Developing a Routine

I am finally (mostly) setttled in my new apartment, so now it’s time to start developing a routine.

I’ve established a couple already, mostly related to my dog.  I have to walk him at least two, usually three, times a day unless I want to clean up an accident.  Those times are pretty much set.  I’ve also got a kids’ show on PBS that I now make it home in time to watch.  I wouldn’t call it a routine, so much as if I’m home and not busy I turn it on.  🙂  I know my friend Kelly will ask: it’s Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. 

One habit that I want to develop is a writing time.  I’ve managed to keep up with the (nearly) daily posts here, but the times that I post are fairly scattershot.  Starting next week I’ll try to set a time that I blog and write.  Maybe if it becomes enough of a habit my brain will kick in the creative juices at exactly the right time.  (That’s the advice that the authors who write about writing give you, and it goes along with another favorite of Kelly’s.  “Fake it ’til you make it.”)  I’ll let you know how it works out.

I “wrote” in the swimming pool today – remember, I create story away from the computer – so I’m planning to work on another section of Burden once I am finished here.  A draft of next week’s section is already written; this will be the following week’s section.  Look at me getting ahead of schedule!  I hope you’re enjoying the story, even if you haven’t read Butterflies. 

Now I just need to start querying again…  *gulp*

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Shared Enjoyment

What is it about a good book that makes you want to share?

Okay, maybe a re-phrase: What is it about a book you enjoy that makes you want to share?  It doesn’t really have to be good, as long as you liked it.

I have a friend who lent me the first two Ursula K. LeGuin books.  Today she asked if I wanted the third one, and was so excited when I said yes!  My mom has probably passed her copy of my manuscript around to more people than I have, and I don’t think it’s just parental pride.  (Maybe I’m wrong – she can comment to correct, if needed. 🙂 )  And I know that I have cornered people to talk about a book I liked if I know they read it, too.

Perhaps it is the concept of a shared experience, even if it isn’t truly shared.  When you encounter another reader, you can discuss the gossip, the characters, the action – the details of a fictional place that you’ve both visited.  Here is the interesting part: reading is primarily an individual activity.  Yet through discussion, lending of books, and recommendations, we make it into a shared experience.  How cool is that?

Inconsistencies and Disappointment

I finished re-reading a book yesterday that I thoroughly enjoyed the first time through.  I even own the entire trilogy, and kept it, which is saying something.  So, having rediscovered it while moving, I chose to enjoy it again.

Unfortunately, I have become a writer since I read it the first time. 

Apparently I am now much more critical than I was before.  Perhaps I just notice more details, now that I focus on them in my own stories.  My tolerance threshold is definitely lower than before.

First, though this wasn’t a red-pen book – you know the type, so riddled with spelling and grammar errors that you are just itching to attack it with a red pen – it had a nearly unacceptable level of awkwardly-worded sentences and paragraphs with repeated words.  Did we really need two sentences in a row to end with “in the stream?”  Couldn’t the character “pass” something instead of using the word “hand” twice in one phrase?  This demonstrates it; I’ve clearly become too picky.  (This is also why I won’t read Twilight – too many warnings from friends that the writing is not so great.)

The other thing that now jumps out at me infuriatingly are story inconsistencies.  To be fair, I probably have some of my own that I didn’t catch.  I see them everywhere now; not just in books, but in movies, too.  But really, if you go to the trouble of saying the saddle has a hornless pommel, your main character can not later have the pommel horn jab her in the stomach.  Too picky again?

Another one that bugged me this weekend was not from the book I read, but from a movie.  Ocean’s Eleven (the Pitt/Clooney one).  I like the movie, don’t get me wrong, and I watched all three this weekend.  (Okay, I only watched Twelve to put Thirteen in the right context.  But I did watch it.)    I would give you a spoiler alert, but honestly, the movie is 9 years old.  If you’re planning to see it, you probably already have.  And if you haven’t, well, my apologies, as you may not completely understand the next paragraph.

Here is the part that bugs me: how do they get the duffels full of flyers into the vault?  You know, the ones that are supposedly full of money, that get sent up in the elevator and the security guys put into the white van?  I’ve looked for how they do it the last 3 times I’ve watched the movie – no one ever takes them down!  Yes, the majority of the team comes in as SWAT with similar duffels and takes out the money – but the bags of flyers are gone before SWAT arrives.  The only three guys in the vault when the bags appear are Ocean (Clooney), Linus (Matt Damon), and Yen (the grease man), and none of them came in with much of anything.  So where did the flyers (and their bags) come from?

And that random tirade clearly demonstrates that I am now way too picky when it comes to consistency of plot. 🙂  I just hope that I manage to live up to my own standards, at least most of the time.

Living Up to the Hype

Tonight is the first night for season (or series) premeires on network television.  If you watch TV, you’ve seen lots of commercials for the new season.  I only watch the major networks (because I use bunny ears, and that’s what I get) so I’ve been exposed to a great deal of hype for the upcoming shows. 

This is the moment of truth for several – will they live up to the hype?

I think this is a benefit that authors have over other forms of entertainment.  We don’t often get a lot of hype before a book comes out, it all comes after.  You’ve already lived up to it if the praise comes after they’ve read the book.  There are only two exceptions to this: a new book by a well-known author, or a continuation of a well-known series.  Again, these are examples where the author has already been proven.  Thus, the advantage of being an author over, say, a TV producer.

For now, I’m going to sit back and prepare to enjoy a couple of shows. Tonight are returning favorites for me; I’ll be judging some new offerings later this week.  Enjoy your week of premieres!!

Blogging Slacker

I’m a blog slacker.  There are a couple of other bloggers that I follow, not to mention all the stories on Serial Central.  The last few weeks have been busy, limiting my blogosphere participation.

Not to mention that I’m just generally a slacker on the computer anyway – it’s kind of a miracle that I manage to blog here nearly every day!

Today I started catching up on my blog presence by replying to comments on Burden and reading all the sections of Janna’s great story Kharma’s Way.  As I am planning to sit on my rear end most of the week (lots of TV fall premieres this week!) I’m hoping to get caught up in all my other internet stuff as well.  🙂

Maybe I’ll get a couple more sections of Burden finished, too, so I can avoid the last-minute writing of the last two weeks!

Unpleasant Realization

I had a very long week, ending with a long work day today.  8a – 8p, very full day.  On my way home I was contemplating my evening.  Watch a movie?  Go swimming?  Read?  Sleep?  Unfortunately I had an unpleasant realization as I parked my car.

I haven’t finished the next section of Burden yet. 

That’s tomorrow’s section, in case you haven’t been keeping track.  As in, the section that needs to be posted tonight.  So much for choices for my evening.

Enough blogging – I need to work on a story!

A Little Help From My Friends

Friends are important.  Good friends support you when you are having trouble, make you laugh when times are good, and keep your head from swelling.  Friends are fun singly or in groups.  And friendships can make book characters more believable.

It can be tricky to develop friendships in books.  A real relationship between people includes a variety of moods and moments, and these need to be present in a novel, too.  There are seven girls, 4 main characters and 3 supporting, who form a tight-knit group in Butterflies.   They become friends through shared training, and we see their connection develop and strengthen in various groupings and scenarios. There are even variations of the depth of friendship between individual pairs within the group.  Some of them are paired for projects; two sets of three have overlapping courses. Three share the same birthday, and they all turn to one another as resources.

The trick to a group of female friends is the blend of emotions.  One girl may treat another with sympathy in one scene and sarcasm in the next.  Women who are friends know all the clever teasing and loving humor that works with each other, and it is a skill we develop as teens.  This can be easy and difficult to write all at once; the dialog flows freely but much of the conversation is body language and tone, hard to convey in words. 

The most enjoyable writing of this set of friends was when two of the girls begin to develop some romantic relationships.  As any woman knows, you are happy for a friend when she finds someone but a little jealous at the same time.  The conversation is at once teasing and encouraging, with just a hint of cattiness.  It was supremely fun to write, with blushing, tongues stuck out, things being thrown, and innuendo.

There are two groups of friends that form the reference point for my writing.  One is the “Upstairs Corner,” a group of 6 girls that I was a part of in high school.  This is the main source for the friends in Butterflies, as the ages and general scenario are quite similar.  The other group is the social group I have at work – a better refernce for adult friends, but with the same balance of support, teasing, and fun that I found in school.

I hope you have friends to lean on, both in real life and your writing!

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