The presidential election is only days away and I don't know whether to be terrified or relieved. I am not interested in talking politics however, I like stories. My friend Emily has written a great short story which was published at Necessary Fiction. She is an amazing writer and I think many readers might find this particular story quite timely. Check it out here by clicking the link below. I'll post one of my own stories in a couple of days. Enjoy! http://necessaryfiction.com/stories/EmilyLivingstoneTheMagic
In the words of Austin Powers, “I’ve lost my mojo” - my writing mojo that is – and I want it back. But how do I begin to find it? And even more to the point, why bother? Honestly, it feels like a fool’s errand. Note the shameless plug I’ve just given to my (as yet unpublished) novel.
Here it is the end of another year and once again I haven’t realized any of my goals and I’m not just talking about writing either but let’s just stick with the topic at hand, shall we? As 2015 comes to a close I am still without a book contract, an agent, or a contest win under my belt. Motivation is at an all-time low.
So what’s a gal (or guy) to do? Wallowing in self-pity with Ben and Jerry comes to mind but that isn’t the answer. (Hint – it involves typing.) Like many would-be authors, I have dreams of quitting my day job to write full time, after selling my first break out novel of course!
Then it hit me. Maybe it’s time to stop dreaming and get busy. I’ve read that “real” writers don’t wait for inspiration, instead they just put their butts in the chair and write, regardless of their mood. I’m trying to relate, but as I am not feeling particularly inspired at the moment, the concept is hard to accept. Be that as it may, I need to reassess my goals and what better time to reflect and re-evaluate than now?
Part of the problem with my stated goals is that they involve other people. This is a problem since I never received a letter to Hogwarts and therefore cannot control the actions of others. (If only…) The key is to devise goals over which I do have power. For example, instead of saying (again) that this is the year I obtain agent representation, it would be far more productive to say that I will query 25 agents between January and April.
I should also take stock of the things that I have accomplished over the past year.
Prior to 2015, I had never written a short story. I wrote 7 this year and 3 of them have been published online. (Mojo meter is beginning to rise.) So, to the folks over at Bewildering Stories and Nebula Rift – Thank you for believing in me. I’m also grateful for “Mondays Finish the Story” online flash fiction challenge. Formerly run by Barbara Beacham who always gave her fellow writers encouragement. She will be missed.
Thanks to the course I began this summer at the Algonkian Author Salon, I am nearly finished with the first draft of my second novel – a story about a teenage witch.
The thing I need to remember is that ultimately, I am writing because I have something to say, something I’d like to share with others. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of writing? It is for me. So I will continue to write because I love the creative process and I have lots of stories inside me dying to get out.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the people in my life, both near and far away who help me learn and grow as a writer.
Happy New Years!
PS – For some cool speculative fiction (and where I’ve been published) check out the free webzine at Bewildering Stories (you can search by author – Lisa Pais): http://www.bewilderingstories.com/
Nebula Rift digital magazine is sold on Amazon and you can download a free sample. http://www.amazon.com/Nebula-Rift-Vol-03-No-ebook/dp/B00WFN92QS/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1451444057&sr=1-5&keywords=nebula+rift
PSS - My step daughter handed me a picture and asked, “Can you paint this?”
“Of course!” I told her. (That, BTW, is the attitude I need to apply to my writing.)
It took longer than I expected but I finally finished. Here is the end result. (Please note, it is not an original and I don’t know the name of the artist. If I find out, I’ll post it here.)
I’m not even going to talk about the Walking Dead today as I’m quite peeved. All I’ll say is that I feel like the producers of the show (or whoever has decision making responsibility) are jerking the viewers around like a cheating ex-boyfriend. Thanks for postponing the 2 hour season final last Sunday. The show returns on Valentine’s Day 2016. How appropriate. Not sure I’ll be tuning in…what’s the point? We are given 6 episodes and then have to wait 6 months for the continuation. Such a pattern is getting old. (Though Fear the Walking Dead returns in January…)
Ok, rant over. But I guess the little temper tantrum above can help me get into writing what I’ve found to be a challenge. You see, I’m trying to rewrite a scene in the POV of my 5 year old protagonist. Mind you the majority of the story encompasses the teenage version of her. But getting back to the problem at hand, writing from the perspective of a child, how does the aspiring author do it?
Ordinarily, I enjoy writing in the voice of younger characters and I especially like to write in first person (it helps to avoid head hopping.) But this particular story needs to be told in third person. My YA fantasy is a big story with lots of characters and my heroine isn’t in every scene.
So, I did some research on the topic of writing from a child’s perspective and I found some very helpful advice on these websites which I am posting here. Too bad I hadn’t discovered this before submitting my story to the Bookpipeline competition which seeks novels and short stories that can be adapted into movies. Unfortunately, in my haste to submit (I had only discovered the competition a few days prior to the deadline) I had rewritten the opening scene and placed it in the POV of a character other than my main protagonist. While I think it is works well despite some POV slips which I noticed after the fact, the problem is POV. I’m telling the story from the brother’s perspective which sets reader expectations that it is his story when in fact, it’s his sister’s. Hence my dilemma of trying to tell the story from perspective of a five year old girl.
Here’s what I found.
For example, at Advancedfictionwriting.com, Randy Ingermason, who devised the snowflake method suggests reading the following books: Clan of the Cave Bear and Ender’s Game whose authors use different ways to portray their young protagonists. According to Randy, Clan is written in omniscient voice, which allows the author to use adult language to tell the story and then shift into the child’s mind when necessary. This is the approach that I am attempting to use in my novel. In Ender’s Game, the 6 year old hero is a genius. Click here to read Randy’s excellent post: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2012/05/02/writing-in-the-point-of-view-of-a-five-year-old/
On Litrefs Articles, Tim Love suggests using a “fluid 3rd-person-priviledged point-of-view.” I’d never heard the term before but my understanding is that it allows the author the freedom to present a scene filtered through the eyes of a child while the adult reader can put his own spin on these events. Tim uses the example of a child bursting into his parent’s room to find his parents “wrestling” in bed. The point is that there is a knowledge gap between character and reader. Go here to read the full article, I think you’ll find it useful: http://litrefsarticles.blogspot.com/2011/01/child-narrators-in-adult-fiction.html
At Writers Digest, Steve Almond wrote a blog POV. My take away was this: Use the POV that brings the reader closest to the turmoil of the fictional world. As a writer you are trying to evoke an emotional response in your readers so write in the POV that will best accomplish this. That’s good advice. But what about reader expectations? If I start with one particular POV character, won’t the reader expect that this is the person they will be following throughout the story? Check out the article and see what you think. It’s a useful read: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/fiction-point-of-view
Arlene Prunkl discusses ways of presenting internal thoughts of characters, which is what we as readers crave. She provides some good solid advice. Click here to see what she has to say on the subject:
I hope you found this post helpful with your own writing pursuits. Please leave a comment or click “like.”
Stay well and Keep on writing!
The folks at Writer's Digest are offering a free contest for writers of YA fiction. I am so excited to enter. Here is a blurb about my YA fantasy A FOOL’S ERRAND.
For most, waking up in the middle of a forest dressed like Lady Guinevere would be weird. But for seventeen year old Dara Douglas, it’s weirdly convenient. Now she’s about to discover three things: time travel is real, this isn’t her first trip, and true love doesn’t necessarily lead to happily ever after.
Plunged backwards in time to a kingdom reminiscent of Camelot, at least she’s dressed for the occasion. Best friend Marissa is also along for the ride and the pair get to live out all their medieval fantasies. Hip deep in a world rife with castles, knights, and courtly romance, the girls are caught up in the wonder and pageantry of their surroundings. But it’s not all banquets and balls and once the novelty wears off, Dara is ready to return to the world of cell phones and indoor plumbing. Getting there won’t be easy however and after Dara learns some surprising facts about her parents, not to mention a little quality one-on-one with the prince, returning home takes a back seat.
New FREE contest for writers of Young Adult fiction http://tinyurl.com/nz6n2p8 Judged by agent @ericsmithrocks, via @chucksambuchino
Fans of the Walking Dead – fair warning. SPOILER ALERT.
I was so saddened by last night’s episode I wanted to take a bereavement day at work. Seriously. Of course my husband thinks I’m crazy.
“Why are you so upset?” He asks me. “It’s just a TV show.”
“Yes, but… “
He doesn’t get it. That’s too bad, because I think he is missing out.
AMC (the network that brings us TV shows such as: The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Madmen to name a few) is known for strong writing, compelling characters and intriguing plots. Their motto, if I’m not mistaken, is: Story matters here.
That’s the point, isn’t it? S t o r y m a t t e r s. Otherwise, why do we watch a particular TV show, read a book or see a movie for that matter, if we aren’t somewhat vested in the story. We watch or read to experience something. From the safety of our Lazy Boy recliners or comfy couches we can visit a new world, have an adventure, or experience loves first kiss. When you “buy in” to a story, you do so because you want to feel what the character feels. At least, that is how I am when I get swept away by a story. I am right there with the character, sharing their joy, their fear and their pain.
It is a state of being that I hope my stories will induce in others.
As for my friend Glen on the Walking Dead, yes, I have heard the internet rumors and hope that it was not his insides being gutted like a Halloween pumpkin. But time will tell. Until then, keep writing and reading!
And "Thank you, Glenn" you will be missed.
I'm so glad to have the chance to get back to Barbara Beacham's Monday's Finish the Story Challenge where she provides a picture and the first sentence. You write a short story between 100-150 words. Here's my take...
"Now this is living the life of Riley"
Paddy had it good. He didn’t have to hunt for dinner. He didn’t have to get his paws wet. He even had an indoor toilet. It’s true, I saw it for myself and decided that was the life for me. His life. So I put my plan into action. When the hairless bipeds came home, I’d be waiting at the door with my most pathetic, needy, I promise to wuv you face. You know, like a dog.
After a few days, I could see that it was starting to work on the Mrs. But I hit pay dirt when the twins arrived. Smaller versions of the Mr. and Mrs. They had come for a weekend visit. One look from me and they were putty in my hands. Now Paddy has to share. But that’s OK by me. I’m one of the family now and you can call me the Talented Mr. Riley.
Hope you enjoyed. Go over and check out what others wrote at: https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/
I have been neglecting my blog. This being October and all things spook-a-licious, I thought I should take the time to resurrect this dying beast by breathing life back into it. This led me to the question: why is it so difficult to maintain?
Sure, I could argue that working a full time job, family responsibilities, moonlighting as a superhero, fighting zombies…yada, yada, yada…well, you get the idea, time is a precious commodity. Not exactly a revelation is it? Who isn’t busy juggling life’s obligations and distractions? Reality TV anyone?
Still, I find blogging about writing to be a challenge as I’m often at a loss for what to write about. Posting my daily word counts aren’t going to get a reader’s heart racing. If I was blogging about a particular hobby, say bird watching, I could post the pictures that I took while out birding (is that the correct term?) and maybe feature a bird of the week with some fun and interesting facts.
The obvious choice would be to share my work. But that poses a unique problem. You see, I am looking to be traditionally published. So while I am eager to share my stories with the world, once posted on my site, I cannot sell the story for publication. Talk about a conundrum.
Here’s what I’ve decided to do. Right now, I’m taking an online writing class and will share what I’m learning beginning with premise and theme.
So, what’s a premise? Do I need one? What’s a theme? And what’s the difference?
Here’s my understanding. Basically, the premise is what your story is about. You’re “what if” idea. When you tell a friend about a movie or TV show, you are usually telling them the premise.
“Hey Bob, I just saw the latest Jurassic Park movie.”
“Cool, what’s it about?”
“Genetically modified dinosaurs are theme park attractions. One of the dinosaurs is engineered to be bigger and meaner than average and gets loose while the park is full of people.”
That’s the premise, the unique story idea. The theme on the other hand, proves the “truth” of premise. For example, let’s say I write a SF story about a futuristic society that has mastered mind uploading and my idea or “what if” scenario is what happens when a teenage girl goes through with the process?
As the story unfolds, I answer that question which in this case, the results did not turn out as expected or desired by my protagonist. Now, keep in mind that this premise is for this one particular story. I then need to prove my premise by the end of the story. That’s were theme comes in and the theme for this particular story is technology is bad.
According to writing guru Rob Parnell (love this guy) premise is what your story is about and the theme is the end result. My favorite example he uses: Harry Potter - The premise is a young boy discovers he's a wizard. The theme is anyone can become a hero. You can read his blog here: http://easywaytowrite.com/theme_and_premise.html
That’s all for today. Keep on writing!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had a chance to participate in the fun fiction prompts over at Barbara Beacham’s blog: https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/
She provides a picture and the first sentence. The writer provides a short story between 100 to 150 words. Believe it or not, it’s a lot harder than it sounds and to be honest, I went over the word limit this week. Shhh…don’t tell. It’s still pretty short at 250.
Finish the story begins with: “Delphine always wanted to pilot her father’s plane and when he forgot his keys on her tenth birthday, she knew that taking off would be easy.”
Landing on the other hand…”Well, it can’t be that difficult. After all, what goes up must come down,” she announced to Toby then snatched the keys off the desk and headed outside. No worries that the Toto look-alike would rat her out. She peered around the side of the barn - all clear- then sprinted toward the crop duster. When she got to the plane the ladder was already lowered enabling her to climb inside the cockpit and she took it as a good sign. Must be my lucky day.
Although she had never ridden solo, she’d played co-pilot several times. Unofficially perhaps, but she knew what every button did and had no doubt in her ability to fly this plane. Determined to prove it, she stuck the key in the ignition. Do I really dare?
“Yup,” she said out loud then turned the key. She performed the usual safety checks and then pulled back on the throttle. The plane bumped along as it picked up speed and then she felt a jolt as it caught the wind and tilted upward.
“Yes!” She yelled and fist pumped in gleeful triumph. Soaring higher Delphine handled the plane like a pro. Below her the town spread out like a miniature replica, the farms a patchwork quilt dotted with dollhouses. Although she considered landing in a nearby airfield, she turned the craft around and made a proper landing on the front lawn of her family’s farm rather than the designated airstrip out back.
“That will teach him to forget my birthday.”
Hope you enjoyed my little story. Now go check out what the others have written at: http://new.inlinkz.com/view.php?id=542209 (This is the direct link. For some reason, I can’t seem to provide the frog link.)
Time for another Monday challenge! This week Barbara Beacham has provided us with the following picture and sentence: “At first, it looked like an ordinary marble, but it was far from it.”
I came in at 126 words, which is a good thing since part of the challenge is to stay within the word count of 100-150 words.
“At first, it looked like an ordinary marble, but it was far from it.”
Well, perhaps not the marble itself, but its appearance here was out of the ordinary and certainly unexpected to say the least.
“Oi Nick, what’ve you got there?” Marissa asked.
Nick stood up and held out his palm revealing the glass marble.
Marissa gasped, then looked up at him, eyes wide. “Impossible,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
“It’s not yours then?”
A loud roar not 3 klicks away broke the spell the shock of finding the marble had put them under.
“Let’s go,” Nick said. “We can do a full analysis back at the lab. I don’t want to be the protein du jour for T-Rex.”
With that, he and Marissa ran back to the time machine and jumped in.
I hope you enjoyed my flash fiction tale. Please check out what the other authors have written over at Monday’s finish the story. This is the direct link. http://new.inlinkz.com/view.php?id=534216 Just click on a picture and start reading.
Thanks for stopping by!
I have another story out today over at Bewildering Stories, an online magazine. Please click the link and check out my short fiction “The Discarded” which poses the question, what happens to toys that have bonded with their owners? http://www.bewilderingstories.com/
I'm in issues 624 and 622. I'd also like to thank the folks over at Bewildering Stories for all their time and efforts. Please check out this speculative fiction ezine!
I'm a Registered Nurse so my writing credits have been limited to the noting of med orders and the reporting of bodily functions. Though I'm no longer an active Florence Nightingale, I'm glad for the experience. With regard to writing, I have more information on my blog - which is a bit experimental at this point.