, Sara Crowe, Frank Cole, J. Scott Savage, Dan Wells, Lisa Mangum, Janette Rallison, Dave Wolverton, James Dashner, and many others, including all of the Appendix podcasters and guests mentioned in my previous post! I am so excited! I will be a sponge. I will soak it all in. I will get no sleep.

April 20, 2011

The Appendix Podcast

For the next few weeks I have the privilege of being part of a smart, funny, successful group of writers on one of my favorite podcasts, The Appendix. A bit intimidating. How do I fit in, you may be asking yourselves? They are also pretty silly.

I was still nervous.

Robison Wells
Howard Tayler
Sarah M. Eden
Annette Lyon
Josi Kilpack
Marion Jensen

Today's episode: Ep 13 Four Guests and Five Games. Join us as we play a bunch of writing prompt games and let our imaginations make some fun (and sometimes disturbing) twists out of classic ideas.

Silly is as silly does.

The next two episodes tackle real live topics, like mystery writing and historical fiction, as well as discussing books we've read lately. Stay tuned!

Added: For those of you who listened to the podcast and wonder about my voice, it drops when I get nervous. I've actually already posted about this odd phenomenon here. I promise (I think. I really really hope) my voice lightens up for the next couple podcasts. Meanwhile, feel free to snicker. I did.

April 18, 2011

Monday Mess: Getting Lost Should Be a Choice

It's Spring Break here in Cody, Wyoming, and the family and I are tackling some projects around the house. But right now, I'm the only one awake. The pup woke me up to take him out and then, as always, my mind began to wander through my current writing project, preventing me from falling back asleep. So here I am in my living room in my robe, contemplating maps.

I just spent two weekends in Salt Lake City. Two weeks ago I went down with my son. We've been there before, and I didn't think to print out any maps. I don't have a smart phone and I don't have GPS. I'm old-fashioned that way. I got lost half-a-dozen times too many. We were laughing a lot. And made a lot of phone calls for help. I do have a cell phone. I'm not THAT archaic.

This last weekend, I printed out maps, highlighted the routes, wrote down addresses, and figured out the intimidating interstate exchange I needed to know. SO. MUCH. BETTER. I didn't get lost once. Of course, it helped that my friend who lives there drove some of the time. But when I was out on my own, I didn't get lost once. Maps. Duh.

I need two kinds of maps for the story I'm working on now. First, I need a story map. I have no idea if there's an official name for what I have in mind. Storyboard? Spiderweb outline? I don't know, but I need a big piece of paper, a pencil, colored markers, and some space. I'm thinking the coffee table in front of the couch. I'll have to move the tray of candles, magazines, and my daughter's carnations she received after her performance in The Wizard of Oz. I have some butcher paper from the first (and last) time my husband and his dad "dressed" an antelope in my kitchen. *shudder* There are a plethora of markers in the house, though it may take a few minutes to weed out the dried up ones.

Then I'm just going to have fun and write down characters, connections, place names, directions, histories, conflicts, key magic words . . . map it out and make a beautiful mess. I'm excited to have it in one place I can put up on a wall and go to for reference, add to if needed. I usually keep all this info in a spiral notebook, but with my current project, I want to see it all together. Sure, I'll still have notebook pages of info: language, calendar, character outlines, blurbs of scenes and conversation that come to me too early, to be used later. But I'm excited about this story map.

The other kind of map is an actual geographical map. I've reached a point in the story where I really need to keep track of places and direction. I'll try not to be too messy with this one.

With my maps, I have no intention of getting lost. But that doesn't mean I won't explore a little. If an idea draws my attention, I'll see how it may or may not fit into the story, and I'll be able to see how to get back on track.
I found this as part of Nokia's "Let's never get lost again." campaign. It's true.

Maps. Duh.

April 12, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial: Torchlight

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space.  It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe.  It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.  ~Michael Strassfeld

 A recent post by my friend, Annette Lyon, has me thinking this morning about all the writers, editors, and publishers who willingly share what they know, what they are experiencing, and what they are learning through blogs and websites. There is a hefty amount of information out there, right at our fingertips, and we only need to read, or listen in some cases, to draw on that knowledge and apply it to our craft. Yes, we need to be wise and careful not to believe everything out there, but it's easy to get third and fourth witnesses of an idea, whether it works or not, or find an idea that clicks with our particular personality or methods, and improve ourselves.

Publishers post their guidelines for submissions on their websites, and the guidelines vary from company to company. Agents post what they require, what they are looking for, and what they are not accepting. Editors blast post after post about what they don't want to see, what they shouldn't have to edit, how to do it correctly. Authors post the in's and out's, the do's and do not's. They shout for joy and lament with us. They tell us to keep trying.

And all the while, we are encouraged, corrected, guided.

We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own.  ~Ben Sweetland
 Thanks, everyone, for the torchlight.

April 11, 2011

Monday Mess: Who Put A Sonnet In My WIP?

So I'm working on this new project that has invaded my brain space and I'm writing along, minding my character's business, and BLAM, she needs a sonnet.


I know, right?
But I don't question The Muse.

So I Google "how to write a sonnet" and I get Sonnet Writing For Dummies or something like that. Click here if you'd like to see for yourself. If not, these are the bones of the idea:

  • It must consist of 14 lines.
  • It must be written in iambic pentameter (duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH). Every line.
  • It must be written in one of various standard rhyme schemes, like the following Shakespearean scheme:
Every A rhymes with every A, every B rhymes with every B, and so forth. This one is made up of three quatrains (four consecutive lines of verse that make up a stanza) and one couplet (two consecutive rhyming lines of verse). Shakespeare was famous for his rhyming couplets. Like I have to tell you.

But that's not all, NOOOO that's not all. The sonnet has to be built up. The main idea is presented, often as a metaphor, pondered, and then built into an argument. Complications, twists, conflicts are thrown in, tearing down the initial idea. And then, the rhyming couplet comes to the rescue. These last two lines are meant to swoop in and save the day, like a ray of hope. They might introduce a new line of thinking, or prove the complications as nothing to despair over. Yay.

My answer to the question, "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?" has always been Tirelessness. Not as in cars, but as in having boundless energy. It's a bird, it's a plane, no! It's Indefatigable!
I'd also wear jammies like this. Because even though I'd never have to sleep, I still like to wear jammies.

But if I were to have a second choice, I think I would be Rhyming Couplet. Coming in at the point of hopelessness and proving the villain wrong. Yup.
In your face, Misery and Woe.

But I digress. Would you like to read my sonnet? I'm not going to say much about it, except it's the protagonist's favorite, and she doesn't know why, exactly. But she will. *smiles mysteriously*

Ahem. I give you Sonnet 11, and a little more, from Silkener, by Krista Lynne Jensen.

What hath removed itself will come again.
‘Tis promised in the arms of Heaven’s clocks.
Tho in the throes of dust you may have been,
Yet counted ‘midst the sweet beloved flocks.
What love is this to crumble fixed stone?
And satisfy love’s yearning for return?
Nay, you cannot see its flesh and bone,
Nor feel love’s truth and light within you burn.
For man is hopeless, cruel as he is blind,
And taken in by power, greed, and lust.
A selfish beast can lure with truths unkind,
Will offer falsehoods, honeyed in their crust.
      And yet would love’s true light taste sweeter still
      Through dust and blood, returned by Hope’s pure will!
This particular sonnet always left Jessamyn a bit dizzy. She had no idea who it was by, as it was accredited to “Love’s Last Hope”, which she found a touch melodramatic. She pictured some romantically tortured monk sitting in his dimly lit cell, furiously writing of his forsaken lover.

I have to admit, it was kind of fun to write.

Why not try writing a sonnet of your own? Sonnets For Dummies suggests writing a sonnet does all the following:
  • Shows you how much you can pack into a short form.
  • Gives you practice with rhyme, meter, structure, metaphor, and argument.
  • Connects you with one of the oldest traditions in English poetry — one still vital today.
Have you ever written a sonnet? Do you have a favorite?

April 4, 2011

Monday Mess: Why Oh Why Oh Why . . .

My husband is out of town on a business trip. The kids are in bed. I've just listened to my favorite writing podcasts, here and here, and now I'm going to begin reading Dan Well's trilogy finale, I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU. And the wind is roaring outside my bedroom window.
I have to put the dog to bed first, because if he barks at whatever tiny noise he hears (like the neighbor's bedroom door closing) I'm going to jump right to the ceiling and cling to the fan for dear life.

And you can't talk me out of it. Why? Because I just heard a little spoiler about the romantic thread in the book.

You heard me.

I'm a sucker for romance.

It could be the death of me.
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