Updates sporadically.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's that time again, writers: NaNoWriMo

I've talked about it before. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The impetus that drove me to finally buckle my ass down and write after years of "not having the time" to write a novel.

Yes, I know the novel I'm talking about on here all the damn time is still unfinished. But little did you know -- that's what NaNoWriMo is for.

Here's the thing. I am a hyper-competitive person. I grew up with hyper-competitive people. I thrive when it comes to anything that even slightly resembles a contest. It brings out the best in me. Don't think you're competitive? Well I don't believe you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Everybody loves a redhead.

As a faux-redhead, married to the real deal, I think it's pretty much a universal truth: everybody loves a redhead.

All that talk about gingers and daywalkers, etc? Jealousy, pure and simple. Everybody knows that being a redhead pretty much makes you awesome. Redheads are fiery, fierce, sexy badasses, with a predisposition towards other super-awesome mutations such as pyrokinesis, superspeed, telekinesis, and superfighter-hacker-awesomeness (okay, maybe that's not a mutation). Yes, I am aware of my overuse of the word awesome.

I can get away with it because I'm a redhead. Awesome.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, today we're going to be talking about cliches.

Like the quick-tempered, mutant, sexpot, love interest/best friend redhead, there are a lot of cliche traps that an author can fall into. Character names and physiognomy, though, are the two we're going to be addressing today.

Look, I love a cool name with an encrypted meaning as much as the next person. And I totally get that the self-described "plain Jane" girl with the gray eyes and brown hair is supposed to be my cipher -- but that doesn't mean that I'm not over it. Because I am. Over it, that is.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fortitude, and other things that totally suck

Fortitude. More like bore-titude, amirite? Perseverance? More like ... snore-severance?

Whatever. You get it. Fortitude, perseverance and sheer stick-to-it-tiveness are sometimes just really, really, really boring. Especially since these things are usually perceived as an extended effort against the forces of procrastination and non-action. There's this idea that fortitude cannot coexist with inaction. Well, I say codswallop. Sometimes, a sustained effort is just not worth the effort.

Not that you should give up and walk away. I'm all for fortitude in the long term -- getting around to it eventually. But I'm not all about this kind where people expect you to just keep pushing. Just keep doing a little bit everyday, whether you feel it or not. I'm not into the whole "fake it 'til you make it" fortitude.

Not a fan.  Not when it comes to writing.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of anything of the "do a little everyday" variety. People with the ability to wash the spoon instead of putting it in the sink, or to throw their socks in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor -- to me, they might as well be flying or shooting lasers out of their eyes. They might as well be Superman, because they clearly are being given powers by our yellow sun that I simply do not possess. But at least when applied to socks and spoons the end product is a clean house. When applied to writing, the end result is more like a big lump of unusable boredom that you've painfully slathered on a page.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

F**K it, I'm e-publishing.

Sometimes, the desire to throw your hands up in the air and yell "F**K IT" to the world is nearly overwhelming.

Robin, on the other hand, is merely whelmed.
I felt this way three days into my first querying process. The first querying process be laughably premature, but we'll talk about that more later. That point is that, clearly, I need to work on my stamina.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Seriously -- Get to the point already!

First of all -- I somehow completely missed Thursday. I think I'm stuck in some sort of temporal anomaly. This week seems to have been three weeks long, and none of them contained a Thursday.

"We seem to be experiencing a temporal anomaly, Captain."

Enough apologizing, though. For this ThurFriday, I'm giving you some damned good advice. Advice I totally thought up on my own and completely applies to my manuscript.

Or, at least, it will be after I reorganize the first 70 pages of my novel. Okay, I'll own up to it: sometimes, the advice I pass onto you is just advice that's given to me. Is that stealing?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VILLAINS! Are they really such bad guys?

Look, I know it's not exactly nice when the Joker runs around laugh-gassing people to death, or when Walter White gets all mega-murdery. But the key to a good villain isn't that we look at what they do and go, "Wow, that's so bad". That's just the villain part. What makes a good villain good is the tantalization that they may, in fact, be an agent of good or rightness in their own minds.

Let's look at Walter White: the anti-hero turned villain. Don't believe me? As the main character, the show is designed for you to root for him. Even if you know that what he's doing is wrong (drugs are bad, mmkay?), you still want him to win (or, at least, you did at some point). But, despite being the main character, by the end of it the guy is absolutely a villain. He's the villain to his family, to Jesse, to Hank and to himself. And he is a terrific villain, all the more so because you didn't even realize he WAS the villain until you were already completely wrapped up in him. You were justifying his horrific crimes for him through about 80% of the series. And admit it -- you probably cheered for him way longer than you should have. Maybe even in the final episode, am I right? Look, no spoilers here. But the fact is, Walter started out a villain, you just didn't notice. Remember that first episode? Remember how he was a meth-cooking murderer aroused by danger even then? No? Well, he totally was.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hey, Katniss McToughPants: Enough Already.

I'm going to say something shocking.

I am so over tough girls. "Strong female characters". Whatever you want to call them. The woman carved out of rock whose stoicism borders on sociopathy. They're overdone, they're boring, and they frustrate the shit out of me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Summaries are just the worst.

I am horrible at summarizing.

Never ask me to describe a movie or book to you. You will regret it. I will remember small details, forget to tell you the important things like character names, be incapable of identifying the key plot pots vs. the subplot points, and will always finish my description of beloved stories in the same way: "I swear, it's good."

Do you think I'm exaggerating, or that all this doesn't sound so bad?

Example, then. I was once asked to describe Stranger in a Strange Land

My description: "There's this guy who grew up on Mars and was raised by Martians and there were no humans because the astronauts all killed each other but he was okay because he was born there somehow, I forget, and could breathe and everything. And then humans find him, other astronauts, like, 20 years later and he becomes a cult leader or something and it's about grokking things and they eat each other. I swear, it's really good."

Stranger in a Strange Land, as told by me. Little Mikey sure has an ambitious appetite.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Schmantastic List of Fantasy: Fantastic-Schmantastic Halloween Costumes

Happy First Thursday! Believe it or not, we've already hit October, which means it's the Halloween month. Halloween is my favorite holiday -- I love any excuse to get in costume.

So, in the spirit of Halloween and Schmantasticness, I present to you:

The Schmantastic List of 8 Literary Halloween Costumes

                                                    
There were some important qualifications to make this list. The costume needed to be easy to put together, recognizable (at least to the well-read) and salvageable. No pre-packaged costumes here -- time to head to the thrift store and break out the needle and thread. So let's check it out!


Green Arrow

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marlowe Hammer, Mxyzptlk and other horrible name problems

Names are the worst.

No really. They are just horrible. Trying to figure out names for characters is like naming a baby, but a least a thousand times worse. Because this is LITERATURE, you know? You need a name that is meaningful, even iconic. Certainly memorable at the very least. You want to name the next Harry Potter, the next Captain Ahab, the next Atticus Finch. You certainly don't want a mess like Anna Karenina. Hell, it took you 400 pages just to figure out that Kotsya is Konstantin, and Konstantin Dmitrievich is Konstantin Levin and on top of everyone having three names all of the names sound the same. I speak Russian and even I got confused in that mess. Seriously. Seriously.

Anyway, here you are now on babynames.com looking up meanings and root languages trying to find snappy, memorable names that are going to put your characters on the map.

Congratulations. You know have a mess like this:

My partner says that this movie is a must-see. Or that it's truly horrible.
It was definitely one of the two.