Sunday, December 30, 2012
We filmed downstairs. Our family room turned into a German living room, with a small orange couch, matching lamps on side tables made by my son, a low coffee table hiding the microphone and a few props. I turned the camera on and off. My granddaughter operated the sound recorder. Rachel positioned and focused the camera on a tripod. (My eyes are too old to do delicate focusing, and I know nothing about cameras.)
She and our friend Sarah got into costume with 80's wigs we'd ordered several weeks earlier. We'd visited thrift stores for more costume pieces, borrowing some, buying others. I realized with no small degree of admiration how long she'd been collecting things for this project. For two years now, I have cursed the ever-growing clutter created by the couch, props and costume components.
Rachel wrote the script. Five pages means five minutes of screen time. The filming took three days. We did take after take of the opening sequence. At least fifteen. The first were dedicated to getting the flow of the dialogue. She and Sarah are exotic dancers posing as exchange students to get to the oil fields of North Dakota, where they are sure that money flows.
We finished the front takes, did the right side takes and were moving the tripod to do the left side takes when the camera froze. A desperate Internet search explained this model of HD camera was sold with a factory flaw which could only be fixed if the camera was sent back for repairs. We scrambled to borrow a camera from a relative, and were filming two hours later.
The second day, we had multiple costume and set changes. Some were outdoors; others in other rooms. We ended the day at Burger King, where we shot two scenes surreptitiously--one in the playland and one in their bathroom. The third day, we retook two segments and shot the last new one.
Acting is hard. Actors need to say and do the same things over and over until the director and DP feel they have sufficient footage to edit for a final cut. Crew needs to be infinitely patient while sets and costumes are changed. They also know not to cough, sneeze, pass gas, laugh or breathe heavily while the sound is recording.
All the takes have been uploaded into Final Draft, and synced with the sound recordings. Now Rachel will pick the best micro-seconds of each take and splice them together into a flowing five minute video. She'll add voice-over, finalize the title, font and colors for the credits.
Editing is where the story is made or lost, and it is a solo operation on a laptop. I'll be excited to see it when it is done, and even more excited when it can be sent out for review and sale. I'll keep her from becoming discouraged. Make sure she finishes it and moves on to the next installments.
I want to see her succeed. And maybe get a job in the movie biz. I've got an idea for a script....
Thursday, December 27, 2012
3. Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and everyone is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.
A Kidnapped Santa Claus by L Frank Baum
4. Christmas isn't just a day. It's a frame of mind.
Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
5. I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, with the intention of wishing him the compliments of the season. He was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing-gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, near at hand.
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle
6. Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New-Year's Eve yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between two houses one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but could not keep off the cold. And she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches.
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
7. After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
“You look like you’re new in town.” The slow, husky drawl penetrated the background din and distracted her from her task.
She looked up with a frown. The shadow from the brim of his cowboy hat obscured most of the man’s features, but a dimple winked in his cheek when he smiled. A black T-shirt stretched tight across his shoulders, and well worn jeans hugged his lean hips.
She bit back a groan and disconnected the call instead of punching in her code. She wasn’t in the mood to be hit on by one of Gail’s 'nice' cowboys, but she plastered a smile on her face. “Not really. I’m visiting my cousin.” She avoided his gaze and took a sip of her drink. The tart flavor slid over her taste buds.
Until next time,
Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!
For your holiday reading pleasure:
A Christmas to Remember
Mistletoe and Folly
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Here’s a quiz for you! All the quotations are connected with Christmas or New Year. Can you work out in which book they appear – and the author of each book?
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Sherry said, "When you write from omniscient point of view, you’re acting as a reporter rather than allowing the characters to tell their own story. That means that you, the author, are is present in every sentence on the page as you report the action that’s taking place. You’re telling, not showing."
Then she gave a solution: write emotional segments in first-person, then transfer to third person. In first person, you have to access the inner perspective of the heroine--her hopes, fears and memories, her backstory. Actions--or non-actions-- are explained and justified from her POV. No more itemizing 'she did this and then did that,' or 'she felt this or that.'
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Later I went back to it and got into a little bit of a flow. But nothing was really shouting out at me to really keep working on the project. So I stopped looking at it again.
Recently, I've been back at it. Ideas are flowing, and I'm having those "Aha!" moments even when I'm not sitting in front of my computer. That's a good thing.
Trouble is, we're in the middle of the Christmas season. And between work, shopping, Advent services, wrapping, baking cookies, and Christmas cards, I haven't found much time to work on the mss. So what's bumming me out is I feel like I've finally found a direction (I hope) to go in, but I have no darn time to work on it.
I'm almost there. It's almost ready for a read-through. My goal is to have the revisions done and to the editor by the end of the year. TWRP does an end-of-the-year shut down...think back to your school days and Christmas break. With this, I finally caught a lucky break. It reopens January 2, which means I have the whole week after Christmas (because I'm on vacation) to do some final polishing before sending it off (again). All of the shopping, wrapping, baking, etc. will be done, and I can devote my time to this.
It's like a Christmas miracle!
Until next time,
For your holiday reading pleasure:
A Christmas to Remember
Mistletoe and Folly - a FREE read
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
'Great publicity!’ everyone says.
Yeah? By now everyone will have dropped the paper into their recycling box.
And the effect on sales? Okay, I didn’t expect millions, but one or two would have been good. Instead - zilch, zero, nada, nothing, not a single download and no queries on my website (the link was at the end of the article).
So much for publicity!
The only slightly positive result was that I took the report into the local independent bookstore on Monday (the one that wasn’t interested when I took my first book in, over a year ago). The owner there agreed to take a couple of copies of my latest book on a sale or return basis. A couple – two books! Not to go on display, you understand but ‘just in case anyone asks for them.’
Now I’m wondering how many people I can bribe to go into the shop and ask for my books!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Sunday, December 9, 2012
I am taking an interesting class right now: food writing for historical novelists with Camryn Rhys.
We just had our first homework assignment-- a first-hand account of a real-time food experience. I wrote 512 words about cooking and eating fried eggs and toast. I had to compose details that showed: Taste. Touch. Sound. Sight. Scent.
The next assignments will be trickier: incorporating them into my story in a way that "creates an important pause in the emotional arc."
For example, to compose sensory details of taking a shower, I could describe how the water feels--its temperature, the spray, is it slippery soft or hard. The shower stall--walls smooth, shiny hard. How the water tastes; the shampoo tastes--and smells. How it looks and sounds on the shower curtain or door before we enter. Once we are inside, how the water and soap bubbles run off my body and down the walls, down the drain. The scent of the soap. The texture of a washrag. The squeakiness of my hair after I rinse out the shampoo.
Once I have these options, I would pick ones that mesh with the emotions of the scene. Is the heroine distraught over a lost love--the spray could feel like knife cuts. I could describe how she feels through her experiencing the spray. Use the few words of a sensory detail to show how a character is feeling.
Or an essential memory. What if my character as a young child was scrubbed harshly by a mother whose husband had just smacked her around? What if she remembers playing happily with her younger brother in a tub--and now she'd just learned he drowned? What if she is in the shower with her lover and he slips on the soap--something she has always feared could happen.
I like writing these evocative details. I can see that I can't just list five or six of them to create the mood of my setting. I need to choose the details that I can link directly to the emotion in the scene.
More good stuff to learn.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Owl: I say, are you stuck?
Sunday, December 2, 2012
After work, we went out to dinner with our youngest daughter at the new Mexican restaurant. (I live in a small tourist town--new restaurants are big news in the winter.) The food was good and surprisingly authentic. I had a real chile relleno, and the complimentary salsa was loaded with yummy fresh cilantro.
Afterwards, I helped my daughter do the nightly cleanse of her healing (Yay!) breast tumor wound and watched a movie with my husband. It was a nice night, but I sorta wished I was sitting in front of my laptop wrestling with my WIP.
Am I crazy?
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Not to mention that I've downloaded a bunch of new books to my Kindle. Some of them I'm saving for my cruise in March, but I do want to get to the Christmas ones this season.
So what am I reading? The Twilight series. For like the dozenth time. And I'm not exaggerating. I picked them up after seeing the final movie (twice) when it premiered a couple of weeks ago. I'm almost done with Breaking Dawn. We're not talking short stories here. These are big books, 500, 700, 800 pages plus.
I'm not sure what it is about these books that makes me come back to them time and time (and time) again. Yes, I love vampires. And yes, I have a huge crush on Edward. There are lines and sections of each of the books that I literally have memorized. Yet every time I sit down and read them, I love them.
I've reread other books, too. Probably not as many times as these. But there are books I always come back to. Why is it that with a huge pile of books I've never read before and revisions to do on my own mss waiting for me, I pick up something familiar? I think that must be the ultimate compliment to an author. To enjoy something s/he has written so much that you return to it again and again.
I had a compliment like that once. Last year in a review for A Christmas to Remember the reviewer said it was a book she'd read again. "I know I will keep this and read it over and over again every year." - MDobson, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews.
So, how about you? Are you a rereader? Or is once enough for you?
Until next time,
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
more and more dissatisfied with it. There's something not working, but I can't decide what that 'something' is. On Sunday evening, feeling particularly dispirited, I put the following on my Facebook page:
Do you ever get to the point where you feel like deleting the whole of your 'work in progress' and forgetting you ever thought of this story in the first place? That's where I am right now!
The replies and comments I received were interesting, and I think they’re worth summarising here. If nothing else, they show that other writers experience the same feelings! There's also some very useful advice. I’ve alternated colours to show the comments from different people, and given them in the order they appeared, but have left out my own replies to the comments.
Yes. Every WIP at some point.
Keep going! Keep going!
Hold on there. You're too close to the baby to call it ugly. Go away for a few days and let the characters sink into your subconscious, let them talk to you a little. Come back with a fresh mind and a renewed body too. Funny how rest and lots of REM can salvage a WIP
Sometimes in revisions, I get so sick of these people I wish I'd never created them. But when their story is published, I always love them again! Absence makes the heart grow fonder so take a short holiday from them and see what a difference it makes.
Have you thought of flipping the characters on their ears, giving them an all-new tension that they didn't have before? Tension drives conflict, conflict drives passion, passion drives...oh, you know the drill.
Not just you. And some stories just have magic, heart, crunch you simply can't walk away from. Sometimes all you need to do is wait for the chops to write it or let go of the idea of perfection. The latter is usually what stands in my way. i.e. what I wanted the story to be is not what the story IS.
I’d put that sucker away for a year.
It sounds like you need a long walk and a break and let this story reconvene in your head.
As the saying goes, you can't revise a blank page. I like your idea of going back to the original version, whatever that is. It's undoubtedly the one that made you start writing in the first place. Step back and let the characters tell you their story.
Don't do it!
Give it a couple of days and suddenly you'll know.
I have a story I've been writing for about 3 years, keeping getting lost in it. Maybe you need to do what I've done (more than once). Put it right away and begin a completely new one. Your mind will be much fresher when you finally return to this wip, you'll probably see what’s happening to hold you back straight away.
Leave it alone for a month. Then you will know what the problem is and be able to fix it!
Just been thru that exact process!
Certainly have. I think I'd follow the advice to leave it alone for a month. I had one, and kept going. It took three times as long to write.
You're trying too hard! Step back, write a short story and see what happens... Step out of your comfort zone! Pen a scary thriller.
Don't destroy it. Put it on the back burner. Let it lie for a year or so, then go back and see if it is worth saving.
Have you thought about getting some feedback on it from someone?
Let your mind drift to other scenes, other characters . Let this one stew a bit longer. Some of mine have been around for years.
Yes, know that feeling only too well.
I'm feeling that way right now too. I'm working on a novella that's taking me longer to write than a full length book.
Hang in there. Breathe....
Oh yes. You stare at the screen blinking fast, then scratch something till it bleeds--anything rather than just walk away, which is the only thing that works.
* gasp * Oh No! Stop! Don't do it! You will find the way in
this story. I have complete faith in you. :)
Don't do it. Set it aside and work on something else. I have one coming out soon that I've been messing with off and on since 2009. I finally figured out the issue about a month ago and fixed it. so, it could just need to simmer for YEARS! LOL!
Good luck. I messed with mine between stuff forever and it finally gelled. Yours will.
Yes! But don't do it. Just let it stew for a while and all will work out.
Keep plugging along.
Don't give up on your story. Maybe take a break, then start reading it from the beginning, and I'll bet you find that your story hasn't given up on you.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Aristotle is credited with analyzing the art of story-telling. He defined a story as having a specific beginning, middle and end. When beginning is tied intimately to the end, the story takes on life--a complete being that "lives" because it is written that way.
Since Aristotle, many adaptations of his three-act story structure have been posited. Shakespeare's plays had six or seven acts because candle wicks needed to be trimmed during performances. Modern filmmakers think in terms of four acts: Act 2 has two parts divided by a midpoint incident.
Novelists, consciously or unconsciously, write in acts punctuated by story events like "plot points," "inciting incident" and "black moment."
At the First Plot Point, about 1/4 into the story, she has to make a major choice. She crosses the Threshold. It is a point of no return. She can't go back to her old life. Act 2 begins.
During the first half of Act 2, she struggles and fails. Everything she does trying to fix her problems only makes things worse. At the Act 2 midpoint, she realizes she will have to take an ultimate risk, do things she heretofore never dared. She tries harder and harder, and the antagonistic person or force counters her every move. She wins skirmishes and still loses ground.
At Plot Point Two, she faces the reality that she needs to risk everything, even if it means her friends forsake her. Put her life on the line. She sees the potential reward on the opposite bank of the raging river in front of her. She may fail, but not trying to cross is no longer an option. Bruised but wiser, she jumps into Act 3.
In Act 3 things come to a climax. She resolves the issues that have arisen on her journey, first for others, then for herself. The biggest, baddest, hardest problem is resolved last. At the black moment, it appears she has failed. Then she triumphs. She is resurrected. And the story ends with her HEA.
All stories need some version of this story arc to be satisfying. (Think marketable.) Authors often write a first draft then go back and layer in conflict. Other authors pre-plot the main turning points, then write with these intermediate goalposts already in mind. Either way--and there are many permutations in between--is right and good.
The end result is what matters. A story that satisfies our boundless need to share the experience of being human.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
The pie is baked. It's my first attempt ever at homemade pumpkin pie...I hope it turns out okay! (At least my sister's also bringing an apple pie...)
The turkeys and Pilgrims are on display.
And the table is set.
Now all we need to do is wait for the company to arrive!
Happy Thanksgiving! many blessings to you and yours.
An Unexpected Blessing - A Thanksgiving novella from The Wild Rose Press
Also available for Kindle.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
In ‘His Leading Lady’, I brought in a character who turned fairly nasty towards the end, which added an extra layer to the story. In both ‘Fragrance of Violets’ and ‘Changing the Future’ I had minor characters who revealed information, one out of malice towards the hero (although not necessarily wanting to split hero and heroine up), the other who did hope to cause problems between them because she had her sights set on the hero. Were they villains? I tend to think of them both as characters who threw a spoke into the wheel and created extra problems as a result. In ‘Her Only Option’, the ‘villain’ of the piece isn’t actually revealed until late in the story, which is part of the mystery of who is behind various threats aimed at the hero and heroine. In my recently submitted ‘Dream of Paris’ it’s the ex-fiancée who causes problems, again not directly aimed at splitting up the hero and heroine, but certainly causing the heroine a lot of anguish.
I began to wonder whether there needs to be a villain, or at least an antagonist, in romance novels. Although I’ve had characters who’ve caused problems for the hero and heroine, I’m not sure I would call all of them ‘villains’ or even antagonists.
Is it necessary to have a third party who is jealously or maliciously trying to destroy the relationship between the hero and heroine (for whatever reason)? Or can the ‘antagonist’ be the circumstances in which the main characters find themselves, or the events that happen which seem to be beyond their control? Or maybe the ‘villain’ is their own doubt, distrust or uncertainty, either about themselves or about each other?
I’ll be interested to know how you feel about villains - and/or the kind of ‘villain’ you’ve used in your romance stories.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
- Find other books in your genre and study their titles
- Use visual words
- Use a thesaurus
- Make sure your title is different from what’s already out there
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012
A former Head of English, Lynette gave up her career in education almost three years ago in order to focus on her writing. Since then she has published three contemporary romances: The Apple Tree (December 2011), which won the grand prize in Inspired Romance Novels' writing contest; Wishful Thinking (April 2012) and Shopping for Love (June 2012). In Loving Hate (November 2012) is her first romantic suspense and a more speculative psychological drama, Killing Jenna Crane, is due for release next month.
Lynette lives with her family in an early Victorian cottage in a historic village in Surrey. When not writing, she is an avid reader, loves catching with friends, films and the theatre and can occasionally be seen trying to tame her rather wild garden and keeping the family's eccentric cat out of trouble.
Should we like our heroes and heroines?
I reviewed a novel recently which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, but it occurred to me part-way through it that I really couldn't warm to the main character. This in no way spoiled my enjoyment of the story and nor did it affect my rating, but it did make me wonder whether the writer wanted me to like her or not. It also got me thinking about whether other readers need to be able to like and empathise with the hero or heroine, especially in romances.
This in turn made me think back over some of the reviews of my stories which criticised the hero or heroine and the readers made their feelings evident in their ratings. One reader shocked me by accusing one of my heroines - who had been pressured into becoming a doctor and later regretted it and yearned to leave the profession - of being thoroughly selfish for having taken up a place at med school and depriving someone else! I simply hadn't considered that when I portrayed her unhappiness and dissatisfaction. My aim was to create sympathy for her situation, not anger.
Another reviewer said one of my heroines "tended to act TSTL for a little", which my son had to translate as meaning "too stupid to live". I still smile at that. My heroes too have come in for criticism at times. One was reprimanded for being unintentionally thoughtless in forgetting to mention something to the heroine (which he had dismissed as trivial) and another for going against his own principles after criticising the fault in someone else. I dread to think what readers will make of the main character of my forthcoming release Killing Jenna Crane - he's a famous and successful author who is decidedly unlikeable - and that's quite deliberate!
Fortunately, however, on the whole, readers seem to connect with my characters and feel they can relate to them and that pleases me enormously. They hate my villains, which is as it should be, empathise with my heroines and some even develop crushes on my heroes. One of the sweetest comments I received was from a reader who said: "I want to find my own Nicholas. If I ever find anyone half as decent and loving as that man then I will be a happy woman."
I would love to hear opinions from readers and writers on this subject. Should we like our heroes and heroines as writers and how important is it for us to like them as readers?
In Loving Hate - released 09 November 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
In the story, my heroine, Katy, is a firm believer that Thanksgiving should get its due and be celebrated before any thought of Christmas takes place. Katy is a woman after my own heart. I modeled this part of her character on my own thoughts about the subject.
In one scene, she comes to the door and sees the yard covered in snow. She is not happy. It goes something like this:
One morning Katy opened the door to Joe’s smiling face. Her answering smile faded as she noticed the snow shovel in his hand.
“Why do you have that?” she demanded.
Joe looked down, then his gaze flew to hers. She immediately read the wariness in his eyes, but was so dismayed by what the shovel meant she didn’t take the time to reassure him she wasn’t harboring any thoughts of him doing violence. For the time being, she ignored the sadness slipping through her. She didn’t want Joe to think she was still afraid of him, but at the moment, a more immediate matter occupied her attention.
She peeked over his shoulder and moaned. A light dusting of snow covered the lawn. It sparkled in the sunshine. But she couldn’t appreciate its beauty. “No,” she whined. “It’s only November. It cannot snow.”
Joe raised an eyebrow.
She paused in her tirade to appreciate the effect it had on his face. But only for a brief second. “Snow is for Christmas. Not Thanksgiving. Ugh.”
He chuckled. “Wow. You are really hung up on that, aren’t you?”
In real life it went something like this. I was driving home from a meeting on Monday. A few flurries fluttered through the air. As I got closer to home, a few turned to many, which was extra apparent in the shine of the street lights. I announced my displeasure to my hubby as soon as I walked in the house. By the time I went to bed, some of the snow was starting to stick. In the morning I woke up to this:
Luckily, just like in the story, it melted in an hour or so and we were back to the proper ground covering for Fall.
It made me think...if I would have known I was so good at predicting real life with my stories, I would have included something bigger and better. Maybe in my next book my heroine will win the Lottery!
Until next time,
Wednesday, November 14, 2012