Baking and Writing

Sometimes the creative part of your mind works in funny ways.

I asked a couple of my coworkers if I should bake blondies or brownies for a potluck on Thursday.  They said “Both” and then continued to joke around, tossing in things like “in the same pan” and “swirled together.”  They were teasing, but my brain seized on it and decided that I needed to experiment with baked goods.

The “Make Them Both” bars are cooling as we speak.

Sometimes you have to be flexible and let your creativity run where it will.  You might want your story to end a certain way, but as you write it moves in a completely different direction!  Perhaps you start out with one character as your protagonist, and it turns out that a side character is really the better focus.  (These have both happened to me!)  Just go with the flow and see where your creative mind takes you.

Well, maybe you’d like to wait until I’ll let you know how the experimental dessert turns out…

Painfully Awkward Moments

You know those awkward moments in movies and books?  The scenes where someone is failing spectacularly in a social situation?

I hate those scenes.

They make me cringe and want to look away.  In my favorite movies, I fast-forward through them.  In books, I skip them.  I haven’t really written anything like that, probably because I don’t like them.

I know that there are reasons for setting characters up to fail.  I’ve even done it a time or two.  It helps develop who they are for the reader, as well as building their character (for lack of a better word) for future adventures.  This type of social failure doesn’t occur to me when I’m writing, which is probably a good thing.  It makes me uncomfortable just to watch or read, and as I feel what my characters feel, I imagine that writing something like that would be very unpleasant.

How do you react to awkward moments, on the screen or in books?


I finished reading Dragon a few days ago, and I’ve decided that it needs some work.  When I said this to someone who has read it, however, the response was surprise.  I had to explain why it needs work.

The writing is not what needs work.  In fact, I think my writing improved (thanks partly to this blog) between Butterflies and Dragon.  Yes, there are occasional sentences that need some help, but mostly the writing is good.

The story itself is not what needs work.  Although one of my First Readers would disagree (she didn’t like most of the end), I think the plot, the characters, and the basic layout of the story are going to stay the same.

I think what needs work is the development of the world, or at least of the different magical races and their relationships.  The preliminary work is there; I know what’s going on.  I just feel that I’ve not explained things well enough for the reader.  The biggest piece of this is the whole “like Tibet” concept fail that everyone who has read it pointed out.   But there are other things, too.  Reading it with fresh eyes, as a reader rather than an author, I recognized places where the explanation isn’t very clear.  The characters clearly understand what’s going on, but the reader has been left out.

So now I get to go back and figure out the best way to fill in the gaps.

Fiction Double Trouble

I’m reading a book right now that’s messing with my head.  The story itself is enjoyable and fairly straightforward.  It’s the overall concept of the book itself, rather than the story, that’s the problem.

Let me explain.

I am currently reading Heat Wave, by Richard Castle.  Unfamiliar?  Well, he’s a New York-based mystery author, who is well-known for his Derek Storm novels.  He looks remarkably like Nathan Fillion.

Oh, wait, he is  Nathan Fillion.  Richard Castle is the main character of my favorite TV show, Castle.  Thus the basis of my mind trip.

Castle is a fictional author, and yet he has an actual book (three, now) with his name on the cover.  The author bio is a summary of the character from the show, complete with picture of Nathan Fillion.  There is even a thank you and an author interview by Richard Castle in the book.  I know that a fictional character can’t write a real book, but there is no credit to another author other than this cryptic thank you: “And finally, to my two most loyal and devout Sherpas, Tom and Andrew, thank you for the journey.”  Of course, this could be pretty much anyone, but I like to think it is the way the ghost writers got their names in.

The craziest thing about this is that one of the main characters of Heat Wave is based on Richard Castle, and the other based on the (fictional) detective that he works with on the show.  So both main characters are fictional characters based on fictional characters, giving the book even more material to use to mess with my mind!

Fascinated with Facts

I am easily impressed by random facts.  When I read an interesting tidbit, my first instinct is to share it.  The same goes for a funny line or cleverly worded sentence in a book.

Today’s interesting and fun fact is from the February National Geographic, which I started reading today because of the dog on the cover.  The article about dog breeds and genetics included this interesting morsel: “If humans varied as much in height [as dog breeds], the smallest would be two feet tall and the tallest would measure some 31 feet.”

My first reaction was “Wow, that’s cool!  Who can I tell?”  I’m not sure why I get so excited about random trivia, or why I have an overwhelming urge to share it, but that’s just part of who I am.  It does probably explain why I enjoy reading non-fiction almost as much as fiction.  I may not know why I have this interest, but I do know where it came from.  My dad is just as fond of factoids as I am. 🙂

Finishing a Series

I just finished reading the Harry Potter series.  It was an interesting experience, because I hadn’t read them all back-to-back before.  It was also fun because I knew what was going to happen, and as an author it was intriguing to watch Rowling set things up from the beginning.

Series are interesting animals.  For authors who write the long, epic fantasy series, they must know where they’re going before they start.  Robert Jordan died before he finished The Wheel of Time, but he made sure that someone knew how it was supposed to end.

This is different from an episodic series, like The Boxcar Children.  (I loved the original series as a child.)  You could read book four, and while you wouldn’t know all of the back story, you’d still be able to follow the plot of the book you were reading.  These series show up in lots of different genres, while the 12-book, linked saga is more common in fantasy and science fiction.

So far my stories are one-book, or at the very least trilogy, ideas.; perhaps some day I’ll come up with a concept for a giant series, but for now I’m happy to write my stand alone novels.

Rain-Inspired Behavior

It has been overcast and rainy here for most of the day, causing me to think about the behaviors that rain inspires.

Rain makes me want to stay in bed, snuggled up and enjoying the sound of it on the windows.  If I can’t do that, I like to curl up in warm clothes and a blanket on the couch, preferably with a good book.

If I’m feeling energetic, rain sometimes inspires a trip outside, sans umbrella, to play and act silly.  (This harkens back to my childhood, when rain was my favorite weather to play in.)

Rain makes my dog flip out and try to stay as close to me as caninely possible.  This is due to a bad experience he had when he was younger, an experience that was almost entirely my fault and that consisted of him getting stuck on an unfamiliar screened-in porch during a thunderstorm.

Rain makes drivers in Texas forget how to drive.  I counted 6 cars running red lights at just two intersections on my way home.

What behaviors does rain inspire in you?

Reading before Revising

It occurred to me yesterday, before pain caused all thought to leave my brain, that I haven’t read Dragon since I wrote it last year.

I’m thinking that Dragon is going to be the first of last year’s novels to get a major revision.  In my world, this means reading it slowly, analyzing each page and mutilating it with the hope of making it better.  As I discovered with Butterflies, this is not an easy task when I get hooked into the book and just want to know what happens next.  It might work out better if I just read it through first, then go on the sentence-mauling spree I have planned.

Dragon just got priority of place in my reading list.  I’m sliding it in after the last H.P. book (which I’m reading now) and before I start another series.  🙂

Headaches Ruin Everything

I have a migraine.  It has been building all afternoon and is now at the level where all I want to do is curl up in the dark.  It’s not to the level of pain that I used to have as a child (thank goodness) but it is not pleasant.

I had plans for dinner tonight, as well as my favorite TV show (Castle!) and even without those I’d love to sit and read.  I even had something I was planning to post about today, which has completely left my brain.  Now, I get to go to bed early and hope my dog is nice enough to leave me alone.

Headaches are definitely no fun.

It’s kind of like Tibet…

My mom finished reading the first draft of Dragon today, and her feedback mirrored what I’ve heard from other readers.  One of the big things that is confusing has to do with the “other” realm in the story, Erova.  When an elf shows up and tells the main character Ann that she’s really a dragon, not a human, and she should go to Erova to study, Ann agrees immediately.  This is a “Wait, what?” moment for many people.   If an elf showed up and told you all of this, it might take some more explanation.  There are elves?  You want me to go where?

The thing I have not successfully conveyed at the beginning of the book is that Erova is like Tibet.  You know it’s there.  You occasionally see Buddhist monks.  But you never really think you’ll get to visit.  Swap out elves for monks and you have Erova, at least to the people in my story.

I just need to find a way to make that clearer earlier in the book…

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