Friday, October 24, 2008

Talk, Or Else!

For a couple of months now I've been doing Holly Lisle's How To Think Sideways Course. I'm a few weeks behind the rest of the class, but that's okay, we're s'posed to be doing it at our own pace anyway. I've been okay with falling behind. Especially as some of the topics have forced growth in unexpected areas of my life, therefore necessitating time to work through that growth.

What I haven't been okay with is feeling like I don't know my characters. One of the exercises is about getting to know a little more about what motivates your main characters, both protagonist(s) and antagonist(s). Possibly even some of the sidekicks who get a fair bit of manuscript time as well. Radha...she was a cinch. Her Compelling Need, History, Present, Philosophy, and Three Descriptors were all there. She readily answered all the questions on those topics. So readily in fact that handwriting both questions and answers caused me difficulty keeping up.

When it came time for Sahil's turn, he clammed up completely. It took me over a week to get him to inform me in no uncertain terms, "The antagonist's actions made me need to leave the country, so you have to ask him first what the hell's going on. I only reacted to what he did." Then he turned his face to the wall and pouted. When I tried to ask him the questions that were all about him and had nothing to DO with the bad guy...he flashed his fangs at me then left. Just great! You'd think a vampire would WANT to steer the conversation around to his glorious self.

So. The bad guy. He was busy concentrating on whatever his nefarious plans are, oh and with looking for Sahil. I kept trying to get his attention, but it was like there was always interference on the line. I couldn't hear him, even when he tried to contact me, and I certainly couldn't see him.

After working through the digestive upset from the other week, I've spent the last ten days in a PMS-induced state of -- I suck at everything so I'm gonna bury myself in this chocolate, cheese, steak, sauerkraut and carbs smorgasbord. It didn't help that my birthday was less enjoyable than I hoped it would be, and despite rewriting a scene to be even better than it was before, I was still stuck at the same end point I had been prior, thanks to Sahil still not speaking to me.

So, after posting that snippet three days ago, I've ignored my characters completely. All of them. In every world. And ignored the writing class also. Instead I concentrated on doing things I wanted to do, in amongst stuffing my face, of course. I did cross stitch. I sewed a pillow. I stayed in my pyjamas. I ignored the dishes. I read in different genres than usual. I checked out the websites of authors I know. I went crosseyed checking out blogs and websites. The two things I have avoided that would give me pleasure is exercise or water. When I'm out walking or exercising, sometimes their voices come through loud and clear...same with having a shower or bath. And I didn't want to give them the opportunity to blurt something out that I couldn't help hearing.

Eventually, I figured out why all the difficulty. The main character from my novel Serenade was having a tantrum. HUGE hissy fit. And the best kind of juvenile teenage hissy fit, where they're SO pissed off at you they ignore you but make life living hell for everyone else around them, until the moment they're good and ready to deign to tell you why and then you WILL listen to them and only them no matter what else is going on in your life. {laughs} But because of the aforementioned reasons, I was busy ignoring them all as well and she wasn't getting through.

Other than her emotional crap giving off vibes that prevented the Bad Guy coming anywhere near me, I didn't notice her tanty at all. Ooooh did that make her mad. Not only had I put HER story away completely, I was now ignoring her too! This afternoon I'd run out of dishes, run out of things to read and couldn't justify buying anymore, run out of interest in cross stitch and still wasn't motivated to get out of my nightie. (God! Other than my minty fresh breath I stink, and have really bad bedhair but refuse to let them win!)

Midway through boredom eating of some chocolate almond clusters, someone, and I still don't know who, suggested that maybe now BadGuy or Sahil might be willing to talk to me. I dropped the clusters, thankfully as I really wasn't interested in eating them at all, grabbed my doodle pad and coloured pens and sat down at the table. I wrote out the first question, looked at Sahil and BadGuy...and Kh'Leesha gatecrashed the interview and made it ALLLL about her.

Apparently there's been something she's been wanting to tell me for a very long time, but until her hurt had healed enough and I had the right questions to ask, she didn't know how to tell me. Right when she could...I'd shut her and her world away and was playing very happily with the new kids in town. She's happy to give back the camera focus to Radha and Co. now that she's told me the REAL reason she didn't take her prized horse with her and why she pretended otherwise.

Once she was done interfering, Brian Jameson, formerly known as BadGuy happily answered his interview questions. Sahil still hasn't answered his. But like most people who think they're God's Gift--coughvampirescough--I reckon he's waiting till I'm most vulnerable to his charms, i.e. naked and in the shower. (As soon as I hit publish on this post I'm gonna create a new land speed record getting into the shower.) Perhaps he thinks if he's extra sweet by telling me his innermost secrets while the water relaxes me I won't make him answer Radha's questions.

Like the best underworld spy, I'm going to lead him on till he's told me everything and I've given him nothing but false promises in return. Then I'm gonna promptly stick him across that table from Radha and make him answer her questions. Mwuhahahaahaha.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birthday Snippet.

Since my birthday was last week here's a snippet from the first draft of my new WIP a Paranormal Romance novel with the unimaginative working title of Randy Radha. (A little background: he's Aussie, she's from L.A. and they're in a little cabin in the Alaskan woods on their honeymoon. It was an arranged marriage and she never saw him before his arrival in the US, only knew his name. At the airport it was a case of mistaken identity, she picked up the wrong Sahil and she's just found that fact out)



Radha tugged open the monstrosity of a fridge hard enough everything in the door rattled. God, she was SO hungry, and now this? Shoving aside the mountain of dinner leftovers--Leftovers! Ha! We didn't eat firstovers--she sought the perfect thing to sooth her agitation and hopefully ease her hunger. “I never even wanted to get married in the first place.” she hissed at the bag of carrots she unearthed in the back of the fridge. Pulling out two carrots, Radha propped the door open with her hip and snaked her other hand in to grab the jar of mango pickle plus the container of raita it was sitting on, just in case.

Shoving the door shut, she slapped the goodies down on the table then turned to the cupboards. Having her eyes assaulted once again by their tragic 1970's brown glory only increased her ire. She slammed open, then closed, three different drawers and she still hadn't found it. “Fucking potato peeler. It's never around when you want it.”

When Sahil wordlessly held the peeler up in front of her, a vicious pounding began in her temples. “Thank you.” she ground out through gritted teeth then snatched it from him.

She sat in her chair and stabbed at the one opposite with the peeler. “You. Sit.” Then she shaved that carrot slicker than a shearer with a sheep. When he complied, opening his mouth to say something, Radha said, “Don't. Or I swear I'll bite you instead of this carrot.” Suiting words to deeds she chomped down hard on the carrot and chewed furiously as her thoughts churned.

Sahil opened the jar of olives, chose a toothpick from the dispenser and deftly speared three green orbs with it before handing it to Radha.

“Stop it. Just stop it okay?” She took the toothpick and glared at it. “What the hell kind of person marries someone they randomly meet at the airport? Then sits around in the middle of nowhere handing them olives! Oh! Oh! And that reminds me!” She went back to wild gesticulating. “Where did you disappear to before, out here in the middle of nowhere?”

Poking on olive onto his own toothpick, he nibbled it slowly.

Sheesh! He makes me feel positively gluttonous. The raita was half gone already. She set the bowl down to take a breather. “Well? I know why I married you, at least...the you I thought I was marrying. Why did you marry me?”

His eyes never left the olive as he replied, “I was to meet my new retainer and do whatever he or she told me to do.”

Radha blinked.
What does dental equipment have to do with—Oh! “You mean, like a servant?” He thought she was a servant. That explained nothing!

“Yes. My retinue back home organized for the U.S. branch of my Family to supply a contact to help me.” Sahil nibbled the olive completely away, leaving only the pimento filling speared on the toothpick “With your help, I think I've managed to disappear even better than they could have planned.”

Appetite fled completely all of a sudden, Radha put down the remains of her second carrot and her untouched olives. “What did you just say?”

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Home Sick.

We came home a day earlier than expected. Ironically because I got food poisoning wednesday morning from the ONLY meal I ate at the hotel's restaurant.

I can see why dieters get excited about juice fasts or liquid diets. Woke up today and weighed myself and there was 10lbs of water weight gone since Wednesday. Sheesh! No wonder I'm starting to look flaccid, instead of nicely plump in all the right spots.

I probably would have been an order of magnitude better today, except I got a little carried away with my reintroduction of solids yesterday. (Yeah, Mum, I now get WHY you made me wait a little longer all those times I got sick as a kid, even though I was STARVING for more food.) All good, bland and easily digestible foods, I merely ate too much and so relapsed last night in a fashion reminiscent of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

Famous last words, "Oh, man, my stomach HURTS!"

Today I stuck with even blander things, (plain toast no vegemite, broth and none of the chunky bits from the chicken soup I made yesterday). I even thought to cook the rice into a congee so it was easier on my stomach. Also had success this evening making some jelly/jello out of orange crush cordial plus agar agar. Hooray! Jelly's back on the menu! Was so nice to have a different mouthfeel than rice, toast, herbal tea, broth or bananas.

Here's hoping that excretory output almost completely halting is a happy sign and that I've done a good job today, no Lindaesque performances once I go to bed tonight!

Oh and I'm PISSED that when I switched from unflavoured pedialyte to grape flavoured, I'd already opened and taken a sip before thinking to read to the bottom of the ingredients list. Sucralose! Whyinhell put artificial sweeteners in something infants are supposed to drink, especially when there's already dextrose and sucrose in it? WTF! It's like giving Splenda water to hummingbirds.
And for me, just goes to show I really must learn to read to the bottom of the list, even if I assume there couldn't possibly be artificial sweeteners in it. {shudders} I hate to think of the headache/effects I'd have from drinking a liter of that in my already depleted state.

Sorry, not much to write about what work I did manage to get done while away, have had other things on my mind. Will hopefully get to that tomorrow, digestive system willing.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Business Trip.

Previously, when Alaskaboy has gone on distant location shoots1 for shows/movies/commercials he's working on, I'd go along and enjoy the free trip away. Maybe get some writing in if I felt like it, but mostly going along for the scenery and the hotel pools!

This is the first time we'll be away where I'm actively going for work reasons of my own. Later this month we'd already planned on going to San Diego. A friend--let's call her, Dr. Kay-is flying in from interstate for a work convention and we're tagging a long for a visit. But now, I get additional time for what I want to do.

My very first business trip. So exciting! I've been to San Diego a few times and I have a clear sensory picture of what the place is like, but this time I'm going to research for the romance story (working title)Zed Love. I'm looking for specific things like where my characters might live; where their businesses might be located, what the police look like; varying bits of local colour; places not to go etc. All the things that help make a place come to life when reading about it.

With so much to research in such a short time I was worried whether I'd get the job done or not. Now that I have the extra five days of next week's distant location shoot, I'm also going to treat it like a writing retreat. Five days of immersing myself in writing. No internet, no t.v., no screwing around during work hours.

Too often lately I've been getting distracted by other things when I should be writing. I'm hoping these trips away will help break the rut I've settled into in regards to my work day. I've rediscovered my joy in writing, now I need to rediscover--HA! Who am I kidding, can't rediscover something you haven't had before--Okay, discover, then, my sense of writing discipline.

Self-discipline and structure I've never been really good at, so this should be interesting to see how I go now that I've got new tools in the toolbox, thanks to the writing course I'm doing. Not to mention my new found freedom to be and act like an adult. So grown up I'm actually doing a business trip of my own. LOL


Location Shot: is when they leave the set to go out and film. A distant location shot is when they go far enough away they have to stay overnight while filming at that location.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Freedom

These last few months have been full of hectic activity, personal growth, and of course writing. I've been enjoying my rediscovered ability to exercise regularly, but I've been delighting even more in my new found mental and emotional clarity. Eight weeks of therapy have helped me (among other things) to let go of my childhood me and embrace my grown up self. A very necessary step for me.

With my new more mature outlook on life I've let go of one writing group that no longer suits me. Which, in fact probably never really suited me despite being a science fiction writing group. Funnily enough, I'm absolutely loving the romance writing group I joined months ago. They suit me down to the ground. The other writing group I belong to has kinda fizzled out at the moment since we're all so busy with life in general, but that's okay, it tends to go in phases anyway.

I'm currently working on two different paranormal romances and have shelved Serenade for awhile. Serenade will always be my first baby, but I've come to realise that I don't have the skill level to fix the problems that are inherent with the novel. Namely, that it's three novels I've tried to squish into one and there's no real antagonist for my main character to overcome. And my main character? Everything works out for her far too easily and coincidentally. My world/universe also needs more building than I'm currently capable of doing, but that's all right. It's something to look forward to in the future and if it doesn't work out, well lots of authors have what they call trunk novels. i.e. so awful that the only thing to do is lock them away in a trunk forever.

At least I've finally figured this out and can put Serenade aside. I made one of the classic beginning writer mistakes: thinking that my first novel would be the only idea I'd ever have. Thus, because it was my first and took me so long to write I'd have to get it to a point where it could be submitted somewhere. Inherent in that was a fear of having wasted my time with "nothing" to show for it and that my family wouldn't take my work seriously if I ditched what I'd been working on for over five years.

The problem wasn't my family, it was me. I didn't take my work seriously. If I continued farting about with Serenade, then I didn't need to grow as a writer and thus wouldn't ever need to face rejection. However, I need to grow a little as a writer first to be able to do Kh'Leesha's story justice. So I'm working on shorter stories for now. Still novels, but stand alone novels, not a whole series' worth of story. And you know what? It feels good.

With the help of therapy I learned to recognise my inner perfectionist plus my black and white thinking patterns. Who says I have to stick with writing only Fantasy or Science fiction? There're SO many genres out there for me to sample. I'm still learning what I like to write. My muse was demanding those two paranormal stories be written, and who was I to argue? So, I embraced my inner romance author. And my instant reward is that I'm loving it! Writing has become a joy again instead of a struggle to perfect all the little minutiae of a story that really needed to be trunked for now.

I'm free. Free to enjoy the learning process of the current writing course I'm taking. Free to release my inner child. Free to play with words and drawings and all the things that make the writing craft so much fun. Free to be me, an Author.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's Aliiiiive.

Okay, not terribly original, I know, but hey. My blog is now live and very lovely, thanks to the bodacious and totally rockin' Marshmallow!

Errr... Don't mind me

Things are looking rather funky around here at the moment while I get Kada's theme 'sort of' into draft mode.

I'm sure about 90% of it looks like my LP&BM theme, and that's because it is. I'm using that as a base theme and will be making changes to it from there on in. While it looks a bit disjointed now, I'm hoping that the final product will look much better.

Hang in there!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Homework Ideas for Beginners.

The last time I had homework it involved nutrition, food safety regimes, menu planning, visiting hotels to interview the executive chef, and all the myriad details involved in a 3rd year chef apprenticeship. This time around, it's a little different. No food, just words. Beginnings in fact.

Three different stories, three different beginnings. One, a rewrite of a story that's already been begun. I was happy about the rewrite exercise, it allowed me to move beyond a year long stint of writing block on that particular novel. The second exercise was a piece of cake, since we could use something we already had written, if it fit the criteria. Phew!

The third piece? With eye strain and a neck-tension-induced headache, I wrote six different versions of the one story. Longhand. Each one sucked more than the last. Somehow, this story idea needed a different emphasis on the opening scene than what the exercise required. Woohoo! Filed that for later reference. But, crap! Now I needed a new story idea with less than thirty six hours until deadline.

Spent the next day doing homework of a different kind; chores. Fun, fun, fun! After a walk to clear my head and a tasty dinner to stimulate the senses, I sat down at the computer to write. And sat. And stared. Then fartarsed about on the internet hoping to trick an idea into slipping into my brain while I wasn't looking.

With less than twenty four hours to go until deadline, I gave up. Shut down the computer and called a friend to say happy birthday. Four hours later, got off the phone from her, managed a far too quick clean of my teeth, then fell into bed. Where the vision of an Aunt-in-law's afghan rug nagged insistently for ten minutes. Ten whole minutes that thing swam in my brain before I realised it had been haunting me all day.

Snuggling deeper into the doona I squished my eyes shut, ostensibly focusing on the afghan, but really hoping to slip off to sleep. No such luck. Just as my day was ending, the story was finding its beginning. There in my mind's eye a brand new scene for the exercise unfolded. All centered on that afghan. After playing it through a few times, I figured it was burned into my brain pretty good, so I could finally go to sleep.

"Now, now," said my muse. "None of that, thank you! You know what happened last time you tried that trick, after I managed to get your attention with a story idea at this time of night."

Sigh! Yeah, I forgot all the important details and was left with crap. With no help for it, I snuck back out of the room. (Hoping not to wake my husband, because he had to get up in less than three hours.) I grabbed the same pen and notepad I'd been using for the aborted earlier attempts, curled up on the couch in my fluffy dressing gown and scribbled furiously for the next twenty minutes.

I've been asked many times, "Where do you get your ideas from?" While saying "from the idea fairy" has such a nice ring to it, the more nebulous, "Pretty much from everywhere and everyday life" is my usual response. In this case, an afghan rug that I'd seen for all of an hour and a half, nearly two months ago.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Making it Count.

This, or others like it, is a little something that many authors use to keep their readers appraised of the progress on their latest novels. The total word limit is mostly a guess, since I can never be sure how many words it will take to tell the story. It is something it aim for though. And I likes me a goal.


1,243 / 120,000 words. 1% done!

They do have their uses, but it can also be misleading. Especially when in the second or consecutive drafts, because progress can often be measured by tightening up what you already have, or replacing it with a much better, albeit shorter, scene.

So, I tend to use word metres more as a memory aid. A reminder that I have people out there interested in the finished product. That I AM making progress, even on the days I feel like I'm blindfolded and walking in circles. Each word I write, is another step counted on the journey to improvement.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'd forgotten how good it feels.

My brain had been non-functioning for so long. First frozen with indecision and low self esteem, then addled by the antibiotic reaction. I'd forgotten how it feels to have the words flowing. Immersing myself in my characters for hours, as they share their lives with me, leaves me with a crick in my neck. But it's great coming back to the pain that means the premises have been vacant in a good way.

I'm writing again. And writing in tune with my characters instead of trying to decipher their semaphore past the fog. I want to keep writing, but having already been at it for three hours straight this evening, I know I need to take a break. Dammit.

Part of this renewed burst of writing energy was being accepted into both the writing group and the workshop. The "homework" from both of those places has got the creative juices flowing. Even more importantly the fact of applying and being accepted, on the merits of my writing, and being invited to the workshop, for the same reason, has given me a confidence boost like I've only experienced once before. Actually, I think this boost is more meaningful. Because this time I'm fully committed to making my career work.

Ladies and Gents, the horse has deigned to drink from the trough! I believe in myself.

And now, the exciting life of an author continues. I have a hot date!

With the dishes.

{pats the keyboard} Tomorrow, I promise.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Watch that first step, it's a doozy!

Over the last few weeks I went through a gradual but big revelation. Up until recently I've been paying lip service to my job. Sure I've told everyone who'll listen that I'm an author. Talked and talked about all this writing I'm doing, read all the how-to-write books I could spend my spondoolies on, and made much noise about it all...outwardly. Inwardly, was a whole 'nother story all together.


I've been very afraid to commit to this in my own heart and mind. I'd tried being a chef, and that didn't work out so well. For various reasons I failed, and was failed by those I found myself surrounded with in that career path. Failing at that dream was all right. I still had my biggest dream to fall back on. Writing has been my secret desire ever since I read Dragonflight, at approximately the age of ten. By subconsciously not giving my full commitment, within myself, about writing as a career, I could always say "Oh well, perhaps next time, if I try harder." Or I could blame others, somehow.


If, however, I do try my very best, then it is me that has failed and no one else. And if I fail at my biggest, brightest dream--seeing my name up there on book covers, knowing that my words could bring as much joy to even one person as Dragonflight bought to me all those years ago--what would that do to me? I'd be gutted. Completely and utterly, gutted. But, I realised the other week, by not trying my hardest, wasn't I already failing? Not only failing myself, but that one person who could have had their life enriched by my stories.


SHIT!


I'd been blaming other people in my life for not believing in me and trying to distract me from my chosen course, when it reality it was me that didn't have enough faith in myself. It was the helmswoman with a loose grip on the tiller. With that realisation, I ranted and raved, and cried, and overate for about a week, then got a grip on myself. (My usual response to unpalatable personal epiphanies) And when two opportunities came up very recently, I didn't run screaming into a pit of self loathing or reject them because I'm NOT WORTHY! I studied the opportunities, asked for advice from those I trusted, (if I'm to be completely honest, it included a few questions from me about any s'posed unworthiness) and then said yes to both opportunities.


One was to join an online workshop when invited to do so; the kind of workshop I've been desperately hunting for during the past two years. (It's not a face-to-face workshop like I prefer; but online and containing what I've been seeking, is better than in person and not quite what I need.) The second was to join another writing group. A writing group with a slightly different focus to the others I belong to, but a fabulous opportunity to brush up on skills in said differing way. So I jumped at the chance and applied. If my application isn't successful, well at least I tried. And if it is? Woohoo!


And now I find myself in yet another quandary. An exciting one, but still a quandary nonetheless. I'm going to have to learn time management. This is something that's never come easy for me. In all my creative efforts and most areas of my life, I'm a make it up as we go along kind of girl. I worry about things incessantly before the actual event takes place, but once it does, eh, anything goes. Bored with writing? Fine, switch to house work. Bored with house work? Switch to something else. That was fine and dandy while I wasn't serious about my writing. But now that I have truly made that commitment within myself, I know I'm gonna need to learn this skill and mighty pronto. Just like every other grown up who's running a household and holding down a job.


In many ways I feel like I've always done, when standing outside a place of new employment. That moment I take to gird my loins, knowing that inside is a whole lot of unknown. The girding is bolstered by the hope that in time I'll look back on my nervousness and wonder what the hell I was ever worried about. But still, there's that fearful moment of hesitation, every single time, without fail. And I find myself standing in that moment tonight. Stage fright is not comfortable, but it is a necessary step if I'm going to step out into the spotlight of my dreams.