Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
I had a beautiful childhood, lots of extended family, an aunt I considered my big sister, cousins galore. But on the day to day basis of a work week during the summer, I was basically on my own, having to occupy myself. Not hard when I spent those days on my grandparents' farm. I dug clay out of the dam my grandfather had built and shaped it into all kinds of animals. Birds were the easiest. I fished a lot. Got really good at playing pool by myself. And when I discovered books, I spent a lot of time on the porch swing going on adventures with other kids my age. My reading and comprehension improved quickly and my wild and crazy imagination found a purpose. It wasn't long before I started dreaming up adventures for my own characters.
Books still save me from the harshness of reality sometimes. They've rescued me many times over the years, both reading and writing them. It's an escape I think too few people use. Life can get downright nasty at times. It can't be ignored. Unpleasant things need to be taken care of and dealt with. It's refreshing, though, to open the cover of a book and leave life behind for a half hour or so a day. And sometimes what can be learned inside those covers can help you get a good perspective on a bad situation in life. Books aren't only for vacations where everything is great. Take refuge in them sometimes even when things aren't.
Monday, June 25, 2012
So what's the best way to create a fantastic title?
Here's some tips:
- Think about what the story is about - the ideas behind it, the plot, the characters. Write down any and all words that relate to anything tied to the tale. Fill the page, or pages, with as many nouns and verbs as you can.
- Cross out ones that are too cumbersome, bland, overused, or otherwise not pleasant.
- What's left? It might seem like a jumbled mess, but start rearranging those darling words anyway, add conjunctions, prepositions, adjectives - don't be afraid to get wild with it. Keep it simple, keep it catchy, keep it connected to something in your story.
- You'll be left with a list of a few groups of words, some you'll cross off just because they don't click, others might be so-so. If you can't pick out one with a "That's it!" kind of feeling, hold on to a few good ones while you write, chances are, as the story and characters unfold, one of those options will get stronger, or change a bit to reach that point.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
So when I saw another blog making comments about today's youth not being interested in books due to addictions to cell phones, Ipads, email, facebook, twitter and the like, I'm afraid I can't fully agree. I've been immersed in the younger crowd with my kids, their friends, and my nieces and nephews. What impresses me is the number of kids nowadays who love books.
As my middle daughter, and now my youngest say, books can take you somewhere nothing else can. I had a technology addict (my oldest), but even she is more interested in living life now. The arrival of technology for books (Kindle, Nook etc) has blended the two, but I still hear from so many how reading a book in actual print is so much better.
Being an author and an editor, I've known there is a difference between reading on screen and reading print for me, at least. Recently I read an article bringing up the question of how our brains take in print words differently than electronic ones. No studies that I know of are complete on the actual differences, but there are many opinions on the subject. Read this article from The Chronicles of Higher Education here just to get you started.
For me, growing up in the '80s, and raising my girls through the 90s and 2000s, I'm seeing a trend that encourages kids to read. Some won't, we can't all love books, but in my opinion, the percentage of those who know the value of a good, print book has gone up from when I was a kid. Electronic for some does the same. Either way, we all still love a good story to whisk us away and give us an escape like nothing else can. That, I hope, will never change.
Friday, June 15, 2012
I credit my parents really. I had the opportunity to take a creative writing course, one I couldn't afford, yet my enrollment happened anyway - didn't take me long to figure out who made that happen. My mom has always been my biggest fan, and my biggest critic when I needed someone to point out when something was bad. I learned a lot in that two year course. But it wasn't enough. I gobbled up "How-To" books on all topics related to writing. Articles and stories from Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark and many others taught me how to improve my techniques for suspense, horror, and fantasy weekly. And I wrote nearly every night after tucking my girls into bed.
I worked with editors for my first book and got some bites from publishers, but things just didn't sit right with me, the changes they wanted, the things they demanded. I kept studying, kept writing.
I published my first book in 2002. I had people coming to me for advice shortly after, got invited to offer novel writing workshops for Long Story Short School of Writing, workshops I still teach. I keep writing.
And I'm still learning. I've made mistakes in my writing, but I'm learning from them and fixing them. The biggest lesson I had to learn was that my voice, just the way it is, is fine -- readers like it. I have a couple titles where I tried to listen to editors or the well meant advice of other writers, but I did not do myself any favors by letting my style and voice get muddled. I've worked that out now, but I'm still learning.
If I live to be ninety years-old and write fifty novels, I'll still be learning. And I wouldn't want it any other way.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
I have to chase away the naysayer comments erupting from the back of my mind. Saying I'm not good enough, saying no one wants to see the world like I do or read a story my imagination creates.
I am a writer, and I am very good at what I do. My stories are deep, crafted, and not predictable. My characters are developed, real, with heart and soul. I know this. Now I have to work on truly believing it.
Specters of the Lawless will be no different in those respects despite it being a different kind of tale for me. I'm actually looking forward to the unique aspects of it now. If only I can find the time to devote to it. Hopefully soon.
Monday, May 21, 2012
This was a wild and dangerous thing for me, but I had to do something. It started with the Pittsburgh Comicon. I've gone to the show for a couple years and found the artwork and all so inspiring. I couldn't hope to even compare to any there with my art, but my books, my stories maybe had a place there. I enjoyed meeting Star author D. Benfer in person, and artist Byron Winton and many others. I loved talking with so many new people immensely but have to admit it was tiring to constantly eat out and sleep on a strange bed. And, I'm sorry to say, I spent a great deal of time in my hotel room behind the closed door.
This past weekend, I had a table at the first Sci-Fi convention which just happened to be only a few minutes away from my home. I had a phenomenal time at this smaller convention, finding it easier to talk to my booth neighbors this time. I had the pleasure of getting to know author J. Powell Ogden from Ohio and author Kelly Martin from West Virginia just to name two. I also had vast opportunities to talk to so many people about my books and a little about my art, but the best part was hearing about them, what they liked, seeing their costumes, discovering from where they traveled.
I must thank all those who stopped by my booth and showed interest in my work. I do hope those who purchased one of my titles find an escape in an enjoyable adventure within the pages. And I look forward to doing this again soon.
The only downfall of being home every night - the dishes pile up along with the clutter. But this time the office doesn't look like a wild animal was turned loose within the walls. I was back to work with words again today, and I do think I may even be able to start on my new story, Specters of the Lawless. After I catch up on my sleep, Star work, and housework, that is :-)
Sunday, May 06, 2012
I remember his struggle with the illness that took him from our family when I was just a teen, the rock, the strength. Cancer is so cruel. The man who loved us all and knew what should and shouldn't be done. I remember feeling a shattering of all, a distinct undercurrent of massive change. I also remember my early twenties when I finally found peace with what had happened to this man who was so much to so many. And I swore I would live up to his beliefs, his honor.
True, I didn't know him in his younger years. I've lived long enough now to know he surely made his own mistakes in his early years. He was not a perfect man, but he taught me so much. He taught me that family is everything and that we should respect our differences. If he judged anyone, I was never aware of it. He never picked favorites or blatantly talked bad of anyone. He would dislike decisions, yes, but never looked badly at the one who made the decision. True I was just a child, and children were not involved in adult things back then. The feeling I always got though, from all those hours observing and listening to the adults talk at the supper table, was one that stayed with me. He put you in your place when you needed it how ever harshly he needed to (we are Irish after all), but he was not ever cruel. He was fair and just. He played guitar, raised livestock, farmed fields, respected the land, and created art with wood - shelves, grandfather clocks, porch gliders. He laughed and he cried, but most of all, he loved us all.
In his memory, during my early twenties, I promised to treat all with respect, stand up for what was right. Do right by anyone I met, never do harm to any or hurt anyone, or cause undo stress on anyone for any reason on purpose. And I have done so and will continue to do so to the best of my abilities.
It saddens me to know I have many cousins who didn't get the chance to make memories with this man. It saddens me just as much that he is not here to give stability to an ever increasing avalanche of bad events ripping apart what once was good, shattering bonds for what? I truly do not know. A twisted and ugly mess. And I wonder how, why (that I will never understand), and I hope and pray he is not watching, that he rests in peace.
I will live to honor his memory, as will my children. There are things you just do not do to anyone, let alone family. I remember even if others do not. I'm sorry grandpap, that I couldn't do more. But I promise I will never be a part of any hate or harm to anyone. And I promise to teach my children the same. In your name, I promise that.
And I will always remember you well....
Monday, March 26, 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Over the years I've been asked many questions about my writing. I've been writing -- seriously working the craft -- since the early 1990s. During all this time, some questions have been asked over and over - why I write in the point of view of so many male characters is one of them.
My first book featured 17 year old Codey Mathews as the star character. He was center stage and did not share it with a female lead. I don't know why, it was just the way the book unfolded. My second book featured a young mother, Cierra Lancing, but she shared the main stage with her confidant, Tristan Durant. It was important to show readers what was going on when Cierra wasn't with him. The Manipulated Evil Trilogy balanced out between female and male points of view but the girls won out by one in the end. Rise of the Arcadians, Desire and Rand shared that stage evenly, like Bryce and Kynly did for Among the Ancients. With the Disillusionment Series, it's also been fairly equal, but I have to say Tarenek has been the most fun to write, and yes, he's male.
I guess the answer is that I really don't have an explanation for it. I've never had anyone complain, but a few have been surprised when they discover I'm a woman. I write the characters as they come to me, not paying any attention to gender - only to character personality. The owner of any particular scene is the POV I write. In all my stories, I use multiple POVs to show readers the full scope of what's happening to change everyone. From there, it's just how it all works out.