Thursday, November 25, 2010

A birthday present

So after a failed attempt at NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month), I was called upon by my dear hubby to throw together a birthday gift for his mother. He says a few words and I'm suddenly thrown into some rather intense chaos as I search for just the right thing. After the success of my last painting, I finally decided I'd give it another try. So all I needed was a great photo that I could get excited about putting on canvas...

This is a picture of my father-in-law and his mother at the airport after he'd been gone for three years serving as a mission president in Argentina. This wonderful woman passed away only a week later.

I was of course struck by the emotion the picture portrays and felt the inspiration that I need to paint. First, though, I needed to set up shop, including the photo and a sketch I whipped up, all taped on the cupboards in my studio (ahem, I've said it before, it's my laundry room . . . but things are what you make of them, right?)

Next came transferring the sketch to the canvas. (Secretly this is the hardest part for me. If the sketch doesn't come out right, the picture is doomed from the beginning.) Sketch complete, I finally get to put paint down, always starting with the background.

Next comes the skin. Skin is always hard because you have to mix just the right color and make the separate people different enough so they look like individuals. Once you get a good color though, it's the delightful shading after that.

After skin comes hair and facial details.

Then clothing:

Then stress . . . As you can see from the picture, the face of my FIL is just not quite right. Grandma came out just about right on the first try, but my dear FIL... So I called in the experts--two friends of mine who both have a spectacular eye. They helped talk me through some of the finer lines and very specific details. It's amazing how much the smallest lines and most minute shading can affect the recognizable features. Here is what finally came out. Duh-dum-dum! The reveal!

The close ups:

The full pic (including what you can see of my

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


And there we go. Alright, I couldn't wait for the weekend to finish. I'm sure I'll tweak it here or there for a few weeks until I'm satisfied but for now, I'm calling it complete. Whew. The speed in which I dispatched this painting is a personal best. Go me!

And just for fun so you can compare yesterday's painting to the one from today, (you know, just to prove I actually did some work instead of posting the same pic again) here's the one from the previous post.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ART . . . and writin', but mostly art today

Thus far my charming little blog has been about my passion for all things writing related. So you were probably all wondering where the Art part of my blog title came from. Or didn't wonder. I suppose you all have your own blogs . . . and lives . . . Anyhow, I digress. Yes it's true, I also have a passion for art. See this post here if you are interested enough to see when I last mentioned art on the blog.

In fact you might say art is my first passion going back well before college, high school or even grade school. Never mind that I was pulling enough cobwebs off my oil painting brushes earlier this week to decorate my entire house for Halloween (as well as lint, hair and the occasional dead spider), or that I needed an entirely new set of paints (the ones I'd purchased and used religiously ten years earlier were not willing to open for anything). I love painting. I can't say that I'm very good at it. My paintings always come off as mere shadows of how I'd imagine them, leaving me severely disappointed and frustrated until I throw my brushes down in disgust and refuse to look at it again for months. Other people say they're pretty good but I suspect that they're just trying to be nice. In fear of proving this suspicion correct, I am going to share my latest project. Bear in mind it isn't finished. The remaining details will be furbished by the end of the week when the paint has dried some. I will post it with some pride then (or perhaps with a big, black frustrated X across it).

Earliest pic taken in my elegant art studio . . . Okay, fine, it's my laundry room. At least the project inspired me to clean it to death and then put a lock on the door barring Thing 1 and Thing 2 from messing it up or making paintings of their own. One week down and it's still clean.

I wish I'd turned off the flash. It totally screws up the colors not to mention putting a big, bright light right in the middle. Still getting used to the new phone/camera.

Work done today (ahem, without the flash).

I will be posting the final picture sometime this weekend. People say, "the picture just doesn't do it justice." I will agree fervently with this caveat: The photograph doesn't include the feeling of paints streaking together under my pallet knife, the merging of colors on the canvas under my brush, the image acquiring depth with a few well-placed strokes of shading, and (my all time favorite) the pungent and nostalgic smell of the oil paints seeping from under the door or striking memories into my brain as I enter the room. But alas, I wax poetic only for brush and canvas. Stop me now . . . no really, I mean it! This is getting ridiculous.

Just in case you're wondering, this painting is for my dad's latest book in his American Dreammakers series (also see above link) which I have been privileged to do the cover art for. Flypaper will hopefully grace my bookshelf sometime next year. Until then . . .

Stay tuned for the final, um, I want to say draft, but that's a writing term. Just stay tuned. There.

P.S. Dad if you're reading this, this is your boost to finish those edits and send me the manuscript.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Awards, Apologies and Playlists, oh my....

Several things of note today. First of all I have been awarded the amazing One Lovely Blog award that I've lusted after ever since I saw it on someone elses blog months ago.

The rules of the "one Lovely Blog Award" are as follows:

Accept your award and post it on your blog along with a link to the person who has sent it to you. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you have newly discovered. You must contact the person to let them know that you have chosen them to receive the award.

The lovely Shellie actually awarded it to me first (belated and rather shamefaced thank you) but being in a depressing slump at the time (see this post), I didn't get around to claiming it. Then Nicki Elson was kind enough to nominate me as well and since Thing 1 and Thing 2 hadn't been in one of their more destructive moods, I was in the frame of mind to think about things like pink roses and teacups. Now my choices of those to receive this award go to (drum roll please):

Terra L
Kaitlyn Schulz
Julie Geistfeld
Roxy Haynie
Danyelle Leafty
Vicki Rocho
Talli Roland
Lola Sharp
Krista Lynne Jensen
Maria Savva

If you're someone who has already received it, sorry. If I've miscounted, again sorry. I've been told that I have ADD, so that should work as an umbrella disclaimer for any of my very reasonable failings.

In other news, I finally made a playlist for R.A.G.E. after spending a great deal of my precious writing time scrolling through my iTunes playlist for just the right mood song to get me going. It features but is not limited to songs by Evenescense, Within Temptation and Nightwish. I even threw in a couple of Toby Kieth's patriotic songs.

What songs do you write to?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

10 Things I've Learned So Far

Here are a few things I've learned since I started writing seriously. Now some of them I should have learned in my High School English classes but . . . well . . . Ahem, anyway, here goes in no particular order:

(Disclaimer: If I preach about something and then automatically turn around and fail to accomplish it in this post--I only said I'd learned it, I never said I'd perfected it. You've been warned. I don't want to hear no friggin' guff from any of you.)

1. I've learned the difference between their/there/they're as well as your/you're etc. There is no excuse for not learning grammar basics. This is my craft and I have to be a master of my craft before I can turn it into compelling prose.

2. Adverbs = evil. Words ending in 'ly not only can be overdone to the point of annoyance, they also cheat you out of a chance for more vivid description. Example: I angrily typed this diatribe. Or: My skin flushed with rage as my fingers pounded the keys until stains of blood littered the letters on the keyboard. (Note: However, if you leave adverbs out entirely, someone will notice and also be annoyed. The idea is to make the words invisible. A little evil is okay.)

2. There is always a comma within the quotation marks before a dialogue tag. No dialogue tag, no problem. Put a period within the quote marks.

3. Speaking of dialogue tags, they should be few and far between but in no way eliminated completely. When necessary only use the basic ones: he/she said/asked/whispered. Creativity will not get you points in this case. All the barking, choking, gasping, crying, yelling, laughing, coughing etc. will only make it sound as though your characters are animals in a zoo.

4. Active vs. passive writing. Repeat after me: This sentence is being far too passive. Wait . . . go here for more information on active vs. passive. It may be complicated but it's a super hero concept that might just save your novel.

5. Dialogue should not meander outside of what is completely necessary to move the story along. A little meandering to make it sound real is fine. Too much and the reader starts rolling their eyes and begins flipping through the channels on the TV to find Hawaii 5-0.

6. Speaking of dialogue, each speaker gets to have their own paragraph. Don't let different speakers crowd into each others paragraphs. Separate those little snugglers or else they'll procreate until all you have is one big-a block of text.

7. Don't use twelve words (especially adjectives) where one word will suffice. (Note: I'm not talking about adverbs. By all means use twelve words in place of an adverb if that's what it takes to kill the sucker.) I don't like seeing any knarled, brown, rough, lichen-covered, fungal, buggy, holey, crevassed, ancient, magical trees. (Fine, I could only come up with ten. You get the picture though, right?)

8. Allow your characters some freedom but don't let them take over. By all means you should let the story evolve naturally instead of trying to force it into a box. However, when your characters start acting out of . . . well, character, then it's time to take back the reigns and guide them to safer waters.

9. Writer's block is simply that evil internal critic telling me I'm a failure. (Okay maybe this is just me.) There's no need to listen to snarky voices like that. Better to just finish that !@#$ novel and start listening to real voices like the feedback from beta readers and friends.

!0. There's no substitute for beta readers and critique groups to help to find the flaws, holes and punctuation errors. Of course there's no substitute for a few friends a family (okay and maybe even distant acquaintances) to tell you you're brilliant.

And there you have it. The top ten things I've learned so far as a writer. They are all pretty basic and hopefully things all you writers have learned as well.

What's something you've learned since you started writing?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Demons, begone!!

What is it with my creations that has me throwing up my hands and sending them to their rooms?

I'm talking about my children of course . . . although my characters could use a healthy dose of grounding as well. They make messes of everything, what can I say? For example: my two holy terrors (Thing 1: age 4, Thing 2: age 2) managed to tornado through the house, while I was innocently immersed in a particularly difficult scene of RISK involving some semi-automatic rifles and several incendiaries, and they accomplished the following:

Empty the fridge, feed (and I do mean FEED) the dogs, eat an entire package of individually wrapped German gummy bears + two packets of gum, build a fort out of every blanket and pillow in the house, giggle at the farting sound coming out of the shampoo bottle while they emptied it into the bathtub, stink up the house (okay that was Thing 2 who is relapsing with the whole potty-training thing), paint beautiful murals on my walls with pens, markers, pencils and crayons, scatter the ratchet set and unshelve the books on the bookshelves.

I'm pretty sure there was more than that but my brain shorted out. I was left gaping, gawping and honestly there might have been tears.

Now would you believe while my children were pitter-pattering through the house with their cute little feet and obliterating everything they touched with their cute little hands, my characters were actually doing just the opposite? I know, shocker. Usually it's my characters throwing bullets around as though they were just words on a page and making people bleed thereby forcing me to write a completely different plot line just to get them out of it. But no. They took their rebelliousness and sent it out through the radio waves and possessed my children with their dark and violent tendencies. Okay, maybe that was a little harsh but my characters have been just so well behaved. I mean, this one guy was totally beating up my main character and said-main-character reminded me that she'd been beaten up a lot recently and so we mellowed it out some. Such fun. What a darling.

Apparently I'm not allowed a balance. Either the characters suffer or my house does. Coming up here to the climax of my Work in Progress, I think it's time to send the demon's residing in my children packing back off into the characters. Demonic characters are much more exciting and interesting then demonic children.

Oh and I vow not to have the radio up so loud next time I check out of reality and go wandering around in my manuscript. Apparently the radio waves are demonic conductors for the utter and irreversible possession of children. Demons, stay! Character's, you're grounded. Thing 1 and Thing 2 . . . *sung in the voice of your favorite pop star* Clean up! Clean up! Everybody do your share! Clean up! Clean up! Giant messes everywhere!!

P.S. Just before I was able to hit "publish" on this post, the delightful tinkle of shattering glass was heard from the kitchen. Seriously, no joke. Now, a moment of silence for my favorite vase.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Online BBQ to meet other writers

Hi all newbies to my blog. Thanks to Karen Gowen who came up with this great idea to help us build a web presence by hosting this little shindig. Whether you love beans or not, you'll love this recipe. My mom made it for every BBQ growing up and now I do the same.

Baked Beans
1 lb country style ground sausage
2 16oz cans baked beans drained (I like Van de'camps)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbls mustard
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 whole onion

Brown sausage in large walnut sized pieces. Combine rest of ingredients in a casserole dish. Add sausage. Peel onion and poke holes in it. Push entire thing into the center. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. I like to put it in a crock pot after it's been baked to keep it warm.

Well browse around the other posts and if you wouldn't mind hearing my writerly rantings once in a while, hit that there follow button thing-a-majiggy. I'll come around and see what you have to say as well.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There could be a death. It might be murrrderrrr.

Following the serial killing train of thought, I ran into a huge problem today. I need to kill someone. No honestly, there's this guy and he's lying there on the concrete bleeding from his head and I just know that my next actions are going to trend toward murder rather than salvation.

Yeah, yeah. Of course I'm talking about a character (since if I were to kill actually kill someone, I probably wouldn't blog about it. Probably.) but it doesn't make it any easier. I finally get past this enormous month long block, typing away on my WIP only to be stopped by something like a character bleeding on the concrete. Now this character I don't just love, but adore on many levels. He's one of my favorites and I'm not even sure his entire story has been told. So when I say that I probably need to identify him as dead or alive in the next paragraph, you'll understand my dilemma. I honestly didn't even want to go there. It wasn't a part of any outline, notes or visions for the work. It was just one of those !@#$ moments where the characters and situation takes over and what I have is a bleeding character who may or may not make it through the paragraph.

I guess you might consider it a curse (or a perk, I know there are some weirdos out there) of writing that you have created these wonderful characters, named them, groomed them, given them feelings and life and then in one moment of crap-the-character-hijacked-the-story-again, you find them dead. Writers are killers. There's no way around it. Death is a part of the circle of life and if characters aren't facing mortality in one form or another (i.e. every other chapter usually with M-16s in my books) they are probably not exploring the full scope of their character arch. So we hurt characters, we kill characters, and we throw them into horrendous situations just to see them get out of it. What kind of monsters are we!!

Ahem . . . okay back to bleeding character #1. Without knowing the story, I need votes on what to do. Kill said, interesting, well-loved, not-quite-completed character . . . or let him live to die another way? I mean day. I mean, honestly he might make it. Who knows. It's the climax. A lot can happen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book club and Serial Killers

I seriously have the most awesome book club in the universe. This month was our annual book club retreat which took place at the Silver King resort in Park city. Imagine spending the entire night (ahem, okay only until 5 am or so) talking with your best buds about reading, writing and everything in between (and eating lots of snacks of the sugar and doughnut variety). Now add that our fearless book club leader managed to secure the author of our book as a guest for the evening and you have the most FRAWSOME book club ever!! (Yes we are attempting to kill each other with kitchen utensils. Last one standing got an ARC of Mr. Monster--yeah, I'm reading it right now.)

The book choice this month was I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, a local Utah author. Now not only is this book amazing (no really, the protag is the most interesting and complex protagonist I've ever read) but the author is likewise amazing. The very fact that he took an entire evening to discuss not only his novel with us, but also talk writing and publishing with the few writers in our club says a lot about a person.

Okay, enough gushing (I'm not a gusher by nature but every once in a while I get the urge). One of the things Dan said really stuck with me. I'll have to paraphrase since I wasn't taking notes.

"Anyone can make a living as an artist. If you put as much time and energy as a doctor does in building a career, you can be just as successful. Unfortunately there are not programs designed to guide an author step by step into the industry as there are in other fields but if you consider yourself a writer and work everyday toward making it a career, you can't lose."

Well, I've decided I'm an author. Of course I must be a mother first, but as a sanity-saving supplement to my life, I will be putting in the hours as if it were a career, not just a hobby. Good things are coming my way, I can feel it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's too dang crowded, I can't see the end . . .

Today my two youngest children (2 and 4) dragged out an old toy kitchen set that's been residing in our basement since their older sister outgrew it four years ago. Seeing an opening for quiet writing time while they played with their "new" toy, I put it in the two-year-old's room, listening to them play quietly with the single piece of plastic pizza that had survived the four years of abandonment. Hoping for more than ten minutes of writing time, I scavenged around the house for other toy dishes, toy utensils and plastic food. I was very pleased with myself as I set out the toys for them and then settled down with my laptop to do some serious writing. Not more than ten seconds later, without a single new word to my name, I hear the screaming and wailing telling me the kidlets are engaged in an all out war over the new items. So I settled it, found a couple more things and pulled out my laptop again. Screams, followed by some pushing and if I were to gauge by the the strange crescent-shaped mark on the four-year-old's arm, there was some biting as well.

So what happened between the twenty or so minutes they played happily with the single piece of pizza and the ten seconds they played with everything else. I guess things just got too crowded--too many cool things were put into play.

This got me thinking about my current writing quandary. There I was happily typing along a singular plot line, excited about my dear protag going from point A to point B with this motivation and that problem. Then I start working on the climax and the winding up and realize that things have become too crowded. I've seriously thought of screaming, pushing and biting but being a mature adult have restrained myself (ahem, those aren't bite marks on the screen, I swear!).

I kinda feel like perhaps Stephan King felt when he got somewhere toward the end of The Stand and realized things had gotten too crowded with too many story lines going in a too many directions. What did he do? Apparently he blew up half his characters (I'm only halfway through so I'm going to take his word for it until I get there).

Now blowing up half my characters isn't going to work for me, first of all, I like them way too much and have worked in hints throughout the novel that their lives are vital to the climax, and second of all, I simply don't much care for killing characters (not that you'd know it if you read it).

I did come to a conclusion today that since moving forward is proving impossible, I need to go back and untangle the first draft rats nest, working out all the character's wants and motivations. Hopefully then, I'll be able to see the climax come together in the way I want with all the loose ends tied up.

Before I do that, however, I should probably go and untangle the children from that kitchen set and remove everything except that single piece of plastic pizza.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This'n that

So first off, I'd like to thank all my new followers of this blog. It's been wonderful thinking that I'm posting something and someone is actually reading it. *sniffles and blows nose with stunning self-deprecation*

There has been a great deal going on in the writers community in the last week. My poor google reader is struggling to keep up with the wealth of information. I can't help but sit back and enjoy every article, letting it feed my obsession with the written and soon-to-be-written word. First of all is in full swing filling my little brain with so very much knowledge, I feel like I should be handed a quiz soon just to prove I'm learning stuff. Second, I finally got the hang of twitter, sending out my first tweet just yesterday after cyberstalking agents and writers via their tweets and clicking on every link they offered, sending me into yet another maelstrom information. Thirdly, I discovered a rather new publishing company in Utah which is playing a part in hosting a wonderful contest if a person were to perhaps, I don't know, have a manuscript they've been querying that they'd love feedback from an editor on. That link is here

So there you have it. It's only Wednesday (at least I think it's Wednesday, seems like it should be Friday since I finally get to see Inception then) and as you can see I've been busy sitting on my butt while my mind has been running in a million directions.

....oh and I'm potty-training my youngest child so my butt and my computer have spent a lot of time on the bathroom floor. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hanging threads

What do you do when you're 70,000 words into a manuscript (okay actually 78,000 words, 8,000 of which I have deemed unworthy but can't seem to delete) and you just don't feel it coming together? I have all these little threads I've been setting out since the beginning, characters that I intend of having a great impact at the end and subtle little mini-plots worked in throughout. Trouble is, now I'm feeling the pinch. At 70,000 words the novel should be winding up, everything rolling together into a nice little package that will explode into a dramatic fireworks grand finale of climatic satisfaction and yet my threads are still hanging in a million different directions without a rubberband in sight to hold them in place.

I finally had to pin my husband down last night and give him the abbreviated plot version and beg him to help me out of my rubberbandless dilemma. It helped. A lot in fact. I was able to fix and finish the chapter I'd been wallowing through and even started on the next chapter. That put one thread in place, now I just need to work the other ones in. I have no doubt that everything will work out in the end, but just now I'm in writing purgatory. Right now there's not a lot of enjoyment in putting words down because I know they're bad and will need to be fixed later. The only thing that keeps me going is that whatever I'm writing, I have no doubt I will be able to improve on it--and I will. Yessiree. That's the good part about writing. Most of the time it can only get better. If you're already at good-better-best, you should probably be publishing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I hate/love querying

It's true. I have such strong opposing feelings about querying it kinda turns me schizo.

Rage is on its second major round of querying. The first I'll call an abysmal failure mostly for two main reasons: First: looking back, I'm embarrassed by the query letters I sent. Honestly, they were just really bad. Confusing, bad writing, the works. Second: Obviously the first round of querying didn't render the results I wanted (landing an agent) although I did get a few partial requests.

Now we come to the second round of querying. Okay, the second round of querying I'm a few weeks into. After I finished the aforementioned rewrite, I refused to jump right back into the querying shark tank without that absolutely smashing query letter to match the work. So I wrote a query and edited it and researched before writing another query. Rinse and repeat. Up around query #8 I remember, a website Brett happened on back when he was starting to query his novel House of Wind. So I revisited the site, thought it might be fun to submit to the brilliant, although rather frightening Janet Reid, aka query shark, for a query critique. First I read her requirements for submitting and found out that I had to read 160+ blog posts of query's she's already critiqued.

So I started reading thinking I'd get through a quarter of the posts and then send her mine. Then I discovered that I had ideas of how to correct (or restart) my query while I was reading so I made a habit of having the query up on my screen while reading the blog so it would be easy to make corrections.

I'll tell you, it wasn't easy and it took me well over a week to get through the entire archives but the result was query #14. Well darn it all if I don't feel pretty good about #14. In fact I've sent it out now to over a dozen agents and have already gotten a partial request and a, "I'm passing it on to a colleague who might like it". I didn't take that one as a rejection.

Now we come to the love/hate portion of querying. There is something downright thrilling about sending out that letter and knowing one of those people with connections to major publishing companies is looking at your precious baby and picturing it in hardback. I love getting on my computer and seeing a "re:query:12th Dimension R.A.G.E." in my inbox. My finger hovers over the mouse for a good 30-60 seconds before I'm able to click on it, preparing for the worst, although in at least two cases yesterday, punching my fist in the air and yelling "YES!" That would be the "love" portion of querying.

What I hate: Self doubt. Worry that R.A.G.E. is not good enough, concern that there's not way I can swim in the writing industry, fear that the next rejection will destroy my will to finish my next novel, terror that perhaps my ability to write will never be up to par with industry standards. Usually these fears are the worst in the evenings after the sun goes down and the ghosts come out. During the day things don't look so grim and I can hope, hope, hope for a brighter outcome for my dreams.

P.S. I did submit my query to queryshark. No posting yet but at least the site did its job in giving me a query that I'm not embarrassed by.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Major Overhaul

Finally after years of watching Stephan King inspired movies I took a leap and actually read one of his books. Starting off small with his book On Writing (fabulous) followed by Eyes of the Dragon, I managed to make it to one of his hard core horror novels and picked up It.

To say this novel inspired me would be an understatement. I was utterly amazed by the way he seemed to paint characters and scenery with such vividness and realism. So finishing the 400,000+ words in less than a month I had to go back and look at R.A.G.E.

Now my poor manuscript had been written, edited, edited, edited and edited, then queried, queried, queried, rejected, rejected, rejected and then finally shelved, but after reading It I was determined to have another look. Holy Flatness Batman!! No wonder it had been rejected 50+ times. While my plot wasn't lacking, my faceless characters revolved in little individual spheres that didn't extend past their little sections of dialogue and the most basic of descriptions. Ding, ding, ding. A bell went off in my head and I rolled my neck, cracked my knuckles and sat right down for a complete rewrite. That was about three months ago or whenever I posted last on my sad neglected blog.

Since then the story has taken on depth in regards to setting descriptions as well as character development in the tone of 30,000 words. That's right. My measly 75,000 word novel has been bulked up to 105,000 words of depth and character.

I wish this story had a happy ending and I could proudly put into print that since then twenty agents have asked for the manuscript and 15 have asked to sign me and a publisher is waiting in the wings to offer me a six figure three book deal. Unfortunately I'm once again standing of the brink of querying and I can't seem to put together an absolutely smashing query letter to match my newly absolutely smashing manuscript. I'll get there, I know I will. No one puts in that much time on their computer and that much effort into a manuscript without trying to introduce it to the world. Literary Agents, you've been warned. Watch for new and improved R.A.G.E. coming your way. ;)

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Writers have great power. Within the twenty-six letters of the alphabet are endless possibilities. Our fingers pound out word after word, weaving together a tale that we hope resonates with other people. Eventually we discover that there is no ceiling on our creativity, something that could not ever be possible in the real world is just a few words from reality within our works.

What's the phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility." Writer's always discover their power but often disregard their responsibility. We'll toss a character off a cliff and have them survive. We'll have a character act atrociously and then allow another character to forgive them without question. We'll create impossibilities with little or no explanation. Why? Because we can. Gravity won't stop us neither will social inhibitions. Unfortunately this leads to many unpublished authors, simply because if a reader can't wrap his head around our impossibilities, the work will never resonate.

This brings us to one of the greatest sin of an irresponsible author. The character that is TSTL. Remember that character that went off a cliff. Well suppose she walked off the cliff, even though she could see it, even though she didn't want to die and whistling the national anthem all the way. Stupid, eh? To Stupid To Live, perhaps? Someday I hope for R.A.G.E. to be my breakout novel but I had to acknowledge something during my most current major overhaul--my main character Rose was flirting with the label TSTL. Shameful. The trouble is, I knew this. I tried using the science fiction in my book to explain away her stupidity in following after the bad guys. Stupid, yes, but hey without it she doesn't go on the journey that makes up the majority of the book. So now you can imagine my relief as I am able to take Rose off the TSTL list. Thanks to a great deal of rewriting, Rose is able to follow the bad guys for a friggin' good reason that has only a little to do with sci-fi and hopefully people won't roll their eyes at her and say, "Honestly she doesn't deserve to live if she's going to be so dumb." and, "Hallelujah she finally got shot. I hope she dies." Neither phrase a very good thing to have directed at your MC.

I guess being TSTL is probably something to avoid in real life as well. Our society doesn't weed our the fittest as well as it used to. Just remember that laws apply, no matter whether you think you can create the impossible or not.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How our characters affect us

I really enjoy my main character in Risk and R.A.G.E. Kris Rose is an intense, optimistic, don't-take-no-crap-from-no-one individual who is often funny and horribly flawed. However, of late I have been rather annoyed with her. Granted, she's going through a rough patch and, as the story goes, being very progressive in a rather negative direction. Even though it's a part of the story and it's something she has to go through for the sake of tension and even though I know she'll be okay in the end, I can't help feeling dragged down with her. I've been walking around the house for several weeks with the weight of her despair in my head and not a whole lot of hope on the horizon. Honestly, this segment is taking way too long to write and if it keeps going on this way, it might just send me to the loony bin.

Well last night I went on a great run. I haven't run in months because, let's face it, I've been hibernating (the cold and I don't get along so well). So I braved the first snow storm in months and ran until I was sore and cold and quite exhilarated--down right cheery. Then I sat down at my computer and wrote poor, depressed Kris Rose a turning point. Talk about breathing a sigh of relief. Now her optimism is in my head and I've been walking around the house whistling and plotting happy things for this character.

Then I started wondering, was Kris Rose affecting me or was it the other way around? How often do I have horrible writer's block because I'm cheerful and my character's depressed? How often am I feeling mellow and content and my character needs to go beat people up? How often am I snarling mad and my character has to go and smooch her boyfriend? The best times for writing, I've found, are when my characters and I are in perfect harmony. Nothing satisfies me more than, in lieu of yelling at my kids, having Rose throw a few punches, or instead of wasting three hours in front of the TV, writing a quiet conversation between friends.

Therapy manuscript? I suppose so. Just don't think to ill of me when you read it and discover there's way more shooting and punching then there is hugging.