This Week in Favs……..

10) “Finding the Heart of Your Story: A Tip from Donald Maass” by Martina Boone on Adventure’s in Children’s Publishing. This article was all about finding the theme of your story……the heart. Using a tip from Donald Maass, which is someone I don’t think I’d be able to write without the knowledge and tips we obtain from his books and/or blog posts, Martina shows us how we can look for the heart of our story by picking the one scene that you would never, ever cut from your story. Once you’ve got the scene, you can pull it apart to find what speaks to you. Be it an emotion or an idea that you really want the reader to connect with. Martina even gives us links to other great articles on theme, which made this particular article a winner this week…hands down!

9) “Setting – Adding Dimension to Your Fiction” by Kristen Lamb. Oh….soooo creepy to open this link and have Hannibal Lector’s face as the first thing you see. Kristen did a wonderful job in covering the many things setting can do for your novel and/or scenes. They help your characterization, amplify the mood, and can also symbolize something deeper within your story rather than just being a background for the characters. Kudos, Kristen!

8) “Forcing a Story to Evolve – From First Draft to Finished Draft” by Jami Gold on Writers In The Storm blog. In this article, Jami approached the types of ‘big picture’ revisions that we should be paying attention to as we’re editing. Voice, tone, point of view and theme are just a few types of ‘story evolution’ that she’s basically handed to us on a silver platter. Print this one out or write it down so you can refer to them when you’re in the middle of revisions. If we’re watching for these and ensuring they’re being properly developed, then our polished product is going to be a heck of a lot better when it’s querying time!

7) “Keep Your Dream Alive: Avoiding Despair at a Writer’s Conference” by Barbara Scott on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. I chose this particular article since it served a much-needed reader for all of the unpublished authors out there to continue to strive for the ultimate goal of one day being able to call themselves a published author. It’s a very tough world out there and it’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged – whether you’re at a writer’s conference, or in a chat room with other writers. As you can probably imagine, I’ve already printed this one up. Whenever I’m feeling a little down, I’ll be pulling this one out so it’ll turn that mood around OR push me to use those emotions in my writing. 

6) “The Grammar Hokey Pokey” by Ash Krafton on QueryTracker. Hehehe….I love this article. And here’s why: my hubby edits my blog posts and has often referred to me as ‘the comma whore’. LOL! This is only because I overuse commas throughout my writing. I used to pride myself on my grammar in writing and now I see that’s only because I know more than most, but not enough to not require someone to read behind me and make sure I’ve got everything right. Ash’s hokey pokey article is very similar to what me and the hubs are doing while I’m putting together my blog posts, but I’m getting better…I can assure you that :0)  Bottom line after reading this article: learn grammar! If you can’t, find someone who knows it better than you and ask them to do some grammar edits for you – and learn from their edits!

5) “How to Make Deep POV Enrich Your Internal Dialogue” by Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens. I was on an author chat the other night, entitled “The Subtle Art of Show, Don’t Tell”, and when it came time for the Q&A portion of the chat, there were about 5 other writers in the chat whose questions were about deep POV: What exactly is it? How does it help? How can I do this? Well, needless to say, I pointed them to this blog with the mention that the Girls with Pens have enough articles about deep POV that you should fully understand the why’s and how’s of this concept. This particular article was wonderful for me because it gives a great list of guidelines on how to use deep POV to your advantage: by pulling the reader closer to the character so they will invest in the character’s story.

4) “Does Your MC Get the Best Lines?” by Jeannie Campbell, The Character Therapist. And here’s the article that really had me thinkin’ this week! I’m loving this line: “When we put our characters on such a high pedestal, we run the risk of not being able to write the very good scenes that show them falling off!” So, as I’m going through my MS one last time before sending to my CP, this is what I’ll be looking for. Our characters need to be relatable to the reader. Not bland. Go check out this article then take a look at your MC’s and secondary characters. Be sure the secondary characters are not stealing the spotlight from your MC with their snarky comments. Save the best possible lines for your MC. 

3) “What Comes After a First Draft” by Jami Gold. Jami hit another home run this week with this post! Like I said, she can always get you to think…even when you don’t really want to. ;o)  Jami brought up something in this article about using Microsoft Word’s Compare function. Hmm…. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I’m most certainly glad I know now because I’d love to go back and see how my stories have grown since their first draft (after I get over a fear of seeing how ‘green’ my stories were in the beginning). It’s a lot like life: We have to know where we came from in order to not only begin to understand where we’re going, but to also see how far we’ve come when the road begins to get rocky.

2) “How Our Relationship With Our Characters is Like Dating a Vampire” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. OMG I looooved this one. So, obviously I’m a big vampire fan, but this is something I’d never thought of: comparing our relationship with our characters to dating vampires. Very original, in my opinion, and a wonderful analogy. Genius, Lisa! Thank you for the great post – and for another pic of Damon which I just can’t get enough of either! ;o)

1) Ready for some Friday fun? I hope so because a new Simon’s Cat video has been posted and this one goes out to all my writerly friends who also have cats. I believe we all know how aggravating it is to try and get some writing done with a cat walking all over your keyboard, monitor, lap, mouse, etc. You name it, they’re on it! Am I right? So I really enjoyed seeing this being perfectly depicted by the artist.

Hope you enjoy!

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Happy Reading & Writing!

Melinda

This Week In Favs……….

10) “8 Pieces of Advice About Writing Worth Listening To” by Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens. We’ve all heard this advice before, but we can always use a reminder of the best writing tips out there – ex: Keep Writing and Show Don’t Tell. I’ll be the first to admit that I keep a list similar to this on the wall behind my writing desk. Do you?

9) “The Art of Stringing ‘Em Along” by Katie Ganshert. As writers, we have characters or backstories that we want to get out there. We want to share all we can about them with the readers. This article reminds writers to hold back because holding back = hooking the reader. In other words….. avoid the info dump! I always find that when I start a re-write I’m deleting a TON of words, placing them in a separate word doc entitled ‘Excerpts for Elsewhere’, then weaving those details one by one back into the story to string along the reader.  

8) “Changing Scale: Looking at Your Story From Different Angles” by Janice Hardy. This is HUGE. I don’t know about you, but I’m so inside my own head that I fail to approach my story from a different angle. Sometimes I’m all about the micro, and other times, I’m all about the macro….and this varies from scene to scene, chapter to chapter. In other words, my focus flip-flops. I’m a pantser, so it’s not like I have the entire story plotted before I begin, so after reading this, I will focus on one at a time as I work through my WIP….as a whole and not chapter by chapter.  

7) “8 Ways to Write Better Characters” by Elizabeth Sims on Writer’s Digest. Ahhh….. I’ve been working on something a bit similar to these tips so I had to share this article with everyone. I’ve been working on getting to know my characters better. When we first meet our characters, we know nothing more than what they’re willing to share with us. I’ve been doing some character interviewing lately and I’ve been absolutely surprised by the many personalities screaming from within my head. They’re definitely making sure I hear their opinions, which in turn, means I have a much better understanding of each one and I can weave in a few of those discoveries as I edit.

6) “Sub-plots, Main Plots, and Digressions” by Beth Hill. This article is one of the best I’ve found in reference to plotting – a must-share. Please get over there and read this article. Other than Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, I feel I have close to all the information I need to create a successful main plot – and sub-plot…..but then again, as writers, we’re constantly learning so it may be too soon for me to say that, huh?

5) The next-to-last So You Think You Can Dance goodie! **Spoiler Alert** This week was the finale and congratulations go out to Melanie for winning the competition this season. She was my favorite from the beginning and is such a beautiful inspiration to watch on stage.
I’m so sad and don’t know what I’m going to do without my weekly dance fix. *tears up* But next week will be the last week I’ll post any SYTYCD clips, which will be from last night’s finale. This means I need to fill this space with another type of video. I’m thinking TOSH.0 clips?!? I don’t know….we’ll have to see what comes to mind. Until then, I’m open to your ideas 🙂

This week’s TOP performance – and it was hard to choose since we’re down to the BEST dancers in the bunch – comes from Marko (contestant) and Lauren (an All Star and last season’s winner). This is what happens when great dance meets beautiful music:

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4) “10 Things I Believe About Writing” by Jordan Dane on The Kill Zone. Um….I’m a little late to the party on this blog since I’m just now discovering it, but that just means I have a lot of catching up to do and I don’t mind that. Especially not with the list of amazing writers this blog has! Similar to #10 this week, this is another list of advice that writers should listen to. The one that hit me the hardest was #7: “Trust Your Talent”.” We ALL need to be reminded of this. Like Jordan said, we’re human beings and we’re going to have self-doubt, but we need to trust our talent!

3) “How Do You Deal with Difficult Characters?” by Jami Gold. I have to say something first: Thank you, Jami! As I mentioned above, I’m in the middle of interviewing my characters. I’m stuck on two characters in particular. Strapping these two guys down and torturing them will not open them up so I’m just frustrated with them. I knew they were going to be this way since they’re both incredibly evil and manipulative. This was a well-timed article. Now, I ‘m just going to either ask another character to interview them, or ask other characters to share what they know about these two stubborn-and-withholding characters. Who knows….maybe I’ll dream about them both tonight and wake up in a cold sweat with the answers.  

2) “The (Not So) Dreaded Synopsis – 5 Tips To Set You Free” by Roni Loren. FINALLY!!!!! A break down on writing a synopsis that’s not intimidating or overwhelming!!! The last synopsis ‘how-to’ I read left my head spinning, but this one? This one leaves me feeling pretty darn confident to where I‘m ready to sit down and face the beast. Thank you, Roni!

1) “Afterthoughts on the Epilogue” by S.P. Sipal. I translated this article into sort of a ‘How to Write an Epilogue’. It made me think on my own idea I’ve been tossing around for a while: adding an epilogue to both give a peek-in-the-box of my character’s future lives and to leave the story with an option to re-visit in the future. Which makes me wonder….will JKR re-visit the world of magic in the future?

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post, “First Sentences…..And a Giveaway”. Please be sure to leave a comment and enter for the giveaway!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Happy Reading & Writing!
Melinda

This Week In Favs……….

10) “On Distractions” by Nathan Bransford. “You can’t write if you don’t live.” <—This is some of the *best* writing advice I’ve ever heard! As writers, we set schedules for our writing so as to ensure we’re writing everyday to get something on the page – myself included. But Nathan’s post runs right along with the schedule I set forth for myself last week in taking 30 minutes during the work week to write while using the other free-time to spend time with my hubby, sister, work-out, and/or read. My weekends have a bit more time allotted for writing, but I still carve out time to spend with my friends who are always a source of inspiration for me. Okay, so yes, when we’re deep in the writing we want to grab onto it while the Muse is singin’ loud and proud, but what happens after the Muse’s song is over? LIFE!!! That’s what happens. A chance to recharge your battery so you can come back to your Muse when they’re ready, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and recharged to take down the next part of the story.

9) “How to Be a Better Writer: Today” by Angela Kulig at Angela WRITE Now. This is a new series by Angela that focuses on how you can be a better writer TODAY – or as Angela put it: “…how you can be more gooder!” :0) Angela left us with five points on how you can make yourself a better writer and each one holds a nugget of truth on what we as writers should do. My fav? #2 ‘Learn a new word that means the same thing as another word you already use too much.’ I’ve been trying to use different words in my WIP lately. Thesaurus.com has become my best friend. This even made me start thinking about how I use the word ‘awesome’ too much in my daily life and don’t realize until the hubs says something. My new word to replace that one? ‘Stupendous’! <—I can’t take credit for finding it though…he did the legwork for me. :0)

8) “How to Write a Query Letter” by Rachelle Gardner. Ah! The ever important query letter that stands between you and obtaining representation. I have to admit that I haven’t even thought about my query letter yet. I’m still in the editing process, and frankly, it’s a little daunting. If you’ve read the posts on QueryShark, then you may understand why I say that. Countless books have been written about how to write a query letter (I have two sitting on my bookshelf), but I rather enjoyed reading Rachelle’s quick and easy tips for a great query. Somehow, they’re not as intimidating to me anymore, which means that I may just start writing one as soon as this next round of editing is over. **Rachelle has more posts on Query letters and they can all be found right here. 

7) “Why Prologues Don’t Work” by Kristin Nelson. This struck a chord with me because I’ve been thinking about turning the first chapter of my WIP into a prologue. After reading these points from Kristin, I am definitely re-thinking that idea. While I’m still *considering* the idea, I now know what definitely doesn’t work so I can aspire to write a prologue that does. This is a list I believe every writer should have saved somewhere just in case their story calls for one. Ya never know…by having these tips handy, you could be the one to break the mold by writing a fabulous prologue one day!

6) “Conflict vs. Tension” by Becca Puglisi on The Bookshelf Muse. I love reading about other writers’ epiphanies! Becca’s is especially important as it points out the difference between conflict and tension. You may have conflict written all-over your MS, but that doesn’t mean the page-turning tension is there, does it?? Nope, not one bit! Becca’s tips for writing a MS full of tension are spot-on: Conflict in every scene, primal stakes, and clear emotional responses. This is yet another post that made it into my ‘book of knowledge’ (aka: three-ring binder full of printed blog posts with tips and tricks for a writer about the craft).

5) You guessed it! Another So You Think You Can Dance goodie! I bet you’re wondering why I chose to include these dances on my list. Here’s why:
Inspiration can be found in many different ways, people, songs, books, etc. For me, inspiration can be found in both music and dance. The young dancers of So You Think You Can Dance are 100% purely inspirational to me. Their dedication, their ease of movements and their infectious personalities all inspire my writing in some way, shape of form. Most Wednesdays, it’s a new song to add to my writing playlist because of how it was expressed on stage, but other times, it’s the emotion that the dance evoked inside my heart.

Ok, enough of that…bring on the dancing!

After seeing Sasha dance the 2nd routine of the night with All Star Kent – last year’s runner-up – the show was O-V-E-R for me. I was just absolutely….done! This dance was all about two people and the wall their relationship has hit and all the emotions they feel as they’re fighting to get to the other side of that wall. Tyce Diorio, the choreographer, is another one of my favorites and I just…I just love his work to pieces. I really really hope you enjoy this routine:

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BUT! Another something-magical happened! The very last dance of the night featured contestants Caitlyn and Marko and WOW! If you remember, the song, “Heavy In Your Arms” was one of the Songs of the Week here on the blog. The interpretation of that song here was AMAZING!! Here’s the premise: Marko is an over-bearing, controlling man and Caitlyn is trying to escape him so she can find her own voice. I’ll let their dance tell you the rest:

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4) “Things I Never Considered About Being a Writer” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. Learning from other writers is one of the many things I LOVE to do and Lisa’s post hits all the other highlights of why I enjoy being a writer (other than the magic of writing). Everyone is so open and willing to share their knowledge: my family and friends are behind me 100%, I welcome constructive criticism and/or rejections and strive to learn from them, and the people I’ve met and connected with are absolutely amazing at what they do.  I’m proud to have been able to interact, learn from, and call them a ‘writer friend’. In regards to learning, there’s a similarity in writing and practicing yoga: you’re always learning, always a student. You may be able to teach others about a few things along the way, but there’s always room for us as writers to grow and learn from one another.  

3) ”The Flaw in JKR’s (Brilliant) Plan” by S.P. Sipal at Harry Potter for Writers. So….I guess there’s hope for me? LOL! Seriously though, when it comes down to it, I agree with Susan here: “…noting these mistakes JKR made gives me hope. It reminds me as a writer that I don’t have to be perfect (though that is no excuse to not strive for excellence). What is absolutely required, however, is to thrill my reader as JK Rowling did that these imperfections just make the work sparkle more brilliantly.” Nobody and no story is going to be perfect….but we sure can try and rest easy at the end of the day if it isn’t. Don’t you agree??

2) “The First Sentence as an Amuse-Bouche” by Therese Walsh on Writer Unboxed. We’ve all experienced and dealt with the pressure of trying to come up with that amazing first sentence. One that’ll hook the reader from the get-go and never let them go. But, unfortunately, sometimes we stare at a blank page and watch the cursor while we try to think of how to start our next WIP. My advice? Scrap thinking about how you’re going to start the next project. Just start it! Once you’ve reached the end, that perfect first sentence will come to you and hint at the fabulous character arc the reader is about to experience. The first sentence of my WIP didn’t come to me until the moment I typed The End: “Today was the day I wish I had the immortal gifts of my characters.” <—Is it making you go ‘hmmmm’?

1) “Meta-Emotion: How We Feel About Feelings, and How it Can Affect Our Writing” by Sarah Fine on The Strangest Situation. This post was a wonderful insight into how we as writers feel about feelings and how it leaps into our writing. This is one of the many reasons why I feel like I have to become my characters when I’m writing them. I’m pulled into their minds and feelings, leaving my own on the door step as I take a walk in their shoes for a day and witness a vastly different set of emotions and thoughts. If I didn’t, there would be a whole lotta author intrusion going on and that’s just not attractive. No one feels the same way or handles situations the same way I do. Not my family, not the reader, and most certainly not my characters. This post reminded me of that.

**Bonus Link!!**
Here’s a little humor to start your weekend off with. It’s a ‘Public Service Announcement’ that gave me a fit of giggles while I was reading it though mostly that was because I was nodding my head as I read through most of Patti’s signals of the condition.
I’m on the road to recovery. :0)

Here are a few updates to go along with this week’s favs:
Off the Blog: Overall, this was actually a great week! On Monday, I went back to work (after a 7 work-day vacation) and I wasn’t nearly as overwhelmed by emails like I thought I would be. I’m still behind on a few things, but they’ll get done sooner rather than later. I even started my new ‘Finding the Balance’ schedule and so far, so good there!
On the Blog: It was an awesome week for writing. I had a hard time picking a ‘Top Ten’ – or top nine if you remove a space for a SYTYCD clip. I even had a stroke of inspiration this week and wrote a post on writing with multiple POV’s. I’m crossing my fingers that this will happen again over the weekend so I’ll be all set on posts next week! :0)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Happy Reading & Writing!
Melinda

Whose Line?!? Using Multiple Points of View in Your Writing

Remember the improve comedy TV show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’? Well, Colin, Ryan, Wayne and Drew popped into my head recently as I moved from one POV in my MS to another during the editing process.

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Picture Courtesy of ShareTV.com

We’ve seen, read and experienced POV shifts in novels, but when it comes to actually writing those shifts, we sometimes find ourselves a little worried about whether or not those shifts of POV are working. Personally, my MS shifts between first-person POV – told from my protagonist’s POV for about 85% of the story – to third-person POV – as a way to both help move the plot forward (since there are some fairly major steps taken by characters other than the MC) and help the reader along in understanding the ‘supporting cast’ of the story. I know, I know….shifting from first to third must be ‘handled with care’ and while it’s great in theory, it doesn’t necessarily work. But that’ll be for my beta readers to decide. Any takers? J If I need to re-write everything in third, then that’s what I’ll do. *Side note: the last novel I read that shifts from first to third – very sparingly – and handled it beautifully was ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness. I highly recommend this book to everyone I meet.
 
So what is ‘handling with care’ when it comes to POV shifts?
 

  • White space and astericks are your best friend!Chapter or scene breaks are my personal go-to device when it comes to moving the focus from the MC to another character. Normally when we see POV shifts, we’re also experiencing scene changes (There are rare situations where two POV’s are told for the same scene, but let’s just stick with the basics today), so naturally a scene or chapter break is going to be used. White space and/or asterisks are your best friend when breaking and/or shifting! I hate reading and enjoying a scene when out of nowhere, without warning, the next sentence starts another scene entirely from a different character’s POV and you’re left standing in the middle of a dark hall thinking “Um….what just happened here??”. Having white space or asterisks lets the reader know you’re about to take a right turn at the next corner…gives them a map, so to speak.

 

  • Let the story/characters decide ‘Whose Line’. In my case, I have a first-person protagonist, so any scene that entails both her and multiple characters is going to be told from her POV. But if you’re writing in third and you’ve come to a point where two or more of your characters have found themselves together in a scene, let the story and/or characters decide who’s going to narrate. Maybe the MC should? Maybe the most opinionated of the crew should? Let them decide and follow your gut on this one. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work like it should so you search for another character/angle to tell the scene from then re-write. We’re writers….this is what we do best! :0)

 

  • Find the unique voice in each POV you’re writing. Let me ask you a question: How would you feel if all of your friends, colleagues, family, or critique partners had the same voice as you?? You’d get a little bored with your day to day conversations wouldn’t you? So will the reader. If every character they’re following sees the world the same, reacts the same, feels the same, etc. then you will have lost your reader. Sometimes you’ll lose them before they really get a chance to dive into the heart of your story. Use your friends, family and colleagues as inspiration. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they see the world or how they might react and/or feel about a particular action or problem. Just keep in mind that you’ll be doing that for research so any heated debates and/or arguments you subsequently enter into cannot be blamed on me. :0)

 

  • The protagonist rules all! Create a chain of command when it comes to your storytellers. Start with your protagonist as the ‘Colonel’. As such, 80-90% of the story is going to be told by them. With the rest of your characters, a.k.a. the ‘Soldiers’, be selective in deciding who’s going to be the best at storytelling and moving the story along. Then decide on what % of page time they can actually have. Too many storytellers are extremely annoying, especially when the story is supposed to be about one character’s journey, yet it’s being told by too many other people with too many opinions. One of the ways I’ve seen this done successfully is by Jodi Piccoult, as her stories are told by many first-person narrators and I personally believe she is one of the exceptions to this rule. Just as Soldiers should report to their Colonel and the Colonel report to the General, supporting characters should follow the lead and allow your MC to take charge in reporting the story to the reader. Only when needed – and sparingly – should a Soldier report directly to the General.

 

  • There is strength in small numbers. When starting to write a story with multiple POV, it’s important to decide how many different POV’s your willing to allow. The higher the number, the higher the difficulty in keeping up with their individual voices, quirks, opinions, and actions. And not just for you, but your readers. Keep unnecessary voices out of your story…especially if their voice doesn’t help move the plot along. Even if they have an opinion relevant to your story, find another way to incorporate it — a simple conversation with another character whose POV is being told will suffice.

 
These tips for handling multiple POV’s with care are only the tip of the iceberg. There are gobs and gobs of information out there on this topic alone. These are some of the personal tips that I’ve put together based on my own writing experience.
 
What about you? Do you enjoy reading and/or writing multiple POV’s? If so, what do you find most attractive about this style of writing? Do you have any tips on writing multiple POV’s you’d like to share? Have you read any books lately that have shifted POV’s so seamlessly that the story was enjoyable?

This Week In Favs……….

10) “Critiquely Interview with The Rejectionist” from Mary Baader Kaley on Mary Baader Kaley (is) Not an Editor. Aahh…. an interview with one of my favorite blogs to follow: The Rejectionist. This is one interview that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It was refreshing, open, honest, and gave me the warm tingles. My hope it that you enjoy this interview as well. And……

Here’s a little treat from The Rejectionist’s website that I found this week – A Harry Potter themed want ad: 

9) “There Is No Such Thing as Writer’s Block” by Joseph Selby, guest blogger on Roni Loren’s writing blog, Fiction Groupie (who was also interviewed by Mary Baader Kaley…check out her interview here). I loved this post! Especially the Neverending Story references he uses (I’ve definitely felt like my WIP was consumed by the Nothing a time or two). Writer’s block is the one excuse that I’ve consistently tried to wipe from my vocabulary. Nowhere can I have the word ‘writer’ followed by ‘block’. For me, 40% of the time outside stressors are what’s blocking my Muse from coming through. The other 60%? Somewhere along the way (a consequence of being 90% pantser) I’ve either missed a secondary plot element, forgotten about a character, or mishandled a delicate scene. All of these are reasons for my subconscious to tell my conscious that I need to go back and fix it immediately!

8) “Should Books Have a Rating System?” by Jami Gold. This is one of those posts that you keep going back to so you can read the thoughts and comments of other readers. Should books have a rating system? In my humble opinion: absolutely. It keeps readers from being blind-sided by sensitive topics (such as rape, abuse, etc.) and offers the parents of MG & YA readers a cushion so they have a better idea of what their children are reading without having to read them first. I don’t have children, and I’m already so busy, I barely have time to eat. Parents with pre-teens and/or teens in the household? Busier!! Besides, a rating system could also prove useful for us as writers. *ahem* “Who’s more likely to give a book a bad review or start a book banning campaign? Those who knew the content going in, or those who were blind-sided?” <—Excellent question, Jami! I encourage everyone to get over there and share your thoughts on the subject.

7) “Turn It Off’” by Barbara O’Neal on Writer Unboxed. *snort* Ooookay…. this has been a long-time comin’ for me! My biggest issue when I’m sitting at the computer trying to edit? The INTERNET! I don’t know if it’s ADD (I’m gonna call it like it is since, ‘our concentration is becoming fragmented by our attachment to electronics’, is putting it a little too nicely for me personally), or if I just subconsciously look to the internet world for inspiration when I’m stuck on a scene. Whatever it is, it is NOT good! It’s waaaaay to easy to get stuck on Twitter, Facebook or blog-surfing. The next thing you know, it’s an hour later, and you’ve wasted a damn good 60 minutes that could’ve been used finishing those chapter edits. I’ve printed Barbara’s suggestions and now have them posted on my wall. I’ll let you know how it’s going in a few days. 😉

6) “Breaking Down Writing – The How and Why?” by Tina Moss. Tina’s on vacay for the next two weeks, recharging her batteries and *hopefully* soaking up some sun. While she’s away, I’m enjoying her list of suggestions on writing methods. I’m 100% with her on #2: Write every day, and #5: If you tell your friends and families that you’re a writer, then you have to act like one.
Tina’s post is quite timely as I’ve been scheming a lil’ something for a week in August on the blog: The Writing Process. My ultimate goal? Guest bloggers for an entire week, sharing *their* writing process and personal writing tips. Maybe it’ll be Q&A, maybe it’ll be free form. I haven’t decided yet, but some of my favorite bloggers – and you know who you are – may be finding requests in their inboxes soon. *fingers crossed*

5) Another So You Think You Can Dance goodie!! 🙂
Melanie is the one to beat the season! Why, you ask? The dances I’m highlighting from this week both showcase her dance and interpretation of what the choreographers gave her <—That’s a true artist for you!

I could go on about how awesome she is, but I won’t. Instead, I give you the first performance from Wednesday night’s show that took my breath away….and it includes All Star Neil, one of my favs from seasons’ past (keep an eye out for Melanie’s HUGE ‘leap of faith’ into Neil’s arms).

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Next up: Grrrl power! Sasha and Melanie teamed for a jazz routine by one of my all-time favorite choreographers, Sonya Tayek. I could write an entire blog post on Sonya alone (and what I wouldn’t give to spend one day with her)!

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4) “Don’t Lose the Magic” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. A-ha! When you’re beating yourself up over the difficulties of writing, gaining representation and publishing, Lisa comes through and reminds you not to forget the magic you discovered when you first picked up a pen – whether you were 7, 9, 14, 23, or 50 years old. There’s a reason why you started writing and it was called MAGIC.

Wanna see my reminder (thanks to Lisa’s wonderful reminder)? 

2011-07-28 22.35.07

 Can you tell I got a bit stuck editing today?!?

3) “Twisting and Deepening the Final Battle” by S.P. Sipal on Harry Potter for Writers. I LOVE these analyses from Susan. I couldn’t even begin to dive into the writing of JKR and pull the incredible lessons out of the writing the way she can. I mean….. I…… *sighs* Words seriously fail me right now. Susan: BRAVO on this post! I really really can’t wait for your next series – Mystery Plotting, is it?  🙂

2) “What Drives a Story: Plot or Characters?” by Jami Gold. Yessss! Another awesome post that keeps me going back to read the comments. I love it when posts start a great debate between fellow writers. I’ll give you the ‘snapshop’ of the loooong comment I left on Jami’s blog: I tend to teeter in the ‘in between’ with reading, writing and movie-watching. I thoroughly enjoy the books and movies that tend to move a little slow (for other people) but offer the best character arcs of a lifetime. BUT, I also enjoy the flat-characters, blow-things-up, nothing-but-action movies and books that are so in your face, you seriously can’t look away. On the flip side, in my writing, I’ve got my characters and what I believe to be a very good plot developed, but both could use a little more oomph! For me, in a perfect world, every story would have that balance: an unforgettable plot AND unforgettable characters.

1) “Keeping the Faith: Best-Selling Authors Tell What Keeps Them Writing” on Writer Unboxed. To go along with Lisa’s post listed above (go figure I’d come across this within an hour of reading her post…when I should have been editing),  I wanted to share some inspiring words that were posted on Writer Unboxed this week. My favorite is from Dawn Tripp, author of Game of Secrets: “My heart broke for four years as I was writing Game of Secrets. That might seem a strange thing to say. It was a strange thing to feel. But it drove me. Writing is a dream of the body, not strictly of the mind, and even when I couldn’t quite see how the strands of the story would all come together, I somehow knew heartbreak was a feeling I could trust.” <—this quote was pulled from her interview on Psychology Today. One word: WOW! Hope you enjoy reading their inspiring words!

Now I’m off to get some more editing done! Today is my last ‘official’ vacation day from work – aka: time away from work to write/edit – which means that come Monday, I’m going to be right back in the office, overwhelmed with emails, phone calls and who knows what else! After the end of August, I won’t have be able to take anymore time off until January.

**But I wouldn’t change it for the world!**

Happy Reading & Writing!!!

Melinda

Finding the Balance

Like a lot of people, I’ve been struggling with balance in my life for quite a while now…balance between my work life, my writing life, my reading life, my blogging life (which is still new to me), and my personal life. I’ve got so much going on, that I’ve lovingly referred to my life (as I know it) as chaotic.
Fellow blogger, Lisa Gail Green, actually posted an article, Balancing Act, that has stuck a chord with me since the day I read it. I’ve thought long and hard for the past several weeks about time/energy management. 
Just to break down the chaos for you:

  • I work 40+ hours a week at a job that I absolutely love and enjoy. Everyone I work with has become family, and the company’s absolutely amazing to work for.
  • I’ve completed the first draft of my WIP and am currently 70% through my first round of edits. I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of work I’ve got ahead of me: 2nd and 3rd drafts and line edits (to name a few). 
  • I love to read, and in order to be a writer – at least a good writer – you have to read; mainly books in your genre. This is a much needed escape for me and without it, I’d be completely lost — no GPS system on earth would be able to locate me.
  • I enjoy connecting with other readers and writers via Twitter, Blogger and Facebook. I often find myself on there for at least an hour every night (C’mon, it’s really really easy to pass that 1-hr mark on the clock!). I learned quickly from my FT job that networking is important in business and I’ve actually grown to love it.
  • I have a blog and I thoroughly enjoy sharing my life with other readers/writers…especially my personal favorites from the week! I like to put myself out there, say what I need/want to say – whether it’s wrong or right – and share my fears, hopes and dreams.  I also enjoy spending time on other people’s blogs, reading their fears, hopes, dreams, and all of the wonderful writing tips they each have to offer. Everyone is so amazing that it’s hard to keep up with it all!
  • I have a wonderful husband and small circle of friends that I absolutely love and adore. While my husband is extremely supportive of my craft, I often feel guilty since we don’t spend too much time together during the week. I also couldn’t imagine not going a week without seeing our dear friends.

Now, when you think about, that doesn’t seem like a lot. But when you dive into it, there’s only so many hours in the day to do it all (Side note: I am a little OCD and a complete Type-A personality. Call me crazy and it won’t hurt my feelings whatsoever.). The only constant that I know I must do to keep my ‘mojo’ is writing and/or editing. With the exception of one day a week, I have to spend time (even the smallest amount) with my current WIP. Whether it’s writing or editing, it’s an absolute must. The worlds I create are mine and I looove spending time in them. My muse and those worlds keep me sane (at least by my definition of the word).

Sooo………

Here’s my solution/plan for Finding the Balance in this chaotic, surprising, exciting, lovely life:

  • Taking it one day at a time: I was given a motto by an old boss several years ago: IOOP = I’m Only One Person. I try to do as much as I possibly can. I’m a passionate and selfless person, and as such, I push hard and strive for my dreams. But…..
  • Remember: Stress = Illness. The more you stress, the more your body wears down (notice I didn’t work fitness into my chaos – I should probably re-evaluate that). You lose sleep the more you stress, thus, the more your body begins to beg for you to sloooow the hell down! *One day at a time*
  • Several passions = several days a week to slowly spend time with them all…without feeling guilty. As much as it pains me to not be able to write for three hours every single night, I’ve come to realize that ‘slow and steady’ can be best (more to come on this one). Beginning Monday, I’ll begin following a strict schedule:
    • Monday & Tuesday evenings: 30-minutes working out, 1 hour for blogging – and not just my own, but reading and catching up on some of my favorite blogs! Follow up with an hour of editing and an hour of reading (depending on what the hubby and I have planned).
    • Wednesday evenings: 30-minutes working out followed by quality time with my lil’ sis, then quality time with the hubs. <—this entire night provides what can be a much-needed break from writing and editing! 
    • Thursday Evenings: 30-minutes working out, 1 hour of Twitter/Facebook, 1 hour of blog time (personal blog this time) then an hour of quality time with my WIP.
    • Friday Nights: This was a tough one to plan out, but I’m leaving Friday nights open to do whatever my little heart desires: hanging out with friends, editing, spending time with the hubs, watching a movie, reading a book….. the possibilities are endless!
    • Saturday Mornings: More time (maybe 2-4 hours) with the WIP (or spending time editing my CP’s MS or researching a new project). Maybe I can squeeze in another 30-minute session of working out???
    • Saturday nights: much-needed quality friends and family time! <---and maybe a little brainstorming on my WIP with my best friend (who is also an avid reader & tells me if I’m falling off the tracks).
    • Sundays: Twitter, blogs, laundry, alone time with the hubby, TV show catch-up…maybe a little reading as well, but only after spending more time with the current WIP. 

Notice I didn’t include blog surfing in there? Well… I consider the blogs I ‘follow’ as favorites. I tend to come across other blogs by following the hashtags on Twitter and I plan on reading through those during my breaks/lunches at work (thank goodness for my android phone!).

We’ll see where this new outlook and plan will take me. Who knows…I may find enough time to  add another item to my list.

What balance are you struggling to find? Is it between work and personal/family life? Work, personal and reading and writing? Or maybe it’s just a professional balance: you spend to much time on emails, and not enough time on reporting or talking with your clients?

Please share your thoughts, fears, and insights on Finding the Balance in your life.

This Week In Favs……….

Happy Friday everyone! I’m sitting here at the beach, having a glass of wine and enjoying some chips and salsa while putting together this blog post.

I may be on vacay, but this was too incredible a week in the writing blog-o-verse to not gather and share my top picks of the week <—And I had a hard time picking this week since there were sooo many awesome, informational posts out there!

Enough chit-chat….let’s get started!

10) “Author Intrusion: 12 Pitfalls to Avoid” by Roni Loren. Can I just say how much I love and enjoy reading Roni’s posts?? This particular post is here for a very good reason: I’m a repeat offender guilty of #7: Information Dumping (especially in the first draft), #8: Paying Too Much Attention to the Setting or Not Enough, and #10: Putting the Cart Before the Horse. So needless to say, my Muse was talking to me while reading that post, nodding her head and smugly stating “told ya so”. Roni, my Muse thanks you….this list was printed and is currently taped to the wall next to my monitor.

9) “What I Say When I #amwriting…(my process)” by Johanna Harness <—creator of the #amwriting community on Twitter. Wow! Just….wow! The flow charts in Johanna’s post are amazing. Her rough draft process? I can follow that….no problem! But the revision process? I had to look at it for about an hour just to absorb every bubble and where each one was connected. My #amwriting process is nowhere near this caliber, but I must say that I got several ideas to add to my own after seeing these awesome flow charts. Get over and check them out. 

8) “5 Creative Flaws That Will Expose Your Lack of Storytelling Experience” by Larry Brooks on Storyfix.com. I saw this post as great advice for every writer, not just newbies. I’ve been writing for several years, just as most of us have, and during my first and second drafts, I still use proper names with dialogue and I overwrite time fillers and/or food descriptors (I’m a total foodie, by the way) and I do it a bit too often, especially in the first draft. Would it save me time if I keep this in mind while I’m banging out that first draft? Possibly. Am I willing to give it a try and find out after reading this post? Absolutely.

7) “Crafting a 25-Word Pitch” by Marcy Kennedy over at Girls With Pens.  I was drawn to this particular post because Marcy mentions the Facebook post by Rachelle Gardner in which she asked her followers: “In 20 words of less, tell me about the book you’re writing right now.” Well, I responded to this post with my 20 words, and it sucked! So you can imagine that I was grateful to find this post. Marcy breaks down the points you need/should include in your pitch. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to take your 80,000-word story and shrink it down to one sentence. I’m a wordy person in case you haven’t already noticed! If you also want further info on pitching, Rachelle Gardner had two great posts this week also: “Pitching Your Novel” and “Your Verbal Pitch”.

6) “What I Told My Family About Publishing” by Jennifer Hillier, guest post on Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog. Yes! Jennifer posted exactly what I’ve been trying to explain to family members and friends. Just because I’ve got an MS that I really really really want to get published doesn’t mean it’s going to happen any time soon, if at all (although it is the first completed MS that I’ve wanted to get published). What family and friends don’t seem to understand most of the time is: If I were to find an agent today, it could still be 1-2 years before the book hits the shelf. A lot of the time, they also don’t understand that this isn’t the ‘get rich quick’ industry. Now, I can print this out and take it to them, along with a few other similar posts, and I can say: “See this? I doubt I’ll be able to quit my job any time soon, much less buy you that new car you’ve been wanting, Sis.” 🙂

5) Another double dose of So You Think You Can Dance goodies!! We’re down to the Top Ten and now it’s every dancer for themselves vs. the contestants dancing in couples. So, as individuals, they are paired with an All Star Dancer who is both from a previous season of the show, and an expert in their dance style. The Top Ten dancers had a phenomenal week, so of course I had to go with two dances again, right?!?

Here’s Sasha (the contestant) & Twitch (the All Star…one of my favs):

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Next, we have Jess (the contestant) & Katherine (the All Star):

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4) “Deciding When to Show and When to Tell” by Martina on Adventures in Children’s Publishing. This is a prime example of what I love about the blogging world! I’m an adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy author with no shades of YA, but yet I love to learn from sites like this where the posts are written by YA and children’s authors. Techniques of the craft are the same across the board. Whether you’re writing children’s, MG, YA, or adult. We all share the same techniques and learn from one another. This is yet another post that has been printed and added to my notebook of blog posts/writing tips.

3) “How To Leave ‘Em Wanting More! The Wonderful World of Potter” by Lisa Gail Green. Lisa perfectly lists exactly why every fan of JKR is left wanting more Harry Potter: World building, supporting cast, and an outstanding story and hero that will never leave our hearts and minds. THIS is what every aspiring author strives for. We each want to create a story with characters that will reach the masses and be memorable for generations to come.
Lisa’s post is part of the Harry Potter Blogfest. Seven awesomely wonderful bloggers created #PotterChat on Twitter and a scavenger hunt contest that is currently taking place. You only have until 5pm EST today to gather the clues, answer the questions and email your answers. The prizes? Well, you can pick from a wide variety such as a beta read, a first chapter critique, or a copy of two books (one will be released in September, the other is A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter by another great blogger, S.P. Sipal). There’s a total of nine prizes to choose from and it’s first come first serve, so find the clues and send it in by 5 so you can be one of the lucky winners!

2) “What’s Your Blogging Style?” by Jami Gold (psst…. Jami’s one of the awesomely wonderful bloggers in the Harry Potter Blogfest).  Yet another great post from Jami, and this one I really enjoyed reading. It really got me thinking: What keeps you reading a blog post? Is it because it’s short, therefore easy to read? Or is it because of the content, therefore leaving you to not really care if it was a long one? And if it’s a long post, does it flow well, or does it leave you flat to where you have to start skimming? What makes you want to leave comments for the author? Thanks, Jami, for a wonderful, thought-provoking post about blogging. I’m still getting on my feet with this blog so I found this incredibly helpful!

1) “Testing the Idea-Is It Strong Enough to Make a Novel?” by Kristen Lamb. I’ve been following Kristen’s blog for quite a while now, and I’ve come to cherish the information I’ve gained and the techniques I’ve learned. This particular post is a fav because of the LOCK system: Lead Objective Conflict Knockout. Never heard of it? I didn’t either until this post. The LOCK system is a great technique and I was incredibly excited to learn about it. I won’t go into too many details here because I’m just learning about it, so I may not be able to explain it as articulately as Kristen.  The system is from Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell – a book I have on the shelf but haven’t dove into yet. Guess I better get on that, huh?. 
Q4U: Are you finding the links on ‘The Week In Favs’ posts helpful in locating the best of the best in writing blogs? Do you have any suggestions for future ‘Favs’ postings? Please, please share with me (please also be nice).
Hope everyone has a wonderful and cool weekend!

Happy Writing Everyone!!!
Melinda

This Week In Favs……….

10) “The Big Post of Querying” by Kat Zhang on The Katacomb.. This particular post was in response to a question posed to Kat in regards to how she went about querying – which is a daunting task that I think all aspiring authors tend to get the heebe-jeebes about (I know I do). I love Kat’s honesty in her postings. It’s incredibly refreshing and it’s encouraging to hear that within two months of querying, she found herself an agent. I think I’ll be looking to follow some of the advice she gives here. I also couldn’t stop laughing at this twitter conversation she posted. Thanks, Kat…hope you survive the reenactments!

9) I’ve discovered a great writing blog: Miss Snark’s First Victim: A Blog for Aspiring Authors. This particular blog caught my eye as I was reading Kat Zhang’s post (see #10 above). The ‘Authoress’ is anonymous, but she holds monthly (except for June & December) “Secret Agent” contests (aka First Page Shooters) where aspiring authors can send in the first 250 words of their MS, and the Authoress will post 50 entries for comments from other writers and the ‘Secret Agent’. This particular blog is a 2009 winner of the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, and I’m enjoying perusing through the first pages of other writers and learning from them on what works, and what doesn’t work. This is definitely one contest I may find myself entering once my current WIP is polished.

8) Susan (aka: Harry Potter for Writers) is now offering New Editorial Services! I guess I know who I’m going to seek a critique from when it comes time to start sending out queries. Believe me, I trust Susan to be completely open and honest when it comes to critiques on queries, synopsis, and first chapters. Her posts prove she’s got a knack for breaking down the writing and pointing out, not only the good sections, but the trouble sections as well. If I can make her want to read my MS with my query or synopsis, then I know I’ll get some requests from agents in the query process.

7) In conjunction with #9 in this post: “First Page Tips from the Pros” by Becca Puglisi on The Bookshelf Muse. Now, if you’re not following The Bookshelf Muse, then as a writer, you’re seriously missing out!! I literally spent about 5 hours so far this week perusing through their thesauruses again. I might as well take the time, paper and ink to just print every entry on emotions, character traits, settings and weather. Each one comes in handy during each stage of the writing process – especially editing.    
 
6) “Conquering Writer’s Block – When the Writing Gets Tough, the Writer Gets Tougher” by Lydia Sharp on The Sharp Angle. There are no words…..literally. I just can’t come up with how this perfectly gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a novel.

5) Another So You Think You Can Dance goodie!!! As we get closer and closer to deciding who America’s favorite dancer is, the pieces continue to get better and better. This week, I had 4 dances that I really wanted to highlight here, but I will settle with just 2:

Jordan & Tadd: This routine, choreographed by the wonderfully talented Travis Wall – no, I don’t have a crush. He’s just THAT good! I looooved this piece. Intensely beautiful!

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Melanie & Marko: These two dancers were previously highlighted for their outstanding ‘statue dance’ a few weeks ago (if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to that post). These two dancers have proved time and time again that they are the ones to beat in this competition, and once again, I had goosebumps!! The song they danced to, “Skin and Bones” by David J. Roch? Wow! That one has now been added to my writing playlist, and I have the perfect scene to run it on a loop to while editing!

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4) “The Beauty of Books: Why The Literary vs. Genre Debate Isn’t Necessary” by Roni Loren of Fiction Groupie. Roni’s post on Wednesday, “How Fast Do You Have to Write to Build a Successful Career?”, moved a fellow blogger to comment, which then sparked into this wonderful post, opening the door to a great topic of discussion. Why don’t we let this one speak for itself, shall we? “The value and beauty of books is what they do for the reader. So if someone reads a literary memoir about the Holocaust and it makes them connect with the past and feel the anguish of what those people went through, that’s a powerful thing. However, if a woman is reading a romance in a hospital while she cares for her sick child and is able to escape from the current sadness in her own world, that is just as powerful in my opinion.” Right on, Roni!

3) “When a Character Won’t Cooperate” by Karen Essex, guest post on Writer Unboxed.  Listening to your characters is one of the most important things you can do when you’re writing. Karen learned this the same way I did: wanting my MC to be a strong, no holds-barred, independent female from the get-go. But then Avalyn spoke: “Where could I go from there? Why would anyone be interested in me if I didn’t grow into that?” A-ha! *lightbulb dings over my head**initial opening scene chucked* Listen to your MC, Muse, or whatever you call it! You may not like what they have to say, but somehow, they know what’s right and wrong in their story!

2) “Should We Write To Trends?” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. This is exactly why I love the writing community. Everyone is open and honest and THEY GET IT!! Especially Lisa. Just because dystopians are hot right now, does not mean I should start writing it. Why? 2 reasons: 1: It may not be hot in two years when the times comes for the book to hit the shelves, 2: It’s not what’s in my heart! What is? Paranormal Romance (PNR) and Urban Fantasy(UF). Those genres are what make me tick. I enjoy reading them (although I will also read other genres also…if they’re THAT good), thus I thoroughly enjoy writing them. It’s a world I’m comfortable in. I can lay it all out on the page when I’m writing in this genre. Thank you, Lisa! YOU ROCK!

1) Here’s a fun video that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did. It’s called ‘Plot Device’. Description: “A young filmmaker obtains a mysterious device that unleashed the full force of cinema on his front lawn.” Writers, readers and movie-lovers alike will enjoy this. I found myself cracking up a few times. It’s a little long (at 9 min), but well worth the time!

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Happy Reading Everyone!!!

Melinda

This Week In Favs……….

I hope everyone had a safe and fun 4th! I know I did ‘cause I got some major editing done…just in time for the fireworks too!

It’s been such a busy and exciting week in the blogosphere that I had a hard time choosing what was going to make the list, but here it is!

10) “Half Over?” by Katie on KT’s Korner. Kudos to Katie for putting her 2011 goals out there for the world to see! This got me thinking about my goals for 2011. I’m a total list person, due to my OCD, but something different happened on 12/31/10. When I rang in the new year, I didn’t really set too many because, well, normally when I do, I never meet them. If I don’t write them down, then I surpass the ones that were sitting in the back of my head the entire time. So, going with my ‘unspoken’ goals for the year, I’d say that I’m doing pretty good. I’ve made a real effort to work-out more (I’m 6’1” and I weigh 168.2 as of this morning – ha!), I’ve dove back into my writing, and I’ve continued to surround myself with positive people everyday. That’s all I wanted in 2011. Nothing too grand but not too small.

9) “Death by Critique – 6 Tips on How to Avoid It” by Roni Loren. Ahhh…. the elusive over-editing that can shred your novel and its characters into nothing more than empty words on the page. This is one for my book of writing and editing tips: the article minus the super-scary picture (no, not the grim reaper – the other one).

8) “When Your Character Doesn’t Act Like Herself” by Lisa Gail Green of Paranormal Point of View. I don’t behave the same way in every situation or surrounding, and I’m sure that you don’t either. Lisa’s post reminds writers to stay true to their MC(s). They’re people like the rest of us, fictional people, but people nonetheless. My MC, Avalyn, was in the back of my head, screaming “told ya so” on one particular scene when I *almost* kept her calm and reserve. She told me she really needed to just let it all hang out and go off on someone, so that’s what she got, and it worked beautifully. Needless to say, good ol’ lefty is on the lookout for when her actions in certain scenes don’t match up to her character arc.

7) “Voice Tips from the Pros” by Becca Puglisi from The Bookshelf Muse. These ladies have some of the best writing tips out there in the blogosphere! I remembered perusing their thesauruses for hours when I first discovered their blog, and here I am, several months later, super-excited to share one of their awesome posts that hit it home for me this week. Now, I don’t write YA, though I do read it from time to time, so not every pro’s tip was exactly perfect for me, but they each led to something more right for me in my adult paranormal/fantasy world. My MC has a voice and it does leap from the page, but guess what? I want more! So I started interviewing not just my MC, but all of my characters because they each have an individual voice that needs to be heard.

6) Congratulations are in order for Tina Moss! *throws confetti* She and Yelena Casale (her co-writer)’s MS, BLOOD BOND, placed 1st in Central Florida’s RWA Touch of Magic contest (Paranormal category)!! The final round judge, Meredith Giordan, an editor at Berkley, “…thought our main characters were very likeable, that the hook grabbed her attention, and would love to read the full MS.” I’m just as excited as Tina for Ms. Giordan’s use of the word love. This is a huge accomplishment!! Congratulations again, Tina! You rock!!!!

5) Another So You Think You Can Dance goodie! This week, the performances were great, so I had a hard time choosing. Okay, well not really. The Top 7 Guy Dancers were my choice the moment I saw their routine (which was within the first 20 minutes of the show). I love the power in their bodies and how they use it to express the emotion and movements of the music – which is Prague by Damien Rice – another song for my ever growing playlist!

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4) “Why It’s Hard to Be A Writer” by Scott Tracey. Now this is a writer after my own heart! Yes, it’s hard to not only write, but finish a novel, revise said novel, to read and accept a bad critique, and it’s hard to find an agent. But we writers, we do it because we love to write. Period! Scott states this beautifully in this post and he’s right: “The best that any of us can hope for is to keep our head up. Because there’s nothing we’d rather do than write. And writing is the easy part.”

3) “The Green Lantern Movie: How *Not* to Plot a Story” & “The Green Lantern Movie: How *Not* to Write Characters” from Jami Gold. Wow! Can I just say that this post saved me some $$ AND offered great writing tips?!?!? I have to commend Jami for these two posts. When I saw Transformers 3 this past Sunday, I never even thought too much on the plot or the characters (Oh God! Sam was hilarious in the beginning of the movie), and that’s just because when it comes to Transformers, for me, it doesn’t matter. Now that I’ve read Jami’s posts, I’ve gone through the movie in my head, over and over again. Now, I want to watch a couple of bad movies I’ve watched recently…just so I can pick apart the ‘why’s’ on how they didn’t work.

2) “Fireworks” by Donald Maass. I’ve always followed, heeded, and taken action with everything that Mr. Maass has written. My copy of “Writing the Breakout Novel” has highlights galore on its pages. Needless to say, my left brain is soooooo loving this post from him and eagerly seeking out those events, characters, sentences, and entrances/exits, and looking for ways to work with my right brain in making them explode and come alive, just like the Macy’s fireworks display in NYC this past Sunday night. (and if you haven’t read about my Right vs. Left peace treaty, check out yesterday’s post)

1) It’s time for a Simon’s Cat treat! I haven’t posted one of these since my first post and a new one was posted two weeks ago: “Hidden Treasure”.

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Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!!

Happy Reading!

Melinda

Editing Is Fun…. Yes, I’m Serious!!

There comes a time in every writer’s WIP when they must sit down, buckle up and edit <--- “The E Word” elicits a range of emotions unique to each writer.

For me, hearing that I’m about to take a drive with “The E Word” makes me excited. I’m literally rubbing my hands together, getting out my trusty red pen or clicking on ‘track changes’ in Word, cranking up the stereo or headphones, and going into ‘The Bubble’.

During my latest writing/first draft process, I found myself stopping every so often, getting out my red pen then editing what I’d just written. I soon learned that was a bad idea, and it took my best friend, Jennifer, to tell me the following: “If you keep stopping to edit every other day, you’re going to burn out. You need to keep your writing organic. Let. It. Flow.” (this isn’t an exact quote, but it’s how it soaked into my brain)

Huh….so I went home and took her advice. I always trust her advice because I know she wants what’s best for me and my writing. Sure, there are moments when I may think about what she tells me then go back to her with another idea for us to brainstorm instead, but she’s either always hitting the nail on the head, or she’s hitting mighty damn close to it (Which reminds me, I need to buy her a happy surprise!).

I banged out that first draft, quickly capturing the story and trapping it to the page. I didn’t even stop to let the left side of my brain take over and bleed out on the page with spelling and grammar mistakes, description issues, etc. Let’s just say my left brain was itchin’ to get out and wrap its hands around the pages every now and then.
What a difference that made! I finished my first draft not too long after receiving that piece of advise, and now my left brain is having a bit too much fun editing…..seriously!

I’ve found myself doing a mini booty dance at my desk when a scene comes together beautifully, arguing with myleft vs right brainself (more accurately, with my characters) over cutting out a paragraph here or there, then…..something magical happens! My characters (right side of the brain) and “The E Word” (left side of the brain) no longer collide. They’re actually working together, finding places where additional details should be placed, spots where their unique characteristics can shine, and spaces for an additional scene or there.

Ex: Saturday, Jennifer brainstormed with me on some possible holes in the story and where there were could be some opportunities to highlight one or two of the characters even more. So, on Sunday, as the left side of my brain dove into chapter 14, it got halfway through then politely stepped aside, allowing the right side to add in an additional scene (1,000 more words). When the right side was done, I booty danced, then the left side took over again and bled, only a little, over the newly written scene before finishing the rest of the chapter.

To me, editing is what you make it. You either love it or hate it. Some writers have a love-hate relationship with it. It may just come down to how well you manage your right/left brain relationship: Is one more dominate than the other? Are they jealous of the other? Maybe right side doesn’t understand that the left side truly wants what’s best?

Bottom line here is: I love editing!! I love it even more now that my two halves, characters, and WIP are all happily coexisting in my little land of make-believe.

Here is a related post that I found after this blog idea came into my head earlier this week: ‘Can Editing Be Fun?’ Maybe’ by Therese Walsh on Writer Unboxed. Perfection! Ms. Walsh said exactly what I’d pondered on while I was home from work on Monday, sick in the bed and jotting all of this down.

Now, I’d LOVE to know your thoughts on “The E Word”:

Is it something you love, hate, or have a love-hate relationship with? Do you find your characters at battle with the editor in the Left vs. Right War?


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