Monday, June 18, 2012 updated date

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

I'm not sure how old I was when I first saw the movie Dune. I've actually never read the books, although it's one of my fathers favorites. I can safely guess I was about ten years old (although I was born the same year the movie came out), and really the only scene I remember is when reverend mother or whatever her name was presents the box to Paul, and he asks what's in it and she says "pain" then he thinks the above quote. 

I've always loved this quote, mostly because its true, but because it reminds me I'm not the only one who gets a little petrified with fear. And I think that's been the biggest problem with June thus far, I've been forcing myself out of my comfort zone...and moving (and moving always ALWAYS freaks me out). 

As most of you guys know I went to Book Expo America (BEA) at the beginning of this month. And it was awesome. First of all I met so many amazing book bloggers there. Like Mandi Kaye at Never Too Fond of Books, who was nice enough to show me around the first day, and like a zillion others. BEA was a surreal experience. I mean it really was. Literally I would walk around the aisles of this strange land of booths and people would either put books/Galleys/Proofs on the floor that you could take, or there would be people walking around handing out copies of books, and I'm really excited about pretty much all of the books that I got, although I was a bit disappointed by the lack of adult genre books. For the most part all of the books were YA. 

The thing is, I kept waiting for someone to realize that I wasn't supposed to be there. I mean, there is a reason publishers are giving books to the people there. To get them to read them, write about them/talk about them, and generate excitement about them. And while I'm a blogger, am I a book blogger...probably not. I'm not even sure what a book blogger is. So the entire time I was there, I was looking around, waiting for someone to realize I wasn't supposed to be there and call security. But it never happened, and even though men in suits and sun glasses (yes I imagine BEA security to look something like characters from Men in Black...I blame it on living in DC) didn't show up, I never was able to shake that feeling of being an impostor, which is probably why I'll either start blogging about books more often (in July), or I might start a second blog to blog about books...maybe. 

Although those thoughts need to wait to be addressed until July, which is when I hope to resume a normal schedule again. This week the focus is on moving, and surviving, and probably on reading, and writing. Then next week I'll be teaching Middle School Boot Camp again, then there is the wedding and July. 

Wish me luck. How's your June going? 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Keep it Simple...

Recently, one of my writer friends gave me some of the best advice, I think, I've ever received about writing. Now, I've received this particular bit of advice before. It's not new advice. In fact its probably something people have been telling other people for centuries. It's also something people have been ignoring for centuries.

Paraphrased the advice is; keep it simple, stupid. Of course the real advice was something more akin to, "don't let your plot become overly complex as it gets confusing, and keeps you from putting all the fun unique things into your writing" or some other wordy nonsense. Needless to say, I like my version better.

I also went ahead and took this advice one step further, you see, this weekend I was up in Philadelphia with another writer friend, and I was helping her brainstorm a plot. I told her my new plot rule, and she asked for an example. Which of course, stumped me. So I thought about it for a second, and after a second I decided, all plot, in the history of books, can pretty much be (or should be) summed up into one sentence, no more than five words.


Destroy the Ring (LOTR)
Kill the Emperor (Mistborn...or Star Wars)
End the war (the plot I gave my friend)
Save the planet (Captain Planet...what can I say, I'm sleep deprived. Or Well of Ascension)
Don't get killed (Cold Fire/Cold Magic)
Survive the Games (Hunger Games)

Now, I'm not saying that's all the plot should be. Once you have your core plot you can add things to it, and make things interesting.  LOTR's is a three book series in which the Main Character is simply trying to walk into Mordor and destroy the Ring...that being said, there is alot of interesting things, namely characters that get thrown in there to make things interesting. Think about how much more boring the books would have been (and notice I'm saying more boring) had Golum not been corrupted by the Ring, and Strider not turned out to be the Heir of men, and Saurman not going of and doing Sauronish stuff.

Of course, there are other schools of thought, like the only two plots exist thought, "a stranger comes to town" or "someone goes on an adventure" which I don't agree with. Then there is the make your plot super complex school of thought...which I've never actually heard someone advocate for, but I'm just gonna believe it exists anyway.

So, what has been the best writing advice you've ever recieved.

I'm off to BEA, very sleep deprived  (something like 8 hours in two days sleep deprived). But hopefully I will be able to get caffeine between here and there.