Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Motivation Of FIRE

So, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s National Novel Writing Month. And yes you write a book in a month.

And yes, it is possible.

And yes, those of us who do it are a bit cracked in the head. But we're awesome.

And yes, the first draft is a bunch of rubbish.

And I’m going to start one more sentence with and because my brain is shot.

Anywho, the other night, on day 21, I was at 34,171 words—before starting for the day. That meant before I could go to sleep I had to crank out two thousand words.

Let’s just say I was in need of some motivation. My hubby handed me my ipod. He found my ear buds. He did the dishes so I didn’t have to. He changed the laundry and put the kids to bed. (He is such a keeper!) But, I needed something more to get my brain juices flowing. And yes, I know I’m pathetic, but I have very stubborn brain juices.

So anywho, I asked him if I could have a reward if I wrote my words.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: I need a reward to make the words come out.

Him: What kind of reward?

Me: I don’t know. What do I like that isn’t food? (Usually I’m all over food as a reward, but I’d already rewarded myself for breathing and other hard things several times that day and felt kind of full. And when you read ‘full’ you should really read ‘afraid of the bathroom scale’.)

Him: Um, you like art, and books, and fire—.

Me: Ohhh! Can I start something on fire?

Him (looking wary): Like what?

Me: Like my manuscripts! The ones I have to revise!

(Here is a picture of said manuscripts.)

Him (looking scared now): No.

Me: Why not? That would be awesome.

Him: You’ll burn the house down. Remember last time?

Me (smiling): Yeah.

Him: No.

Me: I’ll do it outside. In the culdesac. That’s far from the house. It will look cool in the dark with snow falling down. Yeah?

Him: No.

Humph. How mean is that?

I had to write my two thousand words without any cool motivation—like fire. NaNo is hard without fire.

I know you feel bad for me, because I can feel your pity. Or is that aimed at my hubby?

And no, I did not start my house on fire the last time I burned stuff. I just almost burned down the deck.

Anywho, how about you? Are you doing NaNo? If not, are you doing something else this month that pushes you to greater heights? What motivates you in your goals? Drop a comment and share. My hubby will thank you for new non-flammable suggestions. J

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter Bravery

I have brave friends. Really I do. How brave you ask? You be the judge.

Over the last few months I started biking with these friends. It was a blast. I got a work out as we labored up hills, I got a rush from the wind against my face as we barreled back down them. We even got honked at and cheered for as we biked down the the road with longboards strapped to our backs. I was a cool mom for awhile.

Then the cold came. It moved in and settled like a toothache, mean and throbbing. And it's here for the winter.

I promptly turned on my fire, grabbed a blanket, and went into hibernation. But not my friends. They'd text me early in the morning, all hope and excitement. It went something like this:

Their text: Going riding. Want 2 come?

Mine: Ummm. It's 25 degrees. I'm afraid.

Theirs: It will be fine.

Mine: Too scared. Need fireplace.

And another day:

Theirs: You coming riding?

Me: Don't hate me, but no.

See? They. Are. Brave. And me? It's official. I'm a hermit. A cold-fearing, whimpering hermit.

And then today I got this text: Going for some type of exercise this morning. If we go for a walk instead of a ride, will you come?

And me?

Ummmm...

Well...

Maybe next time.

Really.

Where's my blanket?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Surprises

So, today's post is about surprises. The first one is--I posted. Yup. Surprise!

As you may have noticed I took a month off due to blog fatigue. But I'm feeling rested now and will be posting more. Yay.

And on to the rest of the post...

Kid A, hubby, and I went to a local high school's play this last week. They're doing Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.



It was really good. They had a huge cast that even involved several local elementary schools' choirs and part of a junior high cast as well. See, huge. I'd never seen the play and sat laughing and tapping my feet to the music when an additional cast member walked on stage.

Who was this cast member you ask?

Only a real live camel!

One Hump Camel
One Hump Camel - Images - Pictures

Yes! A giant dromedary walked out on stage with all the kids. It towered over them while sauntering around the set!

As you might be able to see by my prolific use of exclamation marks, I was amazed! I was thrilled! I clapped! I laughed out loud! (I may have even squealed. But don't tell anyone. Shhh.)

But why was I surprised? It's not like I've never seen a camel before. I've been to the zoo loads of times. I've watched nature shows on TV. I have google. It's not like it was a new creature that the gods spawned right before my eyes, but here's the thing--I didn't expect a camel to walk out on stage. I was surprised. And it pushed an already good show over the top to amazing for me.

And it made me think about books. Ha! I bet you're surprised...or not. But, think about your favorite books. Don't they all have some kind of surprise in them? Some twist you didn't expect that took your mind and held it captive for a moment or two? All my favorites do.

I'm participating in Nano this year, which is kind of a surprise to me, but as I write today, I'm going to keep camels in mind. And I'm going to try to write one into my story--not an actual camel, but the whole idea of a camel surprise.

How about you, are you going to spring a camel on anyone today? You should because the world needs more camels. Just saying. *wink*

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Tell If Your Day Is About To Turn Ugly

Let's just say you were looking forward to a calm Sunday with your family, a little sleeping in, a little church, a little day off from the cares of the world. Sounds good doesn't it?

I thought so, especially the sleeping in part--until Kid D woke me up Sunday morning with this, "Mom, there's water dripping from the ceiling. Inside!"

That, my friends, is how you know your day is about to head south. Fast.

There are some things you can sleep through and deal with later like: the sound of cartoons in the other room, the sound of kids getting their own cereal, or even Kid D saying, "The cat threw up on the floor." The last one makes you groan, but at least you know it's not going to get worse, the deed is done after all. But you can't sleep through water dripping from the ceiling because it is going to get worse. A lot worse. And because it is not supposed to rain inside.

And that rain should never come from the toilet.

Toilet rain is just ugly.

And it doesn't get any prettier when coming through your basement ceiling in bucketfuls after collecting on the main floor bathroom like some sewage-tinged wading pool.

Oh, and water isn't that much better when it sprays out of your main water shut off valve in addition to spilling from the toilet. Just saying.

Sigh, I guess you could just say we have an affinity for toilets. And water. So much for sleeping in.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Telling Stories, Kid History, and Why Am I So Much Buffer Than You?

Have you ever noticed that kids know a lot about telling stories? They seem to have a inner sense about it--about using dialog, conflict, employing interesting characters, and killer voice. They have skills. Mad skills.

Here's a few examples from YouTube. There are six Kid History episodes so far. Each one is better than the last, and they all teach us great things about telling stories while being down right entertaining.







Aren't they good? And don't you have the strangest desire to go around asking people, "Why am I so much buffer than you?" Or telling them that, "Girls are mermaids. Some boys are mermaids, too." I know I do.

What did you learn about telling a good story?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recipe for Writing

My friend Cherie at Herbivore Meals is doing thirty-one days of meal planning on her blog.

Sound great?

It is, even though it's been hard for me to embrace new meal ideas. Just so you know, I have a long standing feud with meal planning. Well, it's more like I have a problem with trying new recipes. We're like strawberry ice cream with chili topping--we don't go well together. Why? Because the new recipe is new. It's different. It takes work and thought and effort. It takes me out of my comfort zone, and my comfort zone for cooking is pretty narrow.

I've never loved cooking. Ever. It's like cleaning the toilets. Really. Why? Because it has to be done or things go south. It just gets stinky if I slack off in the bathroom, but if I skip making dinner a few times people die of starvation. Ack! The pressure!

I have about ten things I cook on a regular basis, from homemade spaghetti to wheat bread from scratch. And what goes on the table tastes pretty yummy, if I do say so myself. (I never said I couldn't cook. I just said I didn't like to.) The only problem is, when you eat spaghetti every week for twenty years you start to think: Meh. Or even: Double meh. Or even: Maybe I'll go clean the toilet.

So, lately I've tried to branch out, add new things to the old rotation, because who wants to be thinking about toilets while they eat? And in my efforts to branch out, I've--shock of all shocks--experimented with new recipes.

Some of them have resulted in a chorus of yums. Others...yeah, not so much, especially the time I ACCIDENTALLY dumped a cup of brine into the casserole I was making. Just so you know, brine doesn't taste good. EVER. Who knew that the people who make roasted peppers bottle them in brine instead of water? I mean really. This was so not my fault. Oh, and you probably shouldn't cook when your mind is off conversing with characters from a book, just saying.

The point of all this is, it's been good to get out of my rut. It's been good to try new things. And even if the family is a little hesitant when something different shows up on the table...and even if they all ask me if there is brine in it, they've liked the change. And I've liked the change.

What does this have to do with writing? Plenty. How many of us are in a writing rut? Do you sit down to write and think: Meh. Maybe I'll go clean the toilet?

It's time to change things up, to get a new recipe. Grab your computer and leave the house. (Yes, you can do this. It's called living.) Go to the library, bookstore, or park and spend a couple of hours working there. The change in scenery will do you good.

Go somewhere without internet access--you might go into withdrawls, but Google will not die without you. And, no, you won't die without it either. I promise.

Call a writing buddy and arrange a writing date.

Start a new project, or pull out an old one.

This doesn't mean you can't eat spaghetti anymore, it just means sometimes you need a change. And yes, sometimes you might eat some brine as you try new things, but the yums are worth it.

What are you going to do to shake it up today?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Horrible Beginnings

Have you heard about the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest? It's held in honor of Edward Greorge Bulwer-Lytton author of the infamous first line: It was a dark and story night.

Here's the whole thing in it's awful glory.
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
This contest invites writers to do their worst and write horribly bad beginnings. They're allowed one sentence. And boy are there some, ahem, winners.

My friend Angela and I spent a riotous half-hour coming up with something...wrong. At least we tried. Then our line became a few. And the few gave birth to snort-educing laughter, well on my part at least--Angela did not snort because she is way too cool to snort. Just saying.

So, without further ado, here is our horrible beginning:

Bernard pushed open the men’s bathroom door and was surprised to find a female leaning over the toilet, elbow deep in the water. She pulled her arm out to lift the strap of her denim overalls back onto her shoulder.


“Hey baby,” Bernard said, “if you were a booger, I’d pick you.”


The brunette pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose, leaving a brown smear and smiled back, revealing a hole where her front teeth should have been. She dropped the pipe wrench into her bag and replaced the plunger at the side of the toilet. The scent of her rose to meet his nostrils like the green stench of a toddler’s morning diaper. She wiped her dripping hand across the front of her flannel shirt, smudging the name on her badge: Anita P. Oop.


She winked. “Not if I picked you first.”

Now, this isn't for the contest, it's for fun...and maybe for a writing class my friend is taking, but wow, was it a blast to write. The most interesting thing for me was I kept automatically editing it, you know, trimming out excess adverbs and adjectives and stuff like that. I had to remind myself to let them stay. It was supposed to be bad.

I can't tell you how happy that made me. Why? Because I don't think I would have done that a year or two ago. I wouldn't have realized it was bad. Kaching!

Maybe we need to write something bad on purpose to realize that we are all making progress. So, go out and write your own horrible beginning and post it in the comments. I can't wait to snort some more. He he he.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Inspiration

So, just in case you didn't know, writing is hard. It's lonely. It takes years and so, so many drafts. And it's hard. My friends often look at me and can't understand why I sit at the computer for hours and days at a time. Heck, I don't really understand it myself. But! Sometimes friends provide awesome inspiration.

I recently participated in a novel exchange with three amazing writers. It was fun to wait and anticipate their reactions to my book, but it was even better to read their books.

As I read every story I found myself energized--wanting to write more on my current draft. I wanted to become better, to craft words and worlds like the ones I was reading. Their stories elevated me in a way reading a book off a bookstore shelf couldn't.

Why?

Because these women are just like me, ordinary people trying to break into the universe of published authors. And I know them. And they rock. Which makes me believe that maybe, just maybe, I can rock, too.

So, thanks for the inspiration and the hope you gave me by writing great books, and for investing in mine. You all truly do rock. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You've Got What In Your Pants?

My very good friend, Friend A, decided to trim her trees. Now, this sounds like a semi-safe activity. You have the normal dangers: saws, falling branches, allergies to work and tree stuff, and...sweat. But, did you know there are hidden dangers in tree trimming?

Yes there are.

Friend A clipped and sawed, pruned and primped her trees, and the whole time leaves and twigs rained down on her. They pelted her hair, scratched her face, and lodged in her shirt. Yes, down her shirt and into her pants. Have you ever had leafy twigs in your pants? Let's just say, POKEY.

One of these twigs kept stabbing her thigh as Friend A trimmed. She pulled at her pants. Then she pinched at her pants. Then she did a shimmy intended to send the offending twig down to her toes. Nope. Twigs don't dislodge that easily when they are stuck in your pants.

Determined to finish her trimming, my friend sawed and clipped on. But that darn twig kept poking her. Poking twigs hurt, so she pulled her pant leg up and tried once more to get it out. As she rolled her pants up, she saw the vibrant green of a leaf and yanked it out.

Aha! Success.

Well, partly.

Half of it broke off, leaving the poking part stuck in her pants. And suddenly it poked a lot more. In fact it felt a lot like being bit. Repeatedly.

Friend A looked at the half-leaf in her hand. And. It. Had. Legs. The legs, attached to the half-BODY, kicked and squirmed. And the body part oozed yellow stuff.

Let's just say Friend A screamed. There may have been a fair amount of jumping, too. Then she ran into the house and stripped down. The upper part of the leaf bug still gripped her thigh, biting. Biting. Biting.

There was more screaming.

And some slapping.

And stomping.

And a shower.

And shuddering.

And some heeby jeebies.

And one heck of a good story.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, like in life, a good story has twists and turns and unexpected events. You have to have figurative leaf bugs stuck in your pants--or at least in your character's pants. Think of all the fun you can have imagining up ways to torment your characters. Mwahahahaha.

Now, stop blog surfing and go write!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Knowing What You Like and Writing What You Know

Every reader knows what they like. Even young readers know. They might not be able to put it into words, but they know it when they see it. It just plain resonates with them. Let me give you an example that has nothing to do with writing or reading. And yes, it will make sense by the end of this post.

A couple of days ago my hubby and I took Kid A out to eat for her seventeenth birthday. While we were out partying, my sweet neighbor tended our other three children. Now, for those of you new to this blog, my two boys--Kids B and C--are mentally disabled. While they are teenagers in body, they are about eight developmentally and have limited speech.

My friend, who is amazing and awesome, entertained my kids all night. Toward the end of the evening they took an interest in the family portrait hanging in her front room. She had quite the conversation with them about it that went something like this:

Awesome friend(hereafter known as AF): Do you know who those people are?

Kid B and C: Yes.

AF, pointing at herself in the picture: Who's that?

Kids: You.

AF: Right. Who's this?

Kids: Husband.

It went like this through each family member until they reached her super cute teenage daughter. Then it went like this:

AF: And who's this?

Kid C, leaning in closer: Very nice!

I giggled myself silly when I heard this story. What can I say, Kid C knows something good when he sees it. He knows what he likes.

It's the same in a book. It doesn't take a reader 250 pages to decide they like something. Stories don't grow on people like moss. Readers know within the first page or two if it is their kind of thing.

What does that mean for a writer? It means you need to know what you like, too. And then write it. You have to enjoy your own story. If it bores you, it will but the reader into a coma. And just in case you are confused, coma is only one step better than dead. Killing or otherwise maiming/incapacitating your reader is bad.

We spend so much time as writers trying to craft the perfect story, trying to mold it to fit an editor or agent's preference. We try to write their kind of story. Why? We need to be more like Kid C and write the kind of book that will make us say, "Very nice!" That enthusiasm will show in our words, and then someone else might just say the same thing.

Now go have fun writing your kind of story.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fresh Peach Pie and Joining My High School Alumni Glee Squad

I made fresh peach pie last night. For some things there are words, really good ones, for others there aren't--except maybe yummmmmmmm. Peach pie is what dreams are made from. I know, I ate three pieces. Triple yummmmmmm. It may also be what diets are born from. I'll get back to you on that one.

I also know what breeds nightmares, because I had a real winner last night. In my dream I joined my high school's alumni glee squad. Just so you know, my high school doesn't have an alumni glee squad, probably for a very good reason, but that didn't stop me at two in the morning.

If you like the television show Glee, you wouldn't like this dream.



Why? We couldn't sing. We couldn't dance. We did a synchronized swimming luau musical. The only words I have for this are: What the freak? And: NIGHTMARE!

I told my hubby about it this morning, and he just stared at me for a minute. Then he said, "That is not cool."

See why I married him? He is a brilliant man and oh so right. Cool and a bunch of alumni (you really should read 'old people' here) dressed in swimming suits performing a synchronized swimming luau musical don't belong together. Ever. I Promise.

And even though I've donned a swimsuit in the middle of a crowded Costco, it was over jeans, and I didn't have to dance in it. Or swim up a waterfall while juggling flaming torches and singing in full voice. Those alumni glee squads are hard core. They even made us practice four hours every day so we'd be as synced as possible for our performance.

What does this have to do with writing? It's just proof that all ideas are not good ones. Sometimes we have to let an idea die, think of it as putting it out of its misery. And if any of you are out there thinking that a high school alumni glee club/synchronized swimming/musical/luau/torture group is a good thing, we need to talk.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Word Wars

So, writing is hard. Not like back-breaking, sweat-inducing, chain-gang, sweat-shop kind of hard, just the type that makes you bleed out of your finger tips kind of hard. Sounds fun doesn't it? But that's the thing, it is fun...after you get started. Facing that blank page might just be the toughest thing.

That's where Word Wars come into play. I've been having them with my writing group. What the hey diddle diddle is a Word War? Well! I heard about Word Wars from Brodi Ashton, author of EVERNEATH, and Bree Despain, author of the DARK DIVINE series. They have them all the time. These two writers are geniuses, and they're pretty smart, too. They challenge each other to write for an hour straight, and then they post their word totals on Twitter. The highest word count wins. Viola, Word War.

And it works!

Sitting down to write a novel is daunting. Sitting down to write one scene for a mere hour is WAY easier, and knowing your friend is doing the same thing helps a ton. It also doesn't hurt knowing they are trying to kick your can all over the place, and you better produce words as ammo if you don't want to lose the war.

What do you do to jump start your writing, or whatever you non-writers do to torture yourselves? I'd really love to know how you do it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Grandma's Cellar

It's the end of summer and that means canning. What is canning some of you might ask, it's where you take your harvest and bottle it up. Think of it like capturing summer with it's sun and warmth and plenty in a jar so you can eat it in January. Yesterday I did peaches.

Is there a better way to remember summer? I don't think so.

My peaches went from this:



To this:



Anywho, I talked with a friend last night about canning, and we somehow ended up in my grandma's cellar. Not in real life, but in my memories. My grandma had a real cellar, the kind you had to descend into down wobbly stairs, past the cobwebs and into the earth. We're talking the kind of cellar with dirt walls and support pillars crafted out of wood so old it was probably taken from the Arc.

The place was spooky. Things lived in it. Creepy crawly things.

Whenever we visited my grandma I got the job of retrieving bottled green beans, or pickled beats, or the bottled tomato sauce that we called moon juice because it looked like it belonged on the surface of the moon, all cratered and otherworldly until you shook it up.

Can you imagine me as a seven-year-old trembling my way down those stairs into the darkness armed only with a flashlight and a grandma's request? And then there was the smell, tombish and dank. To me it smelled like spiders, and they glared at me from their webs draped across the yellowed foam insulation that connected the cellar to the house like bloated caterpillars. This was were nightmares came to die.

And food did, too. Grandma didn't have new food all fresh and full of sunlight. She'd stopped canning years before when she realized she wouldn't live to eat what she did have.

Grandma had bottled relish from the dawn of time, stacked on shelves cut into the dirt walls and draped in decades of dust. And she ate it. She ate all of the old stuff down there because after living though the great depression she couldn't waste what she had.

I remember sticking my hand into that blanket of dust and cobwebs to pull out green beans so old they'd turned brown, then shuddering my way up to daylight. I was always sure we'd die from eating Grandma's old food. I'd sit at dinner and pray, never touching my beans, just waiting to call 911 when someone killed over from botulism. No one ever did, but I won't eat old beans. Ever.

So, what does this have to do with anything? I don't know, but I do know that my fresh peaches with all their summer warmth don't belong in a cellar. They belong in steaming peach cobbler and pies dripping with homemade ice cream, devoured in front of a cozy fire as snow falls in drifts. You can bottle goodness--just don't put it in my grandma's cellar.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My New Toy

I got a new toy last night. I bought it from the neighbor for the awesome price of carpooling his son to the high school. The best part about this is, I don't even drive to the high school. Kid A does. Ka-ching!

What did I buy? My very own bike. Squee. I feel like a little kid again. Remember how that felt? All that joy bottled up in your body just waiting to spill out in play?

Now, you should probably know that until about a week ago I hadn't ridden a bike in twenty years. Okay maybe more than that, but who's counting? Not me. Shudder. So, how did I go from bikeless and rideless for decades to owning a bike in seven short days? You know the friend who got me into longboarding? Yup. Need I say more? She's contagious in a very good way. Except she wants me to try bridge jumping next. Ummmmm. Yeah, not so sure on that one.

But! Biking is so fun...and so much harder than I remember it. Of course, I do live on the side of a mountain so there is a lot of uphill involved. As a kid I mostly rode on flat ground. Smart kid.

But! (And yes, I can keep starting paragraphs with but because I am not in English class.) Everything that goes up must come down, and boy is down fun!

What does this have to do with writing? Scads! Often as writers we plod along forever, writing the same thing, then rewriting it. And then rewriting it. And then...yes, rewriting it. While this is good and necessary to perfect your book, sometimes we need a change. A new toy to play with. We need something that reminds us of the joy we can experience as writers. We need to play, yes with words. Fun ones. Words that make us go squee as we barrel downhill. Yes, writing takes work, lots of it, but it's supposed to be awesome. Remember awesome?

My challenge today is to play with your writing. Write something different and maybe even frivolous. Start a new project, forge ahead into new territory. Get a new toy. And make sure it makes you squee with joy. Really. Put aside the thirteenth draft of your novel and just play with words today. You might just remember what made you want to be a writer in the first place.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Avoiding Mannequinism, or Writing Realistic Dialog

Today we're talking dialog. Why? Because every book needs it, but writing it can be hard. When I first started writing all my characters sounded like mannequins. How does someone sound like a mannequin? Ha, it's difficult, but I have mad skills. You just write every line of dialog so stiff and formal that the reader knows the characters are plastic and dead-eyed. Viola, mannequin. So not a good thing. Do not try this at home, your computer may self destruct. And it's painful. For everyone. Just saying.

I'd share some early examples of my dialog, but it might destroy the internet with its awfulness, and then the feds would find me and turn me over to all the internet junkies to be drawn and quartered. And I burned it, so it would be hard for you to read the ashes. Some things just need to die, and my early dialog was one of them. Really.

What I'll do instead is share my friend Angela Citte's awesome dialog exercise from a writing class she's taking. The instructions were to spend a day just listening to people talk and get the feel of the cadence of their words, the flavor of their voices. Then she needed to write up a scene with nothing but dialog. That means no narration, no dialog tags--nothing but the actual speech. And the characters needed to be distinct and have voice. (That means they needed to sound like living people not mannequins. Or politicians. Shudder.)

Angela chose to listen to her kids and recreated a breakfast conversation/song. I say song because the first speaker sings everything. I can't read it without hearing a four-year-old's sing-song voice. How about you?

THE BREAKFAST SONG

“I like my little doggie. Her name is Alligayla. I like my little doggie. Her name is Alligayla.”

“Lily, stop singing. You’re going to make me puke.”

“Yeah, your songs are weird.”

“And sheeeee likes to dance, and sheeeeee likes to eat some food.”

“Lily, stop singing. Eat your cereal.”

“Dogs don’t dance.”

“And sheeeee likes to sing, and sheeee likes to play with her dolls.”

“Mom, do you have some ‘duck’ tape?”

“Or some of that stuff you can stick over her mouth. Mmmm, mmmm. I can’t sing my weird song anymore.”

“That’s ‘duck’ tape, Zach.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“And sheeeee likes to comb her hair, and sheeee likes to put pretties in her hair.”

“Lily!”

“And sheeee likes to put her make-up on, and sheee likes to wear a princess dress.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense.”

“Lily, dogs don’t do ANY of that.”

“I like my little doggieeeeee. Her name is Alligayla.”

“That’s not even a real name.”

“IIIIIII like my little doggie. Her name is Alligayla.”

“I know, Lily, let’s play the quiet game and see who can keep their mouth shut the longest.”

“I think you gave me a headache . . . right here.”

“And sheeeee likes to swim in a water, and sheeee likes to go on the swirly slide.”

“You’re making me sick.”

“Yeah, and then he’ll puke all over you. Bleaaaaaa.”

“And you’rrrrre not the boss of me, and you’rrrrre not the boss of me.”

[Silence]

“IIIIIIIIII like my little doggie.”

[In unison] “LILY!”

So? Wasn't that delightful? Did you hear their different voices? Did they come off the page as real kids? They sure did for me. Not a mannequin in sight. I love this exercise and can't wait to apply it to my own stories. I'm going to go through a couple of scenes and remove everything except the dialog just to see if the characters sound distinct or if there is some plastic left. And then I'll delete the plastic and insert life. Ahhh, sweet dialog.

How about you, what's your favorite bit of dialog from a book or movie? Or if you write, what's your best bit of living dialog, and how did you get into your characters' heads to write it? Come on, you know you want to share.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I've Been Liebstered

Yes, I have indeed been Liebstered.

Ummmm, what is that, you say? Do you need a doctor? Or bed rest? A tissue? A straight jacket? Is it catching?

First off, it is catching, but that's a good thing. Second off, I needed a straight jacket before this, so that question doesn't even count. Thbbbt!

And now back to being liebstered. My writing friend, Jenilyn Tolley, gave me this:



From the minute amount of German I remember from high school and college I think it means she loves me. Or at least she loves my blog. (And it has a heart on it so if my German failed me, I have a pic to back me up.) Bonus! Because I heart/liebster her right back. She's a fun, fun gal with a crazy love of boots. Go check out her blog.

Seriously. Go forth and do. Really. Oh alright, you can wait until you finish reading mine. I know I'm just that addicting.

Anywho, in compliance with the almighty Liebster rules I must now:

1.) Milk a goat.
2.) Do the hula.
3.) Learn to beat box.
4.) Secretly deposit seven zucchini on the neighbor's porch without getting caught.
5.) Drive five carpools simultaneously.
6.) Hug a fat cat.

I'm strangely excited to do number three.

Okay, the real rules, which are so not as fun as mine, are:

Bestow the Liebster Award to awesome bloggers who, at the moment, have less than 200 followers. Then:

1.) Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. (Check.)
2.) Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. (I'm getting there. Don't get all anxious. Sheesh.)
3.) Post the award on your blog. (Check.)
4.) Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers. (Oooh oooh. I like this one. Grin)
5.) And best of all – have fun and spread the karma! (Me likey this one too. Double grin.)

So, without further ado, here are my five be-awesome picks. Cue the drum roll.

Sandy at A Writers Heart
CL Beck
Elizabeth Mueller, who has a book coming out this fall. Squee!
Mary at The Gray Willow
And Candice at Suffering From Writer's Blog

Taaa Daaaa!

Don't forget to check out Jenilyn's blog now that you are done reading mine, because she rocks! And so do all my fab picks. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back To School Curse Words And Teenage Torture Devices

I've never been a morning person. No, not even once. I'm more of a stay up late kind of gal. That's why as summer winds to a close and school hovers in the near distance, I start mourning my mornings--even while I anticipate the sweet tones of the bus engine. Yes, I'm conflicted.

All summer I sleep in. It's blissful and oh so delicious. I'm not talking about wasting the whole day or anything, more like reveling in slumber until seven or eight in the morning. Ahhhhh.

That's all going to end in six days.

Six.

Sniff.

And yes, I hear you out there sniggering and saying, "Just go to bed earlier." HA! Never works. I have teenagers. They're like walking torture devices designed for parental sleep deprivation. If you have one, you know my pain.

So, I have a plan. It's not a very good one, but it's all I got. I'm going to soak up as much sleep as I can in the next six days, because you know that bus I talked about? Yeah, it comes at 6:30. That means I have to get up at five something.

Five!

It's so foul it should be a curse word, the nasty kind that my parents would have pulled out soap and ordered me into the bathroom for. Shudder. And even if I start going to bed at ten, it won't wash the taste of five out of my mouth because me and five don't get along. Somehow I don't think that is going to change in six days.

Do you have a start of school curse word as foul as FIVE? I'll go get the soap.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thing Number Three

You know how I blogged about my cat and my basement flooding and worried about bad thing number three striking? Well, the hillside above our house started on fire, and I thought, Crap.

But the firemen were awesome and put it out before any houses went up in flames. Then I thought, Dodged a bullet there. Sweet. Thing three averted.

Wrong. The Universe doesn't work that way. It likes threes. It also doesn't like me dodging bullets. Yup you guessed it, our three happened last night, and no, it wasn't as bad as the house burning down, or even as bad as it flooding, and definitely not as bad as my cat getting hit by a car, but it was messy. (And that was a really long sentence.)

What was our thing three? In an effort to be a good hostess to a book club meeting at my house, I decided to make fresh scones. You have to use oil to deep fry scones. We had lots of scones planned, so we had lots of oil. Do you know what happens to carpet if you accidentally dump a gallon of oil on it? I do. And did it just fall on the ground and goober up one spot? Of course not, such a silly question. It had to hit the floor and splash over fifteen feet of carpet. Curse you cooking oil!

I guess it wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't just learned that the carpet we so painstakingly cleaned and pulled up from the basement flood can't be relaid--something about it being bad if the back comes off the front. Sheesh.

Oh well, at least we've had our three. Knock on wood. Several times. (Please, stop at three, Universe. I'm begging you.)

So, if any of you out there know how to get oil out of carpet, you will officially be my new best friend (oh the glory!), because after hours of trying, I despair.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bugs And Breaking All The Rules

Last night I dreamed about bugs. Now, normally I'm not the squeamish kind, you kind of have to get over that if you're the bug slayer of the house when Dad isn't home. But dreams are different. Why? Because bugs don't follow the rules in dreams.

What are the rules? So nice of you to ask.

Bug rule number one: They die when you squish them.

Bug rule number two: They stay dead when you squish them.

Bug rule number three: They are always smaller than you. Period.

Bug rule number four: They aren't allowed to engage in active warfare. This means no ganging up on the humans with the intent to kill everyone. (I know some of you will contest this rule, but getting attacked by a swarm of killer bees is way different because bees--even though they make honey--and wasps and hornets are evil and therefore do not count as bugs. They count as EVIL. And those killer African driver ants that devour whole cows and occasionally people don't live by me, so they don't count either.)

Can you see why bugs that don't follow these rules would be bad? Yup, nightmare city. I spent the whole night trying to fend of swarms of resurrecting/zombie bugs who had it out for me. Shudder. There should be some serious consequences for bugs who break the rules.

But! It did make for an interesting, if freaky, night. Why? Because they did break the rules. This got me thinking about writing. Weird, huh?

We spend so much of our time as writers trying to jump through the hoops and follow all the little rules. Sometime it feels like everyone has a new list of rules: Use internal dialog. Don't use internal dialog. Add physical responses. Don't ever add physical responses. Let your character cry. Don't. Use first person. Use third person. Do the Hokey Pokey. Stab me in the eye! How is a writer supposed to write? It's like getting caught in a traffic jam with five hundred policemen all directing traffic a different way. How is a girl supposed to know who is right? Is anyone?

Somerset Maugham said: "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." (Even traffic directing policemen. And no, Somerset didn't say that last part, that's all me.)

I think it all comes down to breaking the so called rules. Martine Leavitt told us at the WIFYR conference that we could break any rule we wanted--as long as we did it brilliantly. Last night the bugs did, they slaughtered every one of the rules. And they captivated me. Even after nearly a full day of wakefulness, my mind keeps returning to them and their bug rebellion.

Maybe it's time for our own rebellion. Maybe we shouldn't stay squished. Maybe we should write larger than life and let the bug spray fall where it may. How about you, are you ready to revolt? What rules are you going to break today?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Living Like You're Eight Feet Tall

I have a tall friend, I'm talking six-foot-eight kind of tall. He's a great guy and stands above the crowd almost everywhere he goes. In fact, I saw him at a recent community fair where a little old lady, who barely reached five feet, approached him and asked: Are you eight feet tall?

He laughed and told her his real height, emphasizing the shortness of it compared to Goliath standards. I laughed, too, and even though I was only an eavesdropper (the innocent-just-happen-to-be-standing-nearby kind, not the creepy-spy-on-people kind, just so you know) on this conversation, it's stuck with me. Why, because this friend lives larger than life everyday. It's not just his height, it's his personality, his presence in the world, his persistent goodness.

I want to live larger than life, too--in every aspect of myself. I want to write, mother, friend, neighbor, work, and play like I'm eight feet tall, even if I'm only five-foot-nine and shrinking. Yes, I want to live like a giant, in everyway, because I want someone else's life to be impacted for good because of what I've done. Not in a showy prideful way, but in a quiet live-like-a-giant in goodness kind of way.

A very wise man once said:
“Believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to do great and good things. Believe that no mountain is so high that you cannot climb it. Believe that no storm is so great that you cannot weather it. You are not destined to be a scrub. You are child of God, of infinite capacity.”
Gordon B. Hinkley

How about you? Do you know people who live taller than they are? Does it inspire you to greatness? What makes you want to live life like you're eight feet tall?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm Sorry About Your House, And Your Cat, But...

So, how often does your sister start off a conversation like this: "I'm sorry about your house, and your cat, but at least you have something to blog about."

Yup, it was that kind of weekend.

You know how they say bad things come in threes? Well! Let's just say we've had event one and two, and I'm very afraid for number three. It all started Saturday night. Kid A, my hubby, and I stayed up late watching a show. When I stumbled into bed past midnight and started drifting into blissful sleep, I heard the unmistakable sound of a cat screaming in pain just as a car passed our house.

Sleep vanished, and long story short, someone hit our cat. Poor old kitty. Thankfully, he's alive and kicking, but we didn't think he'd make it through the night. *Sigh of relief*

Then Sunday evening it started to rain. And rain. And rain. Monday morning I bolted from sleep at 5:45 to the sound of rushing water. Being the worry freak I am, I went to see what was causing said rushing, even though Hubby told me it was JUST the rain. Rain doesn't fall in biblical proportions, because when that happens it's called a plague. Let's just say it was plaguing outside.

The sound led me to the basement where I found our window-well filled three-fourths of the way to the top with churning, muddy water. And as if that wasn't enough, Niagara Falls had somehow moved from Canada/New York to my window sill. It looked like this:



But muddier. And meaner, because it wasn't pouring into a river. Let's just say couches and carpet and and basements are not meant to receive Niagara Falls. Ever.

I screamed, shoved the wet couches out of the way, and grabbed some towels. Ha! Towels cannot stop the Falls. As soon as I discovered this great fact I ran/splashed for buckets. Lots of buckets. Then I yelled for help.

Kid A stumbled from her room to the sweet tones of: I need more buckets!

Soon Kid A, Hubby, and I were in a race against Mother Nature and her plague. We filled and dumped (outside--not back on the floor, just clarifying) a four to five gallon bucket of water every two to three seconds for an HOUR AND A HALF. See? Plague.

What were kids B-D doing during all of this? They retreated to their bedrooms and cranked their stereo to the song, Uncle Noah's Arc. No kidding. We bailed out our basement to a theme song. At least it added some humor to the situation.

I also called in reinforcements in the form of my brother, his wife, and my sister. They came armed with sump pumps, shop vacs, and love. The plague finally stopped falling from the sky, and they all helped me suck out copious amounts of water from the basement--and move everything upstairs to dry out. And I do mean everything. The carpet now lives in the garage with fans provides by sweet, sweet neighbors (who also helped bail out several other victims of the plague). The basement has fans of its own, and in a few weeks we'll move everything back after someone re-installs the carpet.





Oh, and the cat lived through the plague just fine. So did we, but can you see why I'm afraid of bad thing number three? Yeah, I may just stay home for awhile and cower. But, at least I had something to blog about today. Ahhh, silver lining.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Humpty Dumpty and Writing

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
couldn't put Humpty together again.


Just so you know, this has been my month. Okay my last three months, maybe more, but who's counting? And no, I haven't been an egg, even if (alas) I may be trending toward that shape. Think of me more like all the king's horses and all the king's men, and I've been trying to put my WIP (work in progress or current manuscript for you non writer peeps out there) back together again.

It's not working any better than trying to fix a broken egg.

So what to do?

Eat scrambled eggs and get a new Humpty--one who doesn't like walls.

I'm done, finished, OVER trying to fix my messed up manuscript. I can't stomach sitting down at the computer and fiddling with the shattered and cracked pieces one more time. Today I will trash it. As in deleted, scrubbed, GONE.... Well, at least I'll take it off my computer and store it on a flash drive, then I'll hide the flash drive in the basement under sixty pounds of photos waiting to be scrap-booked. That'll teach it. That old WIP is never going to see the light of day again. EVER. (I'm just not that brave with the delete key. It scares me. Just saying. But I'm great at hiding stuff. It's a true talent. I call it denial. Aren't you jealous?)

And no, I'm not bitter at all. Really. Why? Because the premise is still a good one, and that I'll keep. And the characters can stay if they start being nice to me. (You've been warned.) It's just my words that have to go. Stupid, messed up, egg-covered words. Be gone I say!

Strangely, I'm excited to start all over fresh and new with no mistakes...yet. It's invigorating and hopeful and tingly and hopeful. Did I mention hopeful? My question is, why did it take me so long to get to this point?

I guess I'm just plain stubborn.

What about you, when do you stop trying to pick up the pieces and just make scrambled eggs?



Yum.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kissing Up To An Angry Cat

My cat is angry. Why? Because we left him home while we all went away, which is why you didn't get a post earlier this week. It's really hard to post without internet access. Really hard.

Anywho, back to my cat. We left him home because he's a cat, even if he thinks he's a better human than me. He had food and water and other cats to torment, but he didn't have us--no people to pour his fat little self milk. No humans to open the door when he meowed. No family to cuddle with. None. So now that we are back, he's ticked. Okay, really ticked.

How do I know? He's giving me the silent treatment. Heck, he won't even look at me. He just turns his back and shuns me. Ouch. No one does the silent treatment like a cat. They can make you bleed from lack of eye contact. Seriously. I had to get out the band-aids. Sniff.

And just to make sure I know how mad he is at me, he curled up with kid D and purred. Then he glanced back at me to rub it in.

And they say women have mood problems. Sheesh.

So, I have to make up with my cat, and like any good man, the path to forgiveness is through his stomach. Can you say milk? And cheese? Yes, and even *gasp* tuna. Tuna always works.

My only question is, if he's so ticked, are you? Are you shunning me for my absence? Will you give me the silent treatment for missing a couple of posts? Will you make me bleed?

Hello? Are you out there?

I'll go get the band-aids.

Okay, and the tuna.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing Prompt Tuesday

Today is a writing prompt kind of day. So, your assignment, if you choose to accept, is to write a short sky diving blurb from the view point of the diver's faulty parachute. It doesn't have to be long, just a paragraph or two. Have fun and post your results in the comments section. I'd love to see how many different takes we get on this.

Here's mine:

I knew the day was coming--I felt it in my seams, the fraying and wear. I just didn't know it would be so messy...and loud. Man that guy could scream. I mean, come on, really? If he was so afraid of heights, why did he jump out of a plane? Me, not a sound, well other than the rrrriiiiipppp, oh and the gushing, but that was more the air than me. I just flapped and waved goodbye till the screamer and I both died of deceleration poisoning. Somehow I think it was harder on him, but what a way to go! Yeah, gravity, he's a killer.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How The Chair Became Short

Okay, yesterday I posted a pic of my newly remodeled chair. It looked exactly like this:



And yes, if you look closely you can see paint smudges from where I used it as a ladder while remodeling the basement. It's just that kind of chair.

Several peeps out there wanted to know how the chair ended up in pieces on the floor. So, by popular demand, this is how it went down.

It involved a 4th of July parade, a red balloon, helium, a seven-year-old girl, a forty-something-year-old man, a tired mother, and an completely innocent fourteen-year-old boy. Oh, and gravity. Gravity is the real culprit. Not me. Really.

So, we went to the parade and melted in the sun...er I mean cheered for the floats, and the football team, and boy scouts, and the candy throwers, and the person handing out helium-filled red balloons--but especially the person who handed out fans. Ahhhhh best part of the parade. Did I mention the melting? Gotta love the fourth.

Anywho, Kid D got a balloon. Fast forward through bbqs, and fireworks, and the impromptu campout in the rain to when we got back home, tired and dirty and tired. Oh and tired. Kid D, who loved her red balloon, lost her grip and the thing floated up to the ceiling.

Enter the forty-something man, aka my sweet hubby, and the chair with a history of being a ladder. Yup you guessed it, crack. The back leg broke. We stared at it, and in my sleep deprived state I said, "I'll just shove it back together and try to fix it in the morning."

So I did. I even tucked the chair under the table like a good mommy should.

The morning came, but I forgot about the chair. Kid B, who knew nothing about the faulty leg, came up for breakfast and ended up sprawled on the floor with a pretty stunned expression on his face. Let it be known, I did not laugh. Promise. I just mumbled something like, "Stab me in the eye." Then I helped him up and took a pic of the chair. See, I'm very motherly. And gravity really is to blame, not me. You believe me, right?

Anywho, there you have it. See why I posted about the Phantom TV Watcher instead? Does anyone else want to request a blog post? Anyone? Anyone? Really, I'm open to suggestions.

And no, this doesn't have anything to do with writing.

Leisha Maw

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Phantom TV Watcher

So, how did your day start? Mine started with a crack and a thump...and a newly remodeled chair. Here's the pic. I'll let your mind wander and ponder how it became so...short.



Anywho, We had a great time camping with the kids, but the real story today is from my sister's life. She lives down south where it's hotter than the surface of the sun and only crazy people go outside during the summer.

Last night around nine, she and her hubby were watching a show in their room while their five-year-old, Niece K, watched a kid flick on the main TV. Niece K wandered into her parent's room and said, "There's a boy in our house."

My sister stared at her. My bro-in-law stared at her, too. Then they both said, "What?"

Niece K said, "He's watching the show with me."

Now, there should not have been a boy watching TV with Niece K, and for some strange reason this kind of scared my sister. She jumped up and ran to the front room, followed by her hubby and Niece K.

You guessed it, no boy. The questioning commenced. It went something like this:

My sister: Was there really a boy?

Niece K: Yes.

My bro-in-law: Maybe you made him up. Are you sure there was a boy?

Niece K: Yes.

My sister: Where is he then?

Niece K: I don't know. I think he went into my room.

My sister, kind of wigging out because strange boys should not show up in your house and then go into your child's room: What?

Bro-in-law: How old is this boy?

Niece K: Maybe two.

My sister and bro-in-law relaxing because two-year-olds are not scary like say sixteen-year-olds: Oh. Are you sure?

Long story short, they searched the room and the house. No boy. Niece K kept proclaiming that there had indeed been a boy watching TV with her. She even provided a detailed character description down to his baseball cap and sneakers.

They were about to award Niece K with an Oscar for best performance in inventing an imaginary friend when my sister noticed about twenty people going down the street yelling into the gathering darkness. Who were they? A search party looking for a lost three-year-old. Apparently they'd been scouring the dessert and surrounding area for some time.

My sister went out and told them about the phantom TV watcher, and the search moved to my sister's back yard. Yup they found him happily playing in the playhouse.

The mother burst into tears, and Niece K became a hero for watching TV and not making up an imaginary friend. Oh, and the kid got to go home to newly installed kid-proof handles.



So, what's the moral here? When you tell a story, or invent an imaginary friend, make sure you have the details and search party to back you up because getting people to buy into your fantasy is hard, especially if you're five.

I hope your weekend and holiday rocked!

Leisha Maw

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Camping

Hey folks, and yes, I did just call you folks, due to an unexpected 4th of July camping excursion with the fam I will be posting tomorrow instead of today. Gotta love summer.

Leisha

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Great Fence Robbery!

One of my friends requested I post about the time someone stole my six-foot cedar fence. Yes, you read that right, and no, this is not a fictional story. Two guys stole my fence in broad daylight. Seriously.

Now, this did not happen at my current place of residence, which shall remain undisclosed thank you very much, so all you neighbors out there who might be reading this, you are safe from fence snatchers and can sleep well tonight. BUT it did happen in a city near you.

This is how the Great Fence Robbery went down.

One summer day I was doing my laundry, and yes, this is proof that laundry is evil. Just saying. But, as I walked to the laundry room with a bulging basket of evil, I noticed two strange men in my yard dismantling my fence with power tools and idiotic grins on their faces.

I just stood there, held my laundry, and stared for about seven-point-three seconds, because who expects to see this in their yard? It had to be a mistake, right? Wrong.

I dropped my laundry and grabbed the phone.

Did you know that if you call 911 and tell them two guys are stealing your fence they don't believe you at first? I swear, it's a sad day when a full-grown woman has to convince the 911 operators that she is indeed being robbed, and no, she is not high on anything, and no, this is not a prank. Sheesh!

With the assurance that the police would be there soon, I hid the kids in a back bedroom, armed myself with a camera, and burst outside to confront the very strange strangers.

Click. Click. Click. Proof for the police just in case they didn't believe me either.

As I snapped their photos, the crooks whirled around and yelled, "What are you doing?"

I hesitated for about two-point-one seconds then yelled back, "I'm taking pictures in MY yard. What are you doing?"

It was now their turn to stare at me. Only, their idiotic grins were gone. Somehow their demonic glares were worse. Shudder.

Now, I know you are wondering what happened next. I wondered the same kind of thing as I edged back toward my door, because suddenly a camera felt like a lousy weapon. They, after all, had power tools...and scary glares...and who knew what else.

Luckily, they didn't follow me into the house, but they did put away their power tools, and instead of politely dismantling my fence with said tools, they used brute force and tore it down. Within minutes only broken posts were left, protruding from the ground like jagged teeth ready to chomp my yard.

The bad guys threw my fence panels into their their waiting truck, which I also photographed, and drove away.

I watched them drive off, still not quite believing they took my fence, and waited for the police.

And waited...

And waited...

And waited...

TEN hours later they showed up.

TEN!

They didn't even apologize for taking so long. Apparently fence stealing wasn't high on their list because it didn't involve weapons, and power tools didn't really count.

I wanted to grab them by their walkie-talkies and yell, "Seriously?" But I didn't because they did have weapons. Big ones. And handcuffs. And my kids didn't need to see me go away, too. The fence was enough loss for the day.

All I could do was take the tardy cops on a flashlight-lit tour of my now fenceless yard and give them the pictures. They never found the fence crooks--or my fence.

Needless to say, we didn't live in the best hood. Okay, it wasn't even the second best hood...or the third. And when the swat team became very familiar with my next door neighbors, we sold our house as fast as we could.

The good news is, we've never had our fence stolen at our new place, so life is sweet. And fenced. And swat team free.

So, what does this story have to do with writing? I'm not sure, but it's a great story. Make sure your own story is, too.

Leisha Maw

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Throw Away Your Book, or The Art of Revision

Did you know it's Tuesday? Late Tuesday? I do...now. Yeah, I need help, what can I say? I guess sorry for the late post will have to do.

Anywho, last week I promised a WIFYR post, and here it is. Yay!

During WIFYR I was in the fabulous Martine Leavitt's class. I learned a lot, but one of the best things for me was a discussion on drafts. She mentioned that Cynthia Leitich Smith writes her first draft then destroys it--as in gone. Deleted. Poof.

If you don't believe me, read it in Cynthia's own words:
“I do this drastic thing... that freaks out my graduate students. When I'm finished with the first draft, I print it, read it once, throw away the hard copy, delete the file, and delete trash. Knowing as I go in that the draft is for my eyes only, that I'm not committed to it, frees me up to experiment. It gives me an opportunity to explore the characters and their world. I figure the best, strongest aspects of the character and story will survive when I write the second first draft.”

—Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith
from the Faerie Drink Review.
Check out more about Cynthia at her website.

Now, those of you out there who aren't writers might not understand how drastic this sounds. I'm not one of Cynthia's students, but the idea is still freaking me out. Writing a draft is like giving birth, but harder. And yes, I can see you out there shaking your heads, but I've done both, so I KNOW. It takes about as long as a pregnancy for me to complete a draft from conception to delivery, and there is a lot of pain and joy involved.

The thought of taking all that work and effort and love and throwing it away feels like murder, or at least the kind of craziness they lock people away for. But the more I think about it, the more it starts to make sense. Sort of.

Martine doesn't throw away her whole book, but she does write the first one hundred pages and then trashes those. She said that by then she's done most of her experimenting and has figured out the main character's voice, objects of desire, and all the good stuff, and she knows where the story really starts. Then she can write the real first draft without all the exploration.

A hundred pages may still sound like a lot, but I've chucked more than that before on projects because I didn't like the direction the book was taking. And do you know what, I didn't miss those pages when I rewrote them, because the best and most important things did survive. And it freed me up to really revise.

That brings me back to WIFYR. Both Martine and Heather Dixon talked about making revising become a true revision, as in re-envisioning the project to make it the best story it can be. You can't do that if you're married to your first draft. Why? Because first drafts stuck. They're supposed to. The first draft is when you give yourself permission to write crap and just get the story out there. If you hoard those words you spewed out, it's like trying to turn vomit into fine cuisine. I guess it's possible, but maybe that's why it took so many drafts for my first book to be readable. It takes a long time to transform raw spewage into yum.

Maybe it would be better to trash the gross stuff and start with fresh ingredients. The menu would be the same, but the result would be so much better, wouldn't it?

Now, I'm not saying I'm ready to compost my whole first draft on my current project, but I am saying I'm willing to completely re-envision it. Maybe my dark elf might end up as an alien, or maybe I'll scrap my whole magic system and come up with something new, and I'm even willing to say goodbye to my favorite lines of dialog. Ouch. But it's like Martine says, "You will get other great ideas, and they will be better every time."

What do you think? Would you have the heart and guts to delete your whole book and start from scratch? How about if you don't write, does this fit in with your own creative endeavors? Can destruction actually help creation? I really want to hear your thoughts.

Leisha Maw

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Burnout and Cooking, Oh and Smoke, too. Lots of it.

Hey all my favorite peeps! My post today is over at The Scribblers Cove. Soooooo, just to whet your appetite, here's the opening paragraphs:

Tuesday turned out to be a pretty smokin' day. Literally. As in the whole house filled with it, and we all still smell like a toxic campfire. Think of it as our new perfume. We're calling it Burnt Burrito. So sexy. Meowwwww! Want some?

So, how did we all end up burritofied? Let's just say Kid C decided he could cook. By himself. Without permission. Yes, be afraid. I'm still having nightmares. Shudder.

The first clue that something was amiss reached me as I worked in my office. A tendril of charring snaked into the room and coiled up my nose. The mom alarm in me spazamed, and I ran from the room to find the billowing burrito. Did you know that if you fricassee one of those they become weightless? Really. And they turn blacker than the heart of a demon. I know, I checked. Don't ask how that is so another post.

Head on over to The Scribblers Cove for the rest of the story. And what's that? I'm a big meanie? Why thank you. I'm so glad you noticed. Mwahahahahaha!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A couple of awards!

Hey all, the wonderful craziness of WIFYR is behind me. I learned a ton and got to mingle with some awesome writers. So now, I'm back to my regular posting schedule. Aren't you so lucky?

Anywho, while I was in Hawaii, Jonene from The Wonderful Obsessions awarded me with a Meme. Check out her blog and tell her thanks for me!

AND yesterday Brenda at The Startled Spyglass gave me the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award.



All I can say is yum. Oh, and thank you, Brenda. Make sure you check out her blog. It's delicious!

Anywho, with these awards I'm supposed to answer some questions. I'll start with the Meme and then move on the the sugar!

Meme questions:

If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

Wow, let's see, so many to choose from. I think I'd go back and relive the first time my hubby kissed me. He says I kissed him, and it was soooo the other way around. If I could go back, I could get proof...um I mean, I'd get to have that first kiss all over again. Okay, I'd also be able to prove how right I've always been. And no, I'm not above using time travel to win a friendly argument. He he. And besides, it was a great kiss, in the rain. He leaned in and ahhhhh. Yup that's worth a second time.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Hmmmm, I don't know if I'd change anything because I've read way too many sci-fi books where changing things set up a horrible paradox and messed up the whole space-time continuum. But If I had to choose, I'd not eat that doughnut from last week. And yes, that is so a good use of time travel. Sheesh.

What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?

Bert.

If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?

Depends on the day. Wink, wink.

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

Ummmmm, I'd be more spontaneous because then I'd say wahoo more often.

Describe yourself in one word.

Crazy. Well, you did ask.

Describe the person who named you in this Meme in one word.

Shazam! Because that's even better than awesome or amazing or fantastic or wonderful or... well it's pretty darn cool.

Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.


Because I get to meet coolio people like you guys.

Now, on to the strawberries, in which I must torture you with seven random things about myself:

1: I like to sing. My poor, poor neighbors.

2: I didn't shower yesterday. See, random. Aren't you impressed that I read the instructions? (I am.)

3: I'm going to shower today. Yup, I'm that good. I'm even going to use soap.

4: I love quaking aspen trees. The leaves always look like they're laughing, and I like me a tree with a sense of humor.

5: I pay my daughter to do the dishes. Yup, mother of the year. Yay me. Of course it helps that she owes me 400 bucks. I'm not going to have to do dishes for the whole summer. Ahhhh, so sweet.

6: I help her with the dishes sometimes because I have guilt. Stupid guilt. Grrr.

7: I'm always surprised anyone reads this blog. You are still reading right? Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there? Hello? Darn it, all alone again...sigh.

Phew! That was hard...and long.

Now the last part where I bestow these fabulous awards to other worthy bloggers.

Ali Cross at Alicross.com
Julie Daines at After The Toilets
Amy at Lap and Storytime
Rebecca Carlson
and Donea at The Queen of Procrastination

Yay! Check them all out! They're fabulous peeps.

Leisha

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hawaii Top Ten

Aloha!

I'm back from Hawaii full of sun and even a few apologies. I planned on blogging while there, but our internet connection was dodgy. And when it worked, it made a snail stuck in molasses in January in the arctic without snowshoes or a dogsled team seem REALLY fast, hence the lack of posts. Just pretend I'm still on island time.

Anywho, in honor of Jonene's (thanks btw!!!!) guest post, here are the top ten things from our trip.

10: Chickens. Yup, they were everywhere. I even brought proof.



And somehow this sounded a little better than landing in Kauai and discovering the airline lost our luggage. Yup, we are that cursed. But they did find it--a sunburn and a trip to Walmart for toothbrushes and sunscreen and shoes and deodorant and...well a bunch of other stuff later. See, chickens suddenly sound awesome.

9: The Beach and sun. Way better than Chickens, and did I mention it snowed at my house the day before we left? Shudder.



Kid A did manage to get stung by a Portugese Man-of-war jelly fish TWICE! Once on the ankle our first time in the water. The second time from the upper thigh to her calf our last time out in the water(this may have been the reason it was our last time in the water). The thing wrapped around her leg and knee, and she had to peel it off with her fingers. Can you say giant welts? She still has red marks. You know that cursed thing? Yeah, you might not want to go swimming with us. Just saying.

8: Waterfalls.



Beautiful and not a jelly in sight. Ahhhhh.

7: Being surrounded by dolphins.



Again, way better than jellies.

6: The Napali Coast.



5: The Napali Coast, and yes, it gets more than one spot because it was so gorgeous.



4: Yup, the Napali Coast.



I may have like this place just a tad. :)

3: Adventures.



And we didn't even die. Alway a good thing.

2: Hikes.



This is Kid A and me on the trail. And yes, this was a vertical trail. Sooo much fun, especially since we avoided jellies. I did yell at Kid A when she started leaping from rock to rock with a 2000 foot drop on both sides. Kids!

1: Green stuff and cool trees.



And even better than all ten of these was coming home and finding the sitters...I mean the kids still alive. They even missed us (both the sitters and the kids). Pure bonus.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guest Blog While Leisha's on Vacation





Hello, my name is Jonene Ficklin (aka: thewonderfulobsessions.blogspot.com) , and my good friend, Leisha, invited me to guest blog today, while she is 3,000 miles away in lovely, balmy Hawaii. I happen to be a fan of both Leisha, and Hawaii, so this is an honor.

Now, Leisha isn’t your run-of-the-mill vacationer. And as she hinted last week, she tends to gain more adventures than she plans for:

So in her honor, here are the top 10 things I hope she is/ or is not doing this time in Hawaii:

Let’s hit what I hope she’s NOT experiencing first:

1. NOT Surfing the Big One. I happen to know she got a little practice with speed, running, and adrenaline on a long board last week. The good news is she survived. The bad news is, I hear any surfing close-encounters-with-death tend to be addictive.

2. NOT doing the Wash Machine. Again. (See her blog from last week. By the way, the Wash Machine is a surfing term for getting spun around and around underwater by a wave.)

3. NOT having coqui frogs singing outside her window.  I’m told it’s like being surrounded by a preschool class of three-year-olds with whistles. If you’d like to experience it for yourself, check out this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0Ic_3uGzCE&feature=related

4. NOT forgetting sunblock the first day out. Nothing kills a vacation faster than skin the temperature/color of a forge. And although people get paid to move like a robot over there, it’s no fun to do when it’s out of dire necessity.

5. NOT trying the chocolate covered squid. Yes, it is made AND sold AND obviously bought AND eaten there. I know we’re supposed to be brave and try new things, but this one is just plain wrong – especially when chocolate covered macadamia nuts are sold right next to it.

So, here’s what I hope she IS doing:

6. Entering a chicken chasing contest. Apparently, imported mongooses (I checked just to be sure the proper plural term isn’t mongeese – and it’s not) decimated the wild chicken population on all the Hawaiian islands except Kauai. The scuttlebutt is, that the farmers brought them over to kill off rats infesting their fields. When the first batch of mongooses reached Kauai, as they were being offloaded from the ship, one bit a sailor. He chucked all the mongooses into the sea. And nowadays, tourists are surprised to see feral chickens everywhere they go. Chicken chasing has become an official tourist pastime.

7. Trying Hamura Saimin or a Loco Moco. I know these sound like a sneeze, but they’re actually local specialty foods. Hamura Saimin is a noodle and broth comfort dish, and a Loco Moco is (take a deep breath and keep an open mind) white rice, topped by a hamburger patty, topped by a fried egg, topped by brown gravy. I know it sounds crazy, but the locals swear by it. I guess in the 1960’s, some hungry teenagers asked the cook of a local restaurant to make them something quick, cheap, and filling. Voila: the Loco Moco was born. Over time, it’s evolved into a respectable dish, even tweaked and refined by the likes of famed Hawaii chef, Alan Wong.

8. Hiking (and no, not hang-gliding over) the Na Pali coast. Okay, every dinosaur, tropical adventure, and back-in-time movie shows shots of this dramatic landscape. And I really hope she remembers her camera.

9. Taking hula lessons. I would pay BIG money to see any video footage of this.

10. Taking copious notes to be used in her next awesome book. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, Leisha is an amazing writer. So Leisha, have a great time, and come home in one piece – and bring a million pictures. I’m thinking her next blog will be one you won’t want to miss!

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