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Archive for the ‘fantasy’ Category

 

 

 

 

Please forgive me for my lack of blogging these past few months, but I’ve fallen in love, with editing my novel. Of all my 2011 intentions, editing was the one that filled me with the most fear. I faced all the other intentions head on. I’m still making them a conscious part of my life. Polishing my stories, a very necessary tool for a writer, filled me with dread. Last year I faced the typing monster, this year, editing.

 

But first, let me back up and tell you how I fell in love.

 

The moment when it all coalesced was at Norwescon this April. I was nervous through the entire conference leading up to my feedback session with The Fairwood Writers Workshop. My appointment was on the last day of the conference. I was sure they would say, “Don’t quit your day job.” Which, of course, is too late, I write everyday, all day. Writing is my dream job.

 

The feedback session was held in a tower room of the Doubletree. It seemed fitting that I would meet my fear in a tower room, since I submitted a fairy tale fantasy.

 

Four published authors, of various genres, gathered around a conference table to discuss my writing. Each person got ten minutes of uninterrupted time to voice their feedback, ask questions, and make comments.

 

The first author told me to keep in mind that this wasn’t his genre. It was quite a shock to my system when he finished and I wasn’t boiling in anger or near tears from the pain. This continued around the table with the next author and then the next. I took notes. Wonderful detailed notes, questions about my world that I hadn’t considered, structure tweaks, and publisher information. Yes, publisher information, markets I should check out and submit my work. They each gave me written feedback as well that included notes in the margins and on the backs of my pages. Each one of them gave my story attention.

 

I left the session energized and eager to get back to work, extremely thankful that I wouldn’t need the box of tissue waiting for me in my car or the pint of ice cream in the freezer at home to console me. My feet hardly touched the ground as I went to my next 2 panel discussions. I was accepted as a writer. I was taken seriously by strangers. Yes, my novel needs polish, but the feedback was delivered in an uplifting way, and these four published strangers encouraged me to continue on this path.

 

I faced the editing fear. Next fear on my list, you guessed it, submitting it to agents and publishers.

 

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into the fire...

My grams used to love to say that phrase when life was speeding by and that is exactly how the past few months have felt. Just as blurry as the photo above!

I finished up NaNo in November with a little over 180,000 words. It is the first time I’ve Nano’d two complete novel drafts. Then right around the corner, Norweson was waiting.

Norwescon is ‘The Northwest’s Premier Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention’. The Fairwood Writer’s Workshop is where you can enter an excerpt of your novel to be critiqued by professional writers during the April convention. The deadline was December 19th. The submission package must contain a cover letter, synopsis (1000 word limit), and an excerpt of your novel. I spent many sleepless nights writing and re-writing to submit the best possible example of my writing. It was emailed off and I’ve received confirmation that it was received. I hope and pray it is my very best work. Time will tell.

This past week I wrapped up the year for Eastside Author Chat, the writing group I organize. It is an amazing group of writers and I feel lucky to share the writing journey with them.

Only a handful of days left in 2010. In those days, a lunar eclipse, Christmas and New Years Eve. I have my 2011 goals sketched out and I will be solidifying them in the next few days.

I’m looking forward to the ‘Fire’ of 2011 and all the new writing experiences, (writing conventions, agents, synopsis writing, even rejection letters!) the year has waiting for me.

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No, it isn’t some new alien tech speak. It stands for National Novel Writers Month.

For 30 exciting days in November, people around the world join in the common goal to write their own novel. The end goal is 50,000 words. They don’t even have to be perfect words. You could even write a story about glow in the dark lava sharks in a hollowed out volcano, just sit in the chair and put fingers to keys!

So, it is almost 3am on the first day of Nano. I just finished typing in my scenes and have 7,890 words.

I’m pretty pleased with my new story. As I was typing I realized my male lead needs a name change. In the rush and excitement of my first Nano event, I used the name James Clemens. I’ve been obsessed with the pacing of my favorite writer, James Rollins/ James Clemens and his name slipped into my story. A definite change! First thing in the morning, if I can sleep. The story is spinning in my mind 🙂

If you are curious about Nano, the web site is http://www.nanowrimo.org/.

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Recently, I bared my soul to my writing group, and once again started the process of giving and receiving feedback. It is a tight-rope every writer navigates in the process towards publication.

I posted the opening scenes of my ‘Fairy-Tale’ on our group board and held my breath as the members read my story. Initially I created the story, to fill in some gaps for myself while I was world building. Every lost and mysterious world has myths and legends. Who hasn’t heard tales of Atlantis or Shangri-La? So my world, Chamoura, needed some myths and legends of its own.

Around the table at Starbucks, we took turns, reviewing what each of us had offered up. Eventually it was my Fairy-Tale’s turn for feedback and I did my best to sit back and take it all in. I lead this group so I didn’t want to be the cougar mama defending her cub. One member said he hated the main character and wished he had been murdered in the first scene. Someone else liked it. As I sat there listening to the lively conversation over the table, I actually surprised myself. These characters must have struck a chord for such a reaction. I wasn’t handed a list of typos and grammar issues with the ‘nice job’ and a ‘See you next time’ dismissal.

Just as I tell the other members of the group, my suggestions on your work are yours to do with as you wish. If they don’t work, then ignore them. And, I get that option as well. Did the feedback have validity even though it stung? Yes. Did my inner critic go on a tirade about what a lousy writer I am and I should quit? Nope. When I first started my inner critic’s voice was louder and had more emotional weight.

Today, I know that I can not please everyone that reads my work and I do not want to even try to do that. I have to remember that each reader comes to my story with their own filter they read through. That filter is their life experiences, beliefs, memories, and values. Each person is going to see my characters through that filter.

I find value in the feedback, all the feedback. It may sting, but it also pushes me to be a better writer than I was yesterday. All good writing is in the RE-Writing, and I am grateful I have people in my life, ready to offer me the slings and arrows that push my writing to be better!

Thanks to all of  EAC for making me a better writer!!!

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Last night I was consumed with creating a children’s story for my new writing group. It was so much fun, writing about newborn dragons and cherries popping in a bowl, I lost all track of time. My tea grew cold and eventually forgotten. It was only 2 inches away from my hands as I typed the story into word and prepared to mail it off. As soon as I hit send, my stomach went queasy. Perhaps one more polish was needed. The doubts crept back.

I got in my car this morning, turned on the radio, and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies were singing. No more doubts. How coincidental is that? But is it really coincidental?

Things like this have been happening to me more and more.

I was in a friend’s car last Thursday, driving toward the market, and I noticed she had a post-it-note with the words, Serendipity, Synchronicity, Coincidence, listed right in front of my passenger seat. I thought back to the Kushtaka, Tahoma and my last blog post and smiled.

Then this morning, on Facebook, a friend posted a link to a news article that immediately took me to a story I wrote many years ago. The images in the article were so similar to my story creation I couldn’t ignore it. So many of these events seem to be happening around me.

Today I looked each of these words up in the dictionary.

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. To count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. Good fortune; luck: synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together.

Coincidence is something that happens by chance in a surprising or remarkable way. (and all Whovians know you never ignore a coincidence, there is no such thing! Sorry, I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for years.)

As I notice these events more and more occuring in my writing life, the seridipty seems to unfold with greater frequency and in more unusual ways, like the song in the car this morning.

When I pay attention to these moments, it feels like an acknowledgement from my guardian angel or muse or simply from the universe. Thanks for listening. You are moving in the right direction.

So, I’m asking you….are you listening?

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Do writers have a ritual practice to prepare their minds for the creative process? Is there a magical ingredient that transitions them from daily life to writing time? Something special that will summon their muse?

 

Ritual defined by Webster’s dictionary means ‘any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.’ Physicians prescribe a daily nighttime routine if you have trouble sleeping. Many religions use routine and ritual in their practices to symbolize respect and reverence.

What better way to invoke your muse than with respect and reverence.

 In my writing life, I haven’t truly established a ritual for writing. I do prefer to create with a fabulous gel pen; you know the one that just feels ‘right’. But I found for me, each story is different and to invoke my muse, the ritual is also different.

 

I have been writing Tahoma’s story since this blog began. Research at the Duwamish longhouse told me that there was a mystical being at the bottom of Black River named Sky-Taw. I knew I wanted this creature in my story but I hadn’t figured out where this puzzle piece would fit. It was relegated to the back of my mind while I worked on a pencil sketch of Tahoma in human form, and I wrote dozens of scenes moving the plot line forward.

 

Last night, I went to Linda Zeppa’s intuitive writing class I had planned on getting to know my villain with this meditation session. My muse had other plans. Linda began the session talking about the sun. The meditation began with a progressive relaxation, filling yourself with sun, putting your troubles in a box and crossing into a world filled with sunshine. My muse crossed me over the bridge to Black River filled with moonlight. She has a mind of her own! The starlight and moon beams danced on the ripples of the water and then swirled above the water coalescing into an iridescent human form with a face of a heron. Tahoma thought it resembled his mother’s face. And the creature asked “Are you lost little one?”  It was more of an emotional experience than a visual, but I had instant access to Sky- Taw. I wrote as furiously as I could and when I returned home that night I laid out all the emotions in Tahoma’s heart. When he saw this creature, he was calm and at peace. It resembled his mother’s face and communicated with his mother’s voice. The creature wanted to care for the young shape-shifter and appeared in the image that comforted Tahoma in that moment.

 

I awoke today elated with my break through. While doing the laundry, the television was on in the background. Discovery channel had a program about an Alaskan triangle where planes have been lost, similar to the Bermuda Triangle. The last five minutes of the show, as I settled down to pay attention, they spoke of the Native American Tlingit’s belief in a creature called the Kushtaka. This land otter man can be malevolent or comfort a lost soul so they do not freeze to death. Through illusion, this creature can appear as a loved one. My jaw hit the floor. This is what I wrote about in my meditation session.

 

Was it synchronicity or reverence to my muse that led me in this direction? I’m not exactly sure, but it brings me back to my first blog post. Perhaps my writing ritual is to trust and have patience that the puzzle will come together when it is time.

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The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.  Barbara Deangelis 

Black River by Mike Hamilton

  

My dream is for my characters to live and breathe on the page. They should be quirky, like the rest of the world. Setting is also an important character. It lives and breathes and speaks by awakening all the senses. Can it also have quirks?! 

  

I started thinking about quirks after reading a post in Cyndi Briggs blog The Sophia Project. In her post, It’s July: Let Your Freak Flag Fly, Cyndi states, “I bet your odd self has it’s own ways of grabbing your attention, of reminding you that for all your trying, there’s a hint of crazy in you that craves some fresh air and freedom.”  

  

 This is exactly what a reader wants in a character. The hero that is tall, handsome and always says the right thing = boring. If the same hero fumbles and spills ketchup on his shirt every time he gets nervous, the reader feels a connection.  

  

Can this be accomplished through setting as well? Can a setting be quirky and odd? 

I’ve been exploring that concept as I write more of my discovery draft. The above photograph, courtesy of Mike Hamilton, is an aerial view of Black River in Renton. This is the place where Tahoma fell from his nest as a heron fledgling and shifted into human form. This alone does not make the place quirky. It is surrounded by the modern-day expansion of a business park, satellite dishes, and a train off in the distance. Something however, is keeping the spot protected. Is it the quirky magic of Black River?  

  

One scene I was writing today has me considering the magic of this place. Tahoma is now in human form and setting off on his adventure. He looks down at his reflection in the Black River, the image reflected back is a heron fledgling. Could the quirk of this place be that your true essence is reflected in these waters? Could the fresh air and freedom in this magical place be a mirror reflecting your true image, not the mask people wear in our day-to-day life?

 

Magic lives and breathes here, if you slow down and take the time to notice it.  

 

 

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