Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Carry On To Another Day

It is easy in the wake of a celebrity suicide -such as Robin Williams'- to turn them into a poster or meme: 'Understand depression!' and 'Be free of your pain!' (Sound familiar?) It is easy to dehumanize them until they only reflect a message.

However...

Depression is not what makes up a person. 

Depression is just one facet (though it has the power to feel like 100 worlds crushing one's insides).

Depression is a manipulator. 

Let's be honest, depression -among a trillion other disorders and illnesses- is a real snatch!

But no one thing makes a person. 

There are a million other pieces that create a human. And there is a time, such as in death, to appreciate the love in a heart, the greatness in a smile, and the outstanding way that someone skyrocketed your world. 

The way a person dies should not be glorified or magnified. The way a person lives is far more precious. 

We all carry on to another day, no matter what form we take. The real message is the emotions we inspire while we are here in this form.

Be inspired to wake up tomorrow and create. Be inspired to laugh or to cry.

Simply be inspired by someone's life. Let it make you stronger.

No meme required. 
(And I love a good meme, so you know I'm serious.)




  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Parent the Sh*t Out of Your Writing

Writing is a lot like parenting at times. Mostly because everyone has an opinion about how you write/parent.

Of course they do. But that's nothing new. And if someone has something less than kind to say (about either), just tell them you won't hesitate to beat the shit out of them and lead them around on a rope like Michonne from 'The Walking Dead'.

People tend to take that kind of response to heart.

But seriously, as writers we watch our characters and worlds evolve, sometimes far surpassing our original intent for them. So when should we move in, exacting order, or stand back, watching them until they turn into something more...well, more?

I use a mental checklist. For example:

1) Are the characters still acting like "themselves"? If this were real life, parents would be on their kids with Dollar Tree drug tests and Web MD horror stories. As writers, however, bizarre character "outbursts" can be overlooked when we are trying to get them to the scene we envisioned at any cost. Fortunately, readers will damn well tell you when a character has turned a sharp corner into Strangerville. Because no one likes that shit. So ask a writing buddy or beta group to pay extra attention as they read.

2) Is the plot on course or has it turned into a ridiculous episode of 'Robot Chicken' as you try to cram in too many ideas and too many pop culture references without the fun visuals? First off, pop culture references can date your manuscript faster than the Dos Equis man can pop up on a new meme, so use them wisely. Also, layering a plot is great, but ask yourself how you can focus the energy on characters with key scenes and well timed plot twists. Anything extra can wait to show up in the sequel. Or be scrapped out to a different idea completely.

3) Does EVERY male character chase after your heroine, who has some uncanny force over the male populace even though she is an "every woman" type of gal? This is just unrealistic. If she were your child, you sure as hell wouldn't want her nickname to be "Sugar Snatch", so stay true to your character. Don't sell her out. She doesn't have to wear Duct Tape or slowly rip wax strips from her "netheryeaya" just because it seems to be the most popular content on the market. Give her a chance to make her own unique mistakes or impressions.

It pays to stand back and assess how you are handling the situation. Sometimes characters evolve into people we never foresaw, just as children often do. And if we try to micromanage every little thing to stay within the vision we've created, characters may become stunted, and plots erratic or stale.

If your characters are on the right track but develop a bit of their own "character" along the way, give them room to grow. If, however, they become wayward and strung out, guide them to a place where you are both happy.

Be a good parent to your writing. Know when to step in and cultivate the potential and when to shut your trap and let it morph to the next level. This takes practice, so be patient.

There is no perfect writer, just as there is no perfect parent. However, imperfections often create beautiful results.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review - 'The System' by Teshelle Combs

http://www.amazon.com/System-Teshelle-Combs-ebook/dp/B00JS44Y1A/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398182186&sr=1-4&keywords=The+System


1 + 1 = Dead.
That’s the only math that adds up when you’re in the System.

Everywhere Nick turns, he’s surrounded by the inevitability of his own demise at the hands of the people who stole his life from him. That is, until those hands deliver the bleeding, feisty, eye-rolling Nessa Parker. Tasked with keeping his new partner alive, Nick must face all the ways he’s died and all the things he’s forgotten.

Nessa might as well give up. The moment she gets into that car, the moment she lays her hazel eyes on her new partner, her end begins. It doesn’t matter that Nick Masters can slip through time by computing mathematical algorithms in his mind. It doesn’t matter how dark and handsome and irresistibly cold he is. Nessa has to defeat her own shadows.

Together and alone, Nick and Nessa make sense of their senseless fates and fight for the courage to change it all. Even if it means the System wins and they end up…well…dead. 
 

Readers become a part of 'The System' from the first page. However, unlike Nessa Parker, who unwillingly becomes immersed in an underground world of assassins, readers can't get enough.

Nessa's world no longer centers around boy-crazy friends and familiar hugs. Rather, she is surrounded by "recruits" - trained killers - and a captor that prefers extreme corporal punishment, such as cane beating, to address unwanted behavior...like asking questions. However, Nessa's character growth drives the plot, with all its heartache and tough lessons. She is smart, spry, and, most importantly, armed with humor.

"If I succumb to my wounds in the night, will you cremate me? Spread my ashes on the beach to the theme song from Pocahontas?" -Nessa Parker

Of course, it's easy to keep a sense of humor in the face of death when your new partner is as hot and feisty as Nick Masters. Handy with an automatic weapon, Nick can also move faster than it takes Nessa to blink...because of his algorithm. You see, everyone in the System has a personal mathematical algorithm that allows the use of a special gift, whether it be reading minds, healing others, or controlling electronics. Everyone has their own algorithm...except Nessa. So why is she there? The answer surprises Nessa more than anyone.

'The System' will definitely appeal to 
fans of the 'Divergent' series.

'The System' embraces the tough and gritty moments of Nessa and Nick's lives in a poignant manner. Nothing is ever clean or easy. People die. People kill. And people learn to survive. But what does this mean for Nessa and Nick?

Is this the end? 
Or simply a new beginning?

Purchase 'The System' here.

Also check out Teshelle's first novel, 'Core', if you like kickass female leads and dragons. Yeah, I said dragons. :D


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Research, research, research!" -said in my very best whiny Jan Brady voice

I am undertaking my first historical fiction project, so you know what that means:

Research!

Now, I've led a sketchy past with research. I've despised it at times. But other times, I've  embraced it and cooed, "Sweet, sweet Bey," while kissing its head. And this time around, I can't wait! My excitement is beginning to dominate my thoughts, encroaching on other projects and chores. I want to research.

!My history teachers would be so proud!

And being my first historical fiction WIP, I'm staying local. (Also, I do a great old school NC country dialect. So I gotta represent.) I've even been lucky enough to meet some local history buffs while exploring some of the older homes in the area.

Harris House, central NC
It was an honor to meet one of the Harris'. I have to admit that I had to apologize for groaning when he first approached my family and I. To be fair, we used to get chased off of old properties quite regularly when we were younger, and the skepticism of someone approaching has never fully waned. Ha! However, Mr. Harris' company and eagerness to share his family's history was greatly appreciated. His mother was born in this house, and he had many wonderful recollections of his relatives enjoying their time here.

Harris House, original homestead before front addition

I also plan to track down a local historian and follow him around like that weird little thing from 'Lord of the Rings' (you know, "My precious, my precious.") Hahaha! Okay, I won't go that far. 

There is nothing more important (especially while researching) than being able to talk to locals because they have special insights into the area that books and online research just can't capture. They bring stories that have been passed down through generations. They can mentally relandscape a home or area, allowing you to see it as it once was: Grand, prominent, busy, loved. Most importantly, they bring heart to history. And as a writer, I want my backdrop as well as my characters to have heart.I want the area to be its own character in a story.

That is probably the greatest lesson, to date, that I have learned while researching for historical fiction purposes. 

Have you learned any great tips while researching for your next novel?


Thank you Mr. Harris for taking the time to share your family with my family! It has definitely inspired me to strive to capture the life of an area and era in my writing.  


Friday, March 28, 2014

As It Turns Out...

I made a life choice a few months ago to take things more seriously, talk less, and listen more. Honestly, I felt like I was always talking, but never really saying much, and missing a lot that was being said around me. So I cut out the shenanigans and focused on work. Errr...I tried to, at least.

As it turns out...

No one else was really saying much. And I'm apparently incapable of leading a focused, serious adult life. But I have learned a few things about myself and have accepted them, like...I will never have "it" completely together. I will rarely be on time, no matter how hard I try or how many stink-eyes I deflect. And in particularly cumbersome time limits, I will always dump my flippin' drink on my flippin' crotch in my flippin' car. But there is always a silver lining. Though I am terribly inefficient, it turns out that I can be wildly innovative.

For example, the cats ran out of food last week. Did I panic? No. Did I forget to go to the store and buy more cat food right away? ......Of course...... BUT, as their human, I hunted and gathered some dog food, which I immediately smashed into cat-size bits. Cat-tastrophy avoided!  

As it turns out...
I should have just rolled with it. Rather than agonize over having (or not having) something awesome to say, I should have accepted my inner Gina Linetti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and let her out, jumpsuit and all.

As it turns out...

Being too serious is just as destructive as not being serious at all. 

Who wants to be...
http://vegancinegrub.blogspot.com/2011/07/breakfast-club.html
The serious kid who can't make the lamp work,

when I can be...
http://vegancinegrub.blogspot.com/2011/07/breakfast-club.html
The weird girl who throws bologna?