Writing, Chaos, Order and a Whole Lot of Pens with @MeganSlayer #iamwriting #planning #posting #writing

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 (By Luis Argerich from Buenos Aires, Argentina (Cross Pen) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

I love my writing utensils. Love them. I’ve got a pen collection that’s probably out of control. Why? Because when I go somewhere, I want a pen to commemorate being there. Also, they look pretty. I tend to use the ink up in them, too. With my luck, once I decided to display the pens, the one with the ink left in it would explode and I’d have a mess. But that’s my luck.

But this post isn’t about just my love of pens…although based on the photos I added, you’d think it might be. Grin.

I wanted to write today about something that may seem small and silly, but it’s pretty big for me.

Caneta-tinteiro.jpg

(By André (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

I’m a stress writer. Yep. I admit it. I am. I tend to know what I want to write and have deadlines, but for whatever reason, I seem to wait until I’m down to the wire before I get things done. That doesn’t mean I’m sitting around doing nothing. No…I’m usually finishing up whatever it was I put off before this project.

It’s not a good thing to do, stress writing. I tend to create these crazy schedules for myself, then stress when I don’t feel like I’m meeting my own deadlines. It’s worse during National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). I usually have a project to finish BEFORE I can start the NaNo one and then I try to get both done y the end of November (that’s the month NaNo takes place in).

Europen-nib

(By Europenpen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Right now, I’m currently trying to wrap up a short for Changeling involving Christmas Magic. I won’t get into the gritty nitty, but it’s short and it’s HAWT. Before that, I finished another Christmas tale for another publisher. Because I love Christmas? Because the stories were begging to be written. Oh, and I’ve got another short planned for once the Changeling book is done. Have I lost my mind? Sometimes it feels like it.

I enjoy Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I love the joy, the togetherness and the fun of the holiday. But it’s July. It’s not entirely hard to think about snow (it’s been well into the 90s for temps here of late),  but I’m not really in the mindset to write Christmas. I won’t lie. When it’s Christmas time, then I’ve got all sorts of ideas for stories. It just happens to be too late or too early to turn them in (depending on who you ask). But the stories I just finished and am working on demanded to be written.

I don’t have big spreadsheets of what needs to be written and when. I might have a schedule that’s in my trusty notebook next to my laptop, but that’s got maybe a week or two out scheduling wise. I let the muse talk and pants my way through most of my stories. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t just write whatever pops into my head from the muse. That’s what ends up in the notebook where I can tweak it first. But it might be May and I’ll have the characters for a Christmas story show up. Or it might be Halloween and I want to write Valentines stories. Although, a mash-up of a Valentine Halloween might be fun.

So while I’m sure I rambled through this post, this is a clue into my writing world. There’s some order and some chaos, but it’s all mine and I own it. I might as well. 🙂

 

 

Random Thought ~ Reused Actors and When the Plot Falls Apart

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First of all, I have to start by saying this post concerns movies. All the way around, it concerns movies.

I’ve been watching the Christmas in July movies on the Hallmark channel. Why? To get into the Christmas headspace to write Christmas stories. Grin. I know when I watch these movies, I’m going to get a happy ending and there will be tension, but the plot is what matters–not the hot stuff or stolen kisses.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish there were a few more stolen kisses and hot moments. I’d love to see them ramp up the sexual tension. No one has to be bound or spanked, but a little heat wouldn’t hurt.

But the thing that’s bothered me this Christmas in July season isn’t that I’m dying for Christmas cookies or a break in the hot temps. Nope. It’s the reusing of actors and the plot holes.

The reusing of actors wouldn’t be bad, but after a while all I can see is who they played in previous movies. Oh, she was a princess in that one. He was a prince, then a plumber, then a corporate raider. I don’t see the character, I see the actor and that ruins the fun of the flick. It kind of drives me crazy.

Then there are the plot problems. How come the boyfriend just let her go? Why didn’t he put up more of an argument? Why didn’t the guy try harder? Why, if he loves her, didn’t he go caveman? Why didn’t she stick up for herself? Why when she DOES stick up for herself, do the powers that be make her look so…cranky?

Maybe I’m too picky as a viewer. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there and hoping for what I’d rather see. I’m not sure.

Do you have those things that drive you nuts about movies? About the all weekend sprees of movies on the same theme? I’d love to know.

Random Thought Thursday ~ When the Outcome isn’t What You Thought

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I’ve mentioned a time or two that I love movies. I love TV, too, but movies are my thing. One thing I’ve noticed is every so often, movies and television shows have a plot that’s easy to figure out. That happens. What might be complicated to me, might be easy to figure out to others. Murder She Wrote is one example. I never knew whodunit until the show revealed it.

But I’ve been thinking about some shows and movies that didn’t quite get to the ending the way I wanted. Now, who am I to say the show/writer/movie/etc was wrong? I’m a writer and I know I’ve got characters who didn’t quite do what I wanted them to do and the ending wasn’t the one I expected.

But there are times when I’ve gotten so emotionally involved in a show/movie that I was upset by the end of the movie.

CONTAINS SPOILERS!! If you don’t want spoilers, then don’t read this part.

For example, I didn’t like the way the character of Credence in Fantastic Beasts. The poor kid was misunderstood and abused. Instead of getting the kid some help, they destroyed him. Wasn’t there a way to talk him down? It felt like the easier answer was to destroy him. Hmm…

Then there’s Night Court. I LOVED that show. From the moment she showed up, I wanted Christine and Judge Harry to get together. They teased at it and that was great, but at the end… that’s when I wasn’t able to stay with the train. Dan, the prosecutor, had chased EVERYONE with a skirt on during the run of the show. The last episode? He’s ready to chase Christine. When was he not? Then Harry chases her, too. I liked that they both did, but I wanted closure. Yes, insert pouty face. Lol. I wanted Harry to get his happy ending.

But that’s how movies and television work. You don’t always get what you want. Is it good storytelling? Copping out? Depends on how you look it it. If you want to be negative, then it’s shortchanging the viewer. For a more positive spin, life doesn’t always work out the way we want.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t irk me when the story doesn’t take the turn I expect. But that’s a mark of a good show to me. If I’m emotionally involved, then I’m paying attention. It’s worth my time. But then I have odd taste in movies, music and television. I still love Agent Carter and Forever. Neither are on television any longer. Shame.

What about you? Are there shows/movies that had endings you didn’t see coming/didn’t like? Let me know.

Wednesday Random Thoughts ~ Most Remarkable Characters with @MeganSlayer

Check it Out BannerNormally on Wednesdays I write book reviews. I have some books I could review, but I’ve had this blog topic on my mind for a while and I thought maybe I’d build up a bit of a backlog for book reviews and take this week off.

Now to the topic…

I love television and movies. I love music, too. While I was in the middle of a M*A*S*H binge, featuring McLean Stevens as Col. Henry Blake and I got to thinking. There are some truly remarkable characters. Is Henry remarkable? Some might disagree, but I think he is. I love the episodes he’s in more than the later ones. I like to laugh and he’s guaranteed to bring the laughs.  Oh, sure, I like Hawkeye and Trapper, but there’s something about Henry .

So in the middle of this binge, the episode where Henry goes home aired. I don’t know about you, but there are certain movies and tv shows I can’t watch when I know someone won’t make it. The episode, Abyssinia Henry, is one of them. I cry each time. I know what will happen. I’ve seen it a dozen times. But Henry is one of those characters I don’t want to see go away. I cry each time. Yes.

Now I’m going to make a huge jump. M*A*S*H is in a level above CSI: Miami, but these two shows have something in common. The loss of a character. Where I’ll cry because Henry doesn’t make it, I cry because Speedle is shot in the line of duty. I started watching CSI: Miami because I liked Wolfe. I won’t lie. I was drawn to him because he’s cute. Well, he is. But I had to get the rest of the plotline and I like to go back to the beginning with series once I know I’ve come in halfway through. So I binged the show’s first two seasons before they were pulled from the air. (They aren’t making any new CSI: Miami episodes and it’s kind of a shame. I liked that show.) Anyway, I watched and came to love Speedle. He’s a punk, cocky and snarky, but lovable. Plus, he’s kind of cute in a rugged kind of way. I had NO idea he wasn’t going to make it. When that episode came along…I was gobsmacked. Again, I cried. I liked this guy. WTH!

The same thing goes with The Fox and The Hound, Where the Red Fern Grows and Eight Below (but in those cases, it’s the dog(s) that don’t make it. I don’t like when the ones I love die.

Now I understand why the writers get rid of some characters and phase out others. You’ve got to evolve. BUT…that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t like change. I really don’t. I’d prefer to have my characters live on forever.

What about you? Are there shows you have a hard time with because of the characters? Is there one or more that are your favorites?

 

Resolutions, Schmezolutions… with @WendiZwaduk and @MeganSlayer

I’m horrible about resolutions. I admit it. I’m a procrastinator, but I love deadlines. I live for that stress of ‘oh crap will I make it’. Some might say I have issues that way. Bet you’d never guess I’m a pantser, too. I am.

This post is about my resolutions. Heh, heh. I’ve tried to make them before. I have. But I’m so horrible about keeping them. I probably set the bar too high, but that’s the kind of person I am.

Since I’ve been asked about my resolutions, I should probably make a few. It couldn’t hurt, right?

This year, 2017, I resolve to…

Write every day. Now I know this won’t happen EVERY day—at least not on the laptop. There will be some days I’m sick (I have a school-aged child) or won’t be home…but I’ll have my notebooks.

I’ll write in my notebook at least a few words every day. Hey, I’ve got a ton of the things and some really pretty ones. I should use them, right?

I’m going to use the fountain pen given to me for Christmas for more than just looking pretty in the box. Hey, it’s an awesome pen and it needs to be used for more than just being pretty. Plus, it looks cool on the page.

In 2016, I wrote over 565,000 words. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that again, but hey, it’s worth a shot to try…so I’ll try.

Those are my resolutions, for good or bad. I’ll do my best, but I also believe in giving myself the leeway to goof up and get back onto the horse. Things happen and if I learned anything in 2016, it’s that I can’t control everything I want to. But if I roll with the punches, bend without breaking and keep my chin up, I’ll be okay.

When the Story Gets Under Your Skin with @WendiZwaduk #reading #books #randomthoughts

This may seem like a book review type of post. It’s not. I’m not giving my suggestions onCheck it Out Banner what to read or how to read them. Nope.

This is my experience while reading.

Sounds odd, eh? Maybe. I like a story that grips me. One that makes me not want to put the book down…or the kindle down. Most often, I find those stories. I like to think I’m lucky, but it could be I’m savvy about what I want to read. I’m by no means a book snob. I’m willing to read a wide range of books. My favorite genres are music history, biographies and autobiographies, history, legal thrillers and romance – the hotter the better. Gotta read in the genre you write in, right? I think so.

Anyway, I happened to be reading this book for my book club and it’s not a story I’d have picked up. It was contemporary fiction. This wasn’t an easy read. That doesn’t mean it was bad. It just wasn’t a breezy type of story. I had to go back and reread more than a few times. But that’s not what this post is about.

The post is about the uncomfortableness of reading. I bet you’re wondering what I mean. I’m the type of reader who doesn’t mind if the hero dies (unless I’m very invested in him), but don’t you dare kill off/do a mischief to the dog/cat/cow/pet/etc. I don’t want to read about dead animals or dead little kids. Sorry. Those are my definite nos. I have a couple of other squick points (Things I won’t read), but those are the biggies.

So onto the book I just read. There were two squick points – one involving germs and things going in the mouth that shouldn’t and one involving nursing. I don’t mean the profession. I mean the act of feeding one’s young. Like I said, it made me uncomfortable. I understand why these devices were used to tell the story and on one hand, I could buy in. On the other, it was too gross IMHO. I kept having to stop and go back.

That said, the squick points stuck with me. I remember the story like I just read it. Of course I did just read it, but I not only got emotionally involved in the book and can’t get those moments out of my head.

Then there’s another book…this one was so gripping and vivid it felt real. Like a dream that wasn’t quite a dream. You know those… the dream is so realistic that you’re not sure if it was real when you wake up, but you KNOW you were dreaming? That was this other book. Two really. I got so emotionally involved in them and could’ve sworn I was one of the players. Okay, I know they were just books, but when you actually dream about a story that’s not yours…that’s heavy stuff.

Is this normal? Have you ever had that? Something was so disturbing that it stuck around in your mind? Or you got so emotionally involved in the book that it felt real? I’d love to know about. Tell me! I’m waiting.

Length or Girth?

So technically I’m on vacation. The boys dragged me away – ok, it didn’t take much – just sayin’. And you gotta admit, I got you snagged in with that post title. Don’t lie. I know it did. (That was my point.)

All silliness aside, I wanted to pop on here and post a question. I’m in the midst (I’d like to say homestretch) of a short story and I keep wondering as I approach my anticipated word count (I plan to go over, but how much is up for debate), how short is too short?

I’ve read some stories that are say…6k that are fantastic. Sometimes it shocks me how darn much gets packed into 21 pgs. At the same time, I’ve read some 70k work that is equally fantastic. Again, a lot going into those 300 pgs, but what makes it better or not than the 6k one?

I ask this because my story is right about 5k at the moment. Not earth shattering, I know. (I said it’s still under construction.) I’m a firm believer in the story will be the length its meant to be. You can probably make a 6k go on for 50k, but in the end is it worth it? I mean, did it just draw out the story for the sake of pages or was it really adding to the overall meat of the tale? I’ll tell you, I’ve read some 60k stories I thought could’ve been pared down to 30k and it would’ve made the story better.

Which do you prefer or does it not matter as long as the story is tight? Short? Long? Good story make the length irrelevant?

I’m dying to know. Really.