Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Planning vs Pantsting and a Book Give Away!

I’ll fully admit that I’m a pantser. I rarely plan for anything. From what I’m going to wear in the morning, to the food I’m gonna eat during the day, to the books I read, to the stuff I write. To when I am going to do what in my free time. To what/when/where and why of my vacations (which has left me sleeping in train stations before, but thats something everyone should do at least once).

I often feel like I have two different sets of personality; I am either meticulous to the point of being OCD, like at work, or I am fly by the seat of my pants straight up chaos, like at home, which is why my room looks like a tornado hit it, and there may or may not be turkey skin on the kitchen floor.

Most of the time when I am reading a novel I can’t tell if it was written by a panster or a planner. Yet, every now and again I pick something up, and feel like the author must have done some excessive outlining. Or at least alot of re-writing, but most likely did alot of outlining. Even more impressive, however is when I read something and think, damn, I really wish I could/did outline and plan so that my writing could have that many twists/turns/reveals that you thought might be coming but really weren't sure.

And I just finished a series like that the other day. It’s called the Riyria Revelations by Michael Sullivan. Now I’m gonna go ahead and do two firsts today. Why, because I feel like it. Although I’m kinda scared...actually I’m very scared but what the hell I’ll do it anyway.

I’m writing a review of the series (not one book the entire series, but dont worry, no spoliers)

AND I’m hosting my first ever book giveaway! I will be giveaway 1 copy (only one cause I’m poor) of Theft of Swords, the first book in the series.

The rules are, there are no rules:

The way to enter is:

Comment on this blog--and say if you're an pantser or a planner and why (1 entry)

Blog about this book giveaway--and say if you're a pantser or a planner and why (1 entry)*

Tweet about this book giveaway and link back to my blog (1 entry)**

*please link back cause I'm lazy

**please give me a link cause I am tweeter illiterate.

So you can get up to three entries!

You dont even have to follow me, thats how much I liked this series! Although I would appreciate it.

On to the review (aka why you want to win the book):

I’ve read books that make me remember why I love language. The Riyria Revelations are not those books. No one would call these books a masterpiece of the english language. They are decidedly and blissfully simple. The writing is clear and concise, which lets you get deep into the story. Which is awesome. It is pure fun, and an enjoying read.

The story is about two thieves, who are hired for a job, a simple job. They are hired to steal a sword. But what starts out as a simple job drags them deep into a world of political intrigue and plots. Where our two unlikely characters are poised to save the world.

It is (as I said above) masterfully plotted. Each of the six books (condensed by orbit into three) reads as a stand alone novel, yet weave together to create a flawless story throughout. If you look carefully, and try to catch all the clues, you’ll still probably be surprised at the end, although looking back you will see the breadcrumbs left along the way. There is so much misdirection that you doubt your theories before they are fully formed. Hints of what is going to unfold.

A lot of series like this leave unwoven ends, thoughts and ideas hanging loose. This one doesn't (well it does, but its only one and I think it was deliberate and I can’t tell you what it is without giving a spoiler away).

My biggest flaw with the series was that some things were repeated a few too many times (although I believe this has more to do with how quickly I read it and the condensing from six books to three), and the last book felt a little rushed in a few places.

I think thats it. Now comment away. I’ll close the drawing/running/contest/whatever on 4/1/12.

Now for more blog type news...I’m gonna be out until 4/1/12. I’m off to teach civics boot camp again, and so I doubt I’ll have time to do anything, and any time I have to do anything will be used to plan for the A-Z Challenge.

I’ll end with two quotes of the day, cause sometimes even I am surprised by some of the things I say:

“Dancing is like walking in a fancy order.”

“Thats as confusing as murder”--dont ask me I really dont know.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Dreamed a Dream

A while back, like so long ago I cant remember. I read something about people who write based on dreams(probably on a forum or something). I remember there seemed to be a bit of a heated discussion on why it was a good idea/bad idea...I think. 

The thing is, I cant imagine writing from a dream. Dreams are too disjointed. They don't form a coherent story. If I wrote down a dream it would read something like, "My blanket is made out of kitten claws and lipstick" (why I dont keep my laptop in my bedroom).

But on Monday I had a dream, and I woke up right in the middle of it, and was like, what the hell was that. So I wrote it down (please forgive my crap-tastic first draft):

My stomach turned over, much like the bubbling water bellow. Twisting, turning, churning, the dark stream hit the wall and dropped straight down, disappearing. I knew the stream appeared on the other side, I knew it was deep enough for a person to stand in, without their feet touching the bottom, and I knew the current was fast enough that even strong swimmers didn’t dare it.

What I didn’t know, was if something was barring the way. Chances were there was a grate under the wall, or worse, something sharp. People didn’t leave without permission, people didn’t enter without being noted, or at least they wern’t supposed to.

More important however, water muffled screams, and blood would run with the current, out not in. And these people were not my job, even if they were trusting me to rescue them. For no good reason.

The job was simple, get in, get the information and get out again. The cell should have been empty, other people complected things. Getting out of the cell was easy, getting off the compound should have been easy. But once the lock was picked, I couldn't leave them behind..

The sharp sound of a twig snap, drew my attention deep into the surrounding woods. Something moved in the forest. A quiet mummer of distant voices. I glanced at the others, the two men, a woman and a girl that I freed from the cell. Although I wasn’t sure if any of those titles properly fit them. The girl couldn’t have been more than a few years younger than myself and one of the two men was only a few years older. They had heard the noise.

I sighed, reaching under my tunic and slipping a finger under the stiff laced linen corset to pulling out a climbing anchor, and tucked it into my boot, wishing I still had my dagger. Looking back at the group I motioned for them to stay down, and quiet, before slipping into the woods.

I could have just climbed the wall, perhaps I should’ve just climbed the wall. There was no way they could enter the stream quietly enough, but I had already gone this far, and the noise was probably just an animal. I wasn’t truly worried about being heard.

I didn’t have to go far into the woods before I heard the voices.
“Secure the area,” a man said, “form a perimeter.” his voice was gruff almost scraping.

I froze. They were somewhere to my right, close, but I couldn’t see them through the forest. I took a deep breath and moved so I was next to a wide tree.

“Out of eyesight.” a second voice said, his voice was softer, although no more gentle, cold and commanding.

“But Sir-” the first voice questioned.

“Out of eyesight.” the second voice said, cutting off the first. “Its my forest, I seriously doubt anything could really happen here” the first voice continued.

There was a long pause and then I heard movement. Footsteps moving off through the forest, not making any effort to be quiet.

I glanced out, seeing four men walk past the tree I hid behind, wearing dark grey tunics with telling dark blue sash’s. I shook my head, of course it would be the personal guard of the Marquis. I waited, as they passed, they seemed to be in front of, and to my sides, no one moved back. We couldn’t leave, but unless something changed, we wouldn’t be discovered either.

I took a deep breath, and turned to go, they hadn’t heard me approach, and now that they were leaving it seemed the best time to sneak away. I turned. I stopped.

Less than twenty paces, that I hadn’t heard be taken, stood a man. His back to me. He was dressed in layers of grey and black. Dark hair cropped short, revealing faint blue tattoos across his skin.

The hair on my arms stood up. I didn’t breath.

He turned towards me, and my pulse quickened, heart hammering in my chest. I felt the tree press into my back. His eyes met mine, and he smiled, taking a step forward. And--My alarm went off.

I embellished, and added a bit, to TRY to make it a bit more sensical (if nonsensical is a word, sensical is too dammit). I mean, the two things I remember with the most clarity was:

If they die in the water, no one will hear them scream. 

And the intense fear of that guy at the end. 

I spent most of Monday wondering what was going on. Who were those people, why were they in the prison, why was I in the prison, what had been my job, who was the owner of the compound, why could I move through the woods so I thought about it, I would ask myself what ifs? What if they were political prisioners? What if I was a spy, not for one side or the other, just selling information? What if the guy at the end was a member of an elite band of killers? What if he was a vampire? What if I was a vampire? What if I was a ghost? What if...what if...what if.

And I came to a conclusion, not about anything the dream was about, I have no clue about that. But what if asking what if to all of these bizarre questions is what makes someone a writer. 

Do you write from your dreams? 

What do you think is going on here? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Off to the Races, I mean movies.

Watching movies with writers suck. They are as bad as movie critics. Well, maybe not AS bad, but they, and by they I mean we, are pretty bad, I dont know any movie critics to compare it too. A while back, I had the desire to go see Cowboys and Aliens. Why, well because it has cowboys and aliens in it. Indian Jones, and James Bond, and aliens. Plus the preview looked pretty awesome.

So I gathered up some of my friends, Bobby McDaniel's from Wildly Urban, Jess Stork from Ink Spot Plot, Michael Sullivan and Robin Sullivan from Write to Publish. Now, Robin isn't a writer, but she is an editor, which makes her equally as bad.

The problem with writers, and editors, is that we have trained our brains to think critically about things like, plot, and tension, and rising action. We can suspend our ability for disbelief but we cannot seem to turn off the part of our brain that goes, hmmm, why did they do that, then.

Cowboys and Aliens was proof, to a large degree, that you can stock pile a tons of cliches on top of one another and still make a movie that's entertaining as all hell. I mean, you had the rouge bad guy, the tough ex military cattle rancher with a wussy kid, the worldly preacher man, the kid trying to prove that he is a man, bandits, and Indians. Who all band together to fight the aliens. It was a very typical cowboy movie, and a very typical alien movie mashed together.

Plus it did a hell of a job sexploiting (I think this is a word) some of the male characters--hello gratuitous ass shots of New James Bond--something Hollywood has been doing to woman for eons (well, for as long as Hollywood has been around) so it was quite an exciting/interesting/different change of pace.

But once the movie was over, and everyone had gone to the bathroom. We met, and started picking apart the plot. When she came out of the fire, it really suspended my sense of disbelief, etc...

The thing is, I think it takes a certain type of person to be interested in writing, and to actually write. I think you have to have a since of taste. You don't have to have good taste, although I think most writers do. You just have to have a since of what is good and what isn't. Then, you have to have an opinion, and perhaps a dash of arrogance.

The opinion and a dash of arrogance comes in with the fact that most writers tend to believe they have written something worth while, or else why would they expect others to read it.

Then we train our brains to think critically about what WE write. And think critically about the things other people write and ask us to critique. Which is all well and good, except, sometimes, you just want to go watch a movie.

What do you think it takes to be a writer? What movie/book etc thing have you read/watched/seen lately and really enjoyed?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IWSG: Thats so not funny! plus a blog award

Insecurities have never been funnier (well they probably have)
I don’t have a sense of humor. There. I’ve said it. I don’t have a sense of humor. This might come as a shock to some of you, who’ve been around for a while, and who’ve read some of my funnier posts, where I confess to things like taking a guy on a date to Costco…or telling someone their shirt feels like toilet paper. So, let me essplaine…no wait, there is too much, let me sum up. 

You see, in my family we have a pretty straight forward idea as to what is humor. It’s things like “Dude, where’s my car”, “Airplane” or ”Abbot and Costelo Hold that Ghost” 

Growing up, we didn’t have cable. Hell, sometimes we didn’t even have electricity. We did have a VCR though. So, my sister and I would memorize scenes from movies, or skits, or whatever, and re-enact them for our parents at dinner. 

My sister is a comedic genius. She had perfect timing. Perfect pitch, and even when she made a mistake she was hilarious. She could hold a softball in such a way that when she raised her hand over her head, it would drop, roll down her shoulder and hit her in the head, every time. Perfect for re-enactments of “Who’s on First?” And she could do voices. To this day I cannot do voices. 

I loved Mid-Summer’s Nights Dream (thats a comedy right) and she loved Mo Curly and Larry. 
So I grew up as the serious quiet one. I got to do the serious quiet parts in our nightly re-enactments. I got to do Wesly or Inigo Montoya while she got to do Fezik or Vinzzini (neither of us wanted to be the princess) Or I got to be Darth Vader and she would do Annikan (no one could make Luke I am your Father funnier than her) 

And my parents gave me Shakespeare board games, while she got movies. And I believed them that I wasn’t funny. That I wasn’t meant to be funny. 

Then I started this blog...and I wrote things, mostly to make myself talk about the shear absurdity of the situations I find myself in. And trust me, I find myself in some pretty damn absurd situations (like on a first date at Costco, or having my mom tell me we should have a midget follow us around and write down what we say) And I get feedback like, that made me laugh out loud, or that was entertainig, which makes me happy. But it also makes me feel like I’m living a lie, because the truth is, I’m not funny. Or I am deeply insecure about my ability to be funny. 

And I’m not sure what to do about it either. I have all of these idea’s for stories in my head, (mostly about my ridiculous family), like the time my mom and I hid my sister’s (who was dealing drugs) stash and held it ransom, so she would clean the house, so we could win a race to get free lunch...or like the time this guy thought my mom was a prostitute in Downtown Atlanta. Or the time my mom lit my neck on fire trying to get a tick off (vodka and matches do not mix on skin). 

I mean, thats comedy gold right there. But I don’t know how to write it, cause I’m not funny. Maybe I’m witty...maybe I can be witty. 

I think as a writer this is something I’m going to have to wrestle with eventually. But today is Wednesday, and more importantly it is the first Wednesday of the month, and I feel like I need fess up, for all you people out there who read this blog. The truth is, I’m not funny, and I don’t have a sense of humor. Or at least, if I am funny, I’m deeply insecure about it. 

Hope your all out there feeling secure in your insecurities. And go forth and check out Alex’s Insecure Writers Group. Here’s the Link again!

p.s. I apparently won an award. The award is for cool blogs who have less than 100 followers! (so apparently Jackie thinks I'm cool) Jackie over at Bouquet of Books. Thank you Jackie!!! 

like most awards this one comes with a few rules. They are as follows: 

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
2. Nominate up to 5 others for the Liebster Award.
3. Let said bloggers know via comment on their blog.
4. Post the award on your blog.
5. Consider signing up for the A - Z Challenge. It's a great way to find new and interesting blogs. I'm # 615. 

So here are my five very deserving nominees 

1) Jess Stork over at Ink Spot Plot (not only is she an awesome blogger, librarian, writer, friend, she is letting me write the FAQ's for her wedding website) 
2) Tobi Summers at Chock Full of Words 
3) Elizabeth Seckman at Use Your Words
4) Gwen at Fulfilling Dreams

Plus because I feel like it, I'm going to give a few shout outs to some awesome bloggers, who if you dont follow you should be following, even if they are well over 100 followers: 

L.G. Smith at Bards and Prophets
Libby Heily  (my blogging mentor even if she doesn't know it...she's my Dr Cox) 
A Beer for the Shower  (if you think I'm funny, its only because you are not following these guys) 
Alex J Cavanaugh (if you want to know whats going on in the blogging verse)
Bobby McDaniel (because he's my roommate even if he doesnt ever blog)

Okay...I'm done now, I think...I did 5 and 5! not on purpose, but I'll stop now cause I like the symmetry. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A tiny bit of random...and a few FAQ's

I missed my normal Sunday post, and not the newspaper kind. I wish I could say I was off being productive, job hunting, writing, you know...but I wasn't. I was in fact, re-reading the Riyria Revelations because I've decided that I'll finally finish that series, but figured I aught to remember some of it before I read the last book.  I also started re-watching Greys Anatomy, mostly because my roommate is evil, and also re-reading the Riyria Revelations and doesn't want me to get to far ahead of him (I'm about a book ahead).

I did do some writing, though. A friend of mine is getting married, and part of my present to them is writing content for their wedding webpage. I might have gone a bit overboard. The FAQ's are now something like 8pages...although, a good portion of that will be moved onto the "About DC" page, or cut all together.

I think I've been in need of some inspiration lately.  And while writing FAQ's is fun, its certainly not all that inspiring at least for me to work on my fiction.

But rather than let it go to waist, I figure I would post some of the FAQ's that will most likely get cut.

Why am I here? If the answer 42 doesn’t do it for you, you might want to check out this video (beware language).

Whats up With DC’s Street names:
DC unlike a lot of American Cities was actually a planed city. So it is laid out in a grid, with the Capitol Building at the center. From the Capitol you have East/West Capitol Street and North/South Capitol Street, which can be quite confusing, because if you cross the street you’re on a different street, even if you’re on the same road. Confused yet?

In addition you have numbered streets that run North-South, and move East-West from the Capitol Building…so if you are on 1st and North Capitol, you are on the north side of the street, one block from the capitol building. But there is also another 1st North Capitol Street. If you’re on the East side of the Capitol, it is on the West side of the Capitol.

To keep people from losing their minds completely, they decided to add Regions to the city. You have four regions. NW, NE, SW, SE. These are very important, because say, you tell a cab driver you want to go to 10th and F, and you forget the NW bit. So he takes you to 10th and F NE. You end up in a parking lot, in a questionable neighborhood, instead of that restaurant in Chinatown that someone recommended to you.

Now, my math is a bit rusty, but one group of streets, that don’t intersect (numbered streets don’t cross numbered streets, if you are on the intersection of two numbered streets you are very lost, so lost in fact, that I know where you are, you’re somewhere not DC) so, to make a grid we also have lettered streets. Letter streets run alphabetically from the capitol. They go East-West, and move North-South from the Capitol. They also follow the region rule. This is quite cool, because if you feel like doing so, you can always tell exactly how many blocks you are from the capitol by which street/letter intersection you are at. For example, 10th and F NW is 10 blocks north of the capitol, and 6 blocks west of the capitol.

Now, in case you still feel like you have a solid grasp of where you are; let’s talk about State streets. Because that entire grid thing seemed so completely logical, they decided to add State streets. Every state in the union has a street (according to rumor). These streets mostly run in diagonals throughout the city, in some sort of haphazard order.

In case you’re wondering the point of all this. Its to convay one message. It’s never a good idea to drive in DC.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse is there a contingency plan or a safe room that will accommodate all the guests at the party?

Yes, and no. Have we mentioned the wedding is on a boat? Since the wedding is on a boat we are going to assume that the entire thing is one moving safe room, unless someone brings the zombie virus on board. In which case, there is no safe room. But in the event of a zombie apocalypse, assuming no zombie virus has been brought onto the boat, were all in trouble anyway. I do believe the caterer only brought a limited supply of food. But don’t worry, we will go out to see and become pirates. So I guess we do have a contingency plan.

I hope you enjoyed my FAQ's 

Here is another video , and a photo I found online: 

maybe to give you some inspiration while I go look for mine. 

See you on Wednesday for an Insecure Writers Group.