May 28, 2011

No Backbone

I should be posting another blog entry for Project Backbone, but instead I'm celebrating my Irrestiably Sweet Blog Award

D.F. Krieger Surprised me this morning by giving me this.

The rules of the blog state that:
1) You link the person who sent it to you
2) List seven random facts about yourself
3) Pass the award on to 15 other awesome blog buddies
4) Contact them and let them know

Hmmm, maybe I can make these controvertial!

  • I work parttime because I jealously guard my time alone. I'm an extreme introvert that could probably go weeks without TALKING to another living soul. Just don't ask me to go without a writing device and I'd REALLY like to be able to chat online.
  • I used to go to church regularly, but sometime during my university education, my views on God and religion changed enough to make wholesale swallowing of Christianity difficult. I don't go to church at all anymore, although I still believe in God.
  • I had a steady boyfriend for four years that I thought I would marry and am SO happy I didn't. This is both because my husband is a truly wonderful man that I wouldn't give up for anything and because, once I had some distance from him, my ex is a retard! Okay, maybe that's harsh, but he's not very bright, wasn't especially sympathetic or caring, and well, I was saved big time when he dumped me.
  • I just bought my first house last year in October. That in and of itself isn't controvertial at all, but I am a firm believer in fighting urban sprawl, a serious problem for Edmonton, so I made sure to get a house with bus service to my office and am thrilled to have found one that allows me to WALK to work. It takes about 30 minutes, so I don't do it in bad weather, but it is wonderful to have a lovely OLD, well built, lasted for 60 years and no reason not to last another 60 years, house. That's right, my house was built in the fifties and still has the original tile in the kitchen and hardwood in the dining room/living room. I LOVE IT.
  • I hate #FF. I try to do it because I really appreciate all the people I'm networking with, and most of them I have found or have found me through Follow Friday or Writers Wednesday. And yet, I detest it. I hate all the tweets with nothing but a list of names. I hate typing in all the names I want to include. And I REALLY hate the bots that will do it for you. I refuse to use one. I might, when my book is published, just to let each follower know where it's available, etc. But I will use it and remove it. Too impersonal.
  • Blogging feels weird to me. I don't feel at all qualified to give advice. I think all my posts are inane and obvious. I worry that I'm self-centered and/or no one cares what I post. Given the response to my last post, the last is NOT true, but I still worry.
  • I will never pick a genera. :D I love to test myself, to experiment, to try my limits. So my writing will never all fall into one genera. I've already accepted that. Most of what I am writing now is Young Adult, but my second complete manuscript isn't, and my next idea is definitely not. I have contemporary, recent past, fanatasy, future. I deal with paranormal, sexual abuse, slavery/captivity, social hierarchies... I don't want to fit in a box. I know that means branding is going to be impossible for me, and I'm ready to accept that. I haven't tried tackling mystery and I don't know that I'd be any good at it (I'm not much of a reader of fantasy) but hope to move into horror and historical fiction at some point. I also expect I will write a true 'romance' novel at some point. All my stories have contained some aspect of romance, but none of them are straight up 'boy-and-girl' stories. I have written fanfiction erotica and expect I will write something of that ilk as well. Sky's the limit!

    Huh, that's seven already. Well, let me ask some questions based on those for my readers to answer:

    Do you work full time? Wish you worked parttime? Stay at home mom and love that? (It's something I couldn't manage.)

    Are you religious? Are you a theist? Has that changed? Why?

    Do you have any past relationships you wish you had kept? Are you glad they're in the past? Do you have any regrets?

    Are you a homeowner? Do you NEED a house with a yard or is an apartment/condo enough for you? Are you a lover of open spaces? Do you cringe to see houses cover the countryside?

    Do you #FollowFriday? If not, why not? Sometimes? How often? How do you choose who to include?

    Do you have blog? Do you wish you had a blog? Do you wish someone else would write your blog for you? :D Wait, that last is pretty obviously a yes, isn't it?

    What's your genera? Are you flexible? Have you tried others? Do you already have a brand you're sticking to?

    And finally, here are the fifteen blogs I am giving this award to:
  • May 25, 2011

    Publishing and your Original idea

    This week, Amy Sundberg challenged me to be up front, non-concilitory. I accepted.

    I don't often bring it up in these blog posts, but I am a writer of FanFiction, specifically for Twilight. I have nearly given up all writing of this type, though plot bunnies do hop by once in a while as my contacts tell me of new contests. Nearly all my FanFiction, as opposed to the vast majority of the authors I converse with in fandom, is canon or alternate universe.

    When I started my first fanfic, it was an extrapolation of a story told by one of the characters, Alice and Jasper's first meeting. It had been a while since I'd done any real writing, and it shows in this piece, but the imagery in my head was so clear that I went ahead. From there I went past the end of the published books, back into other memories told in brief, elaborating them, or twisting events to create spin off stories.

    The majority of Twilight FanFiction is All-Human. I have told a few AH stories, usually at a prompt of some sort, where I fit 'pseudo' versions of the characters to a plot idea fitting a contest. I always resist and try to find places in the actual plot line that I could deviate instead. As soon as I turn the vampires and werewolves human, I hit the creative problem of: why does she have to be a brunette named Bella? Why can't I make her an East Indian named Padma? I have never written more than a few chapters of a story for FanFiction that wasn't based directly on the books.

    Many fandom authors have a story idea, often romantic, and use the Twilight characters to tell it. They often are filled with warnings that this character or that character are OOC (out of character) or they change the period, the ages, the location... anything goes it seems. When they've invested time and effort into creating these 'pseudo' characters, they feel a sense of ownership in them that I can understand. They are often nothing like the original characters any longer. However, they were still based on them. The secondary and tertiary characters were pulled from names and descriptions in the book, usually used in the form in the book (keeping siblings related, married couples appearing together, etc.) that really pay homage to the series the story is borrowing from.

    When an author decides to publish one of these stories as 'original' fiction, I cringe. The plot the author created was, in all likelihood, original. Many of the characters have personalities altered enough to be considered independent. However, they still used the framework provided by Stephenie Meyer. Worse, they've offered this fiction freely and are now choosing to rescind that offering, requiring payment for it. I cannot stand behind the decision.

    Instead, I want to tell these authors, there is your first novel. Almost any published author will tell you, that first manuscript, it's practice. You can try to clean it up and make it pretty and get it sold, but more often, what you need to do is start fresh. You had a great idea for that story, surely you have another idea. Post excerpts of the new manuscript to your readership to garner interest. Choose some from their number to be pre-readers and beta readers. Use what you have, but start fresh with all new characters, all new situations. When you need a tertiary character, don't grab from the bag you have used, make them new and different. These are the things that will separate your story from fan-fiction into original fiction. In this way you won't be narrowly skirting proprietary or moral issues - you will be free and clear in conscience.

    This doesn't mean you can't borrow an idea. *grin* Let's face it, everyone does it. This book is just Cinderella in the 1800s. That's just Great Expectations in present day. They say there are no new ideas, and they might be right. However, using the kernel of an idea is not the same as stealing the idea. I can have a story about a new girl coming to town, being 'adopted' by the other new kids and wackiness ensue without trampling on Twilight's toes. I can tell a story about a wizarding school that isn't an obvious homage to J.K. Rowling. Writing Excuses had an excellent podcast on this: How to Steal for Fun and Profit. The point was to make it your own, to make it original.

    The Fanfiction author looking to publish their story will plead, "But that's what I did!" Except you did it after 'publishing.' Publishing literally means: to make public. You've already done that by posting to an open website. In that forum you have admitted that you didn't just pay homage to characters created by someone else, you used them. You probably included a disclaimer, pointing to the fact that this idea was NOT your own.

    I've tweeted this point before and gotten pats on the back for it. It's what I did. You wrote a great fanfiction 'novel.' That's great! Wonderful! You have readers and reviewers ready and eager for your next work. Don't just give them redressed left-overs. Put that practice piece aside. Give it the place it deserves as a lesson learned and start your new and completely original idea. If you're worried about losing those fans in the meantime, tell them what you're doing. You might redress 'left-overs' in the form of out-takes from your completed story to keep them checking your page. Tack on a teaser from your Work-In-Progress to whet their appetites, and then, give them what they really want - something original.

    Alright, let the flaming begin. *cringes for the onslaught*

    May 18, 2011


    Reading through the blogs to which I subscribe, I have started to wonder whether or not I am a novelist. Perhaps I'm a novella-ist. Is that a word?

    I like short stories, usually between 10 and 15 thousand words. I do weekly flash fiction (1-5K). My fanfiction multichaps, like my two manuscripts, are nearer 50 thousand than 100 thousand words. Are these novels? Each is a complete story told without frills or preamble, backstories given only as necessary.

    I mention in my comment on Sophie Li's blog that I don't usually enter a story with a word count in mind. Additionally, I don't tend toward detailed outlines. Occasionally I've taken a short story or flash fiction idea and gone further with the characters, adding other characters and deepening the conflict beyond what might have been in the original piece.

    Is this the right way to write? I don't know. Has it worked for me? I think so. My first novel is off to the printers (so I hear). The second has had a fair reception from pre-readers. I feel that they tell a story.

    However, I know I need more form in my style. I know, in future, I would like to have a more compelte idea before I begin writing. At the same time, I fear becoming staid and losing the fun and flexibility that com from discovering with my characters, through my characters.

    I've learned enough to know that pushing a character to do something contrary to their personality, for the sake of plot and structure, can ruin a story. However, even though what I plan might not be out of character, often during an exchange between characters, an even more natural response results.

    Geek Moment: Q from Star Trek.
    Picard and Janeway had personalities that interacted well with Q. He could play with them, push their buttons, and move them as he liked. Each of Next Generation and Voyager had several Q episodes. Sisko, on the other hand, responded very differently. Not out of character, though. Sisko could be diplomatic, or romantic, or philosophical, but Q did not bring out these qualities. He brouth out stubborness and hostility.

    Just so, I would like, if I brought two characters together and find they antagonize each other rather than complimenting or cooperating, to have a structure loose enough to accomodate the result, that I could explore the relationship at the same time as the story I have already set the characters moving along.

    Do you have a word count in mind when you start? Do you aim for 100K and feel inadequate when you fall short? Do you tend to stretch stories or shorten them?

    May 11, 2011

    Writing from the field

    This should be a specialty of mine. The last couple of days, I haven't done as much writing as I would have on the same day last summer, but I did write several pages on the drive up (probably around 2000 words) that SHOULD be the base for a fantasy short story. Sadly, I have done little writing. I've done a lot of sleeping.

    If you're like most people, a strange bed does not make for good sleep. Normally, I would agree with you. This week, this is the BEST BED I HAVE EVER HAD. I lie down at 9:30 and zonk until 6:15 or so - just before my wake-up call. It's been amazing. This sudden sleepiness has been detrimental to the writing as well. I used to write in the evenings after returning from dinner, sometimes until 11 or midnight. Stupid when I need to be up at 6, but productive! This trip, not so much.

    Tomorrow I have the long drive home. Five hours... the first three through uninterrupted boreal forest. Hopefully, I'll get a little more written on one of my WIPs. Worse case, I'll brew up something new to work on, or add another layer to the short story that wants to be a novel. Worst of all cases, I'll pass out in the back seat and wakeup when we reach civilization.

    This is a terrible blog post, all about me, me, me. Sorry about that. I could tell you about the beautiful rainbows I saw yesterday, or the wind that is ripping through the area, stirring duststorms today. I think that wouldn't be better though. I could drop names like Alicia Golden who I'm working with through Fictionista Workshops. Oh, that's a good idea. I'm hoping to be able to join one of their writing collectives or have my next finished piece workshopped with them (that is if I don't find a LOCAL group by then - grumble).

    So, please comment. Tell me that keeping a regular posting schedule does not mean posting crap like this. Tell me that I need to stop whining and write in advance. Tell me I need to actually think about writing to write a writing blog. Tell me I need to research. Tell me I'm a double rainbow kinda girl! I don't know, tell me something. I'll be over here, trying not to fall asleep on this comfy bed... zzzzz

    May 7, 2011

    The Edge of Publishing - Get Published

    Just back from the conference, still treating my migraine with red wine (there's a bad idea that seems to be working for the moment). I heard two keynote speakers, one last night on print publishing and the craft involved in 'making' a book. The second, this morning, about going indie and self-publishing.

    Throughout the day the ball kept tossing between e-publishing and print publishing. The media is changing, but hasn't changed yet. There are a lot of "dead tree flesh fetishists" out there. (Thank you Minister Faust for that quote.) I am one. After hearing the description of a transmedia campaign, I can safely say, I'm not ready to embark on THAT. I'm definitely one for taking my book and curling up in big comfy chair. Still, I know that value can be found in the electronic media, and I'm thrilled that my book will be released electronically as well as in print.

    The first of my sessions was on Young Adult Fiction and Fantasy. Perfect, right? Definitely my favourite. From that I came away with a little vindication in my personal writing process, an idea of what publishers look for, what editors might ask, and generally an echo of my experience. Met some other authors that I hope to workshop with in the future. (I'm looking at Twilla and ArmT3Homeless.)

    From there, I had lunch with some lovely ladies who are just breaking into blogging and online media, so I'm just going to wave at them if they follow the link I gave.

    In the afternoon, my second session was on anthologies, and I learned to seek these publications out and submit, submit, submit. After all, I'm feeling fairly confident in my short story abilities. I couldn't say why I haven't tried shopping these out, except, perhaps, lack of confidence.

    The last was on 21st Century Publishing. I took the least away from this one. The first panelists described the back end of publishing, something I don't have a lot of involvement in and left me feeling very underqualified without my publisher present.(Have I mentioned Martin Sisters lately? They are awesome.) The latter described a transmedia release that boggled my mind and wouldn't fit ANY of my current WIPs. It sounded daunting and huge and completely out of my control. I'm reminded that it is the EDGE and what we are moving toward, not where we are, but it still left me gaping.

    Then came the Writer's Circus. That's right, we were asked to do tricks! So here's what I had:

    That's not the exact picture I had, but there's the plant. There were a variety of other pictures and we had to write a poem based on one. Being the botanist, I, of course, took the native Alberta species.

    Inflated, flush
    glowing under dewy skin
    open, welcoming
    sweet fragrance, enticing
    tongue touching sweet nectar
    trembling as the taster feasts, flies

    The Lady's Slipper
    One size fits all.

    The second station had a variety of phrases face down on squares of paper and we were to write a short story or poem based on the one we picked. Mine was from The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman and is italicized in the piece.

    Shivering in the drizzle, she shrugs her coat higher on her neck. The icy droplets that had collected atop the shiny synthetic collar spill down her back. Her shivers increase, more violent, and not entirely the produce of water.

    She feels the eyes on her. He watches from two paces behind her, following - never nearer, never trailing. Surreptitious glances give her only more discomfort, less certainty.

    Hair matted by the rain, a beard raining drops its own, and downturned corners to his mouth all add to the fear building in her. This is her bus stop, but she fears to pause, fears his approach. Finally, stumbling, she grabs the bus stop bench to keep from falling and gasps breaths after holding one for so long. She could bear his expression, so fixed and intense that he looked more like a mask than a man, more like a phantom than person.

    "Are you alright?" a soft voice asks from her elbow, steadying her.

    The clouds seem to break, though the drizzle continues. His expression is no longer rigid, no longer frightening. His cheeks pull up slightly as he smiles.

    "Keep dry," he says before walking on.

    Blogs I found through the Get Published convention:
    Michelle Earl

    (sorry Melody - I've forgotten your last name *blush*)


    Have you been to any good conventions lately? Which ones? Where? How well did you network? Better than me, I hope!!

    May 5, 2011


    Another topic that won't be new to anyone. I'm feeling it, right now. I have my first ever writing conference (only attending) Friday night and Saturday. I have some shopping and packing to do Sunday morning, and then we drive five hours to Fort McMurray where I will be offline all day for five days straight. (Thank GOD the hotel has free internet. My nights won't be the same.) While in Fort McMurray we will be coordinating training and orientation schedules at four different oil sands companies, making sure we have the proper documentation for each, and finding out where they've moved all the roads since September when we were there last.

    That might SOUND funny, but it is completely literal and true. We already know one road we used last year is now being mined and no longer exists. Two years ago they moved the main highway in the middle of one of our trips. There's no real warning, just... detour.

    In between that I'm panicking a little over the fact that my book is going to be published in the next few weeks, but I still don't really know what I'm doing! I know I'll need to help publicize it, but without a fixed date, without knowing how wide the release will be, I'm kinda flying blind. It doesn't reduce the stress.

    AND I have three WIPs that I haven't given the proper attention in the last few weeks. I finally made a break on one, but haven't had time to get back to it since that night (Monday). I haven't had a chance to try to put the same push into the other. At least those nights in the hotel should give me a chance to do something there. Plus all the drive time is beautiful for brainstorming and writing in my notebook.

    Then I come back only to run out to a BBQ and football game followed by another flight to McMurray and back the day after. sigh I'm tired just thinking about it.

    Oddly, writing it all out helps. It makes the list concrete, it gives me checkboxes. I'm already feeling a bit better. And one more thing I get to check off? My photo for the book. I've been trying to coordinate with the totally under-appreciated Olav Rokne and he came over tonight and caught these for me.

    Preference? :D Tell me about your schedule. How was last week? Feeling crunched? Do lists help? Do you like checking things off? Tell me!

    May 4, 2011


    That word is not new to any of us. Some of us find it easier to do than others. Some try to juggle more than they should. I'm one of the latter. It stems from my inability to concentrate for long on one thing and my desperate need to keep my hands busy. As soon as the hands have a soothing repetitive task, the mind races ahead, exploring all sorts of things.

    As a writer, these moments are when I develop characters, get to know them, learn they're responses to the crises I throw at them. It's when I see scenes play out between characters or develop rules for new societies and worlds. (I enjoy fantasy.)

    The problem is, when I'm stuck driving a long distance, or while gardening, or preparing supper, I can't just drop everything and pick up a keyboard to start typing away. It's not always a good time for pen and paper, when your hands are covered in tomato juice or dirt, for instance. I often find myself wishing I had a little personal recorder I should just start reciting into, or much better, a memory device so I could see and hear what was in my head in that moment.

    The cost of the multi-tasker is losing bits and pieces of these ideas. That and forgetting to make that right turn... crap! I'll swing around. However, even an idea lost this way isn't wasted. It is still a scrap of the reality you try to form when writing fiction, whether the exact words come back or not.

    Sometimes I even multi-task while writing. I'll hit a block and take a moment to read a blog that updated, or break up my edit by hitting twitter. Something to jog the brain and shake that idea I had earlier in the day loose again. When I'm in the zone, my concentration is exclusive. I won't hear what my husband is saying or the phone ring or the ping of my gchat. Those are generally short spurts. I've been like that for ten or fifteen minutes and then it's gone again. I can keep rolling with the idea, and usually do, but sometimes, I'll take a break, open a different file.

    The thing I try to remind myself is that none of it is wasted. Neither is the time taken doing research that doesn't make the page or reading a fellow writer's blog on third person when you're writing in first. It's all adding to the base we draw from, the nuances we use. It serves more than one purpose - multipurpose. Perfect for the multi-tasker!

    This blog, in point form, was written on the back of a questionaire for dementia while waiting to see my doctor for a prescription renewal. Perfect example of me trying to cram more into every minute of the day. Good news - I'm not suffering from any of the symptoms. I might need to retake that attention deficit screen again though...