Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting to Know Me!

I'm a big fan of Deanna Barnhart's 'Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest' – GUTGAA, for short.
For those of you not familiar with it, it's a contest set up by Ms. Barnhart in which you can submit a few paragraphs or a cover letter into the contest and have your stuff read and critiqued by your peers in the blogging community (super helpful).
One year ago, I entered into a similar contest not really knowing what I was doing, but excited all the same. I came in SECOND, and an annonymous agent critiquer requested the first three chapters of my book. Well, long story short, she's now my brilliant agent extradinaire :) So, real life success stories really do come out of these kinds of contests!  
Here's a link to my interview on how the whole thing went down, if you're interested!
Meanwhile, GUTGAA is, well, gearing up right now, and I thought It would be great to participate in the site's 'Meet and Greet' where you all come around to different blogs and we all get to know each other – another great idea :)
Here are my answers.
-Where do you write?

I write first in my head, and I scrawl out my ideas into a notebook – a nice one from the Barnes and Noble journal aisle. Then, I sit on front of my computer in my work-from-home office and type it all out into a word doc.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

HAH -- my fantasy football line-up, full of the cutest palyers I could draft. Also, my autographed copy of Mindy Kaling's book, and my Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
-Favorite time to write?

Just after lunch. It's such a quiet time, after all my morning work is done and before the afternoon truly begins.

-Drink of choice while writing?

Either scalding mint tea with a little honey, or one of those hard plastic cups that looks like a starbucks iced-to-go container filled with water+lemon+cucumber slices.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Complete silence. That includes the darling voices of my children ... hence the best writing being while they're at school :) The only noises I can stand are the occasional bloody battles from my husbad's video games at night or on a Saturday afternoon.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

For the book I'm revising now, I got my inspiration from a very famous female character who is weak and lets her feelings for a guy cloud who she is. I wanted to write a badass female who didn't need someone else to help her define who she is. Thus, Zellie was born :)

For the book I'm in the middle of, I wanted t owrite a ghost story that redefined the idea of why ghosts stick around. It's about a psychic girl who doesn't want her gift, but decides to use it to help two teenaged ghosts from the 1800s discover thier past. Inspirations: archeology, 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' and paranormal TV shows.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?

Just do it. The only way you're going to write something is if you do it. The only way to get better and gain experience is to do it. Try to make a little progress each day -- one word, or even one re-read, is progress.

Friday, June 1, 2012

'Hi ... Have We Met?'

People, I am on a bridesmaid-dress-saving diet for the next 6 weeks, I got up at the crack this morning just to have my equally unenthused running partner cancel, and my arms are tanned two different colors.

... I think I need a break from my first-world problems, please. Thus, I have created something wonderful to help me dive into my self-created realities – and to share with all of you!

(First, you have to imagine me talking like one of those elixer salesmen from the 1800s who pop up in dusty towns with little carts and ear horns, then dissapear overnight.) (Not that I'm one of those – my stuff actually works.)

Dialogue not working for you? Your characters getting muddled together? Want to throw a drink at that bubbly writer who keeps saying, 'I swear, sometimes they just write themselves!' ??

Look no farther! I offer you:
Amber Plante's 'Hi ... Have We Met?'
character development sheet!

I've scoured the Internet's best sources – acting coaches, English professors, even my own experience – and created the perfect personality profile for discovering who your characters really are in relation to the story you've created. I didn't re-invent the wheel here, folks. It's just a good alternative – or starting-off point – if you are looking to really get to know, remember and quickly recall who your characters are as you're writing. At least, it's really helped me.

The idea is simple: Other character sheets are, at their best, a list of questions. How boring and easily forgetable. Mine, however, is a printer-friendly (set yours to landscape, please) three-page packet that you can easily reference in the middle of a particularly difficult chapter where you desperately need some reminding who – and what – the hell you're actually writing.

And, the best part: It's completely free. Take it – distribute it – please! If it helps one person as much as it's helped me, then I've gained all that karma back from making fun of an Olsen twin for dating a 42-year-old Frenchman with a huge nose (I mean, come on now, girl) and maybe enough to stop wishing Beyonce would show a lipo scar.

Anyway, this character development packet includes detailed physical descriptors, adjective prompts, fun questions, emotional triggers, character arcs and fill-in-the-blank flow-type diagrams – and even an image space to paste or draw in a picture of exactly who you are writing, lest you lose track.

Wait, why the picture part? Because my muses (as explained here) are not to be triffled with. They come on hard, strong and vivid. Why should I (or you) deny it if that half-nekked lead with pants so low he needs to shave is Ian Somerhalder? Or if your heroine has long dark hair and bangs like Zooey Deschanel? Don't worry – I pretend I'm casting them in a film version of my book, and we all get along perfectly.

So please: download, print, peruse and enjoy. The only thing I'll ask is that you please tell me if it's helped you at all. And, if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Trust the process, writers. The universe knows.