Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time for that A game.

I'm ramping up to Warp 9.9 over here. That sort of means I'm going to be awol a bit from the blogosphere.

Whenever anyone says something like that it spawns a ton of questions, so I'll just head them off at the pass (to use another corny line).

No, I'm not about to quit blogging. I love blogging and the connections I've made with each and everyone of you.

No, I'm not suffering from blog fatigue. In fact, if I had my druthers, I'd blog more (and more AND MORE), but the reality of the situation is that there are a limited number of hours in any given day. I'm already pushing the maximum out put so something has to give.

No, I'm not putting my WIP on hold, though I am cutting back there as well. That hurts, oh that hurts. I want to finish draft 1.5 so I can edit it to draft 3.0 and start thinking about what agents might actually like it. Then I'll send it to a new round of betas...and see that, just the mention of my WIP and I'm jumping off the crazy optimist bridge. That's not my usual way. I'll try to contain my enthusiasm, well, at least on the outside.

No, I still do not have a defense date ::shakes fist in the general direction of advisor:: but the whole reason I'm moving to Warp 9.9 is the dissertation. I'll let everyone know when I do get one because I'm probably going to throw a party.

Yes, I'll still be posting, just infrequently and only when I have something to say. There's just no way to keep to a MWF schedule right now.

Yes, I'll still be reading other peoples blogs and commenting as much as I can.

 Seriously, this is just a case of giving myself some breathing room. I feel like I've been given four impossible tasks, so I need to find some time.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunger Games *Spoiler free*

I'm sure that by this point, I'm preaching to the choir, but I went and saw Hunger games last night. It was awesome. And not like a little bit. I cried, I laughed. It was fantastic.

As we all know, Hollywood adaptations are a dangerous lot. We all remember Eragorn and Percy Jackson. They didn't exactly follow the plots of their books, and felt kind of like someone just trying to make a few extra bucks (and for the record, those few extra bucks didn't go to the author). So it's no surprise that we were all a little hesitant about the Hunger Games. We've been burned before.

But when I walked into the movie theater and they were advertising BOOKS???!!!! On a movie screen????

Let's just say I was little shocked. Completely delighted, of course, but I have never seen books advertised in front of movies.

So, if this is the future of books and Hollywood, I'm for it.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it yet, and you liked the books: the movie is really great (although very intense).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reason number 4,582 that I'm certain I'm messing up my child

Okay, so I don’t talk about my kid that much, and I promise, I’m not going to. That said, this morning I had a prime example of why I’m certain my daughter is going to need therapy when she’s older. Now, from a philosophical standpoint, I understand that all parents—no matter how awesome—mess up their kids. My mother rather famously said “Oh, honey, you’re gonna mess up your kids. Parenting is just damage control.” Thank you Mom.

Right, so my daughter is a huge fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (I think this is some form of punishment, because I really liked My Little Pony when I was young too, but even I have to admit: Friendship is magic is really pretty darn good). Anyhow, her favorite pony is Pinkie Pie.

No wait, I’ve said that wrong.

PINKIE PIE!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that’s her favorite pony.

Well, this morning she came to me with mournful face and handed me her PINKIE PIE!!! doll and said “PINKIE PIE has a boo-boo.”

Humoring my three year old, I took PINKIE PIE!!! and asked “Do you have a boo-boo? Here, let me make it better.” I dramatically kissed PINKIE PIE!!! but then I saw my daughter was briefly distracted, so I decided to embellish. In PINKIE PIE!!!’s voice I said “Oh, thank you. That feels much better.”

My daughter’s head snapped around and glued onto the PINKIE PIE!!! doll. When I handed back the doll, she took it, eyes still ablaze in wonder that PINKIE PIE!!! had talked to Mommy. PINKIE PIE was put in a place of reverence on my daughter’s pillow so she could sleep while my daughter is at preschool today.

Yeah, I can already hear that counseling session: “And my mother made me believe that my dolls were real…”

Oh, and don’t forget to check out Tara’s blog today where she interviewed me!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You're it!

Both Carrie and Jessica tagged me with the Lucky 7. 

Go to page 77 of your WIP. Go to line 7, and paste the next 7 sentences into your post.

Here they are, seven unedited lines...

If all the Guardians wanted to be Knights, then they ought to be agitated, nervous—something. Disappointed at least, but these guys were like the Secret Service, except I couldn’t see any little ear bud cleverly tucked behind an ear. 

Of course, this is space, and these aliens probably have phones with more computer power than a syncatron. I’m sure they’ve got ridiculously tiny communication devices. My shotgun made me very self conscious. Talk about low tech-high tech. I’ve got a weapon here that uses chemical potential to propel a slug of metal. How primitive can I get?

Okay, I know, that was eight sentences, but one of them isn’t technically an independent clause, so I think I’m good.

I’m not going to tag any one person. I'm tagging everyone who reads this (and do feel free to ignore my tag if you've already done this).

New topic:

Since yesterday was the first day of spring, that means winter is over. I hardly remember a more mild winter. Are you missing winter already, or are you too ga-ga over the sprouting daffodils to notice the snow’s gone?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ah, California, how you know me

Topic A: California is awesome

Topic B: Allergic reactions are just like the flu only worse

My daughter is allergic to penicillin derivatives, and since she’s had a bilateral ear infection she was on Amoxicillin. It was her first time. It didn’t quite do in the infection, so she got another round.

That’s when she swelled up at all her joints and developed a rash from head to toe… the day before we were supposed to fly to California. The doctor wasn’t that concerned, but warned us that we would need to take it easy.

I didn’t realize that by take it easy she meant the kid wouldn’t be able to walk. So we got to pack the daughter around but only to places with stroller access or that we were dying to see (and by dying I mean lug a 35 pound kid to).

But California provided the perfect reason to stay indoors: it rained.

Now, I know that most people think rain isn’t a great thing when on vacation, but I beg to differ. The ocean is a fickle beast, and a storm blue sea is a treat to someone from the desert. We had a great—if somewhat less than normal mountain climbing—vacation.

I hope everyone else had a great Spring Break if you get one, or just enjoyed the beginnings of spring (where are my daffodils, I put in my order last November when I planted a ton…).

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's spring, so grow already

I got tagged by the fabulous Carrie for a number of things, but one of them was a set of questions. Among the questions was one that I’ve been thinking about making a whole post about, so I took it as a sign from the universe to write that post (be warned, this is long).

The question: What would the soundtrack be to your WIP?

The reason I’ve been thinking about doing a post on this is that there is something that bugs me: characters who reset. You see it all the time in sitcoms, there is a status quo and all the stories make sure that characters get back to that. That’s why the theme song to shows like Seinfeld and Friends stay the same. They don’t need to change.

I don’t write like that.

There are some cases where it’s just fine to reset, but I’m seeing an increasing trend of the reset in YA fiction, and that kind of bothers me. I guess I’m sort of an old fuddy duddy, but when it comes to characters, I’m a big fan of consequences (no, no: BIG FAN). I sort of believe that if you chase down the ultimate evil and barely survive fighting off the horrible wizard of darkness, you’re gonna be a little messed up in the head. You will have seen and done things that have left you scarred. If your faith in the world has been shattered, that’s going to affect the way you handle things in the future. Just look at any person who says something along the lines of “I had a really bad break up.” They just aren’t the same. My concern is that there aren’t nearly as many consequences for many of our hero’s actions leading me to question if we are beginning to dumb YA down. (Yeah, I know what y’all are thinking: “Rena, some people never *stopped* dumbing down YA.” A problem for another post, I’m sure.)

There are many who would say (Awesome Agent Kristen among them) that the difference between YA and MG is the reset. If you can bring your characters back to being a kid at the end of the novel, then it resets and you are in a MG novel. If your characters get to the end and they are scarred and see the world as adults, even though they are still teenagers, that’s YA.

The reason I’m a fuddy duddy is because I believe in consequences. If you decide to face the evil, you will not come back the same. If you win at any cost, you will be paying off that cost for a long time. This is what I refer to as the Frodo effect. Frodo carried the ring, but it screwed him up. It left him damaged and warped, and by the end of it all, he couldn’t handle living in the real world anymore, hence his trip into the West.

Tolkien was a veteran of WWI. He knew all about the scars of fighting the good fight, and finding out that even if it was the right thing, it may not have been a good thing. Actions have consequences. It’s as truthful as the fact that mass bends reality, causing such incredible phenomena as gravity (yeah, I totally went nerdy on you there).

Wait, Rena, you said this was about soundtracks!

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. See I wrote a story, and the soundtrack to that story was a fantastical, whimsical piece that I’ve linked to in my blog in the past.

This song is lighthearted. Yeah, it’s intense, but when the S#!7 goes down, it’s awesome and in the same tone (note, I prefer the full orchestra version, but it’s not easy to link to.), light, whimsical, mischievous. It’s absolutely perfect for the First Book of an old WIP that’s back in the queue to become a WIP again in the future.

But when my poor MC got to the end of that experience, Piano Fantasy couldn’t be her soundtrack anymore. She was hurt and upset. When I sent out chapters of the second book, my Mom commented that she was worried about my MC, that she might not have enough friends, that she was isolating herself. “I just want to give her a hug.” And Piano Fantasy isn’t the song for someone who just needs a hug. In short, the tone had changed, a lot. My MC had changed.

The soundtrack for book two of that series would definitely go to Through the Gates by Celldweller (I have some eclectic tastes, just bare with me).

She was isolated, and having a hard time relating to the people who used to be her friends. How could she talk about things like dating boys and painting nails when she had basically committed murder? She was having a hard time coping, and then things got worse. The world kept pounding on her door, and she barely managed to scrape by. We had a “happy” ending, or at least that particular problem was solved. For the second book, my MC was in what I refer to as survival mode. Yes, she took initiative, she didn’t just take it as it came. She fought, but she wasn’t entirely pleased to do so. She wasn’t reactive, but she was still fighting against the reality of the situation. It’s sort of like falling down and fighting against the effects of gravity rather than tucking into a roll. You’re already falling and nothing can change it. That was book two.

For book three, things got worse.

See, I’ve noticed something in my life. Life just keeps throwing stuff at you. When you think things are gonna get better, sometimes they get worse. A lot worse. Pretty much the choices are roll over and take it, or do something about it (this is why writing fantasy is awesome; in the real world, the shit you might get handed can be stuff like cancer, and there’s only so much fighting that can be done. In fantasy, our shit is orcs trying to overrun a castle—metaphorical cancer, sure, but less complicated and no chemo).

The thing is, it took me a long time to realize that fighting back was an option. Laying down and taking it is easy, just roll over and let the waves of life crash over you. I would always tell myself that I would stand up after this wave was done with me. But there was always another wave, a bigger wave. At some point, I just stood up. That’s what the third book was all about, standing up in the face of adversity. The soundtrack for the third book is Just Like You Imagined by Nine Inch Nails. It is hard, unrelenting, and driving (many of you may recognize it as the trailer music to 300).

My point? (other than thanks for reading this far?) The choices of our characters should have a long lasting effect on them. They shouldn’t be able to just shake off things like saving the world, or killing the bad guy. They will carry these deeds in their heads and on their bodies for years to come. In short, as much as people hate to let it happen, characters change. They need to. The wayward farm boy in Star Wars is not the same person as the Jedi Knight. He just isn’t (though John Williams did give them very similar soundtracks). It is their growth that is interesting.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Late to the party

Right, so I posted that my computer had moved into glitchy land? Well, yesterday I posted for IWSG, pulled down my lecture for the day, and Shazam! 52,000 event logs. My computer took a nose dive. It couldn't function, I had a cascading damage through the registry key which very nearly put my computer under for good.

I did not get to read IWSG posts.

So after some computer voodoo (and a new reg key cleaner), I'm back up. And holy cow, I'd forgotten how awesome my computer was when I first got it. It's like having a new computer without having to transfer all my files over.

In short, sorry I'm late to the party people, but I'm getting back on track.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Insecure Writers: Fraudulant

It’s time to purge our hearts of all our worries and anxieties. Be sure to join Alex and hop around to other blogs.

So, I’ve pretty much stripped bare already, so it seems like there shouldn’t be anything left for me to worry about. 

Yeah, right. 

See, in my brain there is this little person. For the record, this little person isn’t small of stature, just small of everything else: honor, logic, wellbeing, pretty much everything. This little person sits around and dreams up more stuff for me to be worried about, and no matter how hard I try, I always manage to keep him in a job. *Shakes fist at little voice.*

It is ridiculous that I worry, but it is especially ridiculous that I worry that I might be a fraud. Yeah, I might be a complete faker who can barely keep my life together, how can I possibly be a writer? How can anything I say or write possible be of any use to anyone? I can’t get to the grocery store on a regular basis, how can my mere words be meaningful? I can’t manage to get my WIP off the ground, why should anyone care what I have to say?

And worse, right now, I don’t even have a functional manuscript. Want to feel like a real loser? Go check out a bunch of agent judged contests where the rules are “For a finished manuscript only” and not have a manuscript finished. It makes me feel like a fake, a fraud, a hanger on in an awesome community--undeserving--because I don’t have a manuscript. I haven't put the time into my writing. I've been doing all these other things, important sure, but still not writing. But I am a real writer! I know I’ve finished six novels and I have nothing to show for any of them, but really, really soon, I’ll have a seventh. And all those other novels were just crap anyway, this one is THE ONE, so hold on there contest, I’ll be a real writer with a real manuscript in just a few months.

Then the realization sinks in. No, I won’t have a real manuscript in just a couple months. I’ll have a first draft. I’m looking at half a year to a full year before I have a “finished” manuscript. That’s forever in writer years. I know what the problem is, it’s easy to spot if I could just step back and look.

That voice. That evil little voice in my head dreaming up things for me to worry about. Like will my book be relevant in a year? In three years? Even if it does get published (practically the lottery at this point), will anyone read it? Like it? Is all of this just a pipedream anyway? Have I spent months ruining my life in my—thus far failed!—attempt to become a ‘real writer’?

Somewhere that little voice is telling me that not having a “finished manuscript” makes me a second class citizen, and worse, I used to be a member of the elite, a querying goddess of awesome. And then it all went away. I decided to make a change, and I had to yank my manuscript from what can only be called a tepid reception.

I wrote another book, but that wasn’t the stuff either.

And now I have a monstrosity of a WIP. I love it. My alpha readers like it, but they don’t love it. Even my Mom doesn’t love it (though she is always truthful and wouldn’t just blow sunshine up my ego). I guess it means more to me than them. So here I am, all my hopes in this one MS, and I can already see that I probably love it too much to do the editing and revisions on it I’ll need to make it awesome. This is why I feel like a fraud. I’m such a fraud I can’t even see that my broken WIP is only ever going to be loved by me.

Stupid little voice, how do I get you to leave me alone?

I’m a real writer. The only person who can say if I’m a real writer is me, so go away stupid voice. You don’t know me. You don’t know the stuff I’m made of. All the other weaklings quit. All the fakes and the frauds have already quit, and I’m still here. I don’t need you, stupid little voice, now go away.