Monday, March 18, 2013

Thoughts...Just Thoughts for a Monday

Today's began amazing!  The mist settled over the beaches and passed through the trees outside my balcony.  Tiny sparrows played hide-n-seek with a hummingbird just feet from where I sat with my feet wrapped in a blanket and book on my lap.  It was the perfect way to begin a new day.

Hours later, I still sat with a blanket wrapped around me even though the sun was out and the dog begged for another walk.  My joints ached and my head pounded.  Something was trying to invade every cell of my body and it was obvious I wasn't going anywhere except back to the soft chairs on the balcony with the blanket and book. 

I think it was meant to be though.....

Taking up my Nook, I decided to read Oprah's magazine and found three questions she had asked her staff that month.  The questions resonated with me.  I pondered them for quite a while.  These are amazing questions that breathe life into a typically mundane existence.  I am grateful that I was able to answer them and while I would be happy to do so (should anyone ask...), I would prefer to post them here for your benefit.  Take a minute and ponder these questions as they relate to your life, your week, your day.  Answer them and share, if that feels comfortable to do so on this blog.  I take joy in reading about others' accomplishments and triumphs, as do so many of you!

And so...the questions are this:

  1. What is my greatest accomplishment?
     2.  The most risky thing I've ever done is...?

     3.   If I had no fear, I would......?

Namaste ~

Friday, March 15, 2013

How To - Writing, Step 3

Your notebook is gapes open with scores of ideas scribbled in no particular order - organized chaos speaking volumes to the author.  An outline beckons you to fill in the gaps and fatten its skeletal framed entity into a fat, juicy story.

...Now for the fun part....

Today is a day of genesis - the birth of your characters.  In stillness, take your mind and spirit to sit with the main character of your story.  What does he/she/it look like?  What is their scent?  What does this character eat?  How do they cry and what do they laugh over?  (or can that character laugh?).  Describe every single detail as if you were living that character's existence.  Experience in completeness the very being of the character.

Write it down.  Write and write and write until each and every nuance of that character is recorded.

Then do it again...with the next character and the next.  Be sure to leave space to include detail that may inadvertently crop up as the manuscript unfolds.  Keep intricate notes and know these characters intimately.  It's imperative!

There is very little that will be as rewarding as the actual creation of the characters in your story.  You assume great responsibility, almost altruistic in nature, when you create these beings.  You are meant to relish the experience, savor creation at its fullest.  Enjoy!

Now...go create.....

Friday, March 8, 2013

How To - Writing, Step TWO

A few weeks have passed and the little notebook, kept inseparably attached to your writing pen, is rapidly filling with notations, sketches, thoughts and images.  Random though these may appear, you now have the opportunity to create an organized story out of the scrolled chaos scribbled over the pages of that precious little book.

The assembly of your cacography into a coordinated thread of ideas is the next step...aka: creating an Outline.

(This is actually my least favorite step!)

Typically, once an author has a fair number of pages filled with ideas, he also has a relatively good idea about what his story will become.  At this point, the great temptation is to begin the act of writing the actual story, bypassing the important step of outlining the plot - including character devlopment.  I am one of these authors who have been unmercifully enticed into skipping the outline in lieu of writing the story.  However, this is never a good idea....particulary for me!

I learned a valuable lesson from a very famous, very successful author - someone I admire tremendously.  J.K. Rowling understood the importance of the outline.  For FIVE YEARS, Ms. Rowling outlined the Harry Potter series, beginning with that infamous train ride sketching ideas on napkins as she travelled through Scotland the day Harry Potter was created.  Not only did J.K. Rowling outline the plots, she also outlined the details of each intricate allotment in her stories, ie: the type of feather used in each wand, the smells and tastes of the food consumed in the dining hall, the rulebook for Quiddich, the color of the woodwork in Snape's office, etc.  My admiration for the dedication of this talented writer allowed me to take a step back, breathe deep and begin the process of outlining my own series. 

Initially, outlining your story will feel an arduous task.  Fortunately, the notebook you have compiled will assist you and as your outline progresses, the skeletal portion of your story will take shape.  Start by identifying the conflict and subsequen resolution.  What ultimate antagonism will your hero/heroine face and how will they overcome it (assuming they do)?   The events that occur prior to this climax and those that follow are the rest of the outline.

Creating the basic blueprint for your novel is worth your time and dedicated effort to complete.  My advice is to follow the example of those who have proven successful - such as J.K. Rowling.  There will be much more to add to this outline in time but without it, detail will be lost and the spine of your story will be soft. 

So here's to the strength of a well-written story!  Here's to the OUTLINE!

Monday, March 4, 2013

How To - Writing, Step 1 1/2

I pulled out my blue notebook the other day.  The edges are worn and some of the pages are torn from the binding.  At first glance, it looks like a student's day-planner filled with scribbling and old post-it notes stashed in between notations and numbers.  For me, it's the pulse of my story - the life force of Deja vu.  My ideas, thoughts, images, phrases, poetry and pictures are scribed inside that black-and-blue cover.  What would the series be without it, I wondered as I leafed through the pages once again.

The need to keep a notebook such as the simple one I keep by my side cannot be emphasized enough for the serious author.  It's importance is brought to the forefront of my writing everytime I sit down and gather my ideas.  Truly, such tools - this one in particular - will be invaluable as you write your story.

So what comes next? 

Honestly....FAITH.  I know that seems a strange idea to present, especially when the student of artistic creation is ready to move ahead and begin the journey that will become his beloved project.  But I stand by my attestation (is that a word?) of the need for faith...also patience and an open mind.  Indeed, this sounds a little like scripture which proports the importance of personal virtues.  Perhaps that is part of my intent.

There stands a tremendous need for an author to remain open and willing to hear what is brought to him.  Often times, ideas will present themselves at the most in-opportune time (hence the reason for the notebook).  These ideas need to be reverenced and honored (and written down!).  Other times, people will offer insight into your ideas, thoughts, dreams, plans, plot, etc.  These comments also need to be honored and given appropriate consideration.  Yours, as the author, is the right to cast aside that which doesn't belong.  Your "gut" will tell you what is valuable "advice" and what isn't.

As your work becomes ready for editing and a publisher's scrutiny, be prepared to have a very un-emotional, open mind to suggestions for a successful novel.  An agent from Pennsylvania contacted me at the beginning of my submission process and made some suggestions to Midnight Omen which, at the time I received them, did not make a heck-of-a-lot of sense.  Fortunately, I wrote them down (in my little blue book).  Yesterday, as I thumbed through the pages and re-read the agent's suggestions, I could see that she was exactly right-on for the genre, market and sales potential.  Wow! 

Faith in yourself, ability and in the Universe allows you to accept these suggestions and ideas as they are presented to you.  Take the time and have the courage to jot down all that is given to you.  Time will prove its value and the story will dictate what you use.

My challenge to each of us this week is to jot down one idea, comment, criticism or thought each day as it presents itself.  (You will find that more and more is presented as you open your mind to receive...this I PROMISE!).  I would love to hear about your experience if you are willing to share!

Happy writing! 

(By-the-way, attestation IS a word): 
Main Entry:
attestation[at-e-stey-shuhn] Show IPA
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: confirmation
Synonyms: authentication, corroboration, declaration, documentation, evidence, proof, substantiation, testament, testimonial, testimony, validation, verification