Friday, April 30, 2010

Different Methods for Different Writers

I've been reading blogs this morning, and have decided not to write my own post.  Instead, I'd like to promote a wonderful series happening today, started by the always entertaining Tawna Fenske at Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing.

Tawna's readers have asked what her writing methods are.  In response, she enlisted the help of five other writing bloggers, and the six of them have each written a post describing their personal approach to a novel, from curser blinking on a blank page to "The End" on the final draft.  I found their methods fascinating in their similarities and their differences.

For inspiring insight into the methods of other writers, check out these participating blogs today:

Tawna Fenske
Sean Ferrell
Cynthia Reese
Linda Grimes
Nelsa Roberto
Kiersten White


Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Such Thing As Failure

How do you measure success as a writer?  Certainly, there are milestones an author reaches that confirms success:  securing agent representation; publishing a book or short story; being paid for your work; etc.  But what if you haven't yet reached any of those milestones?  What does success mean then?


I believe every draft is a success, even unfinished stories.  Each time I sit down and write, I learn a little more about the craft.  I may only have one gem sentence in 500 words, or one interesting character out of a cast of five, but that sentence or character is worthy of success.


My current WiP is my "starter novel."  I've said from the get-go that my goal is to finish it, learning the process along the way.  I believe I'll one day write a novel worthy of publication, but it's probably not this one.  I'm struck by both comfort and stress in this statement.  Comfort because it gives me the freedom to just write, but stress because writing a novel takes a lot of time and energy.  Sometimes I ask myself, am I wasting my time?


I read an interesting article on Writer's Digest.com by John Smolens that answered that question for me.  In "There's No Such Thing as a Failed Story," Smolens says, "For every five completed rough drafts, you’re lucky if you find one that you can develop into a finished short story, one that you feel is as good as it can be, one that you feel is ready to be sent out to editors."


Not only did this article reassure me about my current project, it provided a couple a-ha moments about writing in general.  Smolens talked about his mentor, the late Andre Dubois: "Most fiction writers, [Dubois] believed, are .200 hitters, meaning they hit successfully twice out of every 10 at-bats...For every five stories you send out, you’re lucky if one of them is accepted for publication." (Quote taken from same article.)  Having penned thirty-two short stories in the past two years, I can say with certainty that although I'm pleased with most of my work, there is only about twenty percent I would consider great stories.  And of those six, I've only had one accepted for print publication (and two more submitted that I'm waiting to hear back on).


From this article, I now realize I don't have to polish my current WiP, once the first draft is complete.  If, at that time, I don't feel the story is strong enough to peddle to agents, then I will move on to the next project with confidence that I'm not short-changing myself in any way.  I'm simply moving forward in my craft.




Published authors:  Have you written significantly more stories than you have sold?  Aspiring authors:  Does it encourage or discourage you to hear a successful writer say the majority of work by all fiction writers is unpublishable ?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TAGGED!!!!

I've been tagged in this fun Q&A game.  Fun!  Thanks to two of my blogging friends who thought of me after filling out the questionnaire below:  Brindle Chase enjoys writing paranormal erotic romances.  Visit her blog today!  And, Christine Danek of Christine's Journey also tagged me.  I love Christine's blog; it's one of my daily must-reads.  Pop over and visit her today, too!


The rules in this fab game are to answer 5 questions, 5 times, and then tag 5 other bloggers.  So here we go:


Question 1: Where were you five years ago?

1. Living in our tiny, "starter" house, dreaming of walk-in closets, pantries, and garages.
2. At my baby sister's wedding -- and just six weeks ago we welcomed their first child into the world!
3. Working out at the stupidist YMCA on the planet.  Group prayer was mandatory before every aerobics class.  Too bad if you were Hindu or Jewish or any other religion...  Oh, and we weren't allowed to say "Namaste" at the end of yoga classes.  Outrageous.
4. On the mall in Washington D.C. for the National Fourth of July fireworks, which were nothing short of spectacular!
5. Visiting Ground Zero in New York.  I'll never forget the silence.


Question 2: Where would you like to be five years from now?

1. Finishing my second novel, the first that I'll try to sell.
2. Querying agents for representation.
3. Writing from various locations on my super-duper MacBook (that I'd better have in five years!)
4. Debt-free.

5. On an exotic island celebrating twenty years of marriage with my wonderful husband.


Question 3: What is (was) on your to-do list today?

1. Write.
2. Get a haircut (It looks fab, in case you were wondering :)  *check*
3. Buy a couple tee shirts at Target. *check*
4. Wash laundry.  *crickets*
5. Pay bills. *check*


Question 4: What five snacks do you enjoy?

1. Chocolate
2. Cascadian Farms Organic Granola Bars (especially Mixed Nuts)
3. Plain, fat-free yogurt with granola sprinkled on top.
4. Apples and peanut butter
5. Homemade chocolate chip cookies....or just the batter


Question 5: What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Go to the mall for a full day buying whatever I wanted without EVER looking at a price tag.
2. Buy the most expensive MacBook on the market.
3. Pay for education costs for all my children, nieces and nephews, for as long as they want to be in school.
4. Buy a beach house, a mountain house, a dessert house, and an apartment in Manhattan.
5. Create a not-for-profit company that builds and outfits schools, hospitals, and homes in African countries.



TAG!  You people are IT:


Jai Josh, for wearing a low-cut shirt for Cleveage Day
Justine Dell, for helping us all be better at grammar
Magically Ordinary, for sharing with us "Words of wisdom...
A fact of life...after Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says W T F."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Open Wide

I submitted myself today to the semiannual joy of professional teeth cleaning.  In wrapping up her gig, the hygienist handed me a new toothbrush and sample floss, and I noticed the angry, purple dents along the sides of my fingers where my vice-like grip of entwined digits pitted bone against bone.  My shoulders, only now beginning to relax, ache to the blades.  I've sworn off coffee and red wine.  Damn them and the stains they leave behind.  My dentist is wonderful, but I won't miss her these next six months.

A new dentist's sign went up in a neighboring town, on the opposite end of the recently constructed plaza that houses a just-opened Mexican restaurant.  The new dental offices look clean, sleek and modern, from the outside, of course.  I won't step foot inside, so I will never be able to comment on the office interior or on the good dentist's services.  Why, you ask?  Because according to the sign, the dentist's name is Justin Payne, DDS.

Justin Payne?  Really?  As in:  Just In Pain?  Who in their right mind goes to a dentist with a name like that?  For that matter, what man chooses dentistry with a name like that!  If it had been me, and I was passionate about working inside the general public's mouthes, I would at least use only my first initial.  J. Payne, Super Dentist.  Throw in the middle initial even: J.S/T/W/P/Whatever it is. Payne.

Whether it's fair or not, names give us immediate impressions of the people who bear them.  Choosing character names for fiction is a fun and delicate business for this reason.  I once participated in a workshop on Characterization, and we spent a session discussing character names.  We were given an interesting assignment to open creative doors and raise awareness where names are concerned.  I'll print the assignment here, and anyone who wishes to give it a go should do so before reading the rest of this post, where I'll include my own answers:


Typically, all characters have at least a first name. Because of our own experiences, cultural or social background, age, etc., we often hold opinions about certain names. Names can suggest courage, sophistication, clownishness, intelligence, sex, race, class, religion etc. Here is a little exercise. Tell me what the names below mean to you, what we might deduce about the character.


1) Loyd (the author spelled the character’s name incorrectly for a reason, why would she do this?)
2) Marie Huguenot (this one is tricky)
3) Dr. Selim Sengor
4) Zeph
5) Colin Glass
6) Colie Bluestone

Note: The workshop was offered in 2008 through a writers group I belong to called Rising Stars.  The workshop leader's handle was Purivada, and I'm crediting this exercise to her, although I don't know whether she is the original author or not.  She has been an inactive member of WDC since May 2008, but you can view samples of her writing HERE.

My answers to this exercise in January 2008 were:

I love thinking about characters' names. Here are my immediate thoughts about these:

Loyd ~ He wants to stand out in a crowd he feels swallowed up in. He lacks self-confidence even though he has talents hidden in his heart.
Marie Huguenot ~ Married a wealthy man, keeping her in the social class she is accustomed to.
Dr. Selim Sengor ~ Brilliant man who was unable to prosper in the poor country he grew up in. Worked hard to get an education abroad, but doesn't see the respect he deserves in the eyes of his peers.
Zeph ~ Spiritually guided man who marches to the beat of his own drum. Regarded as a throwback but enjoys the edge he feels this gives him as a nonconformist.
Colin Glass ~ Work-a-holic who plays by the rules, striving for what he's been told defines 'success', but is emotionally shallow and out of touch in interpersonal relationships.
Colie Bluestone ~ Hhmmmmm ... Not sure. The only visual I'm getting is being played by Matthew Mcconaughey.


Do you enjoy finding names that represent, or contradict, your characters' personalities?  Do you find you change characters' names as your MS progresses and you learn more about them?  Do you hate the dentist?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Extra! Extra! (Contests!!)

Don't miss out on these two fab giveaway contests!

The fabulous Carolina Valdez Miller of Carol's Prints is celebrating surpassing 300 followers.  Whoot!  Her blog is top-notch, and I love her energy.  She's giving away a TON of signed books, y'all!  Click here, click here!!
And, every time she gets 50 more followers between now and May 25th, she's adding prize packages, so spread the word :))

The incomparable Simon Larter of Constant Revision  is celebrating more than 250 followers with an awesome, vodka-soaked, iambic metered contest.  All you have to do to enter is follow him and fill out the high-tech form, but you up your chances of winning when you follow his prompts and write a piece of flash fiction or metered poetry.  Lots of fun and great prizes!  Click here to read all about it!

Other great contests to enter today are:

Noelle Nolan's 150 Followers Contest!

Good luck everyone!

Enthusiasm for Catching Fire



Synopsis:  Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.  (Source)




I loved this book as much as its predecessor, The Hunger Games.  Suzanne Collins is a masterful writer who understands the art of breakneck pacing in fiction.  I literally couldn't put Catching Fire down until I'd finished the last word.


All I can say is regardless of your preferred genre, to write or read, you will enjoy this book.  In fact, I you haven't yet, pick up copies of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and read them.  Then you'll be ready, like the rest of us, for the August 2010 release of Mockingjay, the highly anticipated third and last installment in the Hunger Games trilogy.


Have you read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire?  On a scale of one to five (with five being "On My List of Top Five All-time Favorite Books" and one being "Hated It!"), how would you rate them? 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Daredevil Living

I spent the day recently with my cousin and her family. A couple years back, she found out her husband was cheating. Their marriage teetered on the brink of the abyss for over six months, then slowly they worked their way back to each other. Now, they're solid. Granite solid. But when things were coming apart, my cousin declared to herself that life was too short to waste the good days. When you're knee deep in bad, you have new perspective. She decided she was going to go skydiving, something she had always wanted to do but never dared try.

A couple months ago, with her now faithful life partner next in the jump line, she did it. The two of them went skydiving. When I watched their videos, I was filled with awe that she would dare to jump out of a plane at 14,000 feet. She fell at a speed of 120 miles per hour! The picture of her, taken by the company's photographer that documents each jumper's experience, is now her computer desktop wallpaper. Firey sunset colors outline the profile of her body, and her face is the picture of pure, living-in-the-moment joy.

I'm not an adrenalin junkie, but I crave experiences that force me right in the middle of the present. I want my immediate senses hightened, my emotions raw and all about the moment, not the moment before or the one after. So, I've been thinking: What would that experience be, for me?

I've never scuba dived on a coral reef. That comes right to mind. I'm sure there are other ideas if I gave myself more time to think. But, scuba diving would be awesome! Oh, and I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. And I want to climb over the top of the bridge at Sydney's harbor.....



What about you? If money were no object...what would you dare do?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!


Original Artwork by Alexandra Fomicheva

Honor our Planet and Your Craft Today!

~ REDUCE ~

In Your Home:  Here are small changes you can begin TODAY

1. Turn off lights when you leave the room.
2. Close drapes, blinds or shutters on the side of the house where the sun is shining.
3. Buy an aluminum water bottle and refill it from your water filtering system (on the fridge front, Britta system, etc.)  Don't buy bottled water anymore!
4. Pack your child's lunch in plastic containers.  They come in all sizes now, for sandwiches, the size and shape of juice boxes, small enough for one serving of crackers or cookies, etc.  Include a fabric napkin, too!
5. If your child drinks from a straw, buy her a stainless steel straw!  (Available HERE)
6. Use fabric napkins at mealtime.
7. Use fabric rags when wiping down counter tops or cleaning windows.

Your Writing:

1. Print out your drafts less often.  When you do, reduce the font size, fitting more text on each page.
2. Change the color of your font each time you print, using up colored ink cartridges at the same rate as the black.
3. Shut down your computer at night.

~ REUSE ~

In Your Home:

1. Wipe off barely used aluminum foil, fold it when good and dry, and use it again.
2. Buy the reusable grocery bags and keep them in your car.  Use them EVERY time you shop.
3. Save yogurt and sour cream containers to store your child's small toys and game pieces.
4. Buy molds to make your own Popsicles using organic fruit juices.  You save money, there's less sugar, there's no supermarket packaging to throw away, and the kids will LOVE them!
5. Buy giant gallon sized boxes of hand soap and refill the pump-style containers.
6. Store food in the fridge and freezer in plastic or glass containers, not disposable bags. 

In Your Writing:

1. Save your rough drafts and print newer drafts on the backs.  (Draw a cross with a highlighter on the old side!)
2. Save the colored paper announcements from your child's school and print rough drafts on the blank sides.
3. Don't throw away deleted excerpts from your MS, or examples of practice writing, etc.  You may be inspired to use it in another project!
4. Use a secondary character from one story as the protagonist in another.
5. Expand a short story into a novel.
6. Use a scene from a less successful novel and write a short story or poem.

~ RECYCLE ~

In Your Home:

1. Put everything with the recycle triangle on it in your recycle bin.  Things you can recycle are: plastic, glass, and aluminum, of course, but also empty cereal boxes, aluminum foil, take-out cartons, plastic SOLO cups and plates, disposable silverware, magazines and newspapers, plastic trays that store bought cookies sit in, cardboard pasta boxes, pizza delivery boxes, plastic bottles for shampoo, hand soap, dishwasher and clothes detergents, etc.
2. Save gift bags from birthdays and Christmas for the next event.
3. Donate outgrown clothes to charity organizations in your community.
4. Donate books to your local library or school.

In Your Writing:

1. Refill used printer ink cartridges or recycle them at office supply stores.
2. Shred rough drafts when both sides of the paper have been printed on, and use them when stuffing packages for fragile objects to be shipped by mail.
3. Donate old laptops and other computer hardware to recycle centers.


Mother Earth and your Muse thank you!
Celebrate Earth Day by implementing these small changes!

What other ideas can you share for reducing, reusing and recycling?


[Arg! Blogger won't let me post comments on anyone's blogs today!  I'm frustrated!!!!]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Awards and Announcements

First off, thank you to everyone who provided feedback on my WiP excerpt.  I will leave it up through today with the hopes of drawing more reactions, so vital to my writing process.  After today, I'll take it down, as it is the first draft of a current project.  Click here to read it :)


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carbon neutral coupon with kaufDA.de


Help celebrate Earth Day tomorrow, April 21 by neutralizing your blog's carbon emissions. How? By participating in a joint effort by "Make It Green" and "Arbor Day Foundation." It couldn't be simpler:

1. Click the Leaf Logo above, taking you to a website that explains the program.

2. Copy the HTML code for one of the buttons (like the one above)and paste it on your blog's sidebar. Blog about the program to increase awareness and boost participation.

3. Email your blog URL to CO2-neutral@kaufda.de

4. For your blog, one tree will be planted in Plumas National Forest in Northern California by “Arbor Day Foundation” our partner in US for the “My blog is carbon neutral” initiative!

How will planting a tree in California help reduce a blog's emissions in, say, Georgia? Here's what initiative organizers say: "We plant trees, both in Germany (in the upper Harz region) and in Northern California. Why are we doing this? Because the reduction of carbon emissions by planting trees has the same effect, regardless of where in the world the trees are planted. It involves all of us to give something back to our environment." (Read more HERE)



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Thank you to Courtney at Southern Princess and Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword for the Sweet Blog Award! I love both these blogs, so check them out if you haven't already!!

I'm passing it along to:

Jade @ Chasing Pavements -- She has a published short story, check it the link from her post yesterday!
Michelle Teacress
Mary @ Play off the Page
Angie @ Answering the What If
Ellen @ Pink Tea and Paper



Sweet Dominique at En Violet passed me the Beautiful Blogger award.  Please be sure to visit her today!

This one asks me to share 7 things about myself.  In the spirit of keeping things lively (and I think I've shared all the fun facts about me already!), I'm going to share seven things I did yesterday to make my day a success:

1. Ate a mixture of Shredded Wheat and organic granola for breakfast.
2. Ran three miles on the treadmill.
3. Lifted weights: super set of Smith machine squats and Sumo squats; super set targeting biceps and triceps
4. Wrote 3,000+ words of chapter four.
5. Emailed an old friend from college.
6. Cheered my daughter and her team to softball victory, pulling ahead 16-14 in the bottom of the last inning.
7. Renewed Catching Fire at the library and promised myself I'd finish it by this weekend.

I'm passing this award on to:

Shannon McMahon
Alexandra @ The Publication Follies of Alexandra Shostak
Wendy @ On 'n' On 'n' On
Tiana Smith
Laura @ Wavy Lines



Thank you to the most awesome author/blogger Wendy Ramer at On 'n' On 'n' On -- Because a Writer Always has Something to Say for the Butterfly Award.  Wendy's blog always puts a smile on my face.  Check out her site today!

This award goes to:

Jessica @ The Alliterative Allomorph
Harley @ Labotomy of a Writer
Lilah Pierce
Jenn Johansson
Tory @ Head in the Clouds



I'd like to thank Cherie at Surrounded by Books for the Blogger BFF award.  Cherie's multi-talented and her blog is wonderful.  Drop by today!

This award goes to:

Anne at Piedmont Writer
Shelley at Stories of the Ordinary
Summer at ...And This Time, Concentrate
DL at Cruising Altitude
Simon at Constant Revision



And, thank you to the warm and hilarious Roxy at A Woman's Write.  If you don't read Roxy every day, I encourage you to start!

I'm passing the Awesomesauce award on to:

Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction
Crimey at Crimogenic
Terry at Gardner West, Private Eye
Amber at Musings of Amber Murphy
Roland at Writing in the Crosshairs





Noelle Nolan's 150 Followers Contest!












Update!!  Here is the response I received after emailing the "My Blog is Carbon Neutral" Initiative this morning (email address is above in this post):

Hi Nicole,

thank you so much for participating in our initiative and making your blog carbon neutral! Your tree will be planted this month by the Arbor Day Foundation. The scheduled start plant date was Monday, April 19 and the trees will be planted by a contracted crew. The roads are being plowed, all contracts solidified, and twelve shipments of 150,000 seedling each are being assembled. We thank you for the support!

There are still some trees looking for a sponsor. So if you know some people who have a blog or website, pass it on and we'll make their blogs carbon neutral too!

Best,
Christin 

Very cool!  Come on, go green today!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Teaser

Work on my WiP is progressing. It's time to be brave and share an excerpt.

I'm interested in hearing how the pacing feels to a first-time reader. As a short story writer, I've worked hard in perfecting the craft of concise exposition, of only giving readers background information essential to the story's one significant moment in time. The voice of a novel, however, is entwined in the POV's internal perceptions, often stemming from his/her background and experiences. I don't have the experience yet in novel writing to know how much background information and internal perception is important and relevant in any given moment, without slowing down the pace. I pay a great deal of attention to this as I read other author's work. But when I sit down to write, ugh! Doubt seeps in. Your feedback on this point is greatly appreciated!

This is one page from Chapter One. As this is an excerpt from my WiP, it will only be posted two days :)


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[Excerpt deleted.  Thanks everyone for your feedback!!]

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pattycake, Pattycake

Saturday as I was making this cake for my daughter's tenth birthday party, I was reminded of a blog comment conversation I had with Jessica of The Alliterative Allomorph. It was the day I posted about not being able to shut off my inner editor and embrace the imperfection of the first draft. That day, Jessica said this in her comment:

"You need to stop thinking and just write the basics...right NOW, think about what's necessary. You can come back LATER and turn it into beautifully crafted prose. Think of it like sketching a cartoon. You start of with the rough pencil outline, then you add the thick black outline which defines its shape and structure, then you colour it in, giving it life, personality, atmosphere."

Put that way, what Jessica was saying sunk in. And it was this analogy that I thought about as I made Sidney's cake.

Approaching a cake project is very like beginning a novel. I got out all my ingredients and organized them neatly on the counter. [characters, plot ideas, turning points, climax, ending]

I mixed up the batter and baked the cakes. When the were out of the pans and cooled, I leveled off each layer so the tops were flat. [rough outline: when you can start to "see" what the finished story will look like]

Next, I torted each layer, which means I sliced each in half so that the three tiered cake would have six layers. By this time I'd cleaned up my work space several times, but my nice, organized ingredients were all over the place -- just like my final outline: "Organized Chaos!"

I mixed up a batch of plain, white buttercream frosting for the crumb coat. This step I most liken to the first draft of my novel. The crumb coat is when you prepare each of the three torted cake tiers. One by one, you frost each bottom layer then carefully place on its top. Next, you apply a very thin, smooth coating of frosting along the sides and top of each layer. When you're finished, you have three individual layered cakes, of different sizes.

The crumb coat is important because it adheres to it all the loose crumbs, so that when you frost the cake with colored icing no crumbs show through, preventing color and texture blemishes. When you assemble the three tiers with their crumb coats, the cake looks like a cake, but it's plain, white, uninspired. However, it's well constructed and ready for embellishment -- when the real magic begins.

Isn't that like the first draft? A rough draft is the place where you get the bones of the story down, get all the characters and plot points in place, build a sound structure. Like the crumb coat, the first draft is part of the artistry, though you may not embrace it for the beautiful work of art it will become during the last stages of the project: the embellishments, the icing on the cake, the writer's flourish.

One last thing I observed with this cake: Each new cake I bake is superior to the last. I put the same effort into each one, the same dedication to perfection. But with practice, the moisture of the cake is better each time, the texture of the buttercream frosting is firmer and creamier. I reach more instinctively for the right piping tips I need to make this flower or that border. This is so like writing, too. The more I write, the more the words flow with an elevated ease, the less I rewrite, and the quicker the metaphors come to my descriptions. Practice hones a craft, in deep-seated ways of which the conscious mind is unaware.

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your insight that day, giving me something to ponder over another of my creative passions. If anyone has not visited The Alliterative Allomorph, scoot over there now and enjoy Jessica's wonderful insights and incredible talent for writing.


Have a wonderful day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Steampunk Dreams

I'm all for stretching my style and stepping outside my writer's comfort zone, but there's one genre I've never attempted (and want to): Steampunk.

Steampunk, for those unfamiliar with the category, is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, and is characterized by elements of fantasy. The style gained popularity in the 1980s, when sci fi writers played the 'What-if' game with these types of questions: What if we'd figured out how to explore space one hundred years earlier than we did, when steam power was prominent? What would Victorian Age spaceships look like? How would giant leaps in technology, if they occurred in the 19th century, have changed history?

The imagination needed to write successful Steampunk blows my mind.

My son enjoyed Larklight, by Philip Reeve so much that I told him I'd read it when he was finished, so we could discuss it 'book club-style.' At the time, I'd never heard of Steampunk. I was immediately captivated by the seemingly regular characters in such an unusual setting. It's about an English brother and sister duo, who live in a Victorian house that's actually a spaceship orbiting far beyond the moon. The story opens when a gentleman arrives for a visit, sparking a terrifying yet marvelous adventure that includes space pirates, giant spiders and a universe in peril. My son and I highly recommend it!

One of these days, I'm going to try writing a Steampunk tale. It'll take some mind expanding I'm not sure I'm capable of, but who knows? Maybe the right inspiration will set off a muse-rattling explosion in my head.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the imaginations of others already brave enough to imagine a Steampunk'd world (and maybe feel inspired!):


Artist Bob Fett has done some amazing series of Steampunk images. His historical artwork is equally impressive. For some Steampunk/Cyberpunk/Historical Fiction inspiration, view more of his work HERE.

And, maybe images like these (these are not the work of Fett, btw) will spark my imagination:









How about you? Have you tried Steampunk? Is there a genre way outside your comfort zone you'd like to attempt?


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sisters

My sister and I were almost Irish Twins. Eleven days after I turned one, she was born. We were raised like twins, though, for the first couple years of our lives. Mom dressed us in matching clothes, cut our hair in identical styles. But as we grew into our personalities, we learned how different we were. How different were the things we coveted in life.

We left the family nest on opposite roads, in search of our desires. For several years, we hardly spoke.

I wrote the first "Sister" poem during those angry, silent years.

Just before last Christmas, my sister cried out. For help. For her life. I answered. That week, I wrote the second "Sister" poem.

My sister is starting a new life. Clean. I'm so proud of her. She's (always) on my mind, and since I can't seem to concentrate on much else today, I'll share my "Sister" poems with you.

A Sister Lost

A
ges ago we shared our lives, but now.....

S
adness tortures my soul when I think of you
I
mmersed in glamorous audacity, skin and ego
S
troked by countless people, but none who really love you. I see you
T
rample down fields of flowers in reckless pursuit of nothing that matters
E
ager to finger that golden horizon.
R
eaching, insatiable, for the jewel-encrusted platter

L
aden with unrestricted choices, you are
O
blivious to the pewter chalice you've knocked to the floor
S
pilling my love, unnoticed, under the
T
able of your life.

By Nicole Ducleroir 10/2008


A Sister Found


A
ging accusations became brittle with time

S
iphoning the last of my stubborn resolve
I
nto the abysmal void where what matters not is
S
ilenced, forever.
T
ime is touted as the healer of all pain, but
E
veryone knows it takes more.
R
eaching out from your fractured world, shaking the family tree, you

F
orced me forward, frightened, until the gap between us snapped shut and
O
rder returned to the universe in my heart.
U
nwritten chapters await our pen; across the first pristine page I write:
Never, ever again will I accept a day of my life
D
evoid of your precious light.

By Nicole Ducleroir 12/2009


Author's Note: Due to width limitations of blogger post columns, some of the longer lines of these acrostics fell to the next line. Arg.

Artwork by Linda Wilder @artistwilder.deviantart.com




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-!

In the gym, I spend five minutes warming up before moving into the strenuous movements of my workout. If I plan to run, I walk at a quick pace to raise my heart rate and loosen up my legs. If I'm weight training, I do an opening set of 20 to 25 reps with just the barbell, letting the movement and the bar's weight gently ease my muscles into action. If I'm short on time and skip this vital step, the workout is more frustrating in the beginning and less efficient overall.

Considering how long it seems to take me at the beginning of each writing session to get into the groove, I've decided to add a warm-up to my daily writing practice.

Sarah Ahiers at Falen Formulates Fiction sent me a great little writing book as part of my prize for winning third place in her 100 Followers Flash Fiction Contest. The book's called The Writer's Book of Matches, 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction. At the outset of each writing session, I'm going to open The Writer's Book of Matches and copy one prompt into a Word document. I'll set a timer for fifteen minutes. The only rule will be: Don't let my fingers stop typing. Launched by the prompt, I'll just write whatever flies into my head. No rules, no punctuation, no limits. And NO BACKSPACING ALLOWED. When the buzzer sounds, I'll save/close the document and open my WiP. Warmed up, I'll be ready to go!


Do you warm up before writing? What's your method? Have you found it works all the time, some of the time, or rarely?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Genre Headache


As I work through the first draft of my WiP, I realize identifying a genre to describe my work will be an ongoing process. My style tends toward literary fiction, in that I explore the human condition through character-driven storytelling. I'm a fan of lush descriptions, a poetic voice. On the other hand, the plot I've devised is riddled with suspense. The stakes are high, life-threatening. Each character is plagued with conflict borne from psychological tensions. Oh yes, and there's romance in there too. Is there a blanket genre that covers all those characteristics?

Perhaps there is. Perhaps, I'm writing a work of commercial fiction.

AgentQuery.com says, "Commercial fiction uses high-concept hooks and compelling plots to give it a wide, mainstream appeal...Like literary fiction, the writing style in commercial fiction is elevated beyond generic mainstream fiction. But unlike literary fiction, commercial fiction maintains a strong narrative storyline as its central goal, rather than the development of enviable prose or internal character conflicts." (Read all their genre definitions HERE.)

The verdict's still out. Hopefully, my beta readers (*waves to DL!*) will help me categorize my work before researching agents. And that, my dear friends, is still in the (near?) future.


Does your WiP fall gracefully under one genre heading? Have you found an umbrella genre that pretty much covers your work's characteristics? Do you wish there was a genre called "Other?"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sick Day


I have a little one home sick with Strep :(

Hope everyone's day is going well. I look forward to visiting your awesome blogs as soon as I tuck my nurse-Mom cap back in the drawer and don again my blogging beanie.

(I am wearing my writer's socks...in case my patient dozes off and I can word-doodle in a notebook. That's the closest thing to an author's hat I'll be wearing today!)



Have a fab day!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Getting the Flow On


I have started and restarted Chapter One six times now. Each time, I get about 800 words in and stop.

I'm driving myself crazy.

I know I just have to get the first draft down. It will stink, most likely. It's supposed to stink. This is where I audition ideas, see what works, play with the possibilities. I'm not worried my writing will stink.

Yes. I am. Arg.

I want the voice to be right, that's all. And I think, maybe, this morning, I got it right.

Now, I've got to loosen up, already. If it takes six restarts for every chapter, I'll be eighty before the first draft is done!

What do you do to override the perfectionist in your head? I've tried timed writing, music, calisthenics between paragraphs. More coffee. Less coffee. Handwriting. Writing in public places.... I'm open to any new ideas!


In the meantime, I hope your weekend is full of sunshine and ignored inner editors!

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Way of Saying...

I was in unfamiliar territory when I decided I would write a cover letter to accompany a short story I was submitting to a literary magazine. Finding little guidance after a Google search, I turned to the blogging community and asked for help. I was overwhelmed with the number of writers who came to my aid and offered their advice, experience, and support!

As a small gesture of my gratitude, I'm passing awards on to each and every person who posted a comment yesterday. If you find a name you don't recognize, please follow the link to their blog and say hello. I hope you follow them, too! :)








I want to thank Annika at A Swede Abroad for the Sweet Blog Award! Her beauty is evident in her writing, pics, and eye-catching blog background. She's saying good-bye to a loved one so please send some love her way!





The Meaning :
Sweet Blog Award is an award for blog which you think is so friendly and make you enjoy to visit it often.

So now there's two things:
1. I give this award to ten people
2. The people I give this award to need to make a post about the award(include the picture & the person that gave it to you!)

I'm passing this award to the following people who came back twice to offer their opinions on the second letter as well as the first. It meant the world to me to get hear your impressions and, in some instances, to exchange emails with you!

B. Miller @ B. Miller Fiction






Thank you to Jen at Unedited for the Soulmates Award!


The rules:
1. Choose five followers/commenters that 'get' you
2. Write something fake (preferably not too mean) about them
3. Link to them, and link back to this post to comment your receipt of the award


The five of my awesome commenters from yesterday receiving the Soulmates award are:

Roland @ Writing in the Crosshairs, who went on ancestry.com and traced his family tree back to Edgar Allen Poe.

Lindsay @ Unicorn Ramblings, who once achieved so much leg-pumping momentum she got the swing to go over the top crossbar in a perfect 360 degree arc.

Shannon McMahon, who loves cheese fondu so much, she's been known to serve it for breakfast featuring chunks of Canadian bacon and her favorite, biscuits of Shredded Wheat.

Aubrie @ Flutey Words, who can burp the entire alphabet, backwards!

Sarah Jayne @ Writing in the Wilderness, who is the base guitarist in a newly formed garage band called The Bomb.





And, thank you to Ellen at Pink Tea and Paper and Amalia @ Good to Begin Well, Better to End Well for the Beautiful Blogger Award! I'm supposed to give this away to 15 fellow bloggers and list 7 things about myself, for your entertainment. I'm feeling goofy so hang on! Here goes:



1. My preferred Oreo is quadruple-stuffed: Open two double stuff Oreos, toss out the tops and sandwich the two halves with cream. Ta-DA! Quadruple-Stuff!

2. My husband proposed to me while I was sitting on the toilet (lid down, pants up!) and he was in the shower. Thus proving the old adage incorrect, that a bad proposal signals a bad marriage.

3. I'm practically ambidextrous...of course, the only thing I can't do with both my right and left hands is WRITE.

4. I make hubby and the kids hook their dirty socks together before putting them in the hamper or I refuse to wash them. (I grew up in a family of 7, and my mother's solution to pairing socks was to not do it. Instead, all clean socks went into a laundry basket in the hall closet. I'm maimed for life by nightmares of ploughing through that damn basket every day, settling on two socks that were at least the right color and thickness...)

5. I never throw away used tin foil. If it can't be wiped clean and reused, it goes in the recycle bin.

6. I put a plant on my desk yesterday because someone (*waves to Summer*) said,

7. I never open my eyes underwater, even though I haven't worn contact lenses since my Lasik surgery seven years ago.

I'm passing along this award to more of yesterday's commenters. Thank you for the incredible support you showered me with!!

Chrisi Goddard @ A Torch in the Tempest




Lastly, and by no means leastly, a huge thank you to my sweet friend Anne at Piedmont Writer for the Awesomesauce Award! What a great title!!

This one goes to the remaining bloggers who took time out of their day to offer me the guidance I needed. Your support lifted me up!!



Kristen @ Disobedient Writer
Jemi Fraser @ Just Jemi
DL Hammons @ Cruising Altitude


Again, my heartfelt thank you to all these talented, generous writers for helping a girl out when she asked. You all rock!!

I hope these lists help visitors meet someone new today!