Monday, November 20, 2017

Nanowrimo

It is again NaNoWriMo time!
NaNoWriMo
National Novel Writing Month has me all tied up. All my spare time has gone into typing, typing, typing.

I'm home for Thanksgiving break, and my goal is to finish the last 20,000 words. I can do this!  I'm at 35,000 and I can keep going.

I'm working on Enmityville Chronicles. Enmityville is a town where those with special magical abilites and non-humans live side by side in mutual and decided ignorance and acceptance of the fact that non-humans exist. The tales are told from the points of view of a new family brought into the town completely oblivious to it's inner secrets and workings. They soon learn, along with the reader, how things are. They also learn why they were chosen to be there.

My husband and I are writing this series of novellas. There are supposed to be ten books in all. I've been writing my half of the stories for Nano. I started on book two because book one is mostly finished, though it needs some major overhauls in parts now that we know how the series is going to go. When we wrote book one we were still unsure of all the races, problems, and even plots.

In order to write a series, you need several over-arching plots. Each book has a problem to solve, but also each book introduces a character and situation that will come into play later.

I am now writing book four. I finished books two and three according to the plans we discussed this month. The best part about this is that I can talk to my husband, bounce ideas off of him, tell him about the new characters I have created, and he is invested. He wants to know about the story and he can give me good feedback. I also love when one of my character interactions fits in perfectly with his vision for their interactions. I can say 'yes! he or she did exactly that!'. He motivates me to keep going and helps me get through writing slumps.

No, pausing to write this blog post does not mean I am in a writing slump.

It means I needed to take a break and gather my thoughts for the next big scene. :)

Excerpt:


Book 2: On Dwarves and Elves


Laura Jones, now living in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska in a small town called Enmityville, opened yet another door in the vast hospital she had taken to touring all by herself. The single doctor on staff, Fields, was entombed in the cavernous staff lounge with ESPN. The head nurse, Haythorne, was always mysteriously missing, but would turn up at odd moments to criticize something Laura was doing. Only the receptionist, Ashley, remained faithfully at her desk buried in cat videos.


This room, once lit by the flick of switch, proved to be an empty apothecary. Bottles sat in a few designated spots, but the dust on their white caps gave evidence that no one had needed medicines like these in a long while. Laura checked the expiration date on a random bottle. It had expired 3 years ago.


She sighed. Marking the door with her trusty red dry erase marker, she set off in search of a cart and boxes to empty out the room.


It bothered her that someone with her training, years of heard-earned education, hours of clinicals, and her record of saved lives would spend her days cleaning and straightening an empty but otherwise functional hospital.


She found a cart near one of the triage rooms near the main emergency entrance. As she pushed it past the entrance and behind the receptionist desk, she heard Ashley talking to someone. Intrigued that they might actually have a patient, she stopped to eavesdrop.


“Nurse Haythorne isn’t answering,” Ashley was telling the air outside of the phone held to one ear. “She is very busy.”


Laura knew that was a lie. No one was busy here. Nurse Haythorne was simply hard to track down. Rather than use the paging system, Ashley had opted for a direct call to her desk. That meant this wasn’t an emergency. It seemed odd that Ashley would screen visitors. Had she been sending people away?


Laura stepped closer. She couldn’t see the speaker beyond Ashley and the desk. But she suddenly heard them.


“She specifically ordered these!”


The voice was coming from below the desk, a little shrill with exasperation.


“I was told to deliver them to her personally and I’m not leaving until I hand this basket over to Nurse Haythorne!”


Laura was involved now. She stepped around the desk to take in a very small person. She had never seen a real dwarf in her life, not even in a single hospital she’d interned in. Dwarfism was fascinating and it was hard to look away when you first saw one. The polite thing was to speak up instead of act like you weren’t staring.


“Hello, my name is Laura. I’m a nurse here. I could take those, if you like.” The little woman was holding a basket, covered, handle over one arm.


“No! These must only go to Nurse Haythorne!”


“What are they?”


A squeak of warning escaped from Ashley. Laura looked at her wide eyes and slightly shaking head. Had she said something wrong?


“Just go and find her! She knows I’m here.”


“Alright, who may I tell her is delivering a package?”


The little woman squinted and sized Laura up. She clearly had some measure in her mind as to Laura’s trustworthiness. She must have chosen to give Laura a chance, because she replied, “Tell her her shipment has arrived. That’s all.”


It was a test. Perhaps if she accomplished what Ashley could not, she would win the woman’s name. Laura was bored and accepted the challenge.


“Alright. I guess you can wait here and I’ll try to find her. I’ll call the front desk when I do.”


The woman gave a single curt nod and turned to find a seat. Laura then looked at Ashley questioningly. The receptionist gave her an eyebrows raised look that said, ‘it’s your funeral’.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The 10th Kingdom


Perhaps you didn't get to watch this fantasy gem of a TV mini-series (9 hours), but it's one of my favorites. My husband bought me the DVD set for Christmas one year. It's where I fell in love with Scott Cohen as Wolf.



It's back in the news because it's coming to Blueray on November 3rd for it's 15th anniversary. I've been married 15 years and we watched it together and bonded over this movie. It's special to me.

The trolls are a bit cheesy, they sort of overact, but you let that slide because they spend half the movie as solid gold statues. They come into their own by the end of it.



The cheesiest parts are when they are in the 'real world' of New York City. They stick out like store thumbs. Many of the New York scenes are a bit cheesy, (the licking the shoes, the vacuum eating the rugs and curtains while saying clean clean clean), but NONE of them with Scott Cohen. Those parts are amazing. His therapy session is the best!

As a writer, I think some of it could have been edited a little. Once the characters cross into the fantasy realm of the 9 Kingdoms, the show comes into its own. I personally like to rewatch the 2nd and 3rd DVDs of the set. It's still long, but each part adds something to the story.

There's love, denial, fairytales, magic, and an epic quest to save the Prince and reconcile with the past, finding one's destiny.



Virginia is 'so cold' as Snow White's ghost tells her; her heart is closed off. Maybe it's the cruelty of reality living in a city with her father a disrespected maintenance man and she a disrespected waitress.



Then there's the nod to one of my favorite actors of all time - Warwick Davis. He is amazing, as usual, as Acorn the dwarf.

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Anyway, they are asking for fan love in the form of a video, no more than 40 seconds, of why a sequel should be made. Here a few of my thoughts, not recorded on video.

1. The trolls would be different, since (spoiler), their father is dead, they certainly could easily be tricked out of ruling their kingdom and play only minor roles.

2. Virginia and Wolf will have a child, maybe a few, and would need to travel between the worlds. Some teenage angst and a new love story could emerge between a child of theirs and a new character who needs someone or something rescued. The child could escape there, be forced there by trickery, or magic, and Virginia and Wolf could either be stolen away or kept from entering the world.

3. The Prince could have a child as well and perhaps that Prince or Princess would fall in love with Virginia and Wolf's son or daughter.

4. This story included Snow White, Little Bo Peep, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, King Cole who wore the Emperor's Clothes, beanstalks, a magic wishing well, Fairy Godmother ideas, and gypsies. Perhaps this new one explores a different Fairy Tale mashup with these stories intersperesed. Oooh, Giants would be a nice twist.

5. Special Effects have improves vastly in 15 years! They could do some REALLY amazing things.

6. Fairy tales are always a safe bet when it comes to views, but with good editing and hindsight and insight on what worked and what didn't, a sequel could be BETTER than the first.

As long as Scott Cohen and Warwick Davis are on board, I'm in!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Importance of a GOOD Editor

AuthorConfession #35
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I make friends on Twitter or other places with other authors who self-publish. There is a risk involved with this. Not like a stalkery kind of risk that they take over your identity or rob your house, but all self-published authors have to make a decision about editing, to do it themselves, or to get someone else to do it. As a writer, I want to support them, but when their published book downright NEEDS a real editor and is very hard to read from the first paragraph, I cannot honestly support their work.

Beta readers who are HONEST and authors who can take CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM are essential to this process. Nothing kills your fans like a product that doesn't live up to all your hype. "Buy my book! Here's a sneak peek!" and the sneak peek sucks because the author didn't get anyone good to read it; that's a real bummer.

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It's like a bad blind date.

If the character is human, then not human, then magical, then can see behind their head, then I'm inside their head, but their thoughts would be better explained by an omniscient narrator, but the author prefers paragraphs of italics filled with questions that are telling and not showing the reader...INHALE, then I'm not going to read past the first page. I'm certainly not going to buy it.

I'm gonna leave before the main course by sneaking out the bathroom window.

Not that my own works are all quality. All of my free stuff hasn't been edited by a GOOD editor. As I learn, I go back and edit myself. I'm much better now than 10 years ago. I republished and updated two old works this summer. I am not immune to mistakes.

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Unedited authors learn slower. Join Critique Circle and help authors learn. If you are writing and need beta readers, join Critique Circle.

Pay for an editor if you can. Don't let your friends edit your works who don't read a lot, or don't write as much as you do. They will think you are a god or goddess of the typewriter and will only tell you you are awesome and never tell you that you suck.

David Lodge says he doesn't listen to academic criticism, "designed to exert the critic’s mastery over the text." Yeah, you don't HAVE to listen to all critics, but you DO have to listen to some of them. You are not superior to all others, but you do have the right to not listen to them and to not change parts of your story that you feel work, or bring your books to the 21st century, or whatever you tell yourself. Don't let them kill your voice. But do let them help you grow.
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Compromise with yourself and your critics.


Lastly, I made up that Author Confessions number. Perhaps I should edit it and make it number 1 and do a series...  I realize that the hashtag author confession is a real thing with a calendar of topics for the month. Yeah, I'm not part of that. This is just me and my thoughts.