October 30, 2012

Writers Write (Good Excuses are Still Excuses)

I'm a writer. I have a newborn baby and a toddler and a preschooler. I don't write every day. I tell myself I'm tired, that my brain is too mushy to write, that I'm too busy, and that this is just a time in my life that's especially hard. Other people tell me to focus on myself. That I have enough on my plate. But you know what?

None of that matters.

Because I'm a writer.

If I want to consider myself a writer, I need to be writing. Regularly. Small amounts are fine. 10 minutes a time is fine. But I need to be writing.

The fact is, life is rarely easy. Sometimes I imagine myself 20 years from now, with the children grown. I'm in a quiet house and I'm always eager and excited to write. I'm always inspired. I have my own desk and a corkboard with inspiring pictures tacked all over it. I write for hours a day, blissfully.

That's a fantasy. It'll never happen. Life has a way of making sure we still have to prioritize. And being a mother of small children doesn't mean I'm exempt.

If I want to be a writer, then I must write.

When I look back and count the number of days I didn't write anything (but could have), I cringe. Those were missed opportunities. Times when I could have been focused, devoted, and loyal to my readers. But it's in the past. I'm trying to see those missed opportunities as a reason to change. Wallowing doesn't help (and wishing I had worked on my book doesn't make me a writer).

So I'm resolved to be more of a writer than I was last week. There's no excuse. Because writers write.

October 16, 2012

What's in a genre? What won't I write?

So far, I've only published fairy tale-related stories, so obviously I love fantasy. I always have. My parents read The Chronicles of Narnia to me when I was really little. My Mom read fairy tales and other folklore to me before I even started kindergarten. I'm pretty sure it's part of my DNA.

But what about the other genres? I had a healthy helping of sci-fi as a kid, too. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a favorite of my dad's, and was a favorite of mine. (Any episode with the holodeck or Q is a win!) I remember my aunt introducing me to Star Wars and just watching them non-stop for a week. I have vague memories of some of the classics--Planet of the Apes (the original series), 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Logan's Run come to mind. And I like to read in the genre, too. Some of my more recent favorites: Uglies and of course The Hunger Games.

I went through a stage in high school where I read classic mystery novels, mostly Agatha Christie. I even tried writing a whodunnit in 9th grade. I spent a lot of time planning the murder, but never really got past that. To be honest, I don't think I'll ever be able to write mysteries. They intimidate me. I mean, it's an entire genre devoted to being smarter than your reader. Writers that excel under that kind of pressure: you have my utmost respect.

I like paranormal, but I don't think I could ever write a romance. I'm just not a romantic kind of person. If a love interest blossoms in the midst of a plot, I'll go with it. It's more organic to me. But if I set out to write a romance, it comes off as awkward and bland.

Of course, I dabbled in thrillers for Cinderella and Zombies (which I never thought I'd do). Anything could happen.

What genres are your favorite? Are there any you'd like to try? Where should I go next in my writing endeavors?

October 2, 2012

Cinderella and Ivy Thorn: How my favorite characters came to be

Coming up with a character is a different experience every time. If you've been following this blog for a long time, you know that Ivy was actually born here, in blog form.

I've told this story before, but basically, Ivy was born when I realized my writing voice was boring, but the way I talk in a casual environment is a lot more fun. So I wanted to bring that out. Ivy Thorn is spunky and sarcastic and basically, she says all those things I'd normally be afraid to say myself (plus the things that just pop out of my mouth before I can stop myself). Ivy is the mouthy side of my personality, with a few tweaks.

Ivy and I are both military brats, but moving around didn't bother me as much as it bothers her. I drew on my  teenage girl-experiences to try to create her relationship with her mom (which, I know, is shameful at times). I tried to draw out all that inexplicable frustration I had at her age.

Ivy hates being told what to do. I probably drew more on my own six-year-old experiences for that. :) I was that kid that did the opposite of what I was told, just to show that I could. (Yes, I was a holy terror.)

But Ivy and I don't make the same decisions, given the same situation. She's more impulsive, where I'm more curious. I'd want to understand the ins and outs of a new situation, but Ivy is more interested in getting out of it (and/or sticking it to the guy making things difficult for her).

One thing I love about Ivy is that she learns and adjusts.If something doesn't work, she tries something else. We'll see a lot of that in book 2, where she's a lot more cautious (seeing as being forward and impulsive made things so difficult for her in book 1). But we can't change who you are. Ivy is still Ivy. She'll manage to get herself in trouble, so no worries.

Then there's Cinderella. Obviously, she came pre-made to some extent. But I made one major change. I've always hated this character for being so spineless. I mean, who just rolls over and accepts servitude? So I made sure MY Cinderella had a higher calling. She was going to be a kick-butt heroine, though just as hard-working, just as lonely, and just as clueless about what was really going on in the palace. She's still lower-middle class, she's still working herself to the bone, but she can throw knives really well.

As I wrote her character, her toughness started to bring out a new weakness--she was distant. She was judgy. And that worked well with Prince Kent's character because he wants to be tough but can't. I seriously love this atch-up because it came so unexpectedly. I mean, I always knew Cinderella would need to wind up with the prince. How could she not? But the WAY they came together was a surprise and just as fun to write as it would be to read (or so I hope).
.i2Style{ font:bold 24px Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif; font-style:normal; color:#ffffff; background:#67b310; border:0px none #ffffff; text-shadow:0px -1px 1px #222222; box-shadow:2px 2px 5px #000000; -moz-box-shadow:2px 2px 5px #000000; -webkit-box-shadow:2px 2px 5px #000000; border-radius:90px 10px 90px 10px; -moz-border-radius:90px 10px 90px 10px; -webkit-border-radius:90px 10px 90px 10px; width:96px; padding:20px 43px; cursor:pointer; margin:0 auto; } .i2Style:active{ cursor:pointer; position:relative; top:2px; }