Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–What a Character!

Welcome to September! Geez, where has the year gone?!?!?!?!

Anywho, a new month means a new sisterhood topic. This month, Sarah Fine at The Strangest Situation has come up with an awesome question!

She asks:

How do you develop your characters? Do you flesh out the details before (like writing as that character, writing backstory, or filling out a questionnaire about their preferences and history) or invent as you go?

I have a pretty consistent pattern when it comes to decision making and idea development.

I let my subconscious (or, as Freud would say, unconscious) mind do all the work. Sounds easy, right?

Problem is, my subconscious mind often goes on its own schedule so it’s not like I can say, “Hey, Subconscious, I need a story idea and a cast of characters by next Thursday.” Cuz my subconscious mind will say, “Pfft. Sure, no problem, but you’ll have to wait.”

So that’s what I do.

It may take a couple days or it may takes weeks and months for my brain to come up with something, but once it does, then I know I’m ready to pursue the idea.

Okay, okay. I’m hearing some of you say, “But why don’t you just free write or write character sketches or something, to get the ideas flowing?”

Those are GREAT ideas, but they don’t work for me. If I actively make a character up, it feels forced, fake, and *gasp!* cliche.

Additionally, if I get going along in a project and an idea strikes me, I may include it in as part of my character’s development. In that regard, it is an evolving process too.

I often find my dreams to be a wealth of information as well. But, really, that’s my subconscious mind at work too, you know?

How about you? How do you develop your characters?

Lydia will be taking the reins next week to describe how she develops her characters. I can’t wait to read it!

Every Wednesday

Balancing Act

On Monday, I blogged about maintaining good mental health by treating yourself well. We discussed various things we do to feel better, destress, and practice wellness.

One thing that I didn’t highlight enough was finding BALANCE.

I fully believe that balance means different things to different people. Some people are naturally more active while others are naturally less active. I’m not talking Type A personalities versus lazies, but let’s face it, some people are hares and some are turtles.

Another way to look at it is some people are racers and some people are pacers.

For instance, I tend to be a racer. I work at something and work at it hard until it’s done. My dad is the same way. Whether it takes 1 hour or 12, we work at it and work at it and work at it…sometimes regardless of exhaustion or frustration.

My mom, on the other hand, is a pacer. She’ll break down a task into manageable chunks, do some one day, feel satisfied with that, and do another piece the next day, and so on.

Over the past months, I’ve come to realize pacing is much healthier.

Seriously.

Why?

Pacing forces me to:

  • Take my time
  • Give the task careful consideration
  • Not feel the pressure of rushing
  • Improve the quality of what I’m doing
  • Enjoy the process and not just the finished product
  • Avoid burnout
  • Appreciate growth and learning
  • Feel more content
  • Feel more BALANCED

So, what strategies do you use to obtain balance? How do you know when you’re unbalanced?

Check out Deb’s response to genre crushing, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic for this month. 😉

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Genre Crushing

New month means a new topic for the sisterhood members to comment on!

Lydia asks the following fun and fantastic question (whaddya think of that alliteration, huh, huh? 😉 ):

“I have a genre-crush on______”

(In other words, what genre or category of writing you like and wish you could tackle, and why you haven’t.)

I think I’ve naturally gravitate toward paranormal, sci/fi genres, so that’s what comes to me when I develop WiP’s.

BUT, I have a big genre crush on HISTORICAL and CONTEMPORARY novels.

Historical novels are fascinating to me, but why do I shy from writing them? Because I am not research oriented enough to tack down every. single. detail. *shrugs* I’d rather make things up, LOL!

Contemporary novels can be interesting because of their “humanness.” I would find them challenging to write because of the pacing. My writing tends toward the faster pacing and I am working on slowing it down, but I don’t think I could handle contemporary pacing just yet.

There you have it. My genre crushes.

How about you? What genres do you like but are reluctant to write?

Stay tuned for next week when Lydia answers her own question! 😉

 

WIP Wednesday–The Love Triangle

*****Don’t forget to enter my 300/500 followers contest to win a crit and book of your choice! The deadline is July 31, 2011 Midnight EST, so please spread the word!*****

I’m about 1/3 of the way done with the first draft and I’m still quite ecstatic with my new WIP. I’m particularly stoked about the love triangle that’s forming between my main character, a long time friend, and the mysterious hottie she’s just met.

Okay, so the love triangle concept isn’t new, BUT it IS new for me. I don’t generally go heavy on the romance angle. I mean, it’s there, but it’s not the main focus of my novels. I tend to go for much more action oriented stuff. So I’m treading new ground here.

Anyway, I bring it up because I see a lot of love triangles in YA fiction (need I mention Twilight? Yeah, didn’t think so). As with all things, I suspect there are people who like the  love triangle and people who abhor it.

So tell me, friends, are you PRO or ANTI love triangle and WHY? Do you write love triangles? Why or why not?

Don’t forget to check out Deb’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic of maintaining patience during the query process!

Every Wednesday

Wednesday Linkage

Hey gang!

Today, the main character of my YA paranormal WIP is guest posting at dear writer friend, blogging buddy, soon-to-be published author, Lynn Rush’s blog! Liza has offered a series of movie quotes that she dares y’all to guess which movie they’re from. (HINT: She’s 16 and she’s a horror movie fanatic.)

Lynn’s New Adult novel, Wasteland, is coming this September by Crescent Moon Press. I can’t wait to read it!

Lydia takes the reins of this month’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog round by sharing her strategies for maintaining patience while querying. Here’s my post from last week, in case you missed it.

 

Some WIP news: I’ve passed 10,000 words and am quite happy with how things are going. I haven’t worked on a BRAND NEW project in over a year, so I’m really reveling in the honeymoon phase, LOL! Don’t you just love that new project smell? 😉

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve topped 500 Twitter followers and am closing in on 300 blog followers–WOOT!!! In order to celebrate this milestone and to share my thanks, I’m going to develop a contest for some giveaways. So, STAY TUNED next week, ‘kay? 😀

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog

Hey all! New month means a new blog chain tour with the sisterhood members! This month, I ask:

If you’re querying now, or have in the past, how do you develop patience to wait for responses?

This is near and dear to my heart as a lot of you know because I am in the midst of querying my YA dystopian.

O.M.G.

Gotta say, I generally start querying with positive thoughts and all intentions of being patient. Key word: start.

After a couple weeks (generally after the rejects start rolling in), I get antsy. Does my query suck? Does my writing suck (even after ALL the work I put in??? Gasp!)? Is my story boring, unmarketable, too late to be on the “cutting edge?” Blurgh.

The anstyness eats up my patience like the Langoliers ate the alterna-world that Stephen King dreamed up.

Then I’m left with the feeling of: Oh my HECK, I try SO hard, and STILL spin my wheels. This time is NO different than last time. I SUCK.

Nice and positive, right? Pffft.

I confess this because I know I’m not the only one whose felt this way. I also know it’s part and parcel of the game. I also know I need to overcome it (or at least not let myself wallow too much in it when the thoughts inevitably arise).

Now, I recently heard of some dear writer friends who have hit a BIG speedbump in their writing careers. I will let them explain what happened because it’s not my place to speak for them, but let me say, I felt for them. Like FELT for them. Plus, the news rocked my world. And not in a good way.

Seriously, with the numbers so against writers, where’s the hope? And if you’ve still got hope, is it a means of deluding yourself?

At the risk of derailing myself…

I had put this question out there to Twitter (paraphrased):

Is there still hope for me?

I doubted it. But the response I got was quite the opposite. People told me to keep going. Don’t give up. Yeah, there’s strife and angst, but it’s part of the journey, the potential highs outweigh the negatives. HOPE. EXISTS.

I put this aside out there because not only do I struggle with patiently waiting for agents to respond to my queries, I also struggle with patiently waiting for the angst to resolve. It’s during those times when my worries take over that I consider quitting. It’s during those times that I’m at the most risk of losing hope.

Low patience=High urges to quit

High patience=balance + hope

OK, to get to my point, how do I feed my patience pool?

  • Eat chocolate
  • Talk to my writerly friends
  • Flail and get out the angst quickly and then just as quickly move on to a new project
  • Refuel my brain with reading
  • Remember how excited I feel about working on projects
  • Remember I write to write. It’s a part of who I am and it’s going to stay, whether or not I get an agent or get published
  • Remember that even when I want to quit, I don’t *really* want to quit. Uh, if that makes sense
  • Remember that the successful writers are the ones who persevered and never gave up

Alrighty, for those of you who powered through this rambly, longish post, tell me what you do to keep your patience during querying.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–aMusing

Hey, hey! A new month means a new traveling blog topic!

This one is brought to you by none other than the fabulous Deb!

She asks:

How would you personify your muse?

Wow, GREAT question! (Namely because I don’t picture my muse to be anything…er, well, except fickle and flighty, LOL!) Seriously though, I haven’t really developed what my must looks like.

Let’s create one together! *bounces in chair*

Okay, so what characteristics would I want in a creative archetype of myself, AKA, my muse?

  • Intelligence
  • Imagination
  • Energy
  • Fearlessness (how else am I gonna get enough courage to try something new?)
  • Patience
  • Intuition
  • A sharp set of eyes and ears
  • An endless supply of iced coffee and chocolate (MOST important characteristic, IMHO)
  • A great playlist for tunes
  • Organizational skills

Nice list. BUT, what does that LOOK like?

Dunno.

Hmmm, let’s brainstorm…

Well, perhaps for me, I like the abstract idea of what a muse represents and not necessarily what my muse would look like. If my muse is ethereal, then I can moan and complain when my muse leaves me. In that scenario, it’s not really my fault when I slack off. I just pretend my muse has abandoned me to go off on vacation. I picture my muse soaking up some sun, sitting on some tropical beach, drinking mojitos that should be MINE.

Wait a minute. Why does my muse get to take a break when I don’t?

Not.

Fair.

Well, guess what? I don’t need a muse. I can do this myself, darnit! *turns on laptop and mutters about the injustices of the situation while Word to boots up*

Ahem. *fixes hair, straightens shoulders, and smiles*

I better end that ramble…

(Wow, see what happens when a mind goes off on its own?)

Yeah…

Ok, so what does your muse look like? (Feel free to post pics. 😉 )

Next week, Lydia will give her response. Stay tuned!

Every Wednesday

Blog Chain–Look On the Bright Side

Super talented writer and blog buddy Michelle H. asks a fabulous question to us blog chainers. It’s particularly apropos for me as I tread water in the query pool.

Be positive! Name some of the positive aspects of your writing — be it a compliment from a mentor, friend or crit partner to anything special you learned concerning your writing skills.

When it’s so easy to get beaten down by the rejections, it’s CRUCIAL to remember your strengths. (Hopefully, I won’t sound to conceited or grandiose in listing these, LOL!)

  • I can write action scenes well
  • I got my MC’s voice
  • My MG captures humor pretty well (which is not something that comes easy for me)
  • I am good at listening to feedback and try to keep an open mind
  • Even though it hurts, I take the plunge and cut out whatever doesn’t work
  • I keep the pace going
  • I kill “was” and “that” whenever possible, but allow myself to use them when appropriate
  • I have added adverbs INTO my MS and am PROUD OF IT

How about you? What are some positives about your writing–please share!!!

Check out Margie’s post if you missed it from yesterday and stay tuned for Shaun’s post tomorrow. 😉

Road Trip and the Traveling Blog!

Hi all! *waves*

I’m takin’ the day off and traveling to Brimfield, MA where the largest antique show in the US is heald three times a year!

These pics are from the Brimfield.com site:

Arial photo of the Brimfield Antique Show, September 8, 2006.

Photo of Brimfield Antique Show, May 2006

Wish me luck that I find something *perfect* for the house. 😉

More importantly, tho, check out Lydia’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog Chain to the question:

What do you do when you lose your writing mojo?

(In case you missed it, here’s my response from last week.)

Every Wednesday

Flake-out Friday–When the odds are against you…

As I timidly enter queryland, I’ve been pondering the whole likelihood of landing an agent thing. On multiple sites you see where less than one percent of queries lead to an agent extending an offer to represent a writer.

So why do we even try?

That’s my question to you as I start off the next blog chain.

What keeps you going (either trying to get an agent or to get published or finish that WIP that’s kicking your butt) when you know the odds are stacked way against you?

Sometimes, I don’t know what keeps me going. That’s the honest answer. Other times, I really believe I’ve got something worth publishing and dammit someone’s going to recognize that and help me.

On the down side, I look at the percentage of people trying to get agents versus the number of people who actually do and I get discouraged. Like REALLY discouraged. Even to the point of taking a break from it all.

Well, folks, the last break I took from querying lasted 16 months. Yup, 16! Granted, I spent that time writing my fool head off, honing my skills, learning to outline so I actually end up with a novel that has a plot, and also giving myself the opportunity to learn pacing and patience. (Plus, I renovated a house…not an insignificant feat, LOL!)

I sent out 5 queries this week. Got a rejection in less than 24 hours.

Looks like I’m back in the game.

Means something is keeping me going. I wouldn’t send a query if I didn’t think it would eventually get me somewhere, right?

A passage of scripture states that faith the size of a mustard seed size is enough. You know how small a mustard seed is? Small with a capital “S.” But that’s how hope works.

Okay. Final answer: HOPE keeps me going even though I know the odds are against me.

Check out Shaun’s answer tomorrow to find out how he keeps going.