21 October 2012

Professional Handling

Last month I had the opportunity to go the Utah Symphony.  I’d heard on the radio that they were performing Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky, which is one of my favorite pieces, and determined that I must go.  So I did!

I’ve said it before, especially about Kempo, being handled by a professional is a pleasure.  The performance was fantastic!  I felt the music flow through me and ignite my imagination as only a good concert can.  The drums rumbled my insides while the violins tantalized my other senses. (And I don’t actually like violins)  I even enjoyed the other pieces the symphony performed, which I didn’t know before going in.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to attend two community orchestra performances as well as The Scarlet Pimpernel at a semi-professional community theater.  All had their strengths and all had their weaknesses.  None of them compared with the quality that the professional symphony that I attended exhibited.

Now don’t get all uptight, I don’t ever go to a community event expecting perfection. Hello, I was in the band in high school, I’ve played in a pit.  I have all too much experience in the realms of what can (and will) go wrong during a performance.

But as I sat at one of the community events, I couldn’t help comparing the feelings I was having against those from the symphony.  During the symphony I never flinched because of a glaringly wrong note or someone playing out of place.  I never hid a smirk because someone missed their line.  The people in the symphony are professionals.  This is their job. This is their passion.  They’re obsessed, for crying out loud!

I often wonder how much readers know about writing books.  Do they flinch when they see a trope used poorly, or groan when the most obvious conflict in fiction gets pushed to the forefront of the story instead of something that is much deeper or more interesting? Do they understand that it probably isn’t their fault when they get bored?  Do they know that the author wrote that last scene in the hope that the reader would throw the book across the room and then run to get it to finish the chapter?  (Authors are mean, they do this stuff)

Can readers tell when they’re in the hands of a professional vs. an amateur?

I can.  But part of that is because I’m an author.  Like at a musical performance—I know enough about it to be able to hear the sour notes and see when the conductor is about to toss his baton at the viola section.  (In high school it was always the trombones.)

My guess is that readers know when they’re in the hands of someone who is still learning about writing.  They don’t always toss the book and walk away, and perhaps they hardly notice.  But I can guarantee that they know when they’re in the hands of someone who is practiced and professional, because they’ll give up sleep in order to finish reading a novel.

And that, my friends, is where we all want to be. Right? 

11 October 2012

The Rambling Syndrome

Yes, yes, I realize that I do in fact ramble quite a bit, but that is not what this post is about. And I may even refrain from any actual rambling, but promise nothing.

Right now I am busting out what will end up being a 90,000 word rough draft in two months.

Yes, I can write that fast. The end product should never be seen by anyone outside of me in my PJ's on a Saturday morning, but at the end of it I have a rough draft that I can then mold into the greatest story ever told!

Oh, sorry, sometimes I have delusions of grandeur. Just trying to stay positive, sheesh.

But really, this is my writing process. I wish it was otherwise. Were otherwise? I can never remember which it's supposed to be. Sorry, off topic.

I've been in denial about this process for a while. Outlines are usually my BFF's, but not for a novel. I have done a seven point plot system, the fifteen beats, planning out scenes, given my characters extensive backgrounds and even went so far as to try to create motivation for each scene before I start writing the book.

About ¼ of it ends up in the final story. Heck, only about ½ of it ends up in the rough draft.

You see, I'm easily distracted. (Shocking, I know.) I find some part of the story that I hadn't considered before and I delve into it. I can ramble on about some sub-plot that I discovered for thousands and thousands of words. Sometimes I have to stop myself and type this:

Blah, blah, blah, hook this into the main story before the kids get on the ship. Now, where was I?

Rough drafts are not only rough in the plot and prose areas, they are rough on me! I like things to be orderly and neat. A rough draft is neither of those things, nor is it always the story I want to tell. Sometimes I have to spit out the terrible rough draft, hitting on all of the dumb points of the story (kind of like the last three Star Wars films) before I figure out what the good parts really are.

I kind of hate it. But it's the only thing that works for me. So I shall be frantically typing over the next month to vomit the last 45,000 words onto my computer.

Then the real fun begins.

07 October 2012


A misunderstood boy, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Why did I see this movie again?

Because it looks funny! Very “B” movie in kids form, which intrigued me.

5 out of 5


As in so many kids movies, there are a plethora of characters that all follow their own trope. Which totally works for kids, and is okay for me. There was the bully turned helper, the fat kid turned best friend, the family that doesn't understand the main character, an older sister that should be smacked and zombies... Which always add some interest. :) So the characters were a bit cookie-cutter, but I still loved them all.

4 out of 5

Did I care what happened?

Yes. The first half of the film drew me in more than the last half did. I think because the first bit was about the characters, and the tail end was about breaking the curse, and the two sections didn't quite meld right. But I still cared what happened. They just lost me for a while.

4 out of 5

Plot Holes

No plot holes. Just the slow bit in the middle that got riddled with slap-stick humor for the kids. The kids in the audience thought it was hilarious, I just wanted the end of the story!

4 out of 5

How many times did I yawn?

Oops, just went over this. Just once.

3 out of 5

Cool Factor

Stop motion animation? Yes, please. I didn't see it in 3-D, but heard that it was good there. I loved all of the detail they put into the scenes and the characters. Great stuff. Good effects.

5 out of 5

The End

I thought the end was a little down played. Sure, Norman is the only one who can save the town, but I didn't feel like the set up for him doing so was as strong as it could have been. But he does it and everyone ends up happy. Well, except for his sister. You'll have to watch the movie to see why.

4 out of 5

Overall Enjoyment

Funny, witty, visually pleasing and had enough little twists to keep me totally entertained.

4 out of 5

Score= 32

That's a Brown Belt!

03 October 2012

The other day I attended a book launch for One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker.

I have a contract for my novel with the same publisher, Jolly Fish Press. I must admit that I had some trepidation about the whole thing. I'd only met one or two of the Jolly Fish Press team, and I'd never met any of the other authors. I didn't even know Lehua Parker and I was going to support her at her very first book launch.

But I pulled myself together, did my hair, put on some makeup and headed up to the Barnes and Noble in Layton. I have to say that it was a great experience.

First off, there were a lot of people there, which is awesome. Poor Lehua looked ecstatic and frazzled all at the same time. Although I have to admit some jealousy toward her comfortable-looking Hawaiian dress. I'm going to have to seriously consider what to wear when my book launches, because I'd be one to don a pair of cute but totally uncomfortable shoes.

I spotted some of the Jolly Fish Press team and headed over to chat with them. Within fifteen minutes I think we had six or seven of the other JFP authors there, along with the editor, his awesome wife, the sub rights girl and a few others.

It was at that moment that a couple of very stressful weeks melted away and I totally geeked out. Authors, writers, my publisher...I suddenly remembered why I worked so hard to get this far and why I'm trying to blast through yet another rough draft that I'd like to toss out the window about every other day.

Stories make people happy. They make me happy. After talking to the other authors I wanted to read everyone's books. I wanted to tell everyone great job and support them however I could.

New Sight isn't scheduled to come until next October. I'm pregnant with a book for the next 12 months.

How great is that? No morning sickness, and it won't draw on the walls.

If you're feeling down about your writing or writing career, just go hang out with a few other authors. Trust me, it will rejuvenate you!