Row80 Check in: Getting inside their heads

Which way did he go, George, which way did he go? ~ Bugs Bunny

It's Sunday evening and I'm wondering where my week went.  As far as writing goes I don't think much got accomplished.  I did start to interview Greg, my main male character in Eyes in the Ashes.  When asked him to describe his hands, got an interesting reaction.  

Greg:  He snorted out a laugh. "Seriously, my hands?"  I nodded.  He shook his head and held out his hands, looked at them.  "Beat up, rough. 5 fingers on each hand."  He flexed his fingers, stared at his palm and a sad look crossed his face.  "Strong and weak.  I couldn't hold on." 

me:  "Hold on to what?"

Greg:  "I never saw it before.  You can only hold on so long, then you have to open your hand, let go."

Me:  "Like a parent lets go of a child?"

Greg:  "I guess. You can squeeze them shut, but after a while you have to open, let go or it hurts more. Make a fist, clench your fingers, it causes pain.  Have you ever broken your thumb?"

Me: "No."

Greg:  I did in high school playing baseball.  Ball hit it. You use your thumb for everything. Major part of your hand.   When I lost my wife, it was like breaking my thumb. Had to learn how to do things without it, without her.  I was broken?"

Me: "Are you still?"

Greg: "No. Good question for a psychologist to ask. Look at your hands.  I'll have to try that with perps.  Stops you dead in your tracks. Makes you think."

Have you had any interesting conversations with your characters lately?

Sunday check in

Sunday Salon - character study

Nasturtium Waterdrop by Zen
So Spring segued right into Summer in a flash, which really isn't surprising. Sacramento's weather has a tendency to change on a dime.   I can't complain because now I can sit out on my patio in the morning, enjoy nature and write.  I think I'm more productive in the spring and summer - just something about listening to the birds singing, the breeze rustling the leaves and the cats hanging out and getting into mischief.   James has also started working ahead a bit with his lessons in the hopes of finishing everything by mid June so we can take a longer vacation. 

I've come up with a plan, a project, to avoid the summer doldrums and kept him from overdoing technology.  We are going to design and build bookshelves for his room.  He will have to be actively involved in every step and I think once he finds out, he could possible earn a little bit of extra spending money, he'll be jumping on board with the plan.

I've been editing my current wip and trying to keep the same schedule as when I was writing the draft.  Getting up early morning, reviewing and revising. However it's been extremely slow.  Over on Query Tracker Danyelle talks about left brain and right brain thinking and how it's easier for her to do right brain in the morning and left brain in the evening. Really!  Is that the problem?  Maybe so, maybe not.   I do all my best thinking in the morning and past 3:00, lessons better be done or my brain short circuits.  However,  I usually end up writing blog posts in the afternoon or evening so.... A bit of experimenting this week. 

Check on my fellow rowers here

I going to delve into my characters heads this week.  I found a great list of questions on Query Tracker "Dig a Little Deeper - Getting to know Your Characters" that I used when writing Red Thief and found out some things about my characters wouldn't have otherwise.  Asking your male characters to describe their hands or where do you have a scar and how did you get it or what is something you feel guilty about really gets the creative juices flowing as well as reveals alot about your characters.

The Sunday

Of course, all life stopped Thursday when Nora Robert's latest book "The Witness" arrived.  As far as I'm concerned she can do no wrong.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  I finally gave up on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.  It's one of those books I have to be in the mood for and just not finding that mood. So back on the shelf it goes.   I'm still working on The Brothers Karamazov and decided to read it as my main book instead of just treadmill book and hopefully make some better progress. 

And I'm currently listening to J.D.Robb's Judgment in Death - #11 from her Death Series.  Susan Ericksen does a wonderful job with all the voices and accents. I find myself listening now when cooking dinner or doing laundry.  Guess I'm hooked.    I've also discovered women narrators does a much better job with men's voices than male narrators do with female voices.  I was listening to one story and the male narrator reminded me too much of  Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes drag queen characters from the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar and kept throwing me out of the story.  

Do you have any favorite audio book narrators and what are you reading this week?

WIP Row 80 Wednesday Update: Time is fleeting!

Clock walker courtesy of Profound Whatever
Have you ever noticed that as you get older time seems to pass so much more quickly.   I really don't know where the week went.  Between lessons, reading, work, reading, cats, reading, editing,  and reading.... Well I think we know what I've been doing with my time.  *grin*    Oh and Eureka and Glee are back.  Yeah!

I managed to revise chapter two of my current WIP and give a bit more life to my main male character.   I can see where this is going to be a slow process.  I finished reading James Scott Bell's Revision and Self Editing in the Write Great Fiction series.  And he himself says

"Learn always about the craft, but when you write, write like Fast Eddie Felson played pool in The Hustler, fast and loose.  When you revise, revise slow and cool."
I've decided not to rush the process and do my best.  Going to give myself a few days, then start the next book in the series:  Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress. I like how they are all written in the same format which makes seem to all mesh together.   For the next week, will be working on Chapter 3 and rewriting it from MMC point of view. 

I discovered a new to me author this past week - Jennifer Estep who writes urban fantasy.  I've fallen in like with her Elemental Assassin series, devoured the first four books and just started #5 Spider's Revenge.  I really need to start analyzing what it is that draws my attention to these stories. Besides the writing that is.  As soon as I'm done reading # 5, I'll be diving into Nora Robert's latest book The Witness which just arrived today.  She, of course, is on my master list of authors to study - she is a writing diva.  I'm working my way slowly, very slowly, through The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky for my April Read a Russian Author Month. 

I'm persevering with the treadmill. Although I discovered something interesting.  I broke down last Saturday and bought a dozen bakery cookies which are huge. They have been affecting my stamina - don't know if it is the added sodium or the sugar but it's been more a struggle to get make it through my 1 hour workouts. Cross my heart and all the jazz, I won't be buying any more.  That and corn makes my nose stuff up.  Can't blame on the spring weather which I am so happy has arrived so I can sit out on the patio in the mornings and write. Have you ever noticed your productivity goes up in the spring? 

Social media - big fail this week.  Promise to make my rounds and drop by soon! 

So how are my fellow rowers fairing?  Making progress or revising your goals?

WIP Row 80 Wednesday update

This week has been a big fail for me as far as blogging and editing are concerned.  The taxes took up quite a bit more time than expected.  Especially when discovered to my dismay that all the nifty tax credits we received for 2010 went away for 2011, which resulted in us underestimating our business estimated taxes.  At first thought I had done something wrong and went over it several times.  Nope.  Then hubby looked it over and went through his usual grumbling about the government.  Now its time to just pay them and move on. The joy and the ups and downs of owning a small business.  Honestly wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world.  

I did get my test mile figured out and have been writing 250 words each morning. Sort of like morning pages, whatever comes to mind about my current story or just letting a mini story flow out. Now that's been interesting.  Despite the fact I didn't get much editing done, have been thinking about the story. I wasted spent some time making a new cover for Eyes in the Ashes.  Considered changing the title too, but decided to stay with it for now.  It's probably the least of my worries.

I need to move the timeline up, introducing my hero to the heroine and  having them discover Layla is missing,  sooner rather than later.  Have been contemplating their back story and flaws.  I figured out my hero's flaw.  Don't have any idea about my heroine - stumped at the moment. I'm sure my muse will reveal it to me soon.  Should probably follow Stephen King's writing advice and let the "boys in the basement" or should that be girls *grin* work on it.

I'm still reading James Scott Bell's Self Editing and Revision and taking copious notes.  He mentions F. Scott Fitzgerald who said there are two kinds of writers - taker outers and putter inners.   Discovered I'm more of a putter inner and to be honest I'm much rather be a taker outer.  Eyes in the Ashes is much too lean and I'm having a fight with my right and left brain at the moment.  

I've been reading a lot about editing, everything can get my hands on and I'm reminded of when we decided to homeschool.   I spent a lot of time, a lot of it, researching, then buying curriculum, setting up lessons plans and planning out our schedule. Came up with some pretty nifty calendars.  Anyway, found myself more involved in the planning stage and not so much the implementation stage.  Once I realized that and dove in, everything worked out great.  Feel like I'm in that stage again with learning about editing.   Reading, studying, planning, yet not a whole heck of a lot of implementation.  It just came to me a couple days ago.  *blush* 

However, Bell's book made me feel a bit better when I was reading about his philosophy of editing and he has quite a few helpful suggestions including taking the "long view" and I love the advice he received from a friend when he was in college about becoming a writer. 

   "Guard your characters. If you've got nothing in you, you've got nothing to give. Be prepared for an apprenticeship of years." 

 An apprenticeship of years. I like that.  My goal for the rest of the week is to edit 5 pages a day so I have something ready for the critique class starting Monday at savvy authors.  Business wise I know how to review and revise a business letter or paper or tell someone else how to rewrite theirs.  Writing wise, need to learn how to provide feedback without sounding like I'm telling them what to do. 

How is everyone else doing this week: floundering or going strong. 

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  I am knee deep in taxes so don't have much time to post today.  Nothing like waiting til the last minute.  *grin*  Be sure to check out Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  This week highlighting poetry since it is National Poetry Month.  Found some neat links to various authors and bloggers who are celebrating by writing some original poetry or showcasing poets. 

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.  For He departed, and behold, He is here.  ~St Augustine

Ask Frank (Peretti) Blog Tour and Giveaway

Back in the late 80's I happened to be perusing the shelves at my local christian book store and stumbled up a new novel -  This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. The premise of angels and demons battling over the possession of the inhabitants of a small town intrigued me. Have you ever read a novel that was so visually stunning, it creates a visceral reaction that sticks with you forever.  Frank Peretti knows how to verbally paint a picture and has continued to do so in all his novels from his very first This Present Darkness to Tilly to Visitation.  So when he released his latest book after a long seven years, I immediately ordered it and read it.  Illusions is one of those stories that makes you hold your breath wondering what's going to happen next. 

So imagine my surprise and delight when I received an email asking if I wanted to be part of the ASK FRANK Blog tour. I am the last stop on the tour of 9 bloggers made up of nine pastors, authors and book reviewers who had the pleasure of asking Frank all about Illusions, his writing process, his ideas behind the story and more.  Be sure to check out the other chats with Frank. 

 Can you tell us about the story behind Illusion?

As with all of my stories, there is no single source or spark of inspiration.  Every story comes together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle spilled out on a table. Lots of little ideas float around looking for partners, and then they connect, and then they find other pieces, and ideas lead to other ideas, and before long I start to see a story appearing. 
I suppose the love story in Illusion reflects my own marriage, my own love story in how love can endure, deepen, and take on such a transcendent meaning over time. I guess the love that Barbara and I have for each other can only be expressed by writing a story.
Why did you choose to use magic and Illusion as a framework for this book?

I chose magic and illusion for two reasons:

Obviously, magic would be interesting and highly visual, and would also afford plenty of opportunity for mystery.

Secondly, Mandy’s sudden, unexplainable ability to create and perform such mysterious effects works right into the whole inter-dimensional, time bending element, the “sci-fi bad guy” intrigue of the story.

What is the main idea you want people to take home after they read Illusion?

I guess you’re asking me, what is the story’s central theme? I would call this story a celebration, a depiction of love, marriage, honor, and commitment such as God purposed them to be, and on a deeper level, a parable about Christ’s love for his bride and how his bride longs to be with Him in intimate relationship.

And guys, this is not a “chick” book.  It’s a story for everybody.  We could use a few more Mandy's with tenacious devotion to their man and a few more Danes who give themselves for their woman as Christ gave Himself for His church. 

Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why? 

 As always, I’ll speak from my present day point of reference and say that Mandy (from Illusion) is my favorite character, and that is because she is, in the final view, a true hero and bearer of faith, hope, and love. 

What's next for you? 

That is the million dollar question right now. Barbara and I both feel that the Lord is bringing about a change in our lives, a new season, but He has so far withheld any details. I do anticipate writing some more novels since that seems to be what I do best, and I’m sure that these novels will arise from whatever it is the Lord is working in our lives right now.

Thank you, Mr. Peretti for joining us today and I for one look forward to reading your future novels.  I am giving away one copy of Illusions  and the giveaway is open to readers of both My Two Blessings and Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks through April 7th (U.S. residents only.)   Please leave a comment letting me know which Frank Peretti book is your favorite along with your email address.

Be sure to check out Frank's Facebook page tonight April 4th (9 p.m. eastern) and join in The Last Hurrah Party where he will be giving away more copies of Illusion. 

Thank you to Howard Books (imprint of Simon and Schuster) for providing me with a giveaway copy,  Mark of C. Grant and Company for organizing the tour, and Frank Peretti for writing such wonderful characters and stories.

Row80 Round 2 - Edit challenged

courtesy of Horia Varlan
It's time for Round 2 of A Round of Words in 80 Days which will run from today through June 21st.  My goals will be simple.  To edit, edit, then edit some more.  Finally getting a handle on it....I think.  Currently reading James Scott Bell's Revision and Self Editing and Alexandra Sokoloff's Screenwriting Tips for Authors. Between the two of them, I'm hitting the ground running. My goals will be simple this round

1) Edit suspense story - Eyes in the Ashes.  It's been sitting on the back burner long enough so going into it fresh. 

2) Sponsorship:   I am also a sponsor this round so goal is to visit at least 5 ROWers per day. 

3)  Writing - need to keep the creative right brain engaged so write at least 250 words per day, whether it will be the story, blogging, journal or just being creative and letting my imagination fly. 

4)  Blogging:  Besides ROW80 Wednesday check in's and Sunday Salon,  plan to devote one day per week to book reviews and hopefully get caught up. 

5)  Craft - Finish Revision and Self Editing.  Move on to Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress.  Interesting point - Editor Jennifer Sawyer Fisher who taught one of the sessions at Left Coast Crime said the best books on editing are the Write Great Fiction series.  Awesome because I happen to have to majority of them. 

6) Education - taking course on Savvy Author this round about critiquing.
7) Reading for craft - read 10 fiction books for plot and structure and analyze. Working on the list.

8) Exercise - treadmill 5 days per week

9) Twitter - I'll see you round the water cooler

My immediate goals for this week are:
1) write up scenes on index cards and put in order
2) Interview main male character and rewrite chapter two 
3) Design new cover - just for grins
4) Write up sponsor blog post and submit to Kait.
5) Write up book review for Frank Peretti's Illusion and ASK FRANK blog tour post for Wednesday.
6) Get started on the taxes!

Check in with my fellow ROWers here. We have a few newbies so be sure to give them some encouragement.   Plus Lena and Barbara are hosting the twitter party on the 4th. Be there or be square. 

Sunday Salon: Books, books, books

Happy April!  I just spent 4 days at the Left Coast Crime mystery conference and had loads of fun.  I think the median age of the participants was 50ish which mean lots of nice, friendly, classy people who enjoyed talking about writing and books.  I met quite a few new to me authors and came away with quite a few books.

Unfortunately my iphone pictures all came out fuzzy. I'm blaming it on the dim lighting and mustard colored walls, which is my only complaint about the whole conference.  I had fun working the registration desk and chatting with everyone coming in.  The writers workshop with Jennifer Fischer and Alexandra Sokoloff was very educational and had scads of fun eating lunch with 4 other writers and talking about, what else but, writing.  Now I reading Alex's  Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love and have lots of homework to do.  After the Deep Story class I took through Savvy authors and the complicated 18 scene structure, her 3 act structure made a heck of lot more sense.

The panels were informative and entertaining and enjoyed listening to James Rollins, Jacqueline Winspear and Rhys Bowen talk about their research process.  Robin Burcell, (Left Coast Crime's Co-chair), George Fong (retired FBI) and other retired detectives talked about law enforcement and forensics.  Dick Lochte, Cara Black, and Janet Dawson chatted about private eyes and Allison Brennan, Deborah Coonts and Terry Odell amusing talk about sex in mysteries.   The highlight of the conference (for me) was James Rollins interview with John Lescroart (which is french and pronounced “less-kwah”.)  They are both characters, very amusing and John's advice - write every day, finish the book, and everyone should read Elmore Leonard.

It's Read a Russian Author month on 52 Books in 52 Weeks and I'm diving into Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Also listening to audiobook Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb. I love Eve Dallas and Roark. 

Today life returns to normal and it's time to concentrate on the taxes, work out my goals for ROW80,  write posts and prepare lessons for the week. Tomorrow I'll be posting my goals for the next round of A Round of Words in 80 days and Wednesday will be posting a review of Frank Peretti's new book Illusion along with a giveaway.  Also Frank Peretti will be making a guest appearance on Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks for his ASK FRANK blog tour answering questions about Illusion and the story behind the story.   

But before I do any of that:

Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.  ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Sunday