Sunday, February 22, 2009

Movie Fun

In honor of the Oscars, I've decided to do movie reviews this week. To be clear these movies will never see the inside of an Oscar ballot, but that doesn't mean they aren't great fun.

This year all the Oscar movies seem so...bleak. I have been steadfastly avoiding them. Instead I've been spending my money seeing light hearted, sometimes groaningly awful movies that are pure fun.

I'll begin with INKHEART. I am a fan of Brandon Frasier and went to see this movie just so I could post his picture on my blog. I was a little nervous after seeing JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH in three D (Sad movie) but went anyway for an afternoon of popcorn and Brandon. Now in all fairness I have to say I never read the book. I didn't even know there was a book series-my apologies to the author. Inkheart is a cunning tale about human beings with the ability to bring book characters to life when reading out loud. Very cool idea for a writer. The movie is a kid's fantasy with great characters played by fantastic actors. I was surprised to have a wonderful time and would purchase the DVD. As a warning to parents- the Ash Monster is quite scary. I wouldn't let children under the age of 9 view the movie.

The next movie is HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. Again, I didn't read the book, although I knew of this one. From what I understand the movie doesn't follow the book very closely. It, too, had some wonderful actors- Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connley, Drew Barrymore, etc. Unfortunately the female characters stumble through disastrous personal relationships looking for men who will agree to
stay with them and build the lives they think they want. Meanwhile the men are merely looking for "hot" females to hook up with. Kind of makes human relationships look sad. Not a good date movie. See it with friends.

The final movie-CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC. Again, a book series I didn't read. (I am a sad, sad excuse for a book person, aren't I? Perhaps I should visit a bookstore-or the library. Sigh. I'm too busy writing them to read them.) This series popped up after Bridget Jones. Sadly this movie is about two years, too late. It no longer seems relevant. The heroine is not bright, and addicted to spending money she doesn't have-but according to the premise-as long as you're well dressed and vivacious you can stun the world, get the rich guy and succeed at the highest level. Read- wear Prada and the world will be at your feet. Ugh! It's supposed to be funny- in a Lucille Ball sort of way, but in today's economy where it takes upwards of two years for well qualified people to find work, and credit is nonexistent it reads wrong. I have no sympathy for the heroine and hated to see her succeed thinking someone, somewhere, will think this farce could actually happen. Such a waste of good talent.

Those are my movie reviews for this month. I'm off to the bookstore since I'm clearly in need of a good book. cheers!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Trust Your Creative Process

I spent the week mucking around revising a book. I've already written 450 pages. I've got a solid plot, good dialogue, smart sub plot, etc. But this book is a new genre for me. I really want it to work. (Read-paranoid I'm in over my head.) I'm doing everything I can to make the book "right." So I make the mistake of doing what "everyone" says must be done-not what I "know" works for me. I muck-I spend hours looking at individual paragraphs and sentences and word choices. After all I've been told is the only way to sell.

When I first started writing, I wrote two drafts and the book was done and on it's way out of my house. I got back good rejection letters-hand written not form rejections. Then I joined writer's groups-went to workshops to learn the craft- to figure out how to get better. I learned people actually look at their paragraphs and make sure they don't have the same word starting a paragraph for at least three pages. They look at word choice. They work on sentence structure. Ugh- are you kidding me? You can't see the story for the trees.

But they must be right- after all they said they were right. Everyone in the room nodded and agreed. Blogs are written every day about it. Critique partners go on and on. So I slowed down and followed the rules. My rejection letters turned from hand written to form. What? So, I dug down harder-working more craft-trying harder to pick each word just right...

Well meaning "craft" people are all very convincing that this is what must be done to produce a good book- to be salable-to be professional. Slow down- slog through. (besides if I don't send it out I won't get rejected, right?) So, I spend hours-slog along-trying my best to "fix" each word while keeping my own voice and not over polishing. Mostly I end of feeling like a complete loser as a know-scarlet L on my forehead.

Then I read a blog by Dean Wesley Smith best selling author of over 90 published novels.

He spoke of writing fast-quickly and well-something I did naturally before I got paranoid and started looking at the words... (It's a great blog-hop over and take a look.) Something he said struck a cord with me.

He said- "Writing slow is an invention of those who know nothing about the creative process, for the most part. Teachers love to believe that writing slow means writing better (mostly because they have fewer papers to grade that way). And rewriting is a myth that has built up also from people who really don’t understand the creative process.
That said, every writer works differently. There is no right way, and if cranking out ten words a day and rewriting then over and over works for you and you are selling tons of novels, then for heaven’s sake, don’t change it. But if you are doing that and it’s not working very well, or you are listening to your agent about how to rewrite because you think your agent is a better writer than you are (And if so, why is the agent only earning 15% and not writing on their own?), you might want to step back and hit some basics.
So, how do you train yourself to write from that creative side, write faster, and maybe even write an entire novel in under three weeks? Answer: You have to get out of your own way and believe you can do it."

Wow- trust your personal creative process. I am an idiot. I let paranoia throw me off my own process. What was I thinking? I jump up- do a happy dance! This week I'm sending out queries.

My point-whatever your creative process- never let anyone tell you you must do it their way to be "right" - trust your own way. It's the one God-given thing you have. Find the joy in it. Cheers.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Story Tellers vs. Word Lovers

I read a blog this week written by a multi published author Kathy Carmichael where she contended that being able to conceptualize a complete story was innate. In other words, like blue eyes or red hair, you either have the natural talent to finish or you don't.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? I mean, so many wonderful writers with great sentence structure, dialogue and ideas-and she believes that even with this if you don't have the innate ability to finish the book, you never will. Is that like will power? You're either innately thin or you're chubby. People born thin can go through life without a thought of food, while people who tend to walk by a coffee shop gain weight from smelling the fresh bakes scones.

Doesn't mean you can't be thin. Just means you have to work very, very hard at it. I get it. Who wants to do something for a living when you have to work so very hard at it. The answer to that is- a lot of people.

Here's my opinion, I believe there are two kinds of writers. No, I don't mean plotters and pantzers (ones who plot out a story and ones who write by the seat of their pants). I think this is even more fundamental as pantzers can become plotters and vice versa. I believe that fundamentally you are either a story teller or a word person. (Although some story tellers will say they got into the biz because they love words, they are only doing this to sound more intellectual. Anyone who writes six books a year is a story teller.)

Look, I'm a story teller. I admit it. I don't care if I have 100 "was" in the first 10 pages. I get caught up in character. I want to know what happens next. I want to sit in front of an audience and tell them what I see in my head-from beginning to end. I want to enthrall and entertain. I love story.

Word people love to write because they love language. They love the rules of language. They love to debate whether said should be used. What new word can they use to create fresh sparkling dialogue and captivating prose. They love prose.

I think that is what is innate- not the ability to finish what you start. Both kinds of people have their work cut out for them. Story tellers need editors to help them with their prose, repetitive words, passive language, etc. Word people need editors to help them pull away from the words and see character, conflict, what happens next.

To me, its not a matter of being born with the ability to finish or not, but more a matter of figuring out who you are and how you can use that to your advantage. So, which are you? Story teller or word lover?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I spent the better part of this week revising and polishing a 50 page proposal to go out. Here's how it went:

Step one:

open Word doc

Step two:

Procrastinate by reading blogs instead. Find lots of interesting info then come across Jane Kennedy Sutton's blog on Overused Words and Redundancies think, fabulous this is what I need to revise. Follow her link to a list of overused words. Print out list.

Step three:

Use find and replace to replace all words on list with a blank space. So that I can go back later and fix. Oh, boy, notice many other words I over use. Write them on list-creating my own list of repeated words.

Shred manuscript into thousand holes- who knew I liked to use the words so, that and glance so much?!

Step four:

Run from holey manuscript convinced I am a hack and am only published because publisher was desperate.

Step five:

Go back to procrastination by reading great blogs. Discover Howard Hopkin's blog "Who do you think you are?" about Creepy Thought Gnomes

Realise that I might be a hack but I can always revise. Thought Gnomes are hacks!

Step six:

Go back to shredded sentences with thesaurus in hand. Discover that holes make sentences stronger. Writing better. Revising easier.

Step seven:

Print out final copy of proposal. Place in envelop with Query letter, bio and SASE. Take letter to the post. Celebrate!

Step eight:

Thank ALL new blogger friends-wish I could mention all the great blogs but that would only cause more procrastination on my part.

Web Troubles

So, I had a whole cool blog written with links to various things but included in those links is an important link to my website.

Unfortunately my web host has decided to "update" their programming in this case the php files. Now I can't get into my website to manage it. Sigh.

So, please come back at a later time for something far more interesting than this. Cheers.