29 January 2013

On The Eve of a Deadline

I just wanted to give you all an update on what I've been involved with over the past six months. I feel like I've neglected my writing of fiction, but it's not for nothing, I promise!

Aside from some highly visible projects going on at work, I signed on to become the Tallahassee Writers Association newsletter editor the middle of last year. Though this position is a voluntary position, I take all challenges which come my way with great seriousness. Therefore, this honor of serving for the past six months has garnered me some valuable experience working with authors, editors, agents, and publishers on all levels. I can't express enough how much I feel privileged to have been invited into this world.

The world I find myself involved with currently is a place where I can dream and be happy. I can produce a product I'm proud to represent. I can bring my technological skill set to an organization who appreciates my input and by its very nature, offers me guidance and acceptance. I started off new, fresh, and with great enthusiasm. I was rewarded with a role in a community which made me grow and fed me with the confidence I needed to continue with my writing passions.

In celebrating my joy for having been involved in this community, I share with you my first publication as Newsletter Editor for the TWA.

Write On! June 2012

So, after this deadline has been met, I'm back to my regularly scheduled program of goofing off about writing!

What are your thoughts, and what have you been up to?

21 January 2013

Characters Who Won't Leave

Ever had characters stuck in your head who never go away? I do, and I can't get rid of them. I will never write a story about them. They do not belong in anything I am currently working on where I can insert them as secondary characters. So, why won't they leave me alone?

When I hear one speak to me, I will at least give him a name so he will shut up and stop disturbing my thoughts. Another chimes in with her toothy grin and I tell her to go away. She laughs, slapping her knee like I'd made some funny ass comment. I give her a name and ask her to leave. She refuses.

This is my last effort to get these demons to find a home elsewhere. The only way I can get them to shut up and leave me alone is to write about them. I'm giving you short, sweet blurbs to introduce them and all their obnoxious, narcissistic drama.

Cleavis Johnson works at the local marina. He operates the boat-lift  and when boats are not docking after a long day at sea, Cleavis sits on the wooden benches outside the storefront, waiting for the next vessel to approach. He'll smoke his pipe, his fat fingers almost covering the entire bowl. Cleavis is a big man and when he talks, his lips barely touch, probably in order to accommodate his oversized teeth. Even though I have no place for him, he continues to smoke his pipe and talk about all kinds of things which have nothing to do with me or my novel.

Betty Pickerton lost her two front teeth in a bar fight when she was 22 years old. She couldn't afford dental work, but once she turned 30 she didn't care anymore. She had already landed a life-long mate, Johnny Ray. Johnny died in a hunting accident two weeks before they were fixing to get hitched. Now she's 52 years old and guards her 12 x 55 trailer with a sawed off shotgun to keep out the riff raff. When there is a demand for Deliverance, The Reunion, I will consider a spot for you, Betty.

Chesney James dropped out of high school to take care of her alcoholic mother. When she's not decked out in studded, black leather with her hair gelled into five equal spikes, she's holed up in her room cutting on herself. She threatens to take her life if I don't write about her. So, here it is, I'm writing about her. Now, Chesney, I don't write emo stories, so please, please, PLEASE, shut it!

Carrie Chiles works at the Foxy Lady Lounge as a dancer. She won't turn down a good offer when solicited during private sessions in the back. What she does after working hours is her business, literally. She has this notion that if I write about all her sordid deeds, I could make a crap-load of money from all the horny housewives who purchased copies of 50 Shades of Gray. Carrie, I do not write erotica. And even if I did, I don't do sloppy seconds.

Who are some of the characters that disturb your thoughts while you are crafting your novel? Why do you think they are there and what do you think they are looking for?

16 January 2013

K is for Killing Your Babies

If you are reading this blog, chances are you already know what this means, so I won't elaborate on the meaning. I'm just going to tell you why it is such a difficult thing for writers to do.

When we start out with a story idea, in the beginning, that's all it is, an idea. Now insert some serious time. Maybe six months? 

During that time while we are compiling our story, in between bouts of creative writing, we will go a length of time where we are doing nothing but thinking about our story. While we eat, sleep, stroll through the park on a bright, sunny day, we are thinking about our story.

Our internal thoughts, released from the chains which previously had us locked to our desk, run free and flow endlessly. These moments produce the fertile grounds which invite the birth of our babies. It's the core of who we are. If we don't have a pen and paper at hand, our minds burst trying to hold on to the thoughts long enough to get home and put fingers to keyboard in order to capture every drop which bleeds from our soul.

Ah ha! I'm so brilliant...THIS is going into my story!

Little do we know, we are inserting ourselves into the story. Most of the time, these snippets have nothing to do with the story. This is where it gets personal. We want the reader to know us, to invite us into their homes, to enjoy our company and the brilliance of our minds. NO! STOP! 

Too late…it's made its way into the story. There it will sit, until it reaches an agent, editor, or critique partner. They will read the inserted material and frown at you.

"I see you've introduced some babies into your story," they will say while striking through some part of your manuscript.

"Wh-whatever do you mean?" Of course, you are sincere in that you are unaware of any babies in your manuscript. The story is about six drunks who find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Of course there are no babies in your story!

When you receive back your edited manuscript, there it is. Your baby, strikethrough all over it. 

They can't mean it! That's the best writing you've ever done in your entire life! That paragraph will make it into the next literary review of *insert name of famous literary magazine of your choice* Are they out of their collective minds?

Actually, they're not. They probably agree, it's beautifully written. It just doesn't belong in THIS story. Nevertheless, no worries. Just kill the baby, place it in your recycle folder, and resurrect it in another story. It's that simple. Now, if only I could finish a story and find out what kind of babies I'll have.

So, how did you react the first time you had to make an edit you didn’t want to make?

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11 January 2013

It Is Not Okay To Be Okay

When you've had an eventful day, do you ever sit down and ponder the world? I read articles and magazines about our social climate all the time and I'm baffled by how much we've changed throughout the past 20 years. People seem to be more disconnected in an extreme way and it scares me.

These are the things I want to consciously convey within the stories I tell, because these are the things important to me and my understanding of humanity.

Five Okays and Not Okays

It is okay to ask for help, because people are kind when they feel needed.

It is okay to thank someone. How else are they to know they are appreciated?

It is okay to say I'm sorry in private, because forgiveness needs no audience.

It is okay to disagree with one another. The world will not end if we don't all come together like sheep.

It is okay to be considerate of each other's time as it is a precious resource.

It is not okay to dump your mess on someone else. Ask for help instead.

It is not okay to play dumb while others run around explaining things when something goes wrong. Now is a good time to thank them for saving your ass.

It is not okay to check your phone when you've asked someone a question and are now receiving an answer. They could be utilizing their time to help someone who is more respectful.

It is not okay to call a United States service member a murderer when they are out there defending your freedom to call them such horrible names.

It is not okay to argue with one another and try to change each other's minds about religion, politics, or other individual prejudices. Righteousness needs no acceptance. Just walk away!

Years ago, I would be writing things like:

It is not okay to walk on your neighbor's lawn.
It is not okay to cuss or put up your middle finger.
It is okay to keep your hands to yourself.
It is okay to pledge allegiance to the flag.

Gosh, the world has become so complicated, hasn't it?

06 January 2013

More Things To Do In Photoshop

I've been having too much fun with my Photoshop classes. The reality is, I have to complete this course in 30 days because that's how long I get to keep the CS6 Photoshop free trial version. I'm taking notes, plenty of notes! Here's my latest transformation. I hope you like it.

I had to add a background texture, change her hair color and dress color, and I had to put a bit of glow on her skin to make her even more beeeautiful!

The picture below is the result of merging two photos and adding contrast to give it some cinematic lighting effects. 

The next class, which I started today, is CS6 Dreamweaver. It's a pretty easy application to learn if you've had the opportunity to work with CSS, HTML and Photoshop. If I hadn't taken Photoshop first, I would be lost in this class. I'll admit, I'm a coder first, a designer second. This is tedious work, so unless you're serious about learning the features, you may find yourself giving up on it. But don't!

With each lesson, things get easier and easier. Just like with anything new you learn, it is going to take practice. Three hours into Dreamweaver, I was ready to call it quits. Then my inner critic said, "Right, quit because real developers write java and client/server functionality. Are you going to let a few pixels and property settings kick your ass?" You see where this is going, right?

Well, I continued on with my lessons, and I have to say I'm glad I didn't give up. Tim is going to buy me the full Adobe CS6 when I'm done.

My next gift to myself...

Beautiful, isn't she?

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