Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Something Wicked blogfest!

I've been thinking of Wicked & Tricksy's Something Wicked blogfest since it was first announced a few days ago, unsure of how to participate. But when I read this post about the awesome prize boxes, well, how can I pass this up!?

The blogfest asks you to answer one of three questions:
1. Name 3 of your favorite spec-fiction stories (books, movies, tv shows, anything goes)
2. Tell us why you love spec-fic -- what plot line, character type, story trope, setting, time, place is your absolute favorite.
3. Take a guess if you can: where do you see spec-fic stories going in the next two, five, ten years? What will be popular and how will the sub-genres have changed?

I was going to answer number one because I've been looking for a reason to talk about LOST, but then I read Sommer's entry and her description of LOST was damn near perfect, so why ruin a good thing? I'm also trying to get away from using the LOTR books and films as my default contribution to Wicked & Tricksy, so it's time to try something... new.

*le gasp*
I know. I don't do new. Bear with me.

Why I love spec fiction...
I have a great memory from when I was no more than 6 or 7 years old. My mom was standing in front of the sink, preparing dinner while watching the local news on the tiny black and white television sitting on the counter. To keep me out of her hair, she would give me blank sheets of computer paper (much to my father's dismay--he claimed it was too expensive to be coloring paper) and a box of crayons and tell me to draw her a picture.

I wish I still had those pages. I knew exactly what I wanted to draw. I created a beautiful green forest with a cobblestone path winding across the page. Not to be restricted by borders, I lined up the pages in a landscape fashion and taped them together, thus creating my very first world map. My forest had pine trees, maple trees, the token river and requisite fish, unicorns, and gigantic mushrooms.

I worked on my map for a few nights, until I was cut off from further computer paper until I agreed to draw something else, something other than the stone path weaving along five taped together pages with no end in sight. I don't remember what I did next, but I can see those pages on my kitchen table as clear as if they were in front of me today.

THAT is why I love spec fiction. Because it's voluntary escapism. It has the power to pluck a six year old girl from the middle of corn and cow country (aka, Wisconsin) and drop her in the middle of a fantastic, magical forest where unicorns roam and there is no sickness or sadness.

Perhaps I'm looking a bit too deep into this question, but spec-fic took me away from the cancer that entered our household, the IV lines, the hair loss, the tears, and the fears. It took me to a place where magic lived. Where princesses were strong and life was exciting instead of scary and uncertain.

To this day, I prefer magic, quests, and drafty castles in my spec-fic. Not necessarily in that order, but the medieval setting is most comfortable to me. Add to it the sense of adventure that comes with climbing through an old wardrobe and I'm happy. (Though, I should add that the 4 main characters in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe were too many for me to keep together so I never made it past the first book, but the concept of going through the wardrobe to a new world fed my imagination for years...)

What about you? Why do you love spec-fic?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Procrastination Station

I'm procrastinating. Big time.

How big? Like, I woke up and decided I'd rather run 9 miles in the humidity than start working on my edits and formatting I have scheduled for today.

Folks, this is bad news. I have to get my book dumped into the appropriate template and formatted for submission by June 27 at the latest. I'm at the point where I'll deal with wonky scenes or poorly written sentences later. Right now, this is crunch time. The literary equivalent of BUTT IN CHAIR except now it's WORDS IN TEMPLATE.

I have Eddie Vedder's Into the Wild album lined up on repeat with the soundtrack to William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet as a quality backup, a massive latte by my side, and knees that are yelling at me for my attempt to jump right back into the running world after a few weeks off. I also have my browser windows fired up to Google Reader alongside the Bransforums and Facebook.

Don't judge. I'm the Queen of Pressure-Prompted Production. I'm a professional procrastinator. I'm also a professional sleeper and drinker, but those are stories for another day.

And no thanks to Hektor over at After Troy, I have summer and Bruce Springsteen on the brain. This doesn't bode well for my productivity when I'd rather be on a pontoon boat with a case of beer. Alas, the countdown begins: two weeks until 4th of July.

Seeing as this is getting me nowhere closer to finishing my read-through and painstakingly copy/pasting each chapter and dumping them into the template, I really should run. But I wanted to let you know where I've been lately. I've been reading and encouraging you all from afar.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The problem with endings...

Last week, Steph Sinkhorn over at Maybe Genius wrote about the trouble with endings and her blog really resonated with me. Between her wise words and the kick butt Star Wars picture, I was sold.

I have two books in varying states of completion. They were both NaNoWriMo novels, which means (in my world) that the minute I finished the scene where I hit 50K words, I stopped.

All stop. Do not pass Go.

Cue Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's before I took another look at my stories only to realize they both needed an ending.

"But, Trish," I hear you ask. "You're a plotter. You live by the outline, so what's the problem? Write the ending you have listed on the handy-dandy sheet at the front of your 3-ring binder and be done with it."

Yeah, about that. My outlined endings are terrible, but that's okay. Throughout the organic process of writing my stories, things changed. Some scenes were canned while others that were sub plots became major plot points. SO by time I got to the ending, the one I had charted out was really no longer applicable.

I've been blogging MIA for a while because I've been working on my book with major hopes of finishing a draft for printing via CreateSpace by the end of June. More on that later but until last week, I was still working on my 2010 book and I realized the ending just wasn't there. And what's worse, I knew it wasn't there because the three chapters leading up to the Point Where the Ending Should Begin were just stall tactics.

So, I busted out ye ole 2009 NaNo and am reading, editing, and clawing my way to the finish line. More on that later, too. (Apparently, I need to start getting my Proposed Blogs out of my head and into the queue!)

For all you plotters out there, do you keep to your original ending? Or you pantsers, do you work towards some end game, or do you really just pull a magic ending rabbit out of your hat? (Please tell me there's *some* forethought or else I'll cry...)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When do you know you're done?

I had a whole story done, with the exception of a few ending pages and a few scene re-writes. The character and plot development were all in place, there was appropriate tension throughout the story, and it was well-received by my crit group.

So why did I start back at page one with a re-write in 1st person instead of the 3rd that I have been doing? Why can't I just call the book done, make some changes, and submit it by the June 30 CreateSpace deadline to get it printed?

I think I'm afraid of completing the book. I'm afraid to see the book on my shelf and know that it is complete, but not "Finished" in the sense of starting the query process.

But you see, I don't have to start the query process, or the oh-my-God-this-time-I-mean-it-revisions if I don't complete the necessary ending pages and scenes.

How is it that I'm afraid to finish the draft of my book for my own bookshelf, but still have dreams of friends and family buying my published book at a bookstore? In order to reach part B of the dream, I have to take care of part A. Which means I need to do the finishing touches and get the draft printed. I can still work on the 1st person POV, but the act of printing my story out is a mental obstacle that I need to get over.

I need to be done with this phase of my book so I can move on to the next one.

How do you know when you're done with your book? Or do you keep finding new scenes to write or story lines to incorporate?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rewrite and a guest post!

Friends, two crazy things happened this week.

First, I started rewriting my WIP (side note: if I'm rewriting it, does it count as a new WIP?). Not only did I start over at page one, but I'm trying my hand at first person POV. *she cries as she gazes longingly at her ~55K word third person WIP*

This was going well until, in a blog-induced epiphany, I came up with my at-this-moment-most-awesome first sentence. But it's in third person and I'm six hand-written pages into my shiny new first person draft. Crap.

For now, this isn't a big deal. The thing to focus on is that I picked up a pen and started scribbling in the first place. It's been ages since I've felt possessed to write in a mad fury, grammar and penmanship be damned.

The second cool thing that happened this week actually freaks me out a bit, but sooner or later the cat's gonna be out of the bag so I might as well tell you all at once.

My friends over at Wicked & Tricksy asked me to write this week's guest post. Eek! Not wanting to disappoint those who have shown me such support, I agreed and gave it Ye Ol' College Try. Check it out and say nice things!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Three cool things

I found a bunch of neat stuff online over the weekend. It's amazing what's out there once you start clicking around and reading tons of blogs!

First, THIS. Alan Rickman penned a thank you homage to J.K. Rowling and it appeared in Empire magazine. I've read and re-read it dozens of times and it still gives me goosebumps.


Second, (and really, how do you follow Colonel Brandon Alan Rickman?) I have seen this person's blog handle pop up enough times to recognize it. Being the curious cat that I am, I found SA Larsen's blog and was pretty dang impressed with her blog, Writer's Ally.

This lead me to think about the blogs I follow that are more than one person's take on a topic. Instead, these sites are almost like a clearing house for all sorts of information or tips you should know about writing.

And finally, as a child of the late 80s/early 90s, when all my friends were listening to NKOTB and MC Hammer, I was rocking out to Motley Crue, Poison, and of course, Guns N' Roses. I am not afraid to admit that I had a poster of a shirtless Slash on my bedroom wall, complete with black top hat, black leather pants, and a python. Imagine my delight when I heard this... (It's okay to admit you were shaking your head to the beat. I understand.)

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