Monday, March 28, 2011

Think You Know Your Character?

  I just got me some renewed writing drive at the League of Utah Writers Spring Conference. Great classes, a little reconnecting, all for the cost of membership dues. It also makes great material for blog entries. It’s never the same as being there, but here’s to hoping you can gain from my experience.
  This week’s entry will be about the first class: The Psychology of Characterization taught by Jennifer Nielsen. This was a slightly different take on characterization classes I’ve attended. She spent part of the time on personality basics like knowing that a character’s personality is stable; it’s the traits that may evolve or adapt. The presence of a certain trait may matter, but the intensity/amount really matters. For a person to behave out of character, there should be a reason. She also gave some good sites for finding out more about personalities.
  Jennifer prepared ‘fill in the rest of the sentence’ questions to delve into knowing our main character. These I had seen before, but there were a few answers that surprised me. Since I am writing a stand alone sequel to my first novel (currently under publisher review), I thought I knew my MC well enough not to find surprises. But my MC has evolved and matured. Karlinah started out as a sixteen-year-old princess and now has experienced motherhood and family tragedy that can’t help but shape her. This is a tip I recommend and will repeat in the future.
  After seeing the answers, we could group them into categories. People’s issues tend to be reworked repeatedly, so be prepared to learn more about your character’s issues. One surprise answer to The person I admire most is . . . hit me with a new twist to my plot when Jennifer asked the question What is the very worst thing I can do to my MC? By combining these, I am excited to write an event into my story that will impact future events in the plot. I’ll find out if it takes me where I think it will go and the discovery will be a stimulating ride for me—something invaluable to a writer.
  Next Monday I will share from John Brown’s classes.
  BTW, I am pleased to say that I won a book this past week on Don Carey's blog. Very cool.
  What's your best Characterization tip?
                                                             Lunch with Lisa and Melissa.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Writing Out of Duty?

So, my busy meter is about to rev-up a notch. I'll be putting in some regular teaching hours filling in for a maternity leave at a local Intermediate School in the music department. (Did you hear the one about the guy who always broke out in song because he couldn't find the key?) It's a blessing, really, with my husband out of work. But it leaves me with less time for writing. Cringe.
I considered not even posting today since I added an extra post last week, but the duty thing nagged at me and I have a streak going. Is my passion evaporating along with my time? Not many will read this anyway. I really need to get onto Facebook or do a contest because I'm at a stagnant place. I have a few new ideas to try on this blog, but I really want to know what you are looking for in a post. Leave me a comment with one or two of your favorite ideas. If you're feeling extra busy right now, maybe you good just leave me a "hello".
Good luck on your reading or writing this week. And thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My American Idol Picks

Great talent in AI this year. Yeah. Author's Incognito too. Definately. But I'm talking about American Idol tonight.
I just listened to the top 12  and have whittled down my current picks for my own version of March Madness bracketology--based on talented vocals rather than style, song choice, or fan potential. My top seed female is Pia Toscano and male is James Durbin. Any of the following could upset the fruit basket: Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk, and Casey Abrams.
Okay, so we'll see if I need to revise my list down the line. But there you have it. Anybody agree with me?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yummy Contest Link

Hey everybody! I'm spreading the word about Don Carey's contest to win Josi Kilpack's Blackberry Crumble. The book, not the dessert. But it sounds yummy anyway. I've love to win a copy. I've heard Don has a great book out too called Bumpy Landings. He's got some great Hawaiian recipes on his site as well. Head on over to and check out the contest sometime this week. Best of luck!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review - Matched

Matched  Matched by Ally Condie is set in a dystopian world where Cassia’s life is all planned out. Life is smooth until she finds out her perfect match may not be who she was told. Ripples of doubt lead to secrets forced into hiding or risk disturbing the structured life in which she always trusted. Most of the tension stems from this.
  The best thing about Matched for me was the tug of emotions Condie creates through the main character. Seventeen-year old Cassia causes self-reflection for the reader with every choice she makes. Questions surface such as whether we are better off to have free will rather than submit to the perfectly planned life. I also enjoyed the developing love story even though there were necessary interruptions to it with day to day world building events.
  Condie does a good job using flowing writing to describe interesting bits of this futuristic world to give a full flavor of the environment. For me, this sometimes led to slow pacing because I was anxious to hear more of another aspect of the story. Maybe this was because I expected a slightly different story from this novel. Between back cover comments mentioning “rebellion” and a recent reading of The Hunger Games, Condie’s story didn’t take me where I thought it should go. It was a calmer ride. Good, but not great.
  If you enjoy thought-provoking aspects, dystopian that doesn’t bring you down, and a different kind of love story, this book is for you. Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oh No! What Have I Done?

  It's too late! I've already submitted something and there are mistakes. Time to panic? Maybe. But not for long. If I agonize over every imperfect piece of writing, there would be no time to move on and write something else. But this time it was important.
  Last week I posted writing Samples A and B for comments. Sample A was the first few paragraphs of a story already sent off to a publisher. It had gone through my critique group already, but now that I wanted to submit to the Storymakers First Chapter Contest, I asked them for another look. A good friend of mine really gave it the once over with lots of markings. This morphed into Sample B, which I sent off before the deadline to the contest. I changed the first sentence around so that it would immediately become the main character's point of view. It feels rotten to know that my first sentence sent to the publisher was not the view point I wanted. (Too bad this wasn't caught earlier.) But this same friend didn't love my new first sentence and had some better suggestions (after the deadline). Oh well.
  Publishers expect some editing. Maybe other first chapters in the contest will have flaws as well.
  I can't live in the past. I could revise and revise and it still wouldn't be perfect. We all want our best work to shine. It's true that I can fix what someone shows me is wrong. The greater truth is that I am starting to recognize problems spots on my own. This is progress. This is success.
  While waiting to hear back, I'll try to remember that progression equals contentment. Do you see your own progress? Are you happy with it?