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Archive for October, 2010

Wow. I’ve been blogging for ONE YEAR! My, my, how time flies!!!

(Thank you, internet search for “blogiversary” for such great pics!)

To celebrate, I’m having a super-fun, hopefully interactive, giveaway. You see, I found this super cute ornament at the Yankee Candle Flagship Store in Deerfield, MA a couple weeks ago and automatically thought of my writer peeps, blog buddies, and writerly pals.

The ornament is approx 4 inches long, 3 inches tall, and 2 inches wide. It’s hard to see, but there’s glitter on the wings and horns.

Here’s how to enter the contest if you’d like to have this charming little guy (or gal) grace your home:

  • 3 points for: Use your creativity and NAME and develop a SHORT bio (like a sentence or two is fine!) for the dragon–he or she needs a name and story, right?
  • 3 points for: blogging about the contest.
  • 1 point for Tweeting the contest.
  • 1 point for Facebooking the contest.
  • 1 point for following my blog (either via subscription or NetworkBlogs).

Feel free to tally the number yourself.

The contest will run for ONE WEEK–It ENDS November 5, 2010 at MIDNIGHT EST! Then, a winner will be selected by random.org.

Thanks for celebrating with me!

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So, writerly peeps, who’s gonna do NaNoWriMo? Show of hands please.

I signed up and “won” last year by completing over 50,000 words of a manuscript within the month of November. What an exciting–and exhausting–endeavor.

This year? My goal is to PACE myself and take time with refining my craft. If that means spending six hours on one paragraph or thirty minutes writing ten pages, then so be it. Since my focus has shifted more to quality rather than quantity, I’m gonna sit out of NaNo. That doesn’t stop me from feeling the collective momentum of other writers gearing up for the great race of words.

So, good luck, dear friends! November 1st is only days away!!!

Please share whether or not you’re doing NaNo and what your focus for this next month is.

**********

Every Wednesday The sisterhood is on hiatus this week. We’ll return in November for another tour. Stay tuned!

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The teacher calls your name. You blink, vaguely aware twenty pairs of eyes are on you. Your fuzzy mind snaps back into focus. Sure enough, you’ve been called on. But you have absolutely NO idea what the topic is.

Your teacher’s eyebrow arches so much you think it’ll break in half.

*sigh* You’ve been caught not paying attention again. It’s not fair. It’s not your fault…

Two hours later, your sitting in study hall and your leg is shaking so bad that Richter scales 100 miles away are catching the vibration. Tapping your pencil a million times a minute only annoys the teacher’s aid. Even though you’re supposed to sit quietly and get your homework done, sticking your butt in the chair is WAY too hard. You get up and wander the room, touching everything as you go by–much to the dismay of the TA. She tells you to sit down, but you keep meandering. After the third warning, you get sent to the office.

Sitting outside the principal’s office isn’t any easier…

After supper, you literally CAN’T sit still. But it’s after dark, so you can’t go outside. You run up and down the stairs until your mom yells at you, then you try doing backflips off the couch. Without enough leverage, you land in a heap, striking your head on the coffee table.

You need stitches…again…

Classic signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (formerly Attention Deficit Disorder) include:

  • Symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattentiveness before age 7
  • Symptoms continue for at least 6 months
  • Symptoms affect at least 2 areas of functioning, ex. classroom, home, playground, social settings

Inattentive symptoms include:

  • Being easily distracted, missing details, forgetting things, frequently switching from one activity to another
  • Having difficulty maintaining focus
  • Becoming bored
  • Having difficulty completing tasks
  • Not seeming to listen
  • Daydreaming, becoming easily confused, and moving slowly

Hyperactive symptoms include:

  • Fidgeting and squirming in seats
  • Talking nonstop
  • Blurting out inappropriate comments
  • Being impatient
  • Having difficulty waiting for your turn

Treatment includes medications (stimulants such as Ritalin, Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant that has been shown to alleviate ADHD symptoms, and/or Strattera, a non-stimulant medication) as well as behavioral modification (such as consistent routines, structure, consistent parenting with good boundaries and limit-setting, using lists, and schedules/calendars).

So, writer buds, do any of your characters have ADHD? Rick Riordan’s character, Percy Jackson, did. He really did a fine job of describing what it was like for poor Percy to have ADHD.

What other examples can you think of?

Don’t forget to check out Lydia’s Medical Mondays post!

Also, this information is for writing purposes only and is NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice.

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  Thoughtful and poignant Michelle H starts this round of the blog chain with this question:

If you could dine with any author, and I do mean any whether alive or dead (yes, we’re going into the realms of time travel – but hey, we have science fiction writers on this chain so we can always ask for them to write up the time machine specs), who would you want to dine with? And if you can ask them for advice on one writing element you feel you might be struggling at, what would it be?

My goodness, when I first saw this question, I was like, “Cool!” and “Oh, crap, I have no idea,” all at once.

I’ve often thought about what it would be like to pick the brain of an author. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to find out how they create, how they determine a plot, how they envision their characters, and how the heck they keep hundreds of plot threads straight? (I’m also curious to learn how they handle days, months, years of revising the same words over and over and over and over…well, you get the idea.)

But who would I chose?

Ahem, excuse me while I have an indecision attack. *walks away from computer and retuns hours later*

Yeah, still no clue. *leaves computer and returns the next day*

Uh, yeah, I suck. *gobbles chocolate bar, then forces self to write something*

I think it’s painfully clear by now that I have a really hard time picking my ultimate, favorite, everyone-else-pales-in-comparison, author. Actually, I just might pick JK Rowling, but I’ve seen so many interviews of her, I feel like I know her already. I could say Clive Barker, Anne Rice, or any other horror novelist. I could say Mark Twain–he’s got some great sayings, don’t he? But really, when it comes down to it, I’m gonna have to pick…(drum roll please)

…Somerset Maugham.

Yup. That’s right.

Confession alert: I grew up in a pretty small, boring, hick town and the school curriculum, well, wasn’t very, um, enriching. Sure, we had French and Spanish for foreign languages, we had advanced Calculus and Biology, and we covered Shakespeare and stuff. But I left high school thirsting for more exposure to the classics.

I didn’t get to indulge myself until after medical school. That’s when I “met” Somerset.–The Razor’s Edge, in particular. The prose in that book is so beautiful, I read the sentences several times, just savoring the flow of phrases and reveling in the selection of words. It’s been a couple of years and I have to say that the story has stuck with me. I may forget the subtle nuances of which character did what, but every time I hear or see someone discussing “fav’s,” this book comes to mind.

Final answer: Somerset Maugham.

And I wouldn’t necessarily have any questions for him. I’d just want to sit and listen to him talk…or maybe read from his books.

Check out Sarah’s post from yesterday in case you missed it, and stay tuned for Michelle M’s post tomorrow.

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I have to thank Natalie Fischer (literary agent for Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency , blog host of Adventures in Agentland, and of WriteOnCon live chat fame) for posting this link on Twitter a couple weeks ago. SO funny.

Enjoy!

Grover Old Spice Remix:

 

Switching gears…

Amparo Ortiz, blogger & writer extraordinare, has gave me the Cherry On Top Award–Thanks, Amparo!!

The rules state I have to answer this question: If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I, and what would it be?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. I  gotta say I’m pretty content with what I’ve got. School/college/post-grad work is done, I’m board certified now, I find my job enriching, and I LOVE writing! Perhaps I’d go back to high school and actually go to my prom. Yup, I didn’t go. Not for any awful reason–other than I dance like Elaine from Seinfeld, yikes!!!! Plus, dances aren’t really my thing. But on the other hand, prom is a sort of right of passage, right? So, maybe I’d go back and do that. Then again, if really given the opportunity, I think I’d pass, LOL!

Now, to give the award to six other lucky bloggers…

Amie Borst

Lydia Kang

Danyelle Leafty

Clarissa Draper

Indigo

Stina Lindenblatt

Be sure to check out Amparo’s blog, No Rest For The Lazy. She also contributes to Operation Awesome–which is undeniably AWESOME!

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I got an iPad for my birthday–sa-weet!!!! Anywho, I’ve been fiddling around with how to use it for my writing endeavors. I am, as always, open to suggestions, so feel free to comment with any and all info you have about apps.

In an effort to stimulate the convo, I’ve linked to a SUPER blog post about iPad apps just for writers!

Macgasm (LOL, what a title!): My NaNoWriMo iPad Toolkit

Highlights of apps (many around $5-10, some free!) detailed include:

  • Notebooks–syncs with Scrivener 2.0; allows you to set up folders, chapters, scenes, etc
  • Simplenote–for a quick note
  • Writer–resets the keypad to type easier; provides a “focus” mode to highlight only three lines of text at a time (bye-bye Internal Editor!)
  • Index Cards–for notes to organize scenes
  • iThoughts HD–map your ideas and connect scenes
  • Outliner–outlines (yeah, pretty self-explanatory, LOL!)
  • SoundNote–allows you to record while you write!
  • Noteshelf–allows you to handwrite  notes without a keyboard
  • Kindle App–SO cool!
  • ArtStudio–doodle or sketch a scene if you’re artistically inclined

AND you can get a wireless keyboard for you iPad for around $70.

M’kay, folks. Do you have an iPad? If so, how do you use it for writerly type things? What apps have you found most helpful?

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We’re well into our travels for the sisterhood of the traveling blog. This week, Danyelle answers her question about the importance of stories (see link below).

Every Wednesday

Lydia’s post here.

Danyelle’s post here.

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Drum roll please! The contest winner (generated by random.org) for Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students by Christine Fonseca is:

BENOIT!

Please send your address to my e-mail (laurabdiamond@yahoo.com). I’ll forward it to Christine and she’ll send you signed copy of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

**********

The DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines a subset of disorders called Impulse Control Disorders. Little is known about the specific biologic basis of these disorders, but they are considered part of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder spectrum, a subset of Anxiety Disorders.

They include:

  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder (sudden, minimally provoked episodes of rage, anger, verbal outbursts, physical violence, and/or destruction of property)
  • Kleptomania (stealing, not necessarily shoplifting, though)
  • Pathological Gambling
  • Pyromania (fire-starting), and
  • Body-focused repetitive or compulsive behaviors such as trichotillomania (a compulsion to pull one’s hair out), onychophagia (biting nails), and dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking).

The individual is unable to control their impulses and as a result, they can face significant disruption in their functioning and quality of life because they act way before they take the time to consider options or consequences. In many cases, the individual can feel regret for their behavior, but before hand, it’s almost like they can’t stop themselves.

Various treatments include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, medication management (with SNRI’s or SSRI’s/anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, even anti-psychotic medications in some cases). The success of therapy and meds is largely dependent on when symptoms started, how severe they are, and how long the person went before seeking treatment. Symptoms often fluctuate with the amount of perceived stress.

So, have any of your characters developed or displayed any of these impulsive behaviors? How did it get expressed?

Remember, this post is for writing purposes only and is NOT meant to be construed as medical treatment or advice.

Check out Lydia’s post for Medical Mondays!

Trichotillomania

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Hey all! I’m away at a conference in Boston, but I couldn’t leave y’all without a flake-out. Especially since today is my birthday!

Listen, if I’m doin’ some learnin’ on me berfday, so are you!

Eddie Izzard on Learning French (funny fella, drops a lot of f-bombs–you’ve been warned)

(with subtitles)

I’m so glad I found this clip for my birthday. I think it’s the solution to my writing woes that I’ve been waiting for.

 

My dear blog buddy and critter extraordinaire, Amie Borst, is using my first pages “before and after” on her Free Critique Friday blog post! Check it out!

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It’s Lydia’s turn to discuss the importance of stories! Click here for her post.

 

I can say with relative confidence that my writing skills have steadily improved over the past two years. I can also safely say that I’m a fast-paced, sometimes sloppy panster at heart. Seriously. Every time I try to outline, I veer off of it in less than a paragraph. I’m not kidding.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that along with increasing skill comes increasing persnicketiness about what I write. This has benefits and drawbacks. I can admit–despite my rushed seat-of-the-pants-writerly-ways–it’s good to slow down and take my time in crafting a novel. It forces me to choose awesome words instead of good ones. BUT, the pressure of picking the RIGHT word the first time often leads me to a stand still. Like literally.

Case in point. My most recent WIP (a middle grade adventure that I actually outlined! Holy shizz!) has been a complete blast to develop. The first four chapters practically wrote themselves. Yet it’s gotten to the point that every time I open the document, I freeze. I can’t decide what words to put on the page. What order do I want to write them? Who do I want to say what? Where do I want to put the description? What description do I want to include?

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!!!

A surge of frustration forces–yes, forces!–me to procrastinate. I look at Facebook, Twitter, online forums. I watch an episode of South Park, The Office, or Family Guy.

Two hours later, I return to the MS and fret some more. Why hasn’t the word count risen? (Duh. Cuz I didn’t write anything. Geez.)

What’s happening? Well, in my effort to “prove” I’m a good writer, I have unleashed the Hell beast otherwise known as the Internal Editor (cue horror movie soundtrack here). Any writerly person is very familiar with this monster. When properly fed and cared for, the internal editor can actually be helpful, even friendly. But when little devil runs amok through a first draft, it’s akin to a disaster.

So, dear friends, I’d love to hear from you what strategies have helped you tame Internal Editor.

I’ll start the dialogue by sharing my strategy:

  1. I free write. Screw picking great words. Just get the damn scene on the page.
  2. I re-read what I just wrote…and am pleasantly surprised it’s not as icky as I’d imagined.
  3. I crit someone’s work.
  4. I read a book and “take notes” from the pros.
  5. I take a break. Burn out doesn’t do anybody any good. Just sayin’.
  6. I try to stop being my own worst enemy and let myself off the hook. It’s impossible to be perfect the first go around, so why set such an unrealistic goal? Right? Right.

Alrighty folks, your turn.

Hell beast, AKA Internal Editor. He also goes by the name Phil.

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You know that feeling you get when you realize you’ve made a mistake? Come on, admit it. It’s that sinking or twisting feeling in your gut. Or the tightness in your chest. Don’t forget the throbbing or stabbing headache that brings you to your knees.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume most of all y’all have experienced this.

Why, oh why, does it happen?

Well, something called cognitive dissonance is at work. Stated simply, cognitive dissonance occurs when we’re confronted with two ideas in direct conflict. This comes up frequently when a particular thought (ex. “I am a good person.”) is challenged with evidence to the contrary (“I just punched someone.”) (By the way, I wouldn’t try this to test the theory. Punching someone would get you in trouble.)

The Fox and the Grapes by Aesop captures this perfectly. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for pointing this out!) The fox see a bunch of grapes high up on a tree branch, but he can’t reach them. He isn’t able to solve the problem, so he surmises the grapes are sour (ever heard the expression “sour grapes?”) or they aren’t ripe yet. In effect, he’s talked himself out of wanting them. Neat, huh?

Imagine applying this to a character. For example, maybe your main character has a crush on someone, but they assume the crushee won’t like them, so they don’t start a conversation even though they’re the only two people on the bus. Or maybe your main character doesn’t think she can manage life on her own, so she stays in an abusive relationship.

So tell me, what examples of cognitive dissonance have shown up in your characters?

***Don’t forget Lydia’s post on Medical Monday!

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