That’s what it’s like for me and a really good book. It’s why I don’t read and write. I want my work to have the same addictive, lustful qualities. I want to be consumed by my own art, so much so that everything else ceases to exist. But for me that has never been the case. I love my writing. I am good at it. But it is not easy. I wish I were one of those prodigies, who woke up with a pen in the mouth and started writing Shakespearean sonnets. Some days, I have to force myself to sit at the computer. I have to plead with the characters to come to life. I have to pray to God for inspiration. And after all of that, when I walk away with a single page of edits, I am left feeling like a failure. How can I call myself a writer?
This is why, when I want to get substantial writing done, when I am trying to meet some mental deadline (because those are the only ones that currently exist) I have set for myself, I ban reading. When you are in a serious relationship, they say, you can look, but don’t touch. Right? Well, the problem with looking is that one day something is bound to catch your attention. Something is bound to respond to your inner core, to stir up things inside of you that have been cataleptic inside of you. I pick up one book, enjoy it and toss it aside. It was fun, mildly entertaining, but nothing more. A fling. A fix. But I keep doing that and wham--out of no where I am completely and utterly infatuated with another world, new characters, new relationships. I almost wish it had never happened. I long to be free again—to be able to write my own work with no pesky distractions. There is nothing left to read anyway. I have devoured all the books in the series, the drafts, the teasers. It’s over. But breaking up is a Bitch. Hard to do. And I feel a little guilty for longing so lustfully after another. Will my lifetime partner take me back? Forgive me for straying, especially when we are so close to the happily ever after? I guess I will have to get back to you on that.
Now you think I am crazy, don’t you.
I like this interview because it puts a face to something the average person might not realize. The majority of these people are working class---just like you and me. And just like the crews that Leno and Conan are worrying about...the writers have families too, bills and expenses, and are out of work. This is no different from any other strike. People standing up for a fair deal, for what the need and deserve.
Take a look at this clip from Writer's Guild of America (WGA) on how the AMPTP is handling the strike. And Kudos to Letterman, boo-hiss to Carson Daly, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien (whom no one watches anyway...get real).
This may be the first movie by Tim Burton that I like. Well, I said maybe. Not a huge Johnny Depp Fan either. But it looks promising. I like the musical. I love the artistic quality shown in the trailor...and sondheim actually signed off on the main cast! I didn't even know he was still alive. Anyway, hope you enjoy. If you see it Christmas weekend let me know what you think. Kind of creepy for a holiday movie, but hey...it's a musical. Oh and be prepared for lots of blood. I heard and I quote, "there's more blood squirting around than in 100 episodes of ER".
The Reaper? Have you seen him? No he's not running around in black with a pitchfork or cane or whatever that stupid thing he carries around is. No this guy is a white suburban slacker and he works at the local home and garden store. Confused yet. Yeah, me too.
Imagine Chuck (a hilarious parody on the Best Buy's Geek Squad) and Dead Like Me (an old showtime series?) and you've got CW's Reaper. It has its funny moments. It has it's sick and twisted moments. I watched a couple of episodes and while entertaining...it just wasn't a must have. Maybe it needs more attractive men. :) I mean chuck is a total cutie and Clark Kent and Lex Luther certainly make up for Smallville's rather limited plot line. Maybe all this show needs is a smooth operator.
I don't know. If you've seen the show let me know what you think. It's a little too cheesy for my likes.
Every once in a while a plot or a short story idea will come to me in a dream. But honestly, that is rare. And I find that when I try to write about them, the stories are never quite as vivid as the dreams. I think because dreams are very personal. What can be terrifying to you can be dull and boring to someone else. For example, have you ever had a nightmare and tried to share the horrid details with a friend only to have them look at you and say "what's so bad about that?" yeah. me too. This is the same thing. Conveying true horror on the page is sometimes harder than humor. How do you create that same since of dread? How do you make the reader afraid of something they aren't afraid of, because the character is?
But today, what I learned is all about characters and character development. When our loved ones appear in our dreams, sometimes those little traits that we hate about them can appear magnified ten times over. For example, I wouldn't call my mom cheap, but my mom is cheap. She would do anything for a bargain: Get up at dawn, drive across town, carry a bag of coupons, bring her own cups to buffets (okay she doesn't do that at buffets, but she does get a lot of refills at places).
Sometimes this is great. Way to be thrifty. But sometimes it is annoying. Are we really going to haggle over a dollar. Just pay the difference and lets go! So here in my dream as we encounter several different crisis situations, my mom's bargain hunting persona continues to get us into trouble. Even when faced by muggers, she didn't back down. It was annoying but it got me thinking. Do your characters back down in high pressure situations?
Let's say your main character is nosy. And she is taken into questioning by the police in relation to a murder she just happened to witness. And say she's conveniently appeared at the scene of several murder scenes in the past three weeks and the cops are starting to get suspicious. Now lets say the fire alarm goes off at the headquarters and people are filing out to the parking lot. Does your character mull along with the rest of them or use this as an opportunity to search for a record on a suspect that the police haven't even considered yet?
Or maybe even more direct. Your incredibly talkative and charismatic character is being held at gun point. Are they going to freeze up or continue talking even though the person with the weapon has asked them to shut it three times already? They are going to keep going, because it is part of their basic nature. They can't help it.
For me, sometimes I have difficulty here because I have three main characters and am alternating POVs with every chapter. As I edit I find that some characters aren't reacting to things the way they should be. One character is more assertive and aggressive than me and than the other two characters. I have a tendency to downplay those traits and have had to go back and make changes.
So that is my wisdom for today. Consistency is key.
The Order of the Phoenix (OotP) is is going to be released on DVD soon. I completely forgot about it. I've been watching the movies on ABC Family. They had a different one on each night...and well it just looks so cool on my new plasma TV.
There are some great extras on the TV. They've been showing clips of Tonks around the set. She's funny. Then I found this story on MTV http://www.mtv.com/overdrive/?id=1574304&vid=191842 with a few video clips from the DVD as well. So take a look. It's pretty cool. I'll post one on on here--but you will have to follow the link to see them all.
I mean...most of the series I read anyway there is a driving question that guides the plot. Who is the killer? What is this new supernatural bad ass? Is there a Holy Grail? Look at the Anita Blake Books. When they originally started, the character was chasing a different bad guy in each book. Now, it seems she's just existing. She used to work for the police, but we hardly ever see her do police work in the more recent books. She might stop a bad guy, but really the books are about her staying alive. More soap opera than thriller.
I guess I need to think about that a little more.
The whole point was, while lying in bed, I made some pretty significant progress on the second novel. The more i thought about it, the more it kept unfolding in my head. Finally I jumped up and ran to my office where I have blank sheets of butcher paper pasted all over the walls and just started writing with my sharpie. I was like that guy on Heroes who used to do all the paintings. He would go into a trance and paint the future on canvas. That was me. I was writing so fast, trying to capture everything in my head on paper so that I wouldn't forget. I had notes of things to add into novel one and then questions to ponder on book two. I even have a central plot.
Oh well. That's just never happened to me, but I feel like these characters are buzzing around in my head and finally telling me what to write instead of me guessing! So cool.
You never knew that about me did you?
It's not that I want to be super famous. No, I just want a nice safe cult following. I want to be respected by my peers and invisible to the world at large. I want to walk into a store, flip on the TV or walk into a movie theater and know that I helped make that possible.
I think this is why I'm spending so much time on this first novel. In the publishing world, you kind of only get one chance to enter the arena. I know a lot of authors who published just to publish. Some of them did self publishing (which is another rant I won't get into) and others downplayed their work, choosing to use a lesser known publisher or even write in a genre they don't like in order to just break in. But this isn't necessarily like the movies. In acting, you have to be in something to get into the guild and you have to be in the guild to get any roles. But in Publishing...if you're work is good enough, it will sell, whether you have a masters of English and were deemed a writing prodigy by a national competition, or if you wrote in your basement on weekends for ten years. If it's good, they will take you. But if you bomb on your first book--well nowadays, you might as well be blacklisted. There's no time for taking chances, no risk. The publisher wants to see dollars. They want the numbers to get higher with each book. If your first numbers are low and your second are lower, you're out of luck.
I just want to look at this manuscript and know that it is as good as I can make it at this moment. I want to know that the world on the page clearly mirrors the one in my head. I want to be able to sit back at the end of the day confident that somewhere out there, someone is reading my words, falling into my world and falling in love with my characters. When I get to that point. Then I'll be ready.
This might as well be the Stephenie Meyer Fan Site. I've got more to say about the Twilight books. Turns out they are making a movie...scheduled to go into production in February of 2008. They announced the actress who will be playing Bella Swan. She's perfect. Just what I imagined. She also looks familiar, although I can't put my finger on what she has been in. Her name is Kristen Stewart.
I also finished Eclipse last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have been trying to figure out why. Isn't that silly? I just fell in love with the books and got this giddy feeling that I haven't felt in years. It's that fresh, puppy love, sheer intoxication that you get from discovering a new author, a new set of characters to put into your collection of favorites. It's such an exciting feeling. One that fuels my desire to write and see my books published. I love the idea of giving someone else that much joy. I love the idea of my characters calling to them...nagging them to hurry back and explore the world with them.
Maybe I am crazy. My dad thinks so. He recommended that I join a recovery program for readers. So what if everyone doesn't take a book with them to the movie theater. I had a logical reason for doing so. And it's a good thing to, because we saw Enchanted. Yuck.
Anyway...a toast, to new books and new loves!
I am reading a new book called Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I should be editing my own but I am too far into the book and now I can't stop reading. I read for about six hours yesterday and loved it. It is the greatest feeling in the world when you get so drawn into the story that the world around you passes by in a blur. For a moment all your problems go away and you can experience a new world, a new life.
This is actually a young adult series. I stumbled upon it at BN when looking for the Harry Potter books on tape. The books are huge--400 pages and up. Hard cover too. I didn't buy them then, but I reserved some at the library and the most recent book came in. So I started in the middle of the series, but I am okay with that. That is usually how it happens. Then I go back and re-read the rest.
This series is supernatural, like most of the stuff I read. It has a little light romance (which is good--it's the romantic chemistry and tension between characters that makes a story good. Not sex. ah hem.
I'm not sure what the plot is yet and I am 200 pages in. I know that this girl is in love with a vampire. I know that her childhood friend is a werewolf. I know that there is some treaty between the wolves and the vamps that keeps them from playing nice together. Unlike many of the paranormal romances on the shelves, this is not simply a teen novel with a vampire or witch thrown in. I wonder why it is that publishers think we want that?? Kind of like it's just a career choice. Make the protagonist a doctor and everyone who likes medical thrillers will read this book. Um no. They won't. Like wise, make the character a witch or a psychic and paranormal lovers will want to read this...isn't a strong enough motivator.
Stephenie has created a fabulous world. Not Harry Potter fabulous, but she has interesting histories behind the existence of vampires and wares. She doesn't simply play by the traditional rules...long fangs, dark eyes, garlic and tombs... This is fresh...and that is--well, refreshing.
It's also kind of nostalgic to remember what it was like being a kid again. The characters may have big supernatural problems, that the world around them can't understand, but they don't have to deal with the things adults do. And they are not necessarily as complex as adults. They act on their instincts, and their emotions. They aren't stressed with work and careers and sex and babies, and bills and all the things adults (both real and fictional) seem to be stressed with. They don't get all grown up and simply suck it up and do the right thing. Adults will sacrifice their heart to be mature and grown up. Do the responsible thing. Or if they don't, they at least worry about it. Teens, not as much. I don't know. That's just my general observation.
Minus the lack of plot...it is definitely a better read than some of the adult paranormal fiction out there.
A closer look at Stephenie Meyer
So what did I do? Where did I go? How did I get out alive...
Step 1: Plan Early, Plan Well.
Black Friday is not for the weak. We're talking 50-80% off of regular prices. So if you are going to run with the big boys you've better be prepared. It starts with an early morning thanksgiving trip to the grocery store. Why? Because one paper is just not enough. Every female in my family gets a paper. Including the dog. (Seriously. It's like cooking potatoes...g-ma says one for each person and two for the pot. You never know when someone is going to need an extra coupon.) My mother prefers to sort her ads be store type. This way she can look at all the electronics stores together, all the department stores, etc. Normally I would say she is crazy, but for a day like Black Friday, a little organization can make sure that you find the store with the best price.
Side note: If you are going to go searching for newspapers on Thanksgiving day be sure to turn off the sweet potatoes! We had a near catastrophe when my mom and grandmother left the potatoes on high and went to the gas station for papers. Why they both had to go...I'm not sure. But all of the street newspaper stands were sold out. My sister called me around ten to tell me that the house was full of smoke and the stove was sparking. My dad was in the shower...and she got the flames to go out, but just imagine if both of them had been sleep. The stupid smoke detector didn't even go off. Who knows where the dog was. Lesson here: don't be cheap and try to take two papers for the price of one out of a self-serve newspaper stand. Go to the store. And while you're there pick up extra sweet potatoes, just in case.
Step 2: Build an Entourage
It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes one to conquer the infamous door buster. Let's face it. The laws of physics do not change. You cannot be in two places at once. This presents a problem if you want to get high ticket deals at more than one store. An entourage/posse is the key to success. Last year I went to Best buy in search of some great deal...and was all on my own. I was doing well, stood in line, made it quickly into the store, find my item and then had to wait to check out. That's when disaster struck. My stomach started cramping up from the coffee I had drank at four in the morning. I was in desperate search of a bathroom, but I could not, under any circumstances get out of line. I tried calling for back up but my parent's had turned the ringer on the house phone off so that they could sleep undisturbed. I made it home...but it was not a pleasant situation to be in.
Aside from emergency situations, a companion has many advantages. One, it is a great bonding experience. You stand in line with friends, gossip, people watch...there is always something to laugh at. Once in the store...you send one person to the check out line and one person with the list...to gather the items. If you both go after things, you may have to wait an additional 30-60 minutes to check out and you certainly won't make it to the next store.
If you have a size able entourage, you can tackle multiple stores using this same strategy. The key here is having a list, staying mobile and always relying upon a cell phone. Once my mom and I had all of our packages at Circuit City, I left her in line and headed over to Target. I got her deals and mine and was in line by the time she arrived. With several people small groups can take on multiple stores. They can also give you a status update which can save you money, gas and a serious headache. Instead of having to go to a store that clearly doesn't have the one item you were looking for...you can head straight to the one that does. Even if your friends refuse to get stuff for you, just getting the scoop is priceless. You might find out that the smaller circuit city on this side of town is at maximum capacity and they are letting people in one at a time as others leave. With this in mind you can go to the larger store where everyone is getting though the door.
Step 3: Become Techno Savvy.
With WiFi all over the city, there is no reason you shouldn't tap into the power of the Internet, from finding the best black Friday deals before turkey day, to making purchases online...this is your biggest advantage to date as not everyone is aware of or recognizes the benefit. When I went to buy my plasma TV, I knew all of the deals that were going to be offered this week and thus knew that I could get the TV I wanted on sale last week for the same price and not have to deal with the lines. I also knew that at some places, like circuit city, they will reimburse you for any price decreases within 30 days of your purchase. So I could have gotten the 50 inch samsung TV for $999 last week and been reimbursed this week when the Black Friday sale came out. If you frequent the websites that post the ads in advance you can research your purchase and even buy some in advance.
You can also buy many of the same deals online without leaving your home on Black Friday. I know that many of the Walmart stores were out of a digital camera, but what several people didn't know was that the item was still available online. And now, several sites allow you to check the availability of any product at a given store. I was looking for a video game and I could see that the only store that still had some was in an area of town I did not want to go to. So i don't need to waste my time or feel stressed about visiting several stores in search of this deal. Especially if the store I am in has the product but at a slightly higher price.
So how did I make out. This year I only bought a handful of things. That's because I got the TV last week. I am so happy I did not have to try and fight those crowds today for a TV. I am glad that I knew what I really wanted. I got my TV for $750 and it is 42 inches. With the money I saved I got three new Wii games. What good is a TV if you have nothing to watch.
Bottom line is you can't get angry or depressed because you missed out on a deal. Think of it more as a lottery. Sometimes your odds are better than others. You win and you lose. But if you don't get in the game you will never win. Keep it fun, eat breakfast together. Dress in layers. Make fun of the sales clerk. In a few hours it will all be over.
I also wonder if people really understand what this strike is all about. I do not believe it is about selfishness, that these writers have the audacity to ask for more money. It is about new media. Do you think musicians only get paid for the CDs they sell but not for the mp3s? No way. In TV writing, you not only get paid for the number of episodes you deliver during a given season, but you get paid for the number of times the show is aired. If your show goes into syndication, just like the actors, just like the studio, just like the producers, you continue to get money. It is called a residual. It is similar in some aspects, to an author's or musicians royalties. So my point is, just because the media is changing doesn't mean that the writers don't have a right to their residuals. The studios don't want to increase the rate for which writers get paid based on Internet viewers, even though the viewership has grown dramatically in the last year itself. I believe there are also some concerns about DVD sales, but I couldn't find any terms explicitly referring to that on the WGA website (Writers Guild of America).
Regardless, I say go writers. This is why we live in America. Way to fight for your rights.
OK, so I am dying to read this book, and not because Bill Cosby was on Oprah today. I wasn't all that impressed with the Oprah show. I was very impressed with an in-depth interview that Borders released more than a week ago. If you are a borders rewards member you probably saw the link in your weekly newsletter. If you're not a borders rewards member, what are you waiting for?
Why am I excited? Well some will argue that I have become more conservative in my old age. I would disagree. I don't think it is about being conservative or liberal, being black or white, being compassionate or having a stick up your butt; I think it simply has to do with being smart. It doesn't take a genius to make the connection between a student making good grades and a parent who checks homework.
I haven't read the book yet, so I can't say I agree with everything that Cosby says (did you notice people calling him Dr. Cosby?) . I do like his parenting style. On Oprah, he urged parents to take charge: to know what their kids are involved in and set limits. He said, "don't be afraid to go into your kids room, see what they are doing on the computer, listen to their music". It might not seem fair, but it isn't supposed to be fair. It's called being a parent, and as a parent you have a responsibility to make sure your child grows into a decent and civilized adult. You can't do that when you don't know that your teenage son is stockpiling weapons in his bedroom and making homemade bombs. Come on people!!!
Maybe it is easy for me to criticize because I am not a parent. And yes, good parents have bad children. It happens, even when you follow all of the written and unwritten rules of child rearing. In the end, all you can do is give them the skills they need, teach them the difference between right and wrong and hope that if they stray they will find their way safely home. But lately it seems like there are a whole generation of people who aren't even trying. It scares me when teens are getting pregnant and having children, because there is absolutely no way they can understand the enormity behind having and raising children. If they did, they wouldn't be getting knocked up.
That's just my two cents.
Also my personal favorite, I have added some newbie authors trying to break into the business. I think you will enjoy checking out their websites. They are great people and have a lot (i mean a lot!) to say.
This weekend I started sketching out book two in the Salem's Triad Series. We'll see how that goes.
Matthew Cook, Blood Magic and an Anthology Touched by Wonder which has a story by Michelle R. Rasey. Congrats to both!
Both books are available online (click the cover for the link). Matt's book is also available in stores. I got mine at Borders!
Side Note: If you aren't already a member of Borders rewards program you can join at any store for free. They send you great coupons in your email AND you get additional coupons and perks when you make a purchase. The staff know me by name because I probably use my coupon to buy something once a week.
The goal is to be done with the draft by November 1 and I am going to need some serious beta readers! Email if you are interested.
So I will keep you updated as I make edits and look to start submitting to editors. I think this break, although hard and full of doubts, was much needed.
Melissa currently resides in Columbus, Ohio where she works full-time as a fund-raiser for a national education non-profit. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio University where she majored in Political Science. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys listening to live music, breaking a sweat on the dance floor and challenging her friends and family to a game on the Wii.
Anyway. Here's to a great spring! Happy St. Patty's Day!
Sunday (God's day no less), I was blissfully enjoying my snowbound isolation when out of no where I find a doctor giving this procedure to a woman. She proclaimed, and I quote, "Even if your man is a miss, with the G Shot it is hit every time!" Is that a happy ending or what? It's about damn time someone started looking out for the ladies. The downside...it only lasts about 4 months. I bet you could do some damage in that amount of time. :)
In honor of our new discovery this playlist is all about the Ladies (doin it for themselves).
Cyndi Lauper-Girls Just Want To Have Fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F09JCj-lnFE
Tiffany-I Think We're Alone Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8xMJIhtfGs
Madonna-Like a Virgin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daVSxm-kecc
The Divinyls-I Touch Myself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EWaOKJ7FnM
Janet Jackson-What Have You Done for Me Lately http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZgrQPiuVdc
Aretha Franklin & the Eurythmics-Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VtYHJQMu8Q
Anyway, the new year has become my muse and life continues to inspire me every single day. So to offer you some inspiration here is something a little new. My weekly playlist. Most of these songs you can listen to online at the artists website. Or download it at iTunes for 99 cents. It's practically the only thing you can get for less than a dollar these days.
At first glance these songs might sound sappy or depressing. I challenge you to go deeper. I think they are all about HOPE.
Playlist #1: A New Year
- Save Room, by John Legend www.johnlegend.com
- Boston, by Augustana http://www.vh1.com/artists/you_oughta_know/
- 9 Crimes, by Damien Rice www.damienrice.com
- Fix You, by Coldplay http://mv.us.music.yahoo.com/player/default.asp?cid=1&ps=0&vid=22406038&bw=319&tw=LaunchVideoTarget&pv=9%2E0
- Nothing Left to Lose, by Mat Kearney http://www.vh1.com/artists/you_oughta_know/
- Show Me, by John Legend www.johnlegend.com
- Suddenly I See, by KT Tunstall http://www.vh1.com/artists/you_oughta_know/
Happy New Year!!!