27 April 2012

Why I Can't Finish My Novel

Well now, this was a fun exercise. I wanted to find out what exactly was keeping me from completing my first novel. After approximately one week of logging my activities, I've discovered a really interesting profile and the reason behind my procrastination.

I’ll keep this one short because it is a Friday and it is time to drink beer and hang out at Geo’s Pool & Pub.

If you are having a hard time keeping disciplined about your writing, feel free to share your percentages. You don’t have to do it in a graphic like I did, just post it in the comments. J

Happy Writing!

23 April 2012

Why You Shouldn't Mix Genres

We're in Panama City Beach this weekend for my daughter's cheer competition. That means we get to try out new restaurants, one of which we braved this morning. It wasn't a franchise such as Denny's, Shoney's or even an iHop. We ate at Captain Joe's. Better yet, it was advertised as Captain Joe's Breakfast Buffet, MmmmmMmmmm!

We were greeted by a Chinese lady. I have not a thing against the Chinese. As a matter of fact, I absolutely love Chinese food, and fully expect to see a staff of Chinese folk on duty when I eat lunch at The New China Super Buffet on North Monroe St., but that's another story.

After the waitress brought our drinks, she invited us to observe the buffet by bowing in the direction of a stack of plastic plates and a variety of silver trays, one of which contained an assortment of sushi. Say what? We passed on the sushi because we had stopped in to have breakfast, a good old American style breakfast as promised by…Captain Joe, right?

Anyway, we head toward the trays which contained a variety of cooked eggs, from omelets to fried red eye specials. Yep, fried eggs on a buffet. Some were over well, some over medium, and the two I picked were over easy, but they were somewhat gelled on the inside from having sat for a while.

The French toast was burned and the pancakes were cold. The biscuits were not made from scratch. They were the kind I buy out of a cylinder shaped carton when I'm in a hurry and don't want to make a mess in the kitchen. I couldn't begin to tell you about the concoction which was supposed to be sausage gravy. The only things prepared the way I expected were the pre-cooked, "Heat N Eat" sausage and the bacon, since I like mine extra crispy.

The point in all this? Don't delve into the business of pandering to a market that's starving for an all-in-one solution. Don't be a Jack of all trades and a master of nothing. The most ironic part of this dining experience was when the bill arrived on a small orange tray with two plastic wrapped fortune cookies.

Listen Attentively, you will come out ahead

Now, I'm all about learning new things. But, I'm not about to sell my experiments to the public under the disguise of a traditional brand. Maybe I wouldn't have been so offended if the restaurant name was something like Chu Chen's Breakfast Sampler.

19 April 2012

Show AND Tell With a Photograph

You've heard that advice "show don't tell" too many times and so have I. I post the difference between the two in show vs.tell. It's a simple reminder of how much more fun reading and writing can be when we take the time to walk our readers through a story rather than just tell them about it.

Well, I have another story to share and it's keeping with this same philosophy, but I like to be able to tell this particular story in an effort to enhance what I want to show. Then I think you will appreciate the photograph I'm sharing with you.

I had an opportunity to photograph a wedding a couple weekends ago. It was for a friend. She insisted on paying me for the job, but I refused payment. The reason being, if I don't charge you, then I won't feel the pressure. It didn't work, but the reward of finding out I could actually do it was enough payment for me. I don't think I would have ever been able to commit to such a project a year ago.

Anyway, the story!

After the wedding ceremony, of course, we had the family photos to snap. But, my goodness. One little guy didn't want his picture taken. He squirmed and struggled to pull away from his mother, the young bride's new sister-in-law. When the bride noticed the discomfort of the little guy, who now had tears in his eyes, she said to his mother, "No, it's okay. We can do it later. Let him go play."

The little guy's mother let him go. When the group dispersed, the kid ran over to the young bride to give her a kiss. And, that's when I snapped this photograph. Though I told you the very short story, I didn’t have to tell you anything more. You can see it all in the photograph.

I hope you enjoy!

14 April 2012

Photo Essay - Blog Hop

Since this is a blog about making progress, I thought it worth sharing this photograph because I   feel I've made progress with my photography. In fact, I haven't written a single word toward my novel because I keep coming up with these fun distractions.

The challenge is to pull together some concepts into a photo essay with a twist (combine several objects into one photo, not several photos to suggest a single theme). Stretch your imagination a bit. What might you create in a photograph if you were to combine a few concepts about your writing self, the author behind your art? Incorporate something a bit more personal.

Combine these elements which make us who we are. Create a still photograph of these representations of yourself. Try and bring them together in a photograph to tell the world who you are and what your life means to you.

I chose these things:

  1. What represents me in the future? I've grown older, so I chose my glasses because they are the device I can count on to keep me seeing the beauty I always want to witness.
  2. What represents me in the past? I chose shadows, because I'm always a shadow of my former self, a self I will never deny because it brought me to the place I am today.
  3. What represents me today? Stability, confidence and all the things I respect.
  4. What recently happened to you that made you realize why you're here in this beautiful world? My husband of 25 years picked a baby rose for me from the Wal-Mart parking lot just because he wanted to.

The rose is what inspired the photo essay. I hope you all like it and enjoy this fun challenge. Please join this blog hop by creating your own photo essay and posting the link using the form provided. Oh, and you can leave a comment too if you like!

11 April 2012

A Writer's Journey - The Wounded Soul

I purchased "The Writer's Journey" two years ago and only read the first chapter. I've finished it now and I wish I had read it when I bought it! It brings a better understanding of why some characters work and others do not. It turned out to be a great book.

One interesting thing I learned from this book is that absence of a "character wound" can really make a great hero into just another ordinary protagonist. I never thought about this before. Why would any reader care what happens to your character? We are immune to violence and catastrophic events in print and in the news, so writing fiction is no different. However, we are not immune to a wound in the human soul.

It's like reading a headline, "Woman Killed in Lakeshore Apartment Complex." Okay, this perks our interest because we want to know who the victim was, how old she was, maybe, and did she know the person who killed her. We open up to read the story and discover that this woman left behind a child with Downs Syndrome and two adopted children from Indonesia. It tells something about the woman and her soul, so now we care. Therein lies the tragedy. It's not in the story; it's in the bigger meaning of what really happened.

My main character is Kelly Cooper, a street cop turned detective. While the real story unfolds, I reveal her past service in the United States Marine Corps. She served in Iraq where she lost a partner in a car bombing. She was too weak to pull him from a ton of rubble before he bled to death.

Who are your main characters and what wounds do they bare on their souls?

06 April 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I was given the One Lovely Blog Award from the lovely Kelly Hashway. Thank you, Kelly!

I have to give 7 random facts about myself. So, don't laugh. Well, you can laugh, just don't pee yourself. They are all in the past, way back in my early childhood. I even called my sister to verify some of the details being that these events happened so long ago I'm shocked I even remembered them.

  1. When I was three, our home had a crack in the wall at the top of the stairs which always haunted me because from the bottom of the stairs, the crack looked like a finger pointing at me to come hither.
  2. Also, when I was three, I tasted dog food out of our dog's food bowl because I thought it smelled like Chef Boyardee Ravioli, which was my favorite.
  3. When I was five, my mom bought me a large bag of cheetos curls. Out of pure generosity, I shared with the kids that let me play tag with them. They swarmed around me like bees, grabbing handfuls of the cheesy snack. When all was done, I didn't get one single cheese puff. I went home crying.
  4. I almost died when I was five. My sister and I, along with one other friend, drifted across a dam in a Japanese Nishiki fishing boat until we were rescued. I elaborate in Five Things About Me.
  5. I was really young when I ate an ant. I was pretending to be an anteater. It must not have been fully dead because that evening while watching television and picking my nose, I pulled the ant out in a bed of mucus.
  6. My sister once asked me to eat something that resembled a Hersey's Kiss because I had a reputation for eating things that people asked me to try. It's a good thing I smelled it first! You guessed right. It was a small turd.
  7. Another young one, because it's easier to admit to my idiosyncratic ways when I'm able to blame it on my age. I had a pet toad that weighed around 2 or 3 pounds. I tied a string around its body (two front legs) to use as a leash. I took it for a walk every day, until it died.

Your turn. Either share one random fact about yourself or recommend one blog that should get this award so we can all check it out. Here are my picks for this award.

Mysti Parker 
Debra Ann Elliot
Margo Kelly 
Nicole Pyles
Crack You Whip 
Super Earthling 
I Smell Sheep 

Your turn. Either share one random fact about yourself or recommend one blog that should get this award so we can all check it out. Thank you for stopping by. Don't forget to follow your favorite blogs!

05 April 2012

April Blog Chain - Dead Bunnies

This month's prompt:  Dead Bunnies - by Absolute Write

Write wherever the prompt inspires you. It can be fiction or non-fiction. So, here's mine: This is totally made up, but I included a link to the real game in case anyone would like to try it out. Everything else, including the name of the city is made up. Invasions do happen on Threshold, but I've seriously customized this so that it will fit within the theme of this month's blog chain. I hope you enjoy!

It is a late night around 1:00 a.m. I can't sleep and it is too late to start drinking beer. I log into Threshold, my favorite text-based online role-playing game.

I am not logged in for long before a spam of text splashes across my screen.

Attention Adventurers! 

A band of monster bunnies has been unleashed into the meadows on the eastern border of Azelroth! Arm yourselves and prepare to defend this great city!!

BOOM!! Explosions everywhere! The Lord Bunny of Demonville has arrived!!! Casualties have been reported!!!

Crap, I just leveled up last time I was logged in

All I want to do is read the boards and find out what's been going on. If I log out suddenly, the Admins will think me a cowardly wimp. If I join the invasion and get killed, well, there goes my newly acquired level AND 1,000,000,229 experience points.

[System message from Admin]What are you waiting for? There's an invasion going on!

Great, they see me logged in. Damnit!

I type in the commands and head to the armory where I purchase the basics for protection (leather boots, leather gloves, simple robe and a cowl). Then I purchase a small dagger. I'm a mage, so I do have magic at my disposal.

I head out into the streets. Dead bunnies, everywhere! Adventurers running about, wielding swords and casting spells scream obscenities. I run passed them and seek shelter in the local tavern. I request a bottle of ale and the barkeep produces it and hands it to me. 

I'll hide in here until the invasion is over. I can stay logged in long enough to where it looks like I participated.

Before I drink the first drop of liquid pleasure, in storms a black, 20-foot monster bunny from hell. Fire blazes from its eyes and smoke streams from its nostrils. Before I can wield my dagger and defend myself, the bunny pelts out a deep, gut thundering roar and swipes at me with its paw, gashing me open. It continues to strike me with its sharp claws and bite me with its pointy, 1-inch teeth. I watch in horror as my hit points tick down by the hundreds. 

A display of ascii art in the form of a skull and crossbones appears before me, an indication I have perished.

So much for dead bunnies!

If you enjoyed this theme, don't forget to visit these other participating blogs. Links will become active when they've posted:

03 April 2012

Triple A For Your Grade On Novel Writing

I'm off to a late start in the A-Z Challenge, so I've decided to stay behind and share my Triple A post instead. I’ll try and catch up soon!

There are three "A" words you must address if writing a novel that I would enjoy. Notice I'm posting from the standpoint of your fan, so listen up! :)

The Triple A Formula

Grade A = Action + Adventure + Adversity = Happy Reader Named Diane Carlisle.

Ask these three questions when reviewing your draft:

1. Action: Is there action on the first page of your book?

There's nothing like a boring beginning that will make me put down a book before I finish the first few pages. I don't want to read about a sunset in the horizon or someone thinking about their sad, miserable past. I want to see a rock skip across a lake or a hammer crash through someone's skull. If you are a romance writer and struggle with this one, how about the alpha male tycoon losing his cool and slamming a phone receiver down as his new hopeful administrative assistant and future wife arrives for her first interview?

2. Adventure: Does your character go on a game changing journey

In other words, when I'm done reading your book, will I feel that your main character learned something which profoundly altered their life, or will I feel like I just rode a mile long roller coaster, the same one I get to ride again next year if I so choose to visit the same predictable amusement park?

3. Adversity: Will your character face serious adversity, or will their "game changer" be an easy accomplishment? 

Adversity will change your main character. Make me cheer for them. The only way to do that is to increase the intensity of the negative forces they face. That doesn't mean to make adversities so extravagant that nobody can relate when your character defeats the almighty villain. It means you should make your character so flawed that their challenge is met with sympathy and a wish for them to overcome the adversity and succeed.

Three stars is my Triple A grade I give to any novel which reaches these levels of worthiness. It's how I score my reading experience. If you have these three things going on, you will get at least a 3 star rating from me for your novel.

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