Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pushing Daisies, Voice, and Accidental Drawls.

Yesterday a friend of mine lent me the first season of Pushing Daisies.

It's a quirky show about a man who brings dead things back to life with a touch. If he ever touches them again, they're dead for good. Sounds cool, right? There's only a few problems with his secret skill, if whatever, or whoever, he touches stays alive for more than a minute, someone else dies to take their place. Yup problems. Especially when he saves his mother in the first episode and accidentally kills his sweetheart's father, only to have his mother kiss him goodnight and die, too.

Here's a link to a clip.

This show is an amazing example of voice. It screams voice. I sat mesmerized by its richness and absolute quirkiness. I felt like Dr. Suess had created a show for adults. It was awesome. Then I encountered my own problems.

I sat down to write and found myself imitating the voice from the show. BIG problem. My WIP is not quirky, nor does it have a voice-over narrator that provides odd and amusing side-notes. At least it didn't until yesterday afternoon at half-past three.

I couldn't stop myself from adding little details that completely threw off my scene. I mean, when your character is in a serious sword fight and a non-existent narrator suddenly shows up saying things like:

"Little did Trin know, that in twenty-three-point-two seconds she would be distracted by a husky voice in her head that would lead to seeing stars. Not nice romantic stars, but the type that come from being smashed upside the head with edge of a dull sword blade. If she had known this, she might have finished off her burly opponent in twenty-two seconds and headed off to breakfast, but she didn't, and now we'll join her for the stars."

It was fun, but really messed up my book. I had to delete everything I wrote yesterday. AND, I'm still doing it today. I think I'm going to have to apply for shock therapy or something. Or I might have to devote my entire day to reading from my own WIP so I can find my own voice again. Sheesh.

It's like I picked up a weird accent or something. Have you ever done that? I do it all the time. Once on a trip, my hubby and I stopped for gas in Tennessee. I ran into the store to buy some gum and came out two minutes later with a drawl. It lasted for a good week. I couldn't help myself. Really. I tried to stop. It didn't work.

I just hope my written drawl doesn't stick around that long. I don't think my characters will survive. I'm not sure what the non-existent narrator will do to them. They might even start mouthing off at him, and that's just plain silly. Where do I go for therapy?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How Many Washes Does It Take?

Kid C has a thing with my washing machine. He likes to watch it swish and swirl. He likes to watch the bubbles form. He likes to put things in it. What kind of things? Oh, so many kinds of things.

Here's a list of just a few:

Phone books
The entire content of the garbage can
Video Games
Four extra loads of dirty clothes, maybe five, depending on the day. Yes. All crammed in together. Nice huh?
Food, all kinds
Cat food
The cat (This one didn't work so well, and was just a one time thing.)
Manuscript pages
Picture books
House plants
Hair accessories
Laundry soap

This post is mostly about the last item on the list. Laundry soap. Do you know how many times you have to rewash a batch of shirts if a small child dumps an entire bottle of liquid laundry soap into the machine? Well, let me tell you. I don't know, but it's a lot. I'm working on ten times right now, and the suds are still billowing out of the clothes like they have rabies. It's not a pretty sight.

Usually, I lock up the washing machine. I know it sounds strange, but hey, you try picking twenty-five pounds of clumping cat litter out of your pants and see if you don't grab the power drill and attach a padlock to your washer and dryer. I'm telling you, it would only take a few times and your house would go into lock down, too.

So what happened today? I thought, What the heck, live a little. Leave it unlocked. What's the worst that could happen? Yup. I'm brilliant and now, I'm paying the price. And what a bubbly price it is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm A New Mother!

I gave birth over the weekend to a burly, 190 pound palace guard named Frieder. Well, to be completely honest, Frieder already existed on one page of my novel, but at Dave Wolverton's urging, he has now become a full-fledged character. And he's cute to boot. I do dig a guy with soft curly hair and a dimple when he smiles (sorry hubby, but it's true).

I'm so excited by this new birth. I get the strangest kick out of creating characters, picking names, dressing them, delving into their pasts to discover hidden dreams and holes in their souls. Unearthing their motivations is like digging up a gem, dusting it off, and holding it up in the sun for all the world to see. It's exciting. It's like finding a new friend.

It's also hard. What if bad things are in store for your cute new friend? Frieder has a sweetheart he longs to wed. He's saved every brass coin he's earned for six years to pay her dowry. And he's going to lose her.

Poor Frieder.

Poor me.

I want to cry for him. How can I write this? How can I cement his future heartbreak with a few strokes on my keyboard? It will be hard, but it must be done, because poor Frieder doesn't know he's merely a side-kick, that he exists to create conflict and tension. To him, he is the main character. His story is just as important to him, as the real main character's is to the reader, and that's why I have to know him. I must know what games he played as a child, what he dreams of at night, his fears, strengths, sense of humor, and especially his weaknesses. And that's why I mourn for him before his pain is even written. That way, when I do write him, he can live in your minds and hearts, too. If I do it right.

That's why I stare into oblivion so often. Playing with people's lives is serious business. Even if they only exist between the covers of a book, they are real when you read them. They are real to their creators. They are real to themselves.

What minor characters have you fallen for in books or movies? Can you tell if the author invested time and love in their creation? Does it make a difference in how much you enjoy the story? What makes a good secondary character?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A short post in which my name is drawn and quartered but my manuscript survives with only minor injuries.

Wow, that is a long title. First off, sorry this post is so late. I've been at the WIFYR workshop the last two days and haven't had a chance to blog. It's late now, and I have to re-write my first page, so this will be short and maybe to the point. Okay, probably not.

My pages were critiqued today, and it wasn't as agonizing as I feared. No one burned them and presented me with their ashes. No one kept them and gave me manure in return. (Hmmm that reminds me of the time I turned in fresh horse manure for a high school English assignment.) I digress. Back to the critique. No one made me bleed, well not too much anyway--my intestines are regenerating nicely.

But in all seriousness, we have an awesome critique group. Thanks a zillion, guys!

The one thing that didn't survive the day was my name. Our amazing teacher, Dave Wolverton, used my name as an example of why someone might want to publish under a different name.

Leisha, you see, has all kinds of connotations and images that come to mind when you say it. Apparently they all have to do with dogs, leashes, and the act of binding a dog to said leash so it can run around you in ever-decreasing circles until you trip and fall on your face.

That just screams, this book is awesome! Read me!

Doesn't it?

Okay, it's not the best image.

Maw makes you think of being mauled. Nuff said.

So, anywho, not only will I be shopping my manuscripts around, I could be in the market for a good name, too. I'm just not sure how to tell my parents, or my hubby. Hmmm.

Me: Mom and Dad, my name is for the dogs.

Mom and Dad: Oh.

Me: Really. I learned it in class, so it must be true.

Mom and Dad: Oh.

Me: Can you pick another one? I need a do-over.

Mom and Dad: Um.

I often leave them speechless. Come to think of it, I leave hubby that way, too.

But in all seriousness, it was in good fun, and Dave may have a point. He is awesome, after all, and he did like my pages. All-in-all, it was a good day.

What name do you think would be good? And come on, who hasn't dreamed of renaming someone they know?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm Bitter

I'm bitter. Literally. When I lick my lips, they're bitter. When I stick my finger in my mouth, it's bitter. And don't look at me like that, all of us, at one time or another, stick a finger in our mouths. It's normal. It's just, most of us don't write about it and stick it on the Internet. So, anyway, I'm bitter.

It started a couple of weeks ago. At first, I thought I had hairspray on my hands and face, so I washed myself. It didn't help, so I washed myself again. Still no better.

I went to my husband and told him I was bitter. It went something like this.

Me: I'm bitter.

Hubby: I'm sorry.

Me: No. I mean, I'm bitter.

Hubby: At what?

Me: Nothing. I'm saying, I am literally bitter.

Hubby, looking at me with much scepticism: Okay?

Me, holding out my hand: Here, taste me.

Hubby, staring at me like I'd lost it. (This happens a lot.): You want me to taste your finger?

Me: Yeah. I'm bitter.

Hubby: That's gross.

Me: You kiss me. Is that gross, too?

Hubby: You're serious, aren't you?

Me: Yes. I'm bitter. Taste.

Hubby, putting my finger in his mouth and making a face: Yuck. You are bitter. What's wrong with you?

Me: I don't know. So many things.

Anywho, I now have a good idea of why I am bitter. It's all the dried pie cherries I've been eating. I think. Maybe. At least, if I lay off them for a few days the bitterness decreases, and I taste almost normal. But then, I eat some more. Why? I don't know. It's like I can't stop myself. Maybe I just want to be bitter. What would Freud say about that?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Preparing for the WIFYR Workshop

Woohoo!It's almost here! The WIFYR Workshop! And I'm going! What is the WIFYR Workshop? It's a five day writer's workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it's amazing. Did I mention I'm going?

For you non-writers out there, this is the equivalent of Christmas. Really it is. I get to hang out with, and be taught by, great writer peeps for five days. What could be more exciting?

Oh yeah, getting a contract with a fab publisher. That would be like Christmas, and your birthday, and Thanksgiving, and Easter, and . . . . Well you get the idea. It would be good.

So how is WIFYR like Christmas? You get presents in the form of the other writer's submissions. Here's a pic of what's come in so far.

Yes, you see right. That's a good inch-and-a-half of manuscript pages with more to come. What do you do with these submissions? Your read them, critique them, and wallow in misery because they are so much better than your own submission. How much time do we have to do this? Six days. Ack!

I bet you didn't realize Christmas could be so stressful.

It gets better. Once there, the other writers spend the five days sharing their opinions about your work. It's kind of like having your entrails forcibly removed, but in a good way. I learned so much from last year's disemboweling, and I can't wait to do it again.

Yeah, writers are crazy people.

We also get to hang out with agents and editors. Yup, Christmas.

What things in your life are like Christmas? Drop a line and share your passions and dreams. Think of it as a present for me! Gee, thanks!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who Are You Anyway?

It has been brought to my attention that I don't have a profile about myself on this blog. There's a very good reason for that. I don't have anything to say about myself. I mean, it's not like I'm an interesting person, or even a sort of interesting person. I'm just me. I feel like Anne from Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery when she says something to the effect of, if only I could tell you what I imagine about myself. I'd quote it for you exactly, but I can't find my book in the remodeling mess and that's as close as you're going to get.

So today for my blog, I'm going to tell you the top ten things I imagine about myself. Maybe next week I'll do a top ten real things, but don't count on it. Imagination is so much better than real life. So anywho, here we go.

10: I am an elf. Seriously. I have long flowing hair that never gets mussed up, I will never grow old, but I might die of a broken heart if my one true love gets killed in an epic battle of good versus evil. I rock with a bow and arrow and am extremely graceful. What's not to love?

9: I'm a famous author. Just think J.K. Rowling but with a few zillion more books sold. And don't forget, I'm an elf which makes this all so much cooler.

8: I'm young. In my twenties. I know this seems to contradict the whole elf thing, but it doesn't.

7: I don't walk with a limp. This might have something to do with my falling down the stairs a couple of days ago and may not be the best use of an imaginary detail, but limping has been on my mind lately.

6: I am a concert pianist, and Jon Schmidt wants to be like me when he grows up. Okay, it may be the other way around, but hey, this is my imaginary list so shhhh.

5: I'm smart. Not to be confused with a smart alec. There is a distinct difference.

4: I'm so awesome that my kids always obey me, and I never have to put them in timeout or drag them bodily up the stairs for dinner. Or showers. Or church. Or . . . Um yeah, this could go on and on.

3: I like cleaning. I figure the only way this is going to happen is if I pretend really hard.

2: The elements serve me, and I can call lightning from a clear sky, so don't mess with me.

1: And the number one imaginary thing about me is . . . um. Wow this is hard. Oh yeah! I'm an elf. Did I mention that being an elf is awesome?

Who are you in your inner mind? Drop a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Let the Mudding Begin!

Do you remember an eon ago when I posted about finishing my basement? (And you can check out this link, too. They're both about my basement.) But, the point of this is, I wrote them in MARCH!

Yes, March, and we are still working on the basement.

It's now JUNE! Ack!

Well, to be more exact, we've been waiting on the mud-and-tape guy for two months. Two full months. He finally came yesterday! I almost cried, but managed to hold it in until he left. Then I did cry because he only stayed an hour and won't be back until Friday. At this rate I figure I'll still be posting about my basement next March. Or June.

I also cried because I fell down the stairs in my excitement to get him working. It was painful and ugly, but back to the basement and the mud-and-tape guy.

I must admit I was tempted to say a few naughty words, but I didn't because that would be, well, naughty and my mom and kids read this, so it would never do.

So for now, I'll dream of the day I won't trip over 2X4s and Sheetrock. I'll dream of the day my vacuum won't turn white with drywall dust every time I turn it on. I'll dream of the day I get my own writing room. Sigh. Oh, and yes, I'll dream of the day the mud-and-tape guy comes back, because until he does I will still have to climb over construction stuff to do my laundry, and my basement will still look like this.

And I'll still look like this.

Friday please come soon.


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