Friday, January 31, 2014

Story Stuff

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because I want to be told how crappy my writing actually is!

I don’t like doing things like plotting/outlining my stories. For some strange reason, I don’t count that as “productive” writing and don’t count it for my day’s K, so I don’t want to spend the time doing it.

Because I’m a scratch and restart wannabe writer, when I switched from a first-person POV to a third-person in that last day’s K, it didn’t bother me. I’m restarting the story anyway. This is going for the new draft. Cough, cough, not really. It’s helping me get the story straight, though, and it counts.

The next day, Monday, between working and going to night class, I didn’t make time for writing. I can’t work on Tuesdays because of the way my class runs, and my class was cancelled, so I had all day to do something productive. I didn’t feel like working on that 12-page paper that’s due February 4th that I haven’t even started on, so I did a Story Stuff for my WiP. Yes, I really do call it that. A Story Stuff is exactly what it sounds like: title, characters, and plot all in one Word doc or in a notebook if I feel like writing it by hand.

After I got down my title, I started with listing my characters: my protagonists, my antagonists, and my supporting cast. I went further to divide them up into the good side, and the evil side, and giving a description of everybody, just to get them straight. It’s as anal-retentive as it sounds. Then I went back to the top again with my protags and antags, and put their wants. I put something like a trope for them down. After that, I added which character would most likely oppose whom under the respective name.

Okay, now time to go to the plot. But the plot is already there, with all of the character information. This little point taught, or perhaps reminded me, of some writing tidbits I had forgotten.

1 – Stories are about people and how they relate to each other. No duh, Sherlock. It’s so obvious it’s fascinating.

2 – Before I entered the ivory towers of academia that is college, every time I got writer’s block, I would go back and re-read writing rules. There was this one-page article that I loved. It had three blocks in it for a beginning, middle, and end. I’d do a Story Stuff with it, and then continue on or restart. It got me writing, and that’s what mattered. Somewhere along the line, I’d forgotten that this method works.

3 – It doesn’t matter that all the writing articles all say the same thing, or one author says one thing, and another author says the complete opposite. Read it anyway. Keep it in mind. Always. Good guidelines at 13 are still that at 21. You don’t stop re-reading your favorite book just because you’ve memorized it, do you? Of course not.

I was on the fence about continuing on, but I did a synopsis for good measure. It’s important to write that stuff down. Most importantly, afterwards, I got my day’s K, with a better vision of what I was doing than what I had previously.

May the words rise up to meet you. And me. God and the four patron saints of writing help us all.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yada Yada, Blah Blah

I've talked about my pet peeves before, especially of my other readers.

So, um, apparently, female and non-white writers are underrated?

You mean, you've actually noticed that sort of thing?  

Great Light, am I so much an asshole that I never did?  My authors tend to be mostly white, I guess, male and female, but I think that has more to do with my reading tastes.  Fantasy is stereotypically for white nerds (not the law, just the stereotype) and you don't hear about black women writing English Regency romance (or I never have, anyway).

My favorite book quote:
“Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.”
― Voltaire, Candide

In more modern terms:  I'll read what I want to read, and if you don't like it, you can go hang yourself.

I hate the Internet sometimes.  I see some of the most ridiculous stuff on it sometimes.  And the most fascinating.  And a lot of it leaves me thinking, "DO YOU PEOPLE REALLY HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE?"

There's some kind of pledge to only read women writers for 2014.

I hate to break this to you, but men and women write differently...and my favorite author is male.  I would not dare think to skip Stephen R. Lawhead's annual release just to say, "All the books I read in 2014 were by women."  This will be the last book in the series.  Let's say, "Buying and starting this book the day it comes out."

Like the baby vulture resisting to be pushed out the nest in that old cartoon, to a lot of the Internet, I'm saying, "No, no, no, nah, nope, no..."

Not to mention the other male authors I like.  Lloyd Alexander (whom I've already read this year anyway), Jim Butcher, Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss (if he ever puts out book 3 of Kingkiller!), Kelly McCullough, and some classics that I've never read written by, I'm sorry, men.  King Stephen.  Louis L'Amour.  I picked up a copy of The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis the other day from Goodwill.  I have Shakespeare plays I want to read.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman was $1.99 for Nook the other day.  Got it.  I found a pretty copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane the other day at the Book Bag.  Hardcover, dust jacket intact, like new, $5.  I hope to get to it this year.  

Yeah, I've got some Melanie Rawn and some LUNA books on my to-read list for 2014, but they're what I want to read.  My brand names.  The books I'm curious about.  

Of course, there's my list of romance authors too.  Victoria Alexander, Suzanne Enoch, Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn.  I care about romance.  It's bashed all the time.  Historical romance is my "you should read this" crusade.  Not erotic romance, not scumbag heroes.  Just guy meets girl, cute, sweet, funny romance.  Every time someone writes a "romance is stupid" article, the romance readers get in an uproar.

My favorite genres, romance and fantasy, are quite possibly the two most bashed and/or dismissed genres.  Frankly, I think people who dismiss or bash are just stupid.  Like Bonaparte said, “Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.”

I've come to the amazing conclusion when dealing with the Internet, the media, and people in general:

To each his own.  And I refuse to politically correct that.  I don't have to agree with you.  I have my opinions and you have yours.  For myself, I read what I want to read, and if you don't like it, you can go sulk in the corner.  Personally, I don't think I care what you read either, so long as you're reading.

Because, as I've said in the beginning, I'm an asshole.  It's difficult to care about something I don't care about.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, "Things I Don't Care About" by Tim Hawkins

I swear, this song is the story of my life...
Lyrics HERE

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Never Alone," and other Powerful Statements

I finished "The Blackwood" by Wayne Thomas Batson at something like 12-1 o'clock in the morning yesterday.  January 4th, that is.  After the story, there's a little "surprise."  I won't spoil it, but I have to wonder if "The Blackwood" was the wrapping, and the surprise was the real gift.

The Blackwood (The Door Within Trilogy)Not that "The Blackwood" isn't great.  IT IS.  It is so freaking great.  Mr. Batson can spin a fun story like nobody's business.  Like Lloyd Alexander, except blatantly Christian, and a little lengthier.

That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it's a compliment from me, believe me.

Oh shoot, I AM going to have to spoil the surprise.  It had such an effect on me.

It's a special epilogue to The Door Within series. I'll not spoil it entirely, but, King Eliam says this:

"But in all that time, you were still in my hands.  You were never alone.  Even if you had fallen, what harm could have come to you?"

Aidan points out he could've died.

"And you did die, Aidan....valiantly.  But for my children, death has no sting, no lasting bite.  Before your breath ended there, your first breath began here."

There is an unbelievable amount of power in those statements.

It fits with the motto of the series:  "Never alone."

I never thought a mere two words could be so powerful.

I think it's something kind of sick how fantasy--quite possibly the bane of the serious critic's existence--is so powerful, especially children's fantasy.  I remember seeing once that people think it's only a great children's story if it conveys some great lesson.  But a great children's story can also be one that just causes the child to smile.

I agree with that, and not.  Lloyd Alexander and Wayne Batson are both chock full of lessons, intended or not.  But on the same token, I don't know if there's a greater lesson to Vesper Holly, and I love them anyway (but I never recall calling them great, just fun, so I don't know).

Lloyd Alexander has a lot of powerful statements in his books.

In The Foundling, Dallben is given The Book of Three.  He loved knowledge and sought wisdom.  He despaired at first when he saw all of the awful things in the book.  But then:

"The book lay nearby.  Its last pages still unread and, for a moment, Dallben thought to tear them to shreds and scatter them to the wind.  Then he said:

"'I have begun it, and I will finish it, whatever else it may foretell.'

"Fearfully and reluctantly, he began to read once more.  But now his heart lifted.  These pages not only told of death, but of birth as well; how the earth turns in its own time and in its own way gives back what it given it; how things lost may be found again; and how one day ends for another to begin.  He learned that the lives of men are short and filled with pain, yet each one a priceless treasure, whether it be that of a prince or a pig-keeper.  And, at the last, the book taught him that while nothing was certain, all was possible.

"'At the end of knowledge, wisdom begins,' Dallben murmured.  'And at the end of wisdom there is not grief, but hope.'"

That's powerful.  That's dragons can be beaten talk.  It's all sorts of wonderful.

And, of course, there's from the Prydain books proper.

"It is easy to judge evil unmixed. But, alas, in most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom; greater wisdom than mine is needed for the judging.”
― Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron
I loved that.  It's amazing.

“Life's a forge -

Yes, and hammer and anvil, too. You'll
be roasted, smelted, and pounded, and
you'll scarce know what's happening to
you. But stand proudly to it. Metal's
worthless till it is shaped and
tempered. More labor than luck. Face
the pounding, don't fear the proving;
and you'll stand well against any
hammer and anvil.”
― Lloyd Alexander, The High King
I read in another book, a romance, the hero says Jesus may have been a carpenter, but the Father was a blacksmith.

Fine picture, that.

Thought-provoking.  Powerful.  In children's literature.  When I come across things like that, it makes me wish I had read more as a child.  Maybe things would've been different, and it makes me wonder if I could've spared myself a lot of heartache.

Never alone.

*Quotes taken from Goodreads and my highlighted notes from my Kindle, no copyright infringement intended.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ramble About

The New Year’s been okay, so far.  I read 3 books in the past 2 days, and started on a short story today.  I wrote 1k per day for the 1st and the 2nd.

Today, I returned to work, and I lollygagged.  I read during work because it was a slow night.  Stuff did’t need to be shelved and I did all the pre-closing crap.

I didn’t write anything today.  Which, is why I’m doing a blogpost.  I’m cheating.  Easy 1k before midnight, right here—even if I don’t post it before midnight.

I have to remind myself of the routine for work days.  Whether I work that night or that morning, the other half of the day must be spent productively.

No DumpaDay, no Facebook, no Pinterest.  Writing, reading, studying, homework is all so much more important.

Prioritize, Jadi.  And start that damn paper!  And do that study guide!

I managed 3 books in two days.  Never mind two were children’s and another a graphic novel.

Speaking of, I got my first one yesterday.  Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files:  Goul Goblin.  My first ever graphic novel.  Of course it would be Dresden.

You have to understand something here:  The Dresden Files is the only series I like that actually has a good geek fandom.

People like Victoria Alexander, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens all have fans.  But understand something, I don’t fit the stereotypical picture of a romance reader.  Romance readers are normally married, college-educated, middle-aged women.  Or so stastistics say.

I’ve never been so much as asked out.  I’m barely 21.  I am working on the college-educated part, but even that...

Although, most romance readers say they were young when they started.  They’re just not so young anymore.  Now, a lot of young adults, however, have a lot of good YA fiction.  With their own love stories.  I don’t know.  I’m not a teen or tween anymore.  And I’ve been reading romance for years.

I used to spend some time on forums for other book series—Christian fantasy.  I don’t much more these days.  It seems the older I get, the less I want to post my opinions, thoughts, whatever online unless it’s on my own Facebook timeline, or my own blog.

What can I say?  I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said before.

That, I think, is the epitome of low self-esteem.  “I’m not special.  I’m nothing new or original.  I can’t contribute to this conversation.”

I’m good at restating the obvious.  I don’t enjoy it, but I’m good at it.  And posting an “I agree,” seems extraneous.

Okay, I got my 500 words.  Or close to.  Don’t word count me.  I didn’t write  on my WiP.   I started a new one.  One that’ll probably be abandoned for a new project, or an old one.

Which is another thing.  It’ll be going on 2 years that I’ve put out “My Fair Donor.”  I think it’s time I put something else out there, don’t you think?

I should set a deadline:  Have something else ready for Smashwords, and the whole she-bang, by May.  If I knew it to the day, I’d set it, but I don’t.  But May.  The two-year mark.

Sounds good?


This girl needs to get her priorities straight.  I can have everything, but if I don’t write, I am nothing.

I may sleep with a clear conscience tonight.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Books, Books, and More Books

I ended the year with 1,005 books.  I haven't bought any yet, but it's part of my NYR to keep track of how many I buy in a year, and how much I spend.  So, I made up a list of books I absolutely had to read, finish, re-start, or re-read this year (coming out to 51 books) printed it out and all that, and found a pseudo-empty composition book (meaning I tore the used pages out and put it with my un-used ones) and started writing crap down.

I have, however, started and finished one book today.  The Philadelphia Adventure by Lloyd Alexander.  All three of the books I have by him that I haven't read are on that list.  There's one done.

Really, I'm 21.  There are a host of children's books I really need to read before I'm a full adult.  So, I'm really, really needing to get those done.  Not to mention, they're easy, and a good way to start the year.  Lloyd Alexander is not great literature, I'll admit as much, but he's good.  

Also, I managed a good 1k today.  Overall, a good start to the year.  Now to get started on that 12-15 page paper & presentation on Schizoid Personality Disorder due the second week I'm back in classes.  And the study guide for a midterm the week I return.

A girl's got to have her priorities straight.