Tuesday, May 16, 2017

OUAT: The Final Battle

Photo: ABC, via TVFanatic
It's the end of the line if you want it to be, but it doesn't have to be. The final two episodes of "Once Upon a Time" season six provided a perfect capstone to the story they've told for the last six years...but if you want more fairy tale magic, you can hop along for a similar but different ride in season seven.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Write Like a Job

Putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) is daunting. Even when you are brimming full of ideas, getting past the initial block of 'starting' is difficult. Unfortunately, if you want to get your novel published, you are going to have to push through this. If you want writing to be your job, you need to treat it like a job.

This means blocking out time for it every day. Maybe it is only a half hour, but get something down, day after day, and eventually you'll have a book. 

Sure, you aren't getting paid peanuts now, and you'll probably only get a little more than peanuts once you start publishing. Indeed, there are few jobs with so little immediate reward and equally low chance of future rewards as writing. But, if you want to have a chance of getting peanuts (and maybe jelly and bread too), you have to make the decision to treat writing like a job and put in the time, even when you don't feel like it.

With my headaches and fibromyalgia brain fog, it can often be really, really difficult for me to write. Rather than set a weekly goal for myself, I've set a monthly one. My minimum writing goal for each month is 4,000 words. As long as I'm achieving that, I know that I'm moving forward with my writing project. Since I can write 1000 words in an hour when I'm going good, this gives me plenty of wiggle room, even if 3/4th of my month is blacked out with health issues.

But that's just the minimum! I set a bare minimum so that I would have the psychological boost of knowing that I was moving forward. My actual 'strive for it' goal is to write 10k a month. Even that is a fairly modest goal by most standards, but it is sufficient to manage a complete draft of a novel a year, with the reasonable expectation of publishing a new book every two years. 

Of course, to succeed as an indie author, I do ideally need to be coming out with at least one novel a year. And this is still compatible with the 10k goal because of how drafts cycle out to readers and editors. I can get writing on the next book while the current book is being reviewed and polished. 

In the end the difference between a writer and a published writer is really the work. If you have even an ounce of talent, you can put in the effort and hone it into becoming a published creator. 

So here's my challenge for you. Set yourself a minimum writing goal for the week or month, and then set a higher goal as well. Secondly, make the time to write at least three days a week. Since it is my job, I always take Sundays off, and rarely write on Saturdays. I've actually found that giving myself the weekend off encourages me to be more proactive about writing M-F. 

More Writing Posts:

A look at my page "On Good Writing" reveals that I've written on this topic before--a lot. Apparently, I believe it is important...

Monday, May 8, 2017

OUAT: The Musical Episode

*HI HO HI HO it's off to SPOILERLAND we go!*

I realized today that not only is this show in its sixth season, but I have also been blogging about it for six years. There is no other show which I have written about so prolifically for so long.

Photo: ABC
That said, I am kind of sad that this episode was not the series finale. Going from the darkness of the beginning, to a musical episode with a wedding would have been the perfect narrative peak.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Problem of Arwen

Photo: New Line Cinema "The Return of the King"

Arwen is a difficult character. She stays in the shadows in the books, and her film adaptation is contested among fans (for both adaptive and storytelling reasons). However, there is a lot about her that I've come to appreciate over the years, and I thought it'd be worth a blog post.

First, let's go to the source. I've reread the books numerous times over the years, most recently in the past week. They've had a huge shaping effect on me as a writer, creator, and person, and there is very little about them that I don't love (or at least appreciate). Although the Fellowship itself contains no female characters, overall I have always felt that Tolkien's world boasts some of the strongest women and role models in fiction. Luthien is just the best, Galadriel rocks, Eowyn has a tremendously relatable story, and other characters like Idril, Gilraen, Melian, and Elwing are strong in the brief moments we see them .

 In fact, there's a hilarious but usually overlooked theme in Tolkien's work that men who don't listen to their wise wives end up regretting it. (*cough* Thingol *cough*).

However, Arwen...well, honestly there really isn't much about Arwen in the books. Although a huge point of inspiration and strength for Aragorn, she is seen doing almost nothing, even in the expanded backstory in the appendices.  Indeed, in the story proper we see her:
- look pretty,
- embroider a banner
- give a jewel to Frodo.*

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Revisiting Childhood Reads

Quintessential middle school historical fiction, "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" was a favorite for a lot of my generation. I'm a fan of all of Elizabeth George Speare's historical fiction, but it's been some time since I picked any of them up and I was interested to see how they would read from an adult perspective.

Overall I found it still the compelling and engrossing novel that captivated me as a pre-teen, yet I found myself wishing that there was a longer version, with more fleshed out characters. Although the cast is well developed for the short span of the book, it is a story and setting that certainly could have filled a larger volume. Characters like Uncle Matthew, Aunt Rachel, Mercy and Judith are skillfully drawn with short paragraphs, but cry out for more story time.

Perhaps most surprising to me was finding how little time in the book is really given to the romance. The true romance, that is. I'd always liked the ultimate pairings in the book, but somehow I'd forgotten how little time is really given to Nat and Kit's friendship. If I had to make one change to the book as it is, it would be to flesh out that dynamic a little more. It relies too heavily on the typical 'bickering couple' chemistry and thus doesn't actually show us much of what makes Nat and Kit work as a couple, only what makes them 'click' dynamically.

The other slightly changed perspective I had was realizing that this is a very similar time period to that of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and really, Kit has a lot in common with Elizabeth Swann. This gave me more appreciation for and understanding of the world Kit left behind in Barbados.

That said, it is an award-winning novel for a good reason, and I enjoyed the reread as an adult (even if it was much too short). I'll be happy to pass it along to my own kids for reading in the future.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Future of "The Song of the Fay" and my other writing projects.

I've been talking with a few people about the future of "The Song of the Fay" lately, and I realized there are a few non-spoilery bits of info I could pass on to my readers.

First off, it IS a series! I have four books planned, God willing, and then we'll see what comes next. Each book will star characters from the previous books, BUT they will not all have the same main characters. Furthermore, the will be told from third person POV (point of view), which allows me to have multiple POV characters without getting confusing. And, finally, although books 1 and 2 are both set in Paris, this is not an exclusively "Parisian" series, or even one that will be completely set in Europe.

Book 2 ("The Professor and the Siren") is, of course, a prequel (though meant to be read second in the series), and features the Morlands as POV characters. It is set about eight years prior to "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" and will include many of the magical Fay from that book, as well as introducing new characters and types of Fay. I am currently 60K into the second draft of the book, all of which has been written in the past 10 months. It is due to be a bit shorter than "Mermaid" so I am hoping to get it published on a much quicker timeframe.

Book 3 ("The Selkie and the Queen"), takes place directly after "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" in Scotland. It is currently written to be told from the POV of Kate, Derek, and one other character whom you'll meet pretty early on in the book. Abby and Pete, who were minor characters in "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" get much larger roles in this book, but not POVs. Although Daphne is back in the US at this point and thus not an 'onstage' character (so to speak), she is still friends with the main cast and will have some updates. I've written about 10K so far, and hope to get more done when "Professor" heads off to the beta readers.

Book 4 is developing into a plot I'm pretty excited about, but at this point in time I need to be pretty cagey about it. I haven't written any of it yet, but I'm developing the cast and setting in my head. As of today, I've only told three people the premise of the book, but they've been very positive about it.

At this point, I feel that God is asking me to write these books before moving on to any other projects, except possibly my first sewing book. I have part of a draft of a super-hero chick lit novel (first of a series) that I really hope to further develop and publish eventually, but I'm not sure when I'll get the Heavenly green-light on that. We'll see!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Lord of the Rings (pt 1) - Revisiting Childhood Reads

I'm currently rereading "The Lord of the Rings" for the first time in a decade. (I basically overdosed on them in my teens by reading them at least half a dozen times in about four years plus various other Tolkien works and knew them far too well to read again until now).

As a youth, I was a speed reader, and this time I'm taking the series a bit slower. I'm also forcing myself to read everything--I'll admit that on a few past reads I would skip the parts I found creepy or boring (the barrel-wrights, a lot of Sam/Frodo/Gollum stuff). But this time I really want to refresh my memory on everything.

The Fellowship is perhaps the most difficult since it is the one I read the most and know the best. However, even for all of that knowing, there are still things that I'm 'rediscovering' anew. For instance, the movie versions became so predominant in my visual memory, that I forgot how Merry starts out as such a strong leader. Basically, whenever Merry is around, he's making as many or more decisions for the little group of hobbits than anyone else. In the film he is regulated to a prankster alongside Pippin, but in the book is is portrayed as a steadier, more capable character at the outset.

Another aspect of the book that strikes me in particular this time through is how, after each major brush with danger, the hobbits are given a chance to rest and recuperate. In our world of fast-paced action adventure series (fantasy or otherwise), we don't see this much anymore. But, in "The Lord of the Rings," Frodo and his crew are not given more than they can handle. They are pushed to their utter limits, which means that as they grow in strength, the rests become less frequent, but when rest is truly needed, it is always provided.

This reminds me of my own life. Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but he also promises to watch over our needs. My life over the past few years has been really, really hard, but God has provided me and Nathan with moments (and days!) of relaxation and joy amid the hardship.