Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's is coming

As this year draws to a close, I'm racing to polish my query letter and manuscript for submission to Dragon Moon Press. Their open submission period ends when the new year begins.

I'm finding that even though I've dreamed of having a manuscript ready to send in to publishers for years, now that I'm getting near that point, I'm more nervous than I thought I'd be.

This is my heart and soul. My work. My way of life. And I'm putting it all in an e-mail, trusting my hard work to the world wide web?

Yup. Why do I put myself through this? Because that's the dream. I knew from the start it was going to be hard, but that's what makes it so rewarding.

Found this on Merit Badger and I think I finally understand it. It's the Query Letter Merit Badge:

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a great start to 2011! Wish me luck!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A metaphorical Mechanical Clock

An elder in my church once gave me a book called "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci" by Michael Gelb. He said it reminded him of me and he thought I had the potential to become a genius. I am still 'wowed' by his belief in me today.

I picked up the book again and started reading right from the beginning. It certainly gave me something to think about. The book goes a little too far, in my opinion, about the human potential. It likes to paint an optimistic picture of what a human is capable of completely on their own and it leaves God out of the picture.

But it still blew my mind. It's an amazing book and I hope whoever aspires to be a writer or artist will read it.

One thing particularly struck me in the first chapter. This is a list of the top inventions that made the difference in the Renaissance era:

Printing press
Pencil and affordable paper
Astrolab, magnetic compass, and large sailing ship
Long range cannon
Mechanical clock

All but the last two have this in common: the spread of ideas. Books people could read and ideas common people could write, ships that could transfer these ideas more readily and bring new ideas back, etc. These new ways of getting ideas out there that gave fuel to the Renaissance.

But the last two had nothing to do with spreading ideas. The cannon was a device that could finally penetrate a feudal fortress, which aided in the destruction of feudalism, paving the way for a better system.
The mechanical clock changed things: most people didn't even know what century they lived in, and were not conscious of time spent from day to day. The Mechanical Clock sort of turned time into a commodity when people realized they could spend it or waste it. (Sadly, we still haven't figured out a way to save it.)

What if there were a mechanical clock of today that would change things for us? Something that would make us aware of what we were previously oblivious to?
Perhaps it will teach us to be aware of our own attention spans and help us realize we can spend them as well as waste them.
In a sense, I believe we need to re-learn the lesson of the Mechanical Clock: Time is a commodity more than ever. If our brains can process things as fast as Gelb claims in his book, we better get processing and put that ability to use. That means purposefully choosing the correct things to process.

It's like learning Chinese. You can learn the first 1500 most used characters and gain a 92.4% understanding of the language. But if you double that by learning the next 1500 most used characters, you do not double your percentage of understanding. In fact, you only gain 5.9% more understanding. (You can find the statistical chart here.)

With everything under the sun at our fingertips, it's important that we reach first for what's most important and leave the useless drivel behind. Imagine if you weren't judicious about which 1500 Chinese characters you learned. You could end up putting in the work for 1500 characters and only gain a 5.9% understanding. But if you take the time to discern which are the right characters to learn, you could gain so much more (92.4%).

The clock made people aware of time. What can make us aware of how much attention we have to spend? Perhaps texting and driving? That, at least, has proven there is a limit to multi-tasking.

One thing I have to remember day to day is that I need time to chill. Time without the tv, computer or smart phone. If I try to focus on too many things for too long, I'm wasting my attention on all of them. I might not live up to the genius that man saw in me a long time ago, but I do know that if I overload myself by trying to do too much, no real thoughts will emerge and my creativity will be quenched.

Over the holidays, I hope you can catch a break and find some time to relax. Get away from all media for an hour or two and enjoy your family, sit and think, or journal and sketch to your heart's content.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Old Writing

My cousin visited us over the weekend and we went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader together. It was amazing.

She ended up getting stuck at our place because of the worst snow storm in 20 years that we've had. We got 20 inches of snow in one night, even the plows were called off the road, and the roof of the Metrodome collapsed.

So what did an anime artist and a writer do while trapped inside for a weekend? Sit in our pajamas and talk about stories, of course!

She drew pictures of people, anime style, of some of my stories and some of her own as we told them to each other. It was a lot of fun.
She asked me to get out some of my older work, the story ideas that I never wrote into a full piece of fiction.

So I did and I was amazed at what I found. There were ideas I don't even remember writing. Some of them were painfully corny, while others were startlingly original and creative. It changed my perspective about my own writing today. Some of it will be obviously bad, some of it will be enjoyable. And overall, it's worth it to write.

Have you ever looked back on some of your own ancient writing? What did you think? Did you find it terrible, or awesome, or a little bit of both? Did it make you smile?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

(PS Something else I discovered this weekend was that my cousin had all her story ideas stem from characters she'd made up while drawing, while all my stories stemmed from interesting plot twists and denouements. Someday I wonder if we'll team up to become super heros who write fabulous stories.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

World Building

There are many questionnaires for world building on the web. The ones where they ask all kinds of questions about your world and as you answer the questions, it's supposed to help you discover more about your fictional world than you ever wanted to know.

I've never completed one. They're always way too exhausting, and for good reason. Describing an entire world is not a small feat. I feel like Atrus from the book Myst. He discovered that it took an entirely new language just to make up a world. The English language just didn't contain enough descriptive words to do the proper job. It seems sometimes as if I need an entirely better language just to describe every little thing that's needed in a fictional world.

To hone my world building skills, I'm going to try an experiment. There's a few questionnaires that I like, and a few I've made up of my own. I'm going to attempt to answer all of them as if I'm building my own world, Earth.
Have you ever learned about something amazing that blew your mind about our planet? Sometimes Earth seems like enough of a magical world without me going off and creating new ones. If you've never experienced this, just use your favorite search engine to search for imagines of strange plants. Some of those things are weird, and look alien.

I'm hoping this will open my eyes to aspects about world building that will help me in my noveling.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoFiMo on the horizon

I had high hopes for NaNoWriMo this year. And I still do.

But seeing as how I'm still at only 18k and there are only two days left (well, ok, a day and one evening) of November, I doubt I'll make it.

I am, however, going to try to write as much as I can before midnight on Tuesday.

That being said, for the first time that I've known about it, I'm looking forward to NaNoFiMo: National Novel Finishing Month. It's for those who weren't quite able to reach the 50k deadline but still want to go for it.

I'm looking at the calendar and thinking "These are the worst possible two months out of the year to have these events! Who decides these things anyway?"

So I have an idea cooking up in the back of my brain. At some point, I want to host my own month of novel writing. But not anywhere close to the holidays or the start of school. Oh, and not during April either because that's National Poetry Month.

Not that anyone will remember this post six months from now, but the thought was on my mind.

For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, and especially those who just need to push forward a little bit more to reach their goal, go for it! If you've finished already or just want to proclaim your word count, post it in the comments. Go ahead, boast. Or, if your word count is like mine and not worth boasting about, post it anyway because you know what? It is worth boasting about. We might not have reached 50k but I know that I wrote 18k words more than I would have otherwise, which is something to be proud about.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all have a wonderful time and are truly thankful for everything you have.

No update for NaNoWriMo sadly. I haven't had time to write anything since last week. But with the break coming up, I'm hoping to change that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My first Write-In

Words written so far:18,633
Words left until 50k: 31,367
(i'm a little behind, but that's ok)

My adventure this week was attending a write-in for the first time ever.

For those not familiar with the term, a write-in is when a bunch of people (or even just two) get together at a coffee shop or library during NaNoWriMo and write.
They encourage each other with things like word wars, time limits, fun writing-break games, and all around writerly synergy.

For the past three years, I've wanted to attend a Write-in, but was never able to make it (or just wasn't confident enough. Especially the nanowrimo opening parties. Out at midnight on Halloween? I don't think so.)

But I had it in my mind to attend a write-in held at one of my favorite coffee shops. And last night I did.

It was a blast. Now I see why people on the nanowrimo forums are always raving about them.
I was at a point in my story when I didn't think I could possibly write another word and I was just waiting for something to happen so I could write again.
That something was the Write-in.

There were six people there including me. Three of us wrote on our MacBooks, two wrote by  hand, and one wrote on her mini-laptop. Everyone was so excited to be there and it was awesome to meet other writers in my area.

One of the girls brought her Ukelele and played a little bit for us, to serenade the creativity. She also brought a cardboard stand-up robot for no apparent reason. I think it ended up in two people's stories as a character.

I was a little nervous when the group decided to do a word war. I wasn't ready. I had no clue what I was going to write. I hadn't planned it out yet. And suddenly, one person said "Go!" and we were off. We had ten minutes to write as many words as we could, and whoever wrote the most, won.
It was as if the words were being ripped out of me before I had the chance to sensor them. It was eye opening to see what I would write if my inner editor was truly turned off, gagged, and stashed in a closet.

What I wrote was haphazard. Not what I planned at all. But it was half decent and it helped me to imagine what certain scenes in the story were like. Word Wars are great practice.
As it happened, I ended up writing twice as many words in ten minutes as everyone else did, though I have to wonder how fast the Ukelele girl could have written if she wasn't writing by hand. (She's already up to 30k words and hopes to finish by this weekend. I'm pretty sure if she was on a computer, she could've beat me soundly.)

Whenever anyone would reach a significant word count, they'd give a shout out and everyone would congratulate them and give high-fives. It was such an encouraging night and everyone was friendly and helpful.
Some of the writers even brought reference books for everyone to use, such as a Writer's guide to Names. And it was great to have other people's input when I couldn't think of a certain word.

If you're doing nanowrimo and you know of a decently close write-in to you, I highly encourage you to go. Take precautions as always, since you will be meeting strangers. But it's well worth the time and the $4 spent on coffee. (Tea for me, as always.)
I look forward to my write-in next week and seeing everyone again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why are series so tempting to read and write? (And NaNo update)

Not that statistics are glamorous or anything, but I enjoy looking at other people's progress, so here, briefly, are my own stats.

NaNoWriMo Day 8

Words: 15,358
Number of words ahead/behind: +3,689
Number of words left until 50k: 34,642
Average words per day: 2,504

This week has been both exhilarating and hard. I'm really eager to keep going though. This story is unlike any I've ever written before, and my writing partner Perrin is a genius. Being the first book either of us has written with another person, I think the process is going incredibly smooth. It helps to have similar taste and artistic vision.

This week when I wasn't writing, I distracted myself by looking at a bunch of formulas and outlines for stories online. I've heard of the 3-Act rule, the 'put your MC in a tree and throw rocks at him' rule, the three disasters plus an ending formula, and the method of grading the tension in each scene from 1-10 hoping that all your 1s will be at the beginning and all your 10s will be at the end.

One thing every single method of writing had in common was that there needs to be a climax and a denouement. (Wow, I can't believe I spelled that right on my first try!) It got me thinking.

Perhaps the reason why its so tempting to turn books into a series, and why it seems more series/trilogies are popping up in bookstores (at least to me) is because we're beginning to realize that life doesn't have a single climax. It's a continuation. The only real climax that comes to an end in our lives is death. And hardly anyone wants to kill off all their characters at the end of a book. (There are exceptions, of course.) The reader, at least, has invested a good amount of time getting to know those characters and may feel cheated at the end if they all die.

If we're trying to make our characters more real and three dimensional in our novels, then it makes sense that their lives would mirror ours in their continuation. If they were real people, of course they would die some day. But no one wants to write about the day they die.

This theory of mine sounded all nice and neat until I thought of "The House of Mirth." In it, the main character begins to rise from the beginning, but suddenly takes a dive and continues her downfall right until the end of the novel where she dies. And it's not a surprise, nor did I feel cheated out of my character.

My point(s)?

1. Perhaps it's ok to turn a book into a series if you plan on doing that from the beginning. Not in a tacked-on-just-to-make-money sort of way, but if the story genuinely takes three or more books to tell, go for it.

2. There is a way to kill off the main character in the end and not make your readers mad at you. Just do it skillfully.

3. Keep in mind it's also ok to write a stand alone book and move on to create new characters. Especially if you're sick of the ones you've been working with since the last NaNoWriMo.

Now I'm off to write more words!
If you're doing NaNoWriMo, how are you doing with your word count? Is it easier or harder than you thought it would be?

(PS I just found out about a giveaway on Through a glass, darkly. Check it out!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nation Novel Writing Month has begun. And Contest winner.

Welcome to the month of literary abandon!

It's 1 in the morning on November 1st and I just finished writing the first 1700 words of my new novel.
(I know, I'm an over-achiever.)

There was only one person who entered the contest I posed last week, but you know what? That's totally ok because her ideas were awesome. I liked her suggestion for a title for this blog the moment I laid eyes on it.

Ralene from the Faith, Hope, and Suspense blog suggested, as you might have guessed from the new graphic up above, Fiction Technician.

Thanks Ralene for being such a good sport.
And you won your choice of a graphic created by me in Photoshop about your Work in Progress, or a full manuscript critique. E-mail me at smilerjg (at) gmail (dot) com to let me know which prize you would like.

I'm excited for this new blog. And for the next month.

Write on, writer friends. Here's to a month of writing dangerously!

(PS I'm going to be looking into changing the URL for this blog soon, but for now I'm going to keep it under the old www.emergencymetaphortechnician.blogspot.com name.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

100th Post! And contest!

Thank you!!!! For!!! Reading!!!!!

I hope this blog has been enjoyable and perhaps even helpful to you. And I greatly appreciate every single comment left on this blog. You all are awesome.

In order to celebrate, I'd like to hold my first. contest. ever.


The prizes: Winners choice of either a full manuscript/WIP critique or an image created by yours truly to be used on your NaNoWriMo novel info page.

The set-up: This blog is going to change. I started out enamored with Metaphors and quickly realized there's not a whole lot to post about Metaphors, so it became something else. Now it's time to change the name of the blog.

The rules: Post a comment with your idea for the new name of this blog. The contest will end Sunday, October 31st at midnight. The next day, after happily banging out 1,667 words on my NaNo novel, I will pick my favorite entry and post the winner that evening.

If you win, you get to choose which prize you want and I will attempt to deliver the prize in a timely manner (i.e. before mid-November).

Thank you everyone, again, for reading this blog. I hope the next 100 posts will be even more helpful and exciting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why NaNoWriMo?

If you're still trying to decide if you should do NaNoWriMo, or if you're wondering what NaNoWriMo is, here are some things that might help.

The reasons I decided to do NaNoWriMo for the last two years and again for this year:

1. It's a lot more fun writing with other people. Even though they're internet friends, there's a certain inspiration that comes from knowing lots of other people out there are working towards the same goal you are.

2. It helps me enjoy writing a lot more. Writing with literary abandon helps me feel free to write in ways I wouldn't otherwise. Throughout the rest of the year I feel like I constantly have to edit what I write, keep myself from switching points of view, or even changing from past tense to present tense. But with NaNoWriMo, I don't have to pay attention to any of that. More writing, less pressure.

3. At the end of the month, if I've completed my goal, I feel great. I feel like all the cobwebs have been shook out of my head and I've been risky with my creativity. It helps fuel ideas for the rest of the year, even if I never look at a single word I wrote during November ever again.

4. Now that I've done NaNoWriMo, I feel practiced enough that this year, what I write actually has a decent chance at coming out useable.

5. It's a great excuse to tell my family and friends that I need time to write. My wonderful husband has agreed to let me write like crazy in November and not ask me to play World of Warcraft with him. Plus, it'll give me bragging rights at Thanksgiving when I can tell all my relatives that I am indeed writing a book.

6. This year, two of my friends who have never done NaNoWriMo before have joined and are excited to do it. This is sooooooo cool! There's nothing like working on a project with friends.

So, if you still don't know if NaNoWriMo is right for you or not, think about the following:

If you have other friends who you think would be willing to write with you, that's a plus.
If you think you have two hours per day to devote to this during November, that's wonderful.
If you don't think you can write 50,000 words in a month, but maybe you can write 25,000, go for it.
If you've been looking for an excuse to distract yourself from your current WIP and start a new story, this is your chance.
If you've been playing it safe and only writing things you *know* other people will like, you really need to do this and break out of your box.

And for those of you who are still confused, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. During the month of November, people from all around the world each attempt to write a novel in a month. For the sake of quantifying what a novel is, the website says 50,000 words. By today's standards, that's a pretty short novel, but hey, you're writing it in a month so give yourself a break.
In order to write 50,000 words in November, it breaks down to writing 1,667 words per day. That's approximately 7 pages of double-spaced type in Microsoft Word. It's not really all that bad.
The trick is to not let yourself stop writing. Even if you have no idea what comes next, just write whatever comes into your head. Yes, crazy and sometimes boring things start to happen when you do this. But it really helps exercise those writerly muscles necessary for novel-length pieces.

I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year. If you want to find me on the website, just look for the name leolewis. (Stands for Leonardo da Vinci and C.S. Lewis, two people I admire.)

If you want me to buddy you on the site, post your NaNoWriMo name in the comments.

Write on, fellow citizens! November is almost upon us!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Interactive Books

Rachelle Gardner recently posted on her blog about interactive ebooks.
And it got me thinking.

With eReader technology, books can be enhanced to be interactive with hyper-links. Words in the story could be linked to advertisements or to extra story content, like maps, artwork, and timelines.

But instead of a hyper-link, I would prefer a small tab on the side of the screen that I could touch to open up to that map or family tree.

I also think it would be amazing to have interactive books totally decked out in all the links, tabs, and amazing things that we can do with such technology. Just think what the Ologies series could do with it!
But it would have to be a book specifically written with interactivity in mind. I wouldn't want a book that was made to be just a book turned into something interactive.

I've been collecting moveable books for awhile now. Pop-up books, pull-tab books, any book with something that moves or gets untied or peeks out from a pocket. I love those things. And I've often torn apart my own pop-up books to figure out how all the moving parts work and have made my own pop-ups.

It makes me really excited to think that the magic of an Ology book could so easily be incorporated into an eReader. True, it wouldn't be the same. You wouldn't be able to untie that red ribbon in the book that's holding closed a secret letter bearing the black spot to a pirate, and you wouldn't be able to feel the texture of a well-preserved dragon scale.

But you could click or touch on things to open them. And you could hear voices actually reading the letters to you that you open. I would so like to hear Arabella Drummond's voice reading her letter out loud to Samuel Shute at the end of Pirateology.

I remember when I thought pop-up books were awesome, but didn't want to let on because they were just for kids. And then I saw Robert Sabuda's Narnia book. That wasn't a kid's book!
In the same way that interactive stories on a computer seem to be only for children, what if someone took those interactive stories to a whole other level? A level at which the clear genius and execution of such a thing would compel readers of all ages to take a peek.

Of course, it would have to be done in a way that honors the book. I wouldn't want to turn a great work into something distracting, as Rachelle pointed out. But still.
I've read the Narnia books several times and I love them. When I bought Robert Sabuda's pop-up Narnia book, I didn't buy it for the story. I bought it because of the unique way the story is presented. Perhaps, in the same way, interactively enhanced eBooks could serve the same purpose?

What do you think?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Editing...the beginning

I started to edit my novel recently. Since I'm new at this, I decided to start from page 1 and see how it goes. I know other writers don't like to edit so chronologically like that, but as of now I'm finding it helpful.

And it's true what they say: printing off your novel and reading it on physical paper is entirely different than trying to read it on screen. I highly suggest giving it a try. Editing on physical paper seems so much easier, and a lot more fun.

Right now I don't have a desk, just a chair and some cubby holes. So I've taken a large piece of wood left over from an art project and I usually place that across my lap. It's big enough to hold two pieces of paper side-by-side, and the wood keeps the paper from slipping off, so it works fairly well. I also keep a notebook by me in case I need to make notes that won't fit in the margins or double spaced type of my hard copy.

It is a lot more fun to edit than I thought it would be.

Still working on an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel. Excited!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I'm published!

The issue of Phati'tude Literary Magazine is now out and available on Amazon. Two of my poems are on page 58.

This small step in my writing career reminds me that every day I'm becoming more and more a writer. I don't know exactly when I'll achieve the title of "writer", and perhaps I already have. But at least now I can say I've been published somewhere.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Finished! (For now)

Hey everyone.
Sorry this post is later than usual but I held off hoping I would have this great news to deliver:

I finished writing my book!!!

For the first time in my life, I have actually finished a writing project. I'm very proud of myself.

I've started countless novels and never finished them. Some of them are little more than outlines, others are over two hundred pages long.

But now, I have a book I can call my very own. That is, I have something with a beginning, a middle and an end. An end! It has an end! :)

Even though it now officially has an end, there is no end to the writing process. Now it's on to edits!!! :D

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Writer's Block?

In the last two weeks I have discovered something new in my writing experience: actual writer's block.

I had previously been of the opinion that writer's block doesn't exist. Now I think it does, but not in the way most people think it does.

What happened is this:
I got tired of my story and got sad about it because if I was bored, surely my readers would be bored.

But I remembered advice I heard on a podcast once from Neil Gaiman that said if you have writer's block, put that project on the shelf and start or work on something else. So I did. And you know what?

It freed me of a lot of nervous habits in my writing. I spawned a ton of new story ideas I'm super excited about, and I had a lot of fun. I started a writing project that was for my own eyes only so I wouldn't be worried about audience, and it helped.

Then this morning I got up thinking, "I wonder if my writer's block has disappeared." So I tried to go back to writing my story, and it had! The words just flowed.
I had a revelation. Instead of making my characters go through "boring scene", I could just skip boring scene. It was one of those "Why don't we just have Gandalf fly an Eagle over Mordor and drop the ring in?" kind of plot solving moments. I realized I didn't need the journey to be as big and epic as I had originally planned. Which is good because the book is already approaching 90,000 words.

If you have writer's block, and can afford to take two weeks off from what you're blocked on, I highly suggest taking a break. Don't take a break from writing though. Just write something else. Or start something new if you've lost that zeal that comes with a new story.

Now I'm off to write again. Today so far I've added 3,500 words to the last chapter. I'm hoping loosely that the entire book will be finished by the end of this week. (But I'm also trying to not get too excited.

Write on, friends!

(P.S. To clarify about writer's block, it should not be used as an excuse to not write. Just write something else. That was the point Neil Gaiman was getting at I think. Carpenters don't get carpenter's block, and dentists don't get dentist's block. Even if you generally love your job, whatever it may be, there will be times you don't want to show up at work. But you have to anyways, and you can do it. Keep writing. Show up at the keyboard. You can do it.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Who's with me?

I've decided that I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I don't want to do it alone.

If you are even remotely interested, click HERE to find out all about it.

National Novel Writing Month is in November, during which I shall endeavor to write an entire book. (A book being defined as at least 50,000 words.)

It sounds crazy. It sounds counterproductive. But I've done it before and not only is it fun, it's a great way to begin a new book. I was on the fence about doing NaNoWriMo this year because I'm *this close* to finishing a novel. I didn't want to start a new one. But for some reason, I'm a little stuck on that novel right now, and I think starting something fresh will give me enough of a break to get over myself and finish writing it.

I'd like to rally those around me who are participating. I've done this two years in a row now, and though it was fun, it was a lonely business. I'd like to organize my own NaNo group.

We'd encourage each other, talk about our stories, our word count goals and successes/failures, and hopefully have at least one write-in (where we get together at a coffee shop and write).

This will be fun. This will be amazing.

My NaNoWriMo name is Leolewis. If you want to connect during November about writing, post your NaNoWriMo name in the comments below.

And, if you are doing NaNoWriMo, how are you preparing for it? I've already started on my outline, and it's so exciting.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Writer's Society

Natalie Whipple over at Between Fact and Fiction is starting a Happy Writer's Society and officially declaring war on writer's angst!

As part of the fun, I made this in photoshop:

Monday, August 30, 2010


I was once told by a writing advice book that to make readers remember your characters well, give them some kind of odd or different aspect. For instance, give your main character a calcium deposit in an odd place. Or make them have a habit of always picking wax out of their ears and wiping it on other people.

This is one way of doing it, but since then, I've written over 250,000 words on several different stories, and I think there's a better way to make characters seem alive.

The character needs to be both the same and different on the inside, not just in their physical mannerisms or appearance.

Making a character the same as the reader in their beliefs, values, ideas, thought process, etc. will draw the attention of the reader. They will relate to the character.
But making the character different in some ways from the reader will make the reader even more interested.

Remember, these are the opinions of an unpublished writer. I hope my characters are memorable, relatable, and interesting.

On another note, I'm currently reading a book about characterization written by a psychology expert. The book suggests that the writer needs to get in touch with his/herself before they can write deep characters.

Is this true? What do you think?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back from the Honeymoon

Hey all.
Sorry there was no post last week. I was on my honeymoon.

Since I didn't have time to come up with a post, I have another question for you. But don't worry. I'm going to be putting together a post about characterization soon.

Are you planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what will you be working on?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Question for you

Hey all.

No post this week, just a question.

What do you think about sequels? Should they be written? What about trilogies, or a series?
Do you think the general public is getting tired of multiple books of the same story, or do they love to read on and on about the same characters/setting/storyline?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Villains, anyone? (And contest alert.)

As a Christian, is it ok to purposefully try to scare people by writing an evil villain?

Is it ok to use nasty things like murder and blood to make my villain more realistic?

I have a villain who starts out as an ok guy, but changes to a really bad guy. And he thinks he's justified in doing so. If he were a real character, he would be doing things far more dark and evil than I currently 'show'.

I could just tell the reader what he does instead of showing it. But then how do I make him an accurate villain without getting a slap on the wrist for "showing and not telling"? That's supposed to be a cardinal rule, right?

And also, isn't authenticity a must? Shouldn't my characters stay true to how I've written them? That's the best way to make writing good, and I'm striving to make my writing good to give glory to God.

Sometimes I wonder, when I hear other Christians talk about books and say "Oh, that was my favorite villain!" if they would feel comfortable putting their name as author on a book with such a villain. Do we all just enjoy the evil people in fiction that others create and refuse to make them ourselves because WE have morals? (If so, that's quite hypocritical.)

Hannibal, Iago, Jadis, Saruman, Cruella de Ville........
Which level of evil is appropriate to show?

(I listed Saruman and not Sauron because it feels like in the books we never actually get to interact with Sauron as much as Saruman.)

Even if it was totally ok for me to write my villain as evil as evil can be, do I want to? Even if I kept my character true to himself, would people really want to read about all that? Would I? I'm not even sure if I want to write it, let alone if I should.

And yet, am I denying my writing something that is essential to the story? At the risk of putting ammunition into the hands of everyone I once had an apologetic* argument with, every book needs a villain. It's a necessary evil.

*Apologetics: The art or act of defending what one believes, in this case, the intellectual defense of the Christian faith.

Contest Alert!!!

Possible prizes:

  • A copy of Hannah Moskowitz's book: Break
  • An ARC copy of Lisa Desrocher's book: Personal Demons
  • A query or first five pages critique from Fine Print Lit's intern, Gemma Cooper
  • A query or first five pages critique from Janet Reid's assistant, Meredith Barnes
  • A query or first five pages critique from agent Suzie Townsend
  • A query or first five pages critique from editor Brendan Deneen
First winner gets first pick. Plus they're having a new interview/awesome post every day this week. Contest closes Sunday. Go to it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

In the future, all writers will be changelings...

From a writer's perspective who has yet to be published:

I'm really glad my book is no where near ready to start seeking publication. Hopefully by the time I'm done with it, all these crazy changes will have smoothed out somewhat.

To use an extended metaphor...

In World of Warcraft, there's a certain type of character you can play that's called a Druid.
There are also three different roles you can fill when playing with a group: Tank, Heal, or Damage.

A druid can change into different animals on a whim, lending itself to the best, all-around character. It can be a Cat if the group needs someone to deal Damage. It can be a Bear if the group needs a Tank. And it can be a Tree if the group needs a Healer.

It can be any one role at any time.

In writing, there are different roles needing to be filled. You are usually working with a group of people 'cause getting a book published is a huge job. The roles of the group are: Publisher, Editor, Agent, Publicist, Cover Design, Writer, Buyer, Seller, Beta Readers, Copy Editors, and Blurb Writers.

That's a lot of rolls. And eBooks are changing which roles are filled by the writer and which are filled by the publisher.

Looking forward, I'm going to try to be as Druid-like as I can. I want to be ready to change into an agent if I end up having to contact publishing houses myself. I want to be ready to be a cover designer if I end up going with an online "Upload it yourself" eBook publisher. I want to ALWAYS be ready to be my own publicist and promote my own book.
I also need to be ready to treat my writing as if I'm a business owner. If I'm the one who ends up negotiating a deal instead of an agent, or if I'm the one doing my complicated taxes, arranging a book tour, etc., I need to think like an entrepreneur.

I'm a changeling!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

At last!

Dear fellow writers,
I'm writing to tell you of something exciting I discovered about writing.

There is such a thing as the wonderful moment when you know your novel is just the way you want it to be and you can forge ahead clearly.

That day will come. It is possible.
Just wanted to let you know 'cause I didn't really believe in such a thing until this week.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing Myth #5

Writing Myth #5: Once I'm published, the book will do all the work from there.

I keep saying this, but I'm not published yet. I'm not ready to be. But I've already spent years writing. If you want to be technical about it, I really started writing in novel length manuscripts at the age of 7 or 8 (can't quite remember. I keep changing the age when I tell this story).

That's just a little under two decades that I've dreamed of being a published writer. Over fifteen years of writing. Though I don't know if what I wrote when I was 8 could be called writing. (Cringe. Cringe. Why do I keep that stuff around again?)

Anyways, my point is, by the time I get to a point where I'm ready to be published, and so is my work, I'll likely have spent many, many years working on it. That's a lot of time. Wouldn't it be nice if once I finally got there, I could just hand over my book to a publisher, and then sit back and be rewarded for all of that work?

But alas! It is not to be.

Publishers these days are looking for people who are willing to self-promote their own book. A LOT of book signings, promotions, social networking, contest running, and GETTING YOUR BOOK OUT THERE is what needs to happen in order for a book to become a success. Publishers are also more likely to sign on with an author if they already have a public platform from which to launch their own fame.

Yes, you might have put years of work into your book. But when it's done, you're going to have to put in even more work before it will start paying off.

This is why the pay off for most of us needs to come from the enjoyment of the craft itself. No, we are not desperate but happy writers who will scribble anything for free. But we are hard workers.

I think I need to go back on something I said last week.
Last week I said that all of the time us writers have carved out for our writing careers, before publication, can be spent in pure writing. But that's not entirely true.
If you're thinking of being published someday, it never hurts to begin building your public platform before you start seeking publication.
A few years ago when I began to learn about what it takes to get published, I got serious about building a platform. I joined Twitter, started several blogs, became more active on facebook, and reached out to every single writing blog I could get my hands on. It was thrilling and informative.

But I quickly found myself not having any time to actually write anything.

So I haven't done a very good job recently of building up my platform, getting to know people, and reaching out to others who might enjoy what I write. But I've chosen to do that on purpose until I get to a certain part in my writing where I know publication is going to come into the picture soon.

It's a balance.

Just make sure you love what you are writing enough to spend lots and lots of time with it, 'cause you're not just going to be writing it, you're also going to be reading it aloud to others, signing hundreds of copies of books (hopefully), and maybe even toting it around the country on a book tour. You won't just be handing it over to a book publisher and watching the royalties roll in. As always, you have to work hard for your book.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Writing Myth #4

For those of you who found my previous post about quality and quantity interesting, you might want to check out Nicole's post over at Pimp My Novel. Apparently at least one author decided her work was not good enough to be published AFTER IT HAD ALREADY BEEN PUBLISHED and decided to take it off the shelves. Wow.

Read the post and let me know what you think. Does this speak to quality vs. quantity at all?


Writing Myth #4: I'll enjoy being a writer as soon as I get published.

I have not been published yet. But from what information I have gathered from other writers who have, I am very lucky to be enjoying the stage I'm at: simply writing without having to worry about publication.

It seems that once a writer is published, they receive pressure from their own brains and from their publisher/agent/fans to write another book. They feel pressured to raise up a fan base, promote their own book so that the next one is easier to get published, and to carry their own career forward. In the middle of all that, they still have to find time to write.

I'm issuing a challenge to myself and other writers who are yet unpublished to the degree they'd like to be:
Enjoy not being published.

Enjoy being able to write at your own pace, at your own leisure. Enjoy this time and consider yourself lucky. Every single bit of time that you carve out of your schedule for being a writer can be devoted entirely to actually writing. Once you're published, or even once you're ready to start seeking publication, a portion of that time will be taken away from the actual writing and put into self-promotion. You might be able to carve out even more time from your busy schedule to accommodate this, but maybe not.

So here's to enjoying not being published! :D

And let's also look forward to the day when we will be published, because then will come a different kind of enjoyment. I just don't want to throw away this precious time and wish I had enjoyed it more later.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing Myth #3

Hey all. I'm back!
And I'm married! I'll post some pictures up when I get the chance, but for now, back to the writing board.

Writing Myth #3: It's all about quality and not about quantity.

This is one of those twisted arguments that cannot be rebuffed head on by simply stating the opposite. Writing is not all about quality and not quantity, but nor is it about quantity and not quality.

The real equation is this: You cannot achieve quality without quantity.

You cannot achieve QUALITY without QUANTITY.

It's not one verses the other. Quantity is a stepping stone to quality. This is why writers refer to first drafts, second drafts, fifth drafts, and why they say any writer seeking publication needs to revise, revise, revise.

It is possible to have quantity without quality, which is why I think a good rail against quantity is quite justified. Go ahead. Get it out of your lungs. I'll join you.

Ok, now that that's over with, just because quantity is sometimes seen without it's better half, (quality,) doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Many writers reach the first step without going on to the second.

My idea (remember, I'm not published yet...this is pieced together from others' advice who have been published) of steps to publication:

1. Quantity: the writer must practice his or her craft regardless of how much they keep failing at it. It doesn't matter if this writing never sees the light of day again. The important part is the experience and that the writer now has knowledge of what it truly means to put 50 thousand words (or more) together.

2. Quality: Take the quantity of dross that was just written, and trim it down. Add to it, revise it, make it quality. You need enough raw material to work with before you can refine it.

3. Quorum: Take your refined manuscript to other people and get their opinion. Ask them to help revise it where needed, or simply to give you their first impression. Ask for as much as they're willing to give you. You could even hire a professional editor if you wanted to, but I hear there are problems with that sometimes.
This step is where you get a feel for just how good of quality your writing is.
Then, when you've taken other people's opinions and suggestions into account and revised it further (or kept it the same), send it off to publishers and agents! Wahoo! (I'm really excited for when I get to this point if you couldn't tell.)
Or, if you don't like the traditional publishing model, self-publish or find a subsidy publisher/POD publisher.

4. Quandary: Pace the carpet and wait for e-mails and letters to pour in. Have some chocolate handy to cheer yourself up for when you receive a rejection slip. For every rejection notice you get, send out your work to two more agents or publishers. Or, for every rejection, write another thousand words on your NEXT work. That's right. Step one, quantity, never stops. Keep writing.

5. Quit your day job: Once you sign for a huge advance and your book becomes a bestseller, quit your job and write full time.

(Totally kidding about that last one. Please don't quit your job.)

Writing is like playing basketball. I could spend three hours staring at the basket and adjusting my position just right, then spring and launch the ball towards the hoop, saying that it's the quality of the shot that counts. If I did it that way, I'd get really sore and wouldn't develop the necessary hand-eye coordination nor the muscles needed to make a basket every time.

Or, I could just aim and shoot over and over and over again. I'm going to miss a lot, but the more I shoot, the more chances I have to make it. I increase my percentage with practice, not only because of the sheer number of shots, but because with each one, my aim and technique improves.

Don't spend a ton of time trying to get your writing done perfectly on the first draft. (Unless of course that works for you. For very few people it does.) Just write. Practice makes perfect.

Remember, both quantity and quality should go together. Don't just produce a bunch of stuff and call it good. But don't produce a little AMOUNT of stuff and call it good either. If it truly is good, then you should write more of it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blogging Hiatus

Hi everyone.

I meant to post something last Monday, really I did.
And this Monday.

It's apparent to me now I need to go on an official blogging vacation until after my wedding in June.

When I come back, I'll have a post about Quality vs. Quantity since that question was raised in the comments by our lovely Gracia. (Thanks, Gracia!)

Have a wonderful month everyone! When I post again, my name will be changed! How cool is that?! :D

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Writing Myth #2

The Muse

Wouldn't it be great if there was a god up in the heavens somewhere who could come down, sit on your shoulder, and whisper the perfect words for you to write that would inspire man to great and glorious expressions?

If there were such a thing, it would be called a muse.

The Muse comes from Greek Mythology. Originally there were nine (some contend for three) of them. They were goddesses. Daughters of the gods who came down to us mortals every now and then to inspire great feats of art, literature, music, etc.

Many writers throughout time have written into their literature a small paragraph or more intended to beg that a muse would come down and help inspire their writing. Today, most writers just joke about it. "If the muse descends, I will make my deadline tonight." or "The Muse is absent. I can't write."

Whether or not the muses exist is not really important. What is important, is that every person who truly wants to be a writer must train themselves to write without the muse.

This is perhaps a myth that everyone's figured out already. I debated about whether this blog post would be useful, but yesterday I met a woman who works as a nurse. She said that she's always wanted to try writing a book.
Those words "always wanted" and "try" caught my attention. I couldn't help but think "If you've always wanted to, why haven't you done it?"
I also thought it sad that she said she wanted to TRY to write a book. I thought "You mean you haven't even TRIED to write?"

I hear plenty of people say that they've always wanted to be published some day. Or that they've always wanted to complete a book they've already started. But I felt a little sad that this wonderful person had never even tried. I doubt she ever will (though I hope I'm wrong).

Myth: Waiting for the muse, or for inspiration, is how all writers do it.

Truth: Inspiration is nice, but not necessary. Waiting for it can be fatal to the imagination.

Don't wait. Write today. Even if it's drivel.
I cannot say this enough. IF YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER........THEN GO BE A WRITER. DON'T WAIT.

Neil Gaiman once said he hears a lot of people tell him they want to be writers. In reply, he answers something along the lines of "If you're going to be a writer, you know you'll actually have to write, don't you?"
He said he can always tell the ones who are going to be writers by their response. They're the ones who nod their heads slowly and take him seriously. The other ones who aren't going to be writers just think he's trying to be clever.

Being an arm chair writer is not an option for me. I can't just read blogs about writing and publishing, read books about it, and tell my friends I'm going to be a writer someday. I need to actually write something. Even if it's trash.

The Carpenter Analogy

If I really wanted to become a carpenter, (just as much, let's say, as I want to be a writer,) what would I have to do?
Would reading lots of books about carpentry help? Yes. Would that make me a carpenter? No.
Would actually creating something make me a carpenter? No. It would make me a hobbyist. Would creating more than just a few projects make me a carpenter? Well, maybe. It's getting there. At this point, it's more about how much I choose to identify with the craft of carpentry.
But one consistent contributor to becoming a carpenter, as with writing, is PRACTICE.
Carpenter's don't practice with the good stuff. They practice with scrap wood.

Writer's have it easy. We don't have to spend money on wood. Whatever we practice with can be thrown out, but if it turns out being magnificent, well then we have something wonderful. There's no risk of failing if you just start out to practice. But every chance that it could turn into a success.
So why wait for the muse? There's writing to be done!

(Did I mention it's completely free? You don't have to pay for premium words or buy the really expensive materials in order to write the best story possible. Whether you succeed or fail, you loose absolutely nothing and will always gain from the practice.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Writing Myth #1

Now that poetry month's over with, I have some thoughts that I've been gathering about the writing process for the past month I'd like to share with you.

Since Gracia brought the subject up in the comments, I've been thinking a lot about what makes us tick as writers.

I was listening to the podcast "I Should Be Writing" by Mur Lafferty awhile ago, and I heard Mur interviewing Neil Gaiman. It was enlightening, and because I listened to it, I no longer believe in writer's block.

Writing Myth #1: Writer's block doesn't exist.

If I am to be a professional writer (and I do want to be), then I have to tell myself that writer's block doesn't exist.

Dentists don't get dentist's block. Truck drivers don't get driver's block. Why should writer's get writer's block?
Most of us who write are of course writing for the fun of it. I mean, I certainly hope no one out there is saying to themselves "Gee, I want to make writing my career because I want to make a lot of money." (Because odds are you won't make a lot of money.) So we don't make it our job because we think it'd be a good paying job. We do it because we like it.

But at the same time, writing is work. It's hard, it takes time, and is an investment. So now whenever I'm tempted to say "I have writer's block," instead I think to myself "I just don't feel like going to work today." (And of course, the appropriate action is to go to work anyway, even when you don't feel like it. That's why it's a job.)

Neil Gaiman had an interesting idea to avoid feeling like you don't want to go to work (aka, to avoid writer's block....even though it doesn't exist). I'm going to try to put this into practice:

Have several projects going at once of different genres, lengths, themes, etc. because when you say you have writer's block, it usually just means that you've hit a snag on your current project. If you don't feel like writing a certain work, go work on something else. Then at least you'll always be writing and will never be blocked.

That being said, there are times when writer's need to take a break. Writing is hard work.
If I am writing a 100,000 word novel, that's 100,000 words that I need to decide which order they go in, which ones get cut, etc. That's at least 100,000 decisions. My brain can only handle making so many decisions at one time before my decision maker gets broken. Also, if there are a lot of little or big life decisions that I have to make, it's also harder to make decisions about my writing.

How to tell if you need to take a break from writing:

1. All your writing starts to talk about writing. Solution: Time to go out there and get some real life experiences to write about!

2. Your pets and/or family desperately need food. Solution: Put down the pen and bring home the bacon!

3. You can't remember when you last hung out with friends or had a good belly laugh with another human being (fictional characters, no matter how hilariously written, don't count). Solution: Host or go to a party or call up someone and ask them to hang out!

4. When people ask you how you're doing, you reply by telling them your word count. Solution: Try to familiarize yourself with normal conversation tactics again!

5. You start describing in your head (or out loud) everything you do in either story form or a soliloquy. Solution: Cut it out! *Reesha stared at her own words with a growing feeling of hypocrisy. "I think I need some tea," she thought.*

In all seriousness, only you will know when you need to take a break from writing. But that break from writing, IMHO, should never be writer's block. In fact, I've heard it's often best to take breaks right during the peak of inspiration, so that when you come back to your writing, you have something compelling to start you going again.

Tell all, wonderful readers!
What are your thoughts about writer's block? Do you believe it exists? What do you do to avoid it or get out of it? Or, what excuses do you end up making the most to avoid writing?
I usually end up playing computer or phone games and then realize I meant to spend time writing.

Friday, April 30, 2010

PAD Challenge - Days 29 & 30

Today is the last day of the April 2010 Poem A Day Challenge.
Congratulations to everyone out there who wrote a poem a day, and congratulations to everyone else who wrote at least one thing this month that they wouldn't have otherwise written.

Thank you for reading everyone!

I have some exciting news I've been waiting to share with you all.

Two of my poems are going to be published in Phati'tude Literary Magazine!!!

This is the first time I've ever been published and am really excited. I'll post a link here to the online excerpts of the magazine once it's up on their site.
For payment of my poems (oh my, I'm actually receiving payment? Like a real author?!) they're sending me two copies of the magazine. :D
I think that's rather cute. I'd almost rather have those two copies than get actual money since it's my first time in print.

Help me choose!
Robert Brewer is inviting poets who participated in his challenge to submit five of their best poems from the month to be judged for Poet Laureate. I need some perspective on my own writing. Which five poems out of all that I've posted this month should I submit? Or maybe there aren't even five good ones and I shouldn't submit anything? Feel free to vote for which poems I should submit in the comments.

Award time!
Gracia is the obvious winner of this blog's PAD challenge for not only posting poems in the comments, but being brave enough to share her poetry with the world. Thanks, Gracia!

For such bravery, wit of tongue, bearing of your heart and honesty, I hereby give you the

Poetic Perseverance Award! Congratulations!

Now, onto the last poetry of the month...

Day 29 - Write a poem with the title "And Suddenly _______"

And suddenly, there were turtles

From the moment they hatch
Sand grits against their bodies erasing any chance
they have of being slimy.
Then they have to dig their way out of the sand
using only two flippers that are weak and heavy to lift.
They heave their little selves across
the beach to the ocean, hoping nothing will
catch or eat them on the way.
For every five flops of their fins, they rest,
limbs splayed out unashamedly from their bulbous shells.
Slowly and by no means surely, they leave
dimples in the sand as they move towards the ocean.
How they know which direction the ocean is, I don't know.
But they get there.
Can you imagine how good it feels, when, after what seems
like miles of scratchy sand grinding coarsely on bellies
that were made for soft water,
and hundreds of times of lifting heavy, bumbling arms
into the air and doing hundreds of push-ups just to get
to home, and feeling the strong call,
the irresistible pull of nature to get to the ocean,
can you imagine how good it feels after all that
for a little sea turtle to feel the first wave
come up to his chin and slide under his belly?
If you ever see a sea turtle during that first wave,
even though they've been pushing themselves for
hours, when they first feel water, they move faster,
like how a baby kicks when it gets excited.
I wonder, if after eighty years of swimming,
the sea turtle remembers that first experience
of swimming on sand.

Day 30 - Write a letting go poem.

I ended up writing two poems for today, partly because it's the last day, but also because I don't feel like my first poem will make any sense to anyone except for myself, and that's not fair to other people.
So I made an effort to crank out one last poem.
(Fitting that the titles of these last two poems rhyme.) :)

Tectonics of the Soul

Standing in the middle of a sphere
of several plates, with strings
attached leading back to be held
in the hands,

Each plate is a part of life, and each
string is our hold on things.
Spinning around so fast is what
keeps the plates through centrifugal force
outstretched, creating a planet around us.

And then, like the human skull,
over time the plates begin to fuse.
Fissures close around us and the strings
become useless.

Those parts of our lives that we had difficulty
in hanging onto and keeping in place,
become solid, stable and we sigh with relief.

But when we try to let go of a piece of the world
that we don't like, after holding it in place for so long,
we find that we have no control.
It's already fused, held in place.
Eventually, there's nothing more to do,
than let all the strings fall around us
and enjoy the person we have become.

It's hard to let go

The reason things are so hard to let go,
is because when it goes away,
we know there's a bit of ourselves
it's going to take with it.
It's hard parting with one's self,
but that's the whole purpose of letting go:
It's spring cleaning
for our minds.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PAD Challenge - Days 22 through 28

Hi all.
Remember how I said I was getting burnt out poetry-writing wise? Well, I took a few days off from writing poems and it helped.
Now I'm back to make up for the days I missed.

Day 22
- Write an Earth poem

When the Earth Drinks

The feeling in my stomach
the rain gives me when it's
been dry for so long,
puts me in a mesmerized state.
I feel like doing nothing but
curling up and watching
the rain patter on the window
with joy and coziness.

Day 23 - Write a poem about exhaustion.

Treated for exhaustion

I drag myself out of bed
every morning
Work hard, do busy things,
every day
Make plans, have fun
every weekend
Listen to the radio
every drive
Just to hear that another
spoiled princess millionaire
was rushed to the hospital
and treated for
I mean, really?

Day 24 - Write an evening poem.

The sun makes me sluggish

but as soon as the setting sun zips
all responsibilities behind it
leaving the entire dark night
ahead of it free from
all work,
I feel I could stay up all night
and take over the world.

Day 25 - Write a poem inspired by a song, and name the artist and the song, if possible.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Isreal Kamamawiwo'ole

Wishing to be over the rainbow
is better than actually being there.
Believe me.
I've been held captive by this
stupid leprechaun for
three hundred years now.
And yes, there are blue birds here.
So I guess it's not all bad.
I just wish that all those
troubles people send over here
would stop melting like lemon drops
and falling down my chimney.
Everything smells like burnt lemons.

Day 26 - Write a poem that has something to do with "More than 5 Times" (Robert changed the prompt to this because the commenting system was broken on his blog, and people had to attempt to post their poems more than five times).

Being in Love

They say insanity is marked
by individuals who repeat
the same action over again
and expect different results.

I've forgiven you
more than five times,
expecting something different.
But I must be insane.

Every time you ask for forgiveness,
just know I wouldn't change a thing.
I happen to like being driven crazy
every now and then by who you are.

Better that you're always
saying sorry for not taking out the trash,
than me having to forgive you
for something worse.

Oh, and by the way,
I can tell by your silly smile
and star-struck eyes
that, just like me,
you're a little insane too
for putting up with me.

Day 27 - Write a hopeful poem or a hopeless poem.

"Mordor. The one place in Middle-earth we don't want to see any closer. It's the one place we are trying to get to. It's just where we can't get." - Sam from The Two Towers by Tolkien

I'm on my Hero Quest, I guess

I often feel like Samwise,
having a task at hand
that I don't want to do,
but being compelled,
and even when I try
(which I never wanted
to try in the first place)
I'm thwarted.
It's the worst of days
to have problems like that.
Do not want.
But must get.
And can't get.
No, yes, no.
Oh, cruel vice of circumstance
that seems so deliciously
created for making heros!

Day 28 - Write an end of the line poem. (A person at the end of his/her line, end of a phone line, assembly line, power line, waiting lines, lines of poetry, etc.)

People at the End of the Line

When the conductor shouts
"End of the Line!" and everyone's
supposed to get off,
that's when you'll meet
the most interesting people.

When someone went to the end of the line,
they were usually trying to get
as far away as possible from something
or someone.

Damsels in distress starting a new life,
criminals planning to hide in remote little towns.
Boys and girls of all ages
escaping adventure-less circumstances
or maybe escaping to them.

Do you think I might ever
meet you there, at the end of the line?
What would be your story?
What would be mine?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PAD Challenge - Day 21

Day 21 - Write a poem with the title "According to ________ ".

According to the apple on my desk

Today is a good day.
It's been sitting there
since yesterday and it sees
that today I packed
candy bars and fruit juice
and salty snacks for lunch.
It knows I won't eat it.
According to the apple on my desk
today is a good day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

PAD Challenge - Day 20

Hey all. We're two thirds of the way done with poetry month. I'm happy I've made it this far, but also sad to see that there are only ten days left.

I'm thinking of making the award for the best poem posted in the comments a picture that is poem specific. Since only one person has posted their poems so far (Thank you, Gracia! You rock!), it makes more sense to wait and see which one I pick and then tailoring the award to fit it. Stay tuned to see my awesome, photoshopping skills! (Or not.)

If you've been following this blog, and writing a poem a day, but just didn't want to post them in the comments, feel free to at least let me know you've been writing alongside us. Write on, fellow poets!

Day 20 - Write a poem that's looking back, and/or write a poem that's not looking back, like looking forward or even just simply not looking at all. Maybe the speaker is blind or something. Interpret the prompt how you wish.


It's rare, but happens predictably,
When the moon moves in front of the sun.
I point and look up in awe
at the sudden darkness.
'It's special', they say, 'to see it like this,
right in our own backyard.'
I think it's special too, only...
does anyone else, for a split second,
get afraid that the eclipse won't end?
That brief moment of darkness is looked
is looked forward to.

But what if eclipses were forever?
What if the coming event that
seems so huge and promising,
that everyone looks forward to,
that I am hanging my happiness on,
is so big it eclipses my past?

Looking forward to something so much,
I find myself in danger of forgetting my roots.
What if the future is so bright and promising
it eclipses my past forever?
Is there such a thing as
looking forward too much?

I wonder if the moon ever minds the eclipse,
ever minds that while he is feeling
the full heat and promise of the sun,
his back is a little cold.

Monday, April 19, 2010

PAD Challenge - Days 17, 18, & 19

Welcome to week three of PAD Challenge!
I think I'm finally running out of poetic steam. My poems lately have been kind of blah, or at least they seem like it. Hopefully the following will not be. I am surprised that it took me 19 days, though, before I felt poetically tired. Last year it only took a week and a half!

Day 17 - Write a science poem.


Long day, achey legs,
floppy arms, too tired to move properly.
You and I
settle in to each other
for a movie with no other
to rest.
I know this movie already.
I know that the bills
need to be paid,
clothes laundered and put away.
My room needs cleaning,
the pets need to be fed,
forms must be filled out,
and tomorrow we both have to
go back to work, which means
I know I have to make lunches
tonight before bed.
I know you'll dose off
content to have me by your side
like a sweet baby with no obligations
but to be itself.
I know the dishes need doing.
I know my bank account
is low and I need to
my check book.
I know the phone bill
needs paying.
I know you need a back rub
from the day we had.
I know you are warm
and I know I'm safe
nestled in among your
I know your needs and mine,
I know we don't have much
Being self-aware,
omniscient about my entire life
is annoying.
All I want to know
is that all I want to do
is stay in your arms

Day 18 - Write a poem with the title "To _____"

With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson and the author of that ancient poem we all know about but have probably never read. (Reading tips: "Geat" is pronounced "Yeat". Also, this reads a lot better after you've read The Charge of the Light Brigade.)

To the hall, to the hall!

Night is come, night is come
night is come early,
quick to the hall of Hroogar
all you hold dearly:
'Grendel, monstrosity!
Run for your life' they say:
Into the walls of Heorot
came the great warriors.

'Grendel, monstrosity!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Yes, tho' the warriors knew
Some one was with them:
Theirs to support and watch,
While hardy Beowulf fought,
Theirs just to gawk in awe
In the meade hall of Hroogar
fought Grendel, outcast.

Stench in the midst of them,
Claws desp'rately clawing them,
Jaws gaping wide at them,
Inhumanly beast;
They stormed it with shout and yell,
Boldly they tried and well,
Flashing their swords and breath
Inside that great meade hall
strong Beowulf's Geats.

Without a weaponry,
carring for chivalry,
fighting him armlessly,
Charging a beasty while
All the town wonder'd:
De-armed the scaly fright
Right from its own great might;
Geatlings and Monster
Reel'd from host'le blight,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Beowulf, the hero with
out any blunder.

Bloody at right of them,
Bloody at left of them,
Still then behind them
Stomping and running;
Left, Grendel for the land,
Beowulf, the monster's hand
Crumbling like stoney sand
Mounted it to the wall.
Monsters forever banned,
Poor Grendel left the hall,
Left all of Heorot.

When can his folly learn?
In confidence he burned
from his great feat.
Dragon to fight at last!
Hubris he had amassed,
Died, Beowulf the Geat.

Day 19 - Write a poem with a person's name as the title.

C.S. Lewis

Pockets of imagination
Hiding in this tiny world;
You found them, and put your hand in,
Then you ripped them open.
Spilled their contents on the page,
lacing it with charm and wit
and well turned phrase.
Thanks to you my children will
never lack to know the value
of the imagination.