27 May 2012

Is there Always a Right Answer? Part 2

More on knives.  Sorry, they’re shiny, I can’t help it!

We learn how to deal with all sorts of knife attacks: overhead stabbing, single slashing, double slashing, straight for the stomach, and to the neck.  I’ve probably learned six or seven ways to deal with each of these attacks.  And I’m sure I’ve forgotten over half of them.  Some don’t work for me, while others I’ll remember until the day I die.  (Well, as long as that day isn’t after the dementia kicks in.)

You would think that the ones I can remember the best are the simple moves.  Yeah, you might think that, but you’d be wrong.  Sure, one or two are the simple ones.  Others might be the first techniques I learned—those stick in there better than the newer ones for some reason.  Mostly I remember the ones that I love or have an outcome that makes the evil part of me smile really, really wide.

I think I choose a few of my favorites because I can pull them off on the people that always underestimate me.  I’m short, round, blonde and I look like a very nice girl.   Even with a black belt, most people don’t take me seriously.  (Okay, most of the time no one should.)   But, I’ve got a few knife moves that make people fear me.  Not because I made them up, but because I use them well and my partner knows at once that they’re toast.  Your own knife in either your neck or your, er, nether regions, is pretty scary. Even when it’s a plastic, practice knife.

Writing is the same. We have so many tools that we as authors use to pull an emotional reaction out of our readers that the sheer number feels overwhelming.  However, you never have to use them all.  Sometimes they don’t fit into your story (a horror element in a middle grade novel, for instance…wait, that might work) or you just don’t like them.  There are plenty of tools in the shed (no, I’m not talking about the jerks over there) so dive in and find what works for you.  Steal from a movie, or your favorite book, or your kids or wherever you see something that elicits an emotional response.  You might need it when your character is being unruly.

23 May 2012

It Should Be Easy

I just spoke with a really good friend of mine who recently broke up with a long time boyfriend. I wanted to make sure she was okay (it's a girl thing, back off) and see if I could do anything for her. She said she was okay, and then she said something that made me think.

She said that the people she knows that have successful relationships and marriages say that it should be easy.

Now, now, don't get cranky with me. I realize that any sort of relationship is work, but I think that she's right in the fact that if you have to fight for every single compromise or shift in direction, that maybe things aren't as easy as they could be.

This brought me straight to writing, and for me this is totally true. It should be easy. The story telling, the typing, the shaking my head at knowing just how awesome this scene is going to be—it should be fun, and easy. If it's not, I know I'm doing something wrong.

Usually I just haven't planned things out properly. Sometimes I leave out a key piece of info thinking that I'll come back to it later. That always trips me up, and I end up going back and working it out.

When it's not easy, I've missed something. When it is easy, I forget I'm doing anything but having a great time.

I spent all day at work and didn't get a chance to type during lunch like I usually do. Right after work I went to Jose's gym class of pain (I will NOT be able to walk tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after) and then came home. Once I ate dinner it was after 8pm.

Panic set it as I realized I had 1,500-2,000 words to type before I went to bed. Lucky for me, I'd planned this episode earlier, so after a few minutes of getting in the groove, I took off and an hour later had over 1,800 words and a pretty good episode. Sure, it's first draft, so it's not perfect, but it's not bad, and my goal is met!

And it was pretty much easy. I can't say that about everyday of writing, but for today, it's the truth.

21 May 2012

Is there Always a Right Answer?

The other night at Kung Fu Fighting, we were once again going over knife techniques.

First rule of fighting someone who is trying to slash you with a knife is this: you will get cut.  At first I didn’t believe this, but after wearing a white uniform and using washable markers as knives, I’ve changed my mind.  Having long gashes of purple crisscrossing your abdomen like a tic-tack-toe board makes one a believer.

Second rule of knife techniques is this: control the knife.  If someone has a weapon, and they’re coming after you, the most dangerous part of their assault is the end of their weapon.  It extends farther than their arms, it’s probably sharper than any bit of them, and if they have a knife it will be their intention to stab you with it.

Most of our techniques involve (to put it simply) some sort of block or dodge followed up by grabbing their wrist.  Believe me, there are thousands of ways to do this, and any little part of the situation can make one move more effective than another.  Beyond knowing that you’re going to get cut, and controlling the knife, there is no right answer to “What do I do?”

There are hundreds.  More if you’re creative.

If they’re tall, I go low.  If they’re wider than I am, I might use a wrist lock…or I might just stab them with their own knife. If they actually believe me when I put my hands in front of my face, inviting them to stab me in the stomach, I have a plethora of options.

I think this is part of what kills me in writing. So many choices!  And many of the outcomes are equally cool.  Sure, wrapping someone up so they can’t move is useful, but stabbing in the neck with their own knife is, let’s face it, awesome.  Take that, stupid attacker!

Starting a story is fun, but I freeze up, wondering if I’m going in the best direction.  I always want the right answer.  And, of course, I always want it now.

I just have to remember that there isn’t always a right answer.

14 May 2012


I hate not having a project to work on.

Don't get me wrong, I've got plenty of projects to work on, but I'm not sure what I should be, well, working on.  You see, it's even put off my writing.

I suffer from what I call the hesitation factor.  If I get too many options in front of me then I freeze up. Perhaps this is one good reason that I don't drink coffee.  I imagine myself standing at the order register, staring at the board for like five minutes before someone would gently (I hope) push me out of the way so they could order.

There are at least four, no, five writing projects that I want to be doing:
-Babes in Spyland seasons 3-5
-YA Contemporary Fantasy that needs yet another revision...I think (Big revision)
-YA Post Apocalyptic awesomeness that has a rough draft and a new outline
-Adult Sci-Fi--sort of Leverage meets Firefly
-Adult or just above YA story of voodoo magic and very scary stuff

How do I choose?

I'm going to attended Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers in June, and I need to have the first ten pages of something as well as a synopsis to my group by Saturday.

What do I send???

I hate deciding.  Sorry this whole post is about me, but I'm stressed, and can't figure out what I should be doing. Each story has its own appeal for me, so I'd love to work on any of them.  All at once, if I could manage it (that's the overacheiver in me).

Does anyone else have this problem, or am I just that special?

10 May 2012


A writing conference in review.

This was my third year attending LDStorymakers. The conference is fairly small (450 attendees per day or so max) and full of nuggets of knowledge, opportunities to meet people and humor.

I really like humor.

If nothing else, all writers seem to be a little mad. Batty. “Special.” All of the above, thank you very much. So to have so many of them in a room, eating food and listening to a presenter, humor is a necessity.

The committee (if they have an official name, I have no idea what it is) looked harried, but they kept things rolling smoothly and tossed in plenty of humor to keep all the writer folk happy and upbeat. One of them ended up in line behind me for the little girls room, and she was super nice and friendly. Funny too.

Yes, women chat when they're in line for the toilet. I understand that this is forbidden among men. Wait, there's never a line at the men's room...

But I'm digressing. The conference. It's full of classes on writing, marketing, social networking, query letters, voice, style and more subjects then I could come up with in a few minutes. They offered a few master classes, which focused on one subject for an intense two hours. I went to the editing class, and found out that getting down to the nitty-gritty in editing is serious business. It also leaves no sentence untouched. My manuscript is trembling in fear, already aware that some of it will soon be (deep, menacing voice) edited. Again.

If you troll the halls during class time, you're sure to run into a local author or two, a publisher or three, a random agent who is out to find a snack and a gaggle or six of congregated authors, all retelling their pitch session experiences—assuring the others that the agents and publishers don't bite. Much.

I went to classes, got to have a pitch session with a very cool agent, stalked Kevin J. Anderson for a few minutes, said hello to most of the publishers, reintroduced myself to some local authors and rewrote my query letter. This conference is well organized, has great classes and gives people the opportunity to gear the entire experience toward their own level of writing. If you get the chance, check it out next year. I'll probably be there.

Yes, the conference is LDS themed, sort of. You don't have to be a member of the LDS faith to attend, but you might hear some entertaining stories about Relief Society or Nursery as a byproduct of the crowd.

The stories in the bathroom line were the best.

08 May 2012


When I was a kid, I could suck on a piece of candy until to melted down to the tiniest sliver before it disappeared. I could sit in a room full of adults and listen to the conversation—not saying a word. I could perform the same action over and over and over again and never get bored. I think I watched Disney's Robin Hood about a thousand times after we recorded it off TV.

Now that I'm “all grown up”, I find that my attention span has somewhat diminished. Candy gets inhaled as my fingers reach for another. I find I feel compelled to interject into every conversation that I hear. Doing anything more than once (especially at work) makes me really cranky, and while I can still watch the same movie over and over, I find myself fidgeting and thinking about all of the other things I should be doing.

Is there such a thing as adult onset ADD? Or adult onset dyslexia—I've got that too.

One great thing about going to the dojo is that while I'm there, I'm there. I turn off my phone and toss it in the bottom of my bag. The worries and stress of real life is quickly chased away, replaced by concentrating on “kick, punch, punch” not “punch, kick, punch”. Or both. Even if I've had a horrible day, and I came in raging mad about whatever happened earlier, five minutes into my workout, I'm distracted. Focused on 'where I am and what I am doing'. It's not good to lose focus when someone might be coming at you with a knife, or punching you in the face. Not good at all.

Writing can be the same way. If I get the chance to settle down into my story, I forget about everything else. My focus shifts to this imaginary world I've created and the problems of the characters that live there. (Does anyone else wonder if all writers are a bit loony?) I can pretty much write anywhere, but to make myself most effective, I just have to put on a pair of headphones.

Yup, just put them on. There doesn't even have to be music playing through them. Yes, I forget that step far more often then I care to admit. But I put them on and I'm in the groove.

Unless a shiny object presents itself to me. A nice sparkly can even override the dojo focus. What can I say? Shiny is good.

Morale of the ramblings—find your focus. And put all of the shiny stuff in another room.

05 May 2012

A Week of Writing Goodness

(Or me stalking Kevin J. Anderson) I’ve been a bit radio silent over the past week. Wait, would that be cyber-world silent, or social media world silent? Or something else entirely, like “Stuck in hotels without free internet.” I vote for that last one.

Can I just say that $4 for 15 minutes of internet use for someone who is already staying at your awesome hotel is completely ridiculous? And whatever they had going on their system offended my phone. For half of this weekend it wouldn’t even recognize that there was an internet.

Kind of like when a fourth grade boy makes a dumb joke about a fourth grade girl and the girl then pretends that in place of said boy a black hole of nothing has appeared. Not even worth looking at. My phone is that little girl. She’s happy to be back home.

But I’m digressing again.

I had the privilege of spending the first half of the week at Kevin J. Anderson’s Superstars Writing Seminar down in Vegas. Three days, six bestselling authors with more books between them than there are Starbucks in New York shoved in a room with about fifty up and coming literary geniuses (working it here, be nice) made for some very interesting conversations. And a great amount of learning on my part

The second half of the week I spent at LDStorymakers in Provo, UT. There I learned tons, pitched an agent, met some publishers, told a lot of people what I write, stalked Kevin J. Anderson (I hadn't seen him for almost 24 hours!) and in general had a great time.

Between the two I spent 12 hours at home, doing a quick load of laundry, eating almost real food and sleeping in my own bed.

Right now all of the knowledge I downloaded is swirling around in my head like color dye in water, slowly spreading into my gray matter, making it smarter. Yay for smarter. I gathered a lot of info, and I plan to share a bit of it here. But not tonight.