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Showing posts from September, 2013

Been Missing cuz of Writers Block

I've been on a bit of a downer the past couple of weeks. Not depressed or anything, but suffering from some really severe writer's block. It's gotten to the point that every time I try to write I just freeze up from anxiety. It's why I haven't even been able to make a blog post for a while, and why I haven't even bothered to visit other blogs. Yes, I have been actively avoiding all of you out there. I couldn't stand to witness your apparent success compared to my absolute failure.

Over the last couple of days I started to track back to the inciting incident. Usually when I feel this way, there's something that set it off. And because it was so specific to writing, (day job wasn't suffering, what little social life I have was fine) I knew it had to be writing related. Then I realized that there were two things going on.

First problem: My last post centered around a grammar quirk that I had never noticed before, but now I see every where. I started to wonder what other wacky things I was doing that totally dragged down my work. So whenever I started writing I agonized over every sentence, wondering what I was doing wrong this time. The only reason why Weaver was completed is because my first draft was truly a vomit draft, but now I'm deliberately choking back my own bile. I can't write unless all filters are off, and I've cranked my filters up to 11.

Second problem: Regarding Weaver: After slaving over my query and synopsis, researching agents, making a list of possibles, and steeling myself for the query process, I realized that I just didn't want to go through with it. Yes, I want to be published, but I don't want to go the traditional route. I have been going back and forth between traditional and self-publishing from the day I finished the first draft. When I finally settled on traditional, I made that decision because I thought it was the right one for me. I thought that publishing traditionally would be less work for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be just as much work, if not more; first convincing an agent that I was worth the effort, then convincing a publisher. Plus, these days publishers expect new authors to do a lot of their own marketing anyway, so the idea that I could avoid having to market myself and my book (I'm an introvert who second guesses every social interaction I engage in), was a fallacy. So, in addition to being completely freaked out about writing anything new, I was like a deer in the headlights of the oncoming decision to switch publishing tactics. Finally, I talked myself into self publishing.

So yeah, I'm going the indie route. I know that there's a lot of work to do - firstly, getting a good editor - but at this point in my writing life, I feel like it's the right decision.

I'm hoping that identifying these problems, and writing about them, will help me through this writer's block. I know that everyone gets a touch of the Block, but does anyone else have such specific reasons for it?

Grrrr

Last week my query was critiqued over at Falling For Fiction. There wasn't much to say about the overall content of the query, but one thing grammar-wise stuck out: the word "that".

Just like commas, apparently "that" is something I don't use correctly.

After the critique, I went back and polished the query. Then I tackled my synopsis, which had the same problem. Then, as a commenter suggested, I went back and did a search for "that" on my manuscript.


A sea of that. As far as the eye can see.

So I started the slow process of removing them. And I realized that while most of the sentences were perfectly cromulent sentences, "that" did something terrible to them. It made them passive.

Ah, the passive voice. Bane of my existence.

So, off to more edits for me. I got half the MS done yesterday. I'm going to shoot for the remainder today. It's going to be a long day.

Just a Quick One

My query for Weaver is up for critique at Falling For Fiction today. Feel free to stop by and offer your input.  Or you could just "Tell me I'm good" ;)

Insecure Writers Support Group


HAPPY 2ND ANNIVERSARY, IWSG!

Courtesy of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Clicky-clicky for full list of participants

Anyone else out there watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

I ask, because I'm about to go on a rambling description of a scene involving one of the characters that will loosely tie into my IWSG theme this month.

Sweet Dee (the main female character) is meeting with her psychiatrist. Dee is a failed actress/comedian mostly because Dee the character sucks at acting, (while Kaitlin Olson the actress who plays Dee is amazing). Anyway, after doing a few lines from Good Will Hunting in a terrible Boston accent, Dee says to the psychiatrist "That was good, wasn't it? Tell me that was good." The psychiatrist tries to redirect Dee, but she won't give up. "Tell me that was good," she says. "Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm good. Tellmei'mgoodtellmei'mgoodtellmei'mgoodtellmei'mgood--". This goes on for a little while longer until the shrink snaps and tells Dee that she's good.

Man, I wish I could find a gif of this, or a clip of it from Youtube, because it's amazing to see just how insane Dee is, and how desperate she is for validation (and it's actually funny when you see it, instead of me trying to write it out).

Sound familiar? Maybe not the insanity, (or maybe it is the insanity?), but the need for validation. Have you ever given something you wrote to someone to read, and wanted to just get in their face and demand for them to tell you how awesome it is? I haven't, but sometimes I really want to.

I really want someone to tell me I'm good, that my writing is good, without any qualifiers. "I really liked it, but..." I hate buts.

On the other hand, I think if I ever get to the point where I don't get any buts, that's the day that I'm so rich and famous that I'll just be surrounded by sycophants who will tell me what I want to hear all day.

You know what? I could live with that.

Anyway, anybody else out there want to scream "Tell me I'm good," or is it just me?

Just me?

Ok.

*quietly slinks out of the internet*

Inspiration Tuesday: because Mondays are for chumps

Somehow managed to miss Monday for my Inspiration post, so here we go with
Tuesday.

Last month the writing world lost one of its greats, Elmore Leonard. I'm going to be honest here, I've never read an Elmore Leonard book, but I did see Get Shorty, so that counts right? Right?

Anyway, Leonard was famous for his spare prose and sharp dialogue. And among writers, his 10 Rules for Great Writing:
  1.  Never open a book with weather.
  2.  Avoid prologues.
  3.  Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
  4.  Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said".
  5.  Keep your exclamation points under control. 
  6.  Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
  7.  Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8.  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9.  Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
  10.  Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Of course "rules" in the writing world are more like suggestions, so feel free to break any number of these. But if you're breaking more than 4 of them, you probably need to stop and rethink what you're doing, and how you're doing it. Notice that none of these rules have anything to do with actual plot. You can have the most awesomely plotty novel out there, but being too verbose, just for the sake of verbosity, doesn't make a great book.

I have had to learn that lesson myself. I am fully capable of breaking - and have broken - every rule on this list simultaneously. It's a hard lesson to learn, but once I did get it through my thick skull, I found that I am capable of so much more.

Red, White and Blue Make Purple Blogfest

Today is the Red and Blue Make Purple Blogfest, hosted by Melanie Shulz. Click the badge above to hop on over for the full list of participants and details.

The participating posts in this blogfest will be collected into an anthology made available on Kindle, with the proceeds going to Operation Purple.

All right, off we go:
It’s a sea of faces, and banners, and placards. People are shouting, and waving frantically. The soldiers can’t wave back. Not yet.

Her eyes dart across the crowd, and land on a tousled red head, but the child is a stranger. She searches again. Then she sees them.

James is standing near the back, looking directly at her with a big grin on his face. On his shoulders sits little Dylan, his red hair – the hair no one on either side of the family can account for – glints under the florescent lights high above him. He looks both excited and a little frightened by all the people around him.

The battalion is released. The soldiers fall out, all of the tense anxiety of thirty-six hours of traveling, and expectation melts into a miasma that is palpable in the air. People jostle and push in an orderly way, as they  try to reach their loved ones in a room that is too small to really hold all of them. After a time that seems to be too long, but is really only a minute or two, James is in front of her, leaning in with Dylan still perched on his shoulders. He pecks her on the cheek, aware of how she has always felt about PDAs in front of other soldiers.

He lifts Dylan from his shoulders and holds her son out to her. Dylan makes a face and struggles as she takes him in her arms. He whines and squirms as she hugs him, and tears spring into her eyes.

He doesn’t remember me.

Nine months of his life had passed by. Nine months that she had only glimpsed through weekly video calls on Skype.

She tries not to let the tears fill her voice. “Shhhh, Honey Bunny. It’s ok.”

At the sound of her voice Dylan calms. He looks up into her face. The frown on his face makes him look like a very serious old man
. He lifts one chubby hand to touch her cheek, then her mouth. He knows her voice.

“Hi there,” she says making herself smile, despite her absolute certainty that she is a stranger to her
own son. “I missed you Honey Bunny.”

Dylan laughs. He recognizes her voice, even if her face may seem a little odd to him.

“See,” James says. He wraps his arms around them, making a Dylan sandwich between them. “Nothing to worry about. He knows who you are. We’re so glad you’re home.”

Book Review: The Newstead Project

This past month I read three books: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman; 77 Shadow Street, by Dean Koontz (which only served to remind me of why I don't read Koontz anymore); and The Newstead Project by Melanie Shulz.

Lucky Melanie gets to be the one I review this month.


I'll just get the blurb from amazon here: "The Newstead Trilogy is an epic battle of good vs. evil. This time, evil has a plan; it's called Newstead, a school hidden deep in rural Vermont. There you'll find the six hundred or so genetic mutations they've created to inflict upon the world. But good has a plan, too; and Newstead has just admitted him. Plan Well. Plan Wisely."

Review time:

The good:
Ok, at first I was wary of reading this because it is firmly in the YA Paranormal, supernatural hero in love with human female genre that I really just don't get. But, I made myself start reading it, and then I found it hard to put it down. First thing you should know is that the blurb is so incredibly vague that you really don't know what you're getting in to. The 'genetic mutations' are Nephilim who are being groomed for a war between Good and Evil, and let me tell you, they are some creepy 'bleepity-bleeps'. The plot is engaging, and keeps you moving forward, and I really wanted to know how the story ended. It's well written, the atmosphere that Shulz creates at the Newstead school is great, and the character growth, particularly with the male lead, was very well done. If you're a fan of this particular type of story, you'll probably enjoy it even more than I did.

The bad:
My main quibble with The Newstead Project is it's structure. There are two points of view, Joel and Rachel, and while each has their own adventures, there are times when they overlap. For instance one chapter will show an event in Rachel's POV, and then the next chapter will be the same event in Joel's POV. It seems redundant to me, and it took a ridiculously long time for me to get over the - I want to call it a quirk, but I'm sure there is a more literary term for it. Once I finally accepted that it was going to happen every few chapters, I was able to enjoy the novel more.

Verdict:
I did enjoy reading the Newstead Project, but the redundancies in the narrative really irked me. I'm giving it a 4 out of 5 pineapples, based off of the enjoyability, (that is too a word!),but it could have been a perfect score if it weren't for those duplicated scenes.