Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Need a 4-Wheel Drive

First, I have to say fifty followers! Hooray! You guys rock.

Okay, on with the post.

I need a 4-wheel drive, because I'm stuck. Not going anywhere, no matter how hard I spin the wheels. I've only written like 2 1/2 pages all week. I'm approaching half-way through the novel and I finally got to the part that I thought would be so great when I was first thinking this up, and now I'm, "Okay, where was I going with this again?" So, in the meantime, I've been catching up on typing, blogging, reading other blogs, entering a contest, and daydreaming a lot to try and get unstuck. These are all worthy writing activities, but they aren't actual writing which is what I'd really like to be doing.

This happens every time. I hit a point in the story where I bog down, don't know where to go, start to lose faith in myself. My train of plot derails. I hit the wall. (Writing a novel is something like running a marathon, isn't it? I wouldn't actually know. What do you think, Linz?) Anyway, my point is that I know from past experience that I'll get through it. Eventually, I'll kick it into 4-wheel drive and take off at full speed again. Until then, I guess I'll just keep spinning my wheels.

Oh, by the way, my next story feature, "Among the Silent Stars," will be up soon!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just For Fun

Here's the "Unecessary" quotation marks blog. Thanks to Joel and Paul at Low Quality for the fun link!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Win a copy of Offworld by Robin Parrish

There's a contest going on at Residential Aliens blog to win a copy of Robin Parrish's Offworld. Enter here. Good luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Get that manuscript in the mail!

Yes, even here in the 21st century, I still have to do a fair amount of snail mail submitting. For short stories, which I've been doing for years, this is really easy. I just mail it in a manila envelope with a standard business envelope for the SASE, since it's really no skin off my nose if I have to print up another copy of the story. It's okay because they're short and don't take much paper or ink. Incidentally, I have never received an acceptance through my return envelope. I wonder if they even use those for acceptances? Anyway, this week I had to mail my novel manuscript to an editor who requested the full. (Hooray, hooray! Much happy dancing ensued.) I was confused, though. How exactly do you mail a novel manuscript? How do you handle the return postage? If I'm printing out my entire novel, then yeah, I want it back if the publisher doesn't accept it. Well, if I have been doing this submitting thing for years and didn't quite know what to do, I thought some of you might like to hear the process too. First of all, make sure your manuscript is in standard format, or whatever format the publisher requires. Once I did that, I decided to mail it in a manuscript box. You can get them at office supply stores. But what about return postage? I couldn't cram another box into the box. I opted for a large, indestructible Tyvex envelope (that I happened to have on hand--another plus. Here's hoping I never see that envelope again!) I addressed the envelope and took the whole thing down to the post office. Here's the part where it's nice to have a kind and patient postal employee to help. I was lucky. We took the manuscript out of the box and weighed it to see how much return postage I would need, then we put that postage on the envelope, loaded the whole thing back into the box, he taped it shut, put the postage on the box, and off it went with happy and positive thoughts. Not too difficult at all. So, that's how it's done, unless you know a better way? I just realized that this may be the most boring post of all time. Sorry. I'll try to come up with something more exciting next time. In the meantime, happy writing!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Welcome to the Writing Chair

Just want to say HI and welcome to all the followers who've joined recently, and to those of you who have been following for a while. It's great to have you here! Be sure to check out the links to my fiction there on the sidebar, and while your at it, enjoy some more great reading over at Mindflights Magazine. Want to be my friend on Facebook? I'd love it. I appreciate all of you following, and I'd love to see your comments. Come back often!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Who Do You Love?

The characters are my favorite part of writing. I suspect most writers feel the same. I'm curious. Who are your favorite characters from books, movies, TV, folklore, etc.? Why do you love them?
Here are some of mine:

Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien) My all-time favorite character. He's humble, brave, loyal, hard-working, determined and optimistic. I think Tolkien must have loved him too, because he gets everything he wishes for in the end.

Ender Wiggin (Ender's Game, etc. by Orson Scott Card)
Emma Woodhouse (Emma by Jane Austen)
Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) Who doesn't love Elizabeth?
Jo March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
Charles Wallace Murray (A Wrinkle in Time, etc. by Madeleine L'Engle)
Harry Potter (by J.K. Rowling)

I could go on and on, obviously. It's a thrill when characters jump off of the page (or screen or whatever) and start to live in your head. Even better is creating your own characters that become absolutely real to you. The biggest thrill of all though, in my opinion, is when those characters you created start to live in somebody else's head. A friend complimented me once by saying I was really good at creating believable, likable characters. That made my day. I ask everyone who reads my novel to tell me who his/her favorite character is. The answers always delight and often surprise me. There are quite a variety of characters they name too, which makes me hopeful that my characters are well-rounded. I loved it when my mom complained about the bad guy and how she wanted to kick his butt up between his shoulder blades. He was real to her. I love that.

So, what characters are so real to you that they feel like old friends. Who do you love or love to hate?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

By the Seat of my Pants

I'm not really good at planning. This applies to all aspects of life, not just writing. I've been parenting by the seat of my pants for over sixteen years now, and hoping it turns out all right. People keep asking me for parenting advice, and I just give them a blank stare. I don't know. I never really thought about my actual parenting methods much. I just kind of do whatever feels right. Now you're probably wondering how my kids have turned out. They're amazing. No thanks to me, I'm sure.

Okay, this really is about writing. I'm 150 pages into my novel now. I of course have to do some advanced planning or I'd just be staring down at the blank page for days and days, so I wrote this outline when I first started. I planned through about chapter three. Or what I thought would be chapter three. I'm nearly done with chapter ten, and am just getting to the stuff I had planned for chapter three. Good thing, too, or the novel would probably have turned out way to short! Anyway, occasionally I have to stop writing for a bit and plan out a little more. It's like one step out into the darkness before I get any more light. I love the way the story surprises me, though. I love when the characters suddenly do something unexpected or when I get that flash of insight on how to tie the subplots together. So, how much advanced planning do you do before writing? Sometimes I think I ought to be a little more organized. Maybe so, but for now I'm going to keep writing by the seat of my pants, like always.

(P.S. Don't miss the story feature in the post below!)