Elizabeth D. Marie Fiction Author

Elizabeth D. Marie Fiction Author
Welcome to my blog—a writer's musings on characters, stories, and life

New Book - In the Lion's Court

The Arkhein: In the Lion's Court, Part 1The Arkhein: In the Lion's Court, Part 1 by Elizabeth D. Marie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hello everyone! Thanks for taking a look at my new book, In the Lion's Court! If you're looking for more dystopian-style worlds to explore (I know I am!) this is for you. Taking place in an alternative-history, America is divided into protectorates and its industrial colonies are surrounded by poisoned "wasted lands", with travel between only by train and at the will of the Sanctioned. Seventeen-year-old Galilea is chosen through Legere to enter Arkhein, a competition with other seventeen year olds at Quentrell Palace for the right to rule as the new Monarch... To be the new face of the Empire. With only three years since the last Monarch was crowned, no one in the colonies was expecting this. The palace is full of secrets, and madness stalks the halls at night.

I wanted you to be aware that The Arkhein is being offered for FREE often, and for limited amounts of time, so check in on Amazon and grab this freebie while you can. :)

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas : A Gift To You

Here it is everyone! Click HERE for your free "A Daring Christmas" download (available only 25 December 2014 thru 1 January 2015) Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

'Tis the Season

Hello everyone! The weather here can't seem to make up it's mind to be either mild or freezing. Had a light dusting a snow this early morning but so far nothing too deep.

For those of you celebrating the Christmas holiday, I hope you have all your plans and your shopping complete or nearly so.

I love giving gifts, whether for a special holiday or just because—I don't always need a reason.

Therefore, I wanted to announce to you that I will be giving YOU a gift from me this Christmas. I will be making available for a limited time only, starting Christmas Day, a short story  from the lives of the SS Daring Captain and crew.

The link will be posted directly here on my blog Christmas morning and will be available up until the New Year. You can't find it anywhere else!

So, spread the word and be sure to come back to download your FREE ebook copy!

And in the meantime... Check out this Captain Thorne character quiz on Buzzfeed and see which character from the series you are most like.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Slayed A Dragon

Yes, my friends, I am a dragon slayer! My dragon was a dark mass of unformed story amounting in 50,000 words, taunting me each day with reminders of all my past NaNoWriMo shortcomings. But not this time. No, it did not best me.

"Web of Time: Then Comes Daybreak" Author Elizabeth D. Marie 2014 Winner

The last time I conquered that November fire-breathing reptile was in 2010 with my adventure novel "The Daring." Part one of a two part series "Captain Thorne of the SS Daring." I finished out my first draft and continued at once into the second part "The Fortune." I continued writing it in December and had it edited and polished and published by the beginning of 2012 as a two-in-one-book hardcover special edition.

Yesterday, I validated my word count for this year's challenge where I wrote the first draft to my final "Web of Time" series novel "Then Comes Daybreak." Another word-count dragon conquered. I am still writing, however, as the book isn't complete at the current 55,000 words.

Soon, I will tackle the fine delicate surgery of editing my novel, returning to edit my third installment "When Shadows Gather" to complete my series. And to celebrate, I will be releasing a new cover set for the series!

So, I slayed a dragon today (er, or yesterday). However, there are always more to conquer.

I am off to sharpen my blade.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shakespearean "Three Little Pigs"

Have you seen this one? As a lover of words... it has been far too long since I last watched this. Enjoy. And "Happy Thanksgiving" to my American friends! I hope you enjoy some turkey and pumpkin pie and have enough leftovers to get tired of it... and don't forget the green bean casserole!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

The First Week

Taking just a moment away from my book writing for NaNoWriMo to report. I am just about to pass 20,000 words and several days ahead of schedule... Wohoo!

Okay, so we are nearly a week into November's challenge. I've started Chapter Twelve of "Web of Time: Then Comes Daybreak" and the inspiration is still flowing (always a good sign).

Also, I have not forgotten to feed my little furry friends (that's Mika and Captain, as I've introduced to you in previous posts) or forgotten to feed myself. I still know what day it is—probably only because my computer tells me—and I haven't completely abandoned the real world... yet. My writing cave consists of music, a warm, blazing fire, and as much sunlight as the approaching winter allows.

Ooh! And hot chocolate. Duh.

I should get back to it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Final Week!

It's the final week until the NaNoWriMo kick-off! I have planned a little party for a few other writing friends to celebrate with pizza, movies, and games to launch this creative mayhem.

I have filled two pages with planning and ideas, started in on character lists, and reviewed music to compile my story soundtrack to accompany me as I write. You can find my complete story soundtrack at the bottom of my blog! (It could have been even longer...)

I have added my book title and synopsis to my nanowrimo profile HERE.

So, I am giving a final shout out to fellow NaNoWriMo adventurists: Get ready!

And, to the rest of you—journeymen readers and dreamers—give the gift of coffee (or hot chocolate to those non-coffee drinkers, like myself) this month to an author near you... and save a life. They may mumble incoherently at the time, but after they've emerged from their story caves in December and squint into the sunlight of the world called Reality, they will remember and thank you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Portraying Proper Portraits

As I work to produce a new cover set for my Web of Time series to celebrate the upcoming release of the final books, I thought I'd take a breath and clean off my pencil stained fingers and return to the keyboard to talk about book cover artwork. As some of you know, I do my own cover artwork; I draw the faces of my characters. This is by choice and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Why? Though it has been fifteen years (plus or minus), I still remember when and why I made the decision. It was after viewing the jacket cover for a hardcover edition to one of my favorite series novels as a child. The artist clearly hadn't bothered to read the book or even bothered to get the proper facts on the characters he/she was creating the portraits for. The most obvious mistake? A blonde-haired girl had suddenly been transformed into a black-haired girl. This traumatized me and I have never been able to look at the cover again.

Okay, I'm being overdramatic.

Just the same, it was enough of an impression that I decided then and there to turn my drawing skills from horses (a skill which is now sadly lacking) and learn how to draw people instead. This way, when I was ready to publish, I could portray the characters as I knew them to be to the best of my abilities... At least a blonde would not be turned into raven.

So, there you have it. The origin of my artwork trend.

Just two weeks till NaNoWriMo and I have completed the new cover art for Web of Time #1 and #3 so far.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Preparations

Summer is fast coming to a close. I love autumn for it's vibrant colors and still sunny but cooler weather. Still, time just moves by so quickly.

This marks 39 days until NaNoWriMo. That's National Novel Writing Month... The big event!

It took me some time trying to decide what book I should write in November. I have too many ideas and so many stories I have started that yearn to see completion. I sat down with a good friend of mine on Sunday and the subject came up. We are both authors and have long participated in NaNoWriMo together. It's a lot of fun when there is someone with whom to share in the excitement, craziness, and the exhilarating triumph. She helped me decide and now I feel ready to face the challenge boldly. Thanks K.!

Until then, my goal is still to have "Web of Time: When Shadows Gather" (Book #3 in the Web of Time series) completed and handed off for the first stage of editing before November hits. I've been experiencing both excitement and tears while telling the story of Dodge, who's real name is soon to be revealed! I have just a couple more chapters to write and have been hard at work these last few weeks and made a lot of progress.

Still on my checklist for November preparation: A suitable soundtrack to accompany me as I write my characters stories.

Until I write again....

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Validate!

Well, I made it. I nearly forgot to validate my word count in time for my CampNaNoWriMo novel. I mean, what would happen to my "official" bragging rights then? Horrors.

So where is my novel now that it is written? Printed and covered in pen and pencil marks, strike-through lines and arrows as I shuffle and reshuffle paragraphs. It may be a messy novel at this point, hardly understandable in places, however that is exactly the point of this exercise: Dropping a mutilated mess off the printer and into my lap to be attacked and dissected as needed.

Now comes the editing, which I refused to allow myself room to do during the mad rush of word count goals. It can be a dangerous fight sometimes, but I prevailed.

This has put me in the mood for NaNoWriMo in November, one of the main reasons I look forward to the change of seasons, as I am not a fan of cold weather. I have a few projects in the works to finish until then: "When Shadows Gather" as the next installment for Web of Time, as well as a few stand-alone novels that are nearly complete.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. I would love to know what you all have been reading this year. I have a reading stack a mile high, as I can't seem to resist any intriguing looking book. My ongoing quest is getting through them all. Guilty.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo

It is officially Summer time! Camp NaNoWriMo is in full swing and I am so enjoying meeting and chatting with the other authors in my "cabin" as we all face this exciting challenge together. I have set my goal at 15,000 words for this month, as I am working on a novelette to follow my latest release "The James Haak Legacy."

If you would like to keep updated on my day-to-day word count progress: http://campnanowrimo.org/campers/elizabeth-d-marie/novels/the-haak-family-reunion

So, as I continue writing and editing and formatting my various projects, I'll encourage you to take a look at my Captain Thorne of the SS Daring series, available on the iBookstore and FamilyBuddy.com as well as my Web of Time series, if you haven't already.

Also, if you haven't had a chance yet, you can read an excerpt of the first Captain Thorne book right here on my blog! Just take a gander at the right side links beneath "Pages."

I will also be adding an excerpt of the first Web of Time book, so be sure to check that out too!

Meanwhile, I'm off to battle today's word count goal. Argh!

 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Creating Illusions

We writers live to create illusions from reality. We create fictional realities and make them come alive. It isn't about forgetting reality—though I think we can agree that sometimes we want to—but integrating stories and breathing life into characters so that when you open a book, you forget that it is just a work of fiction.

Ideas come from all around us. Sometimes, ideas form in looking at a situation or even a devastation and thinking 'that isn't right' or 'this is how that might have gone, if things had been different; if that person would have done that, or this person said that' or 'what would a happy ending look like?'

I enjoy stories of hope and inspiration. Maybe it has a fictional setting and fictional characters, but what would this look like in the real world? If people had honor and integrity; if they stood up for the poor and helpless; if family took care of each other; if love really could conquer any mountain.

Because, it doesn't have to be an illusion.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I Speak... The Problem of Ten Thousand Words

I am not a public speaker. I shudder at the thought. I have done some acting on stage, and I loved it, despite the horrible attack of nerves at every performance. But it isn't just the idea of standing behind a podium and giving a speech that set's me on edge. It's speaking up in a crowd of people at all that makes my heart skid to a terrifying halt.

Because, I am not a speaker. I am a writer. It isn't that I have nothing to say, rather, it is that I have TOO much to say. Ten thousand words that get tangled up in the mind, a mass of confusion in the brain. There is no "off" switch to these words—these thoughts and emotions—that parade inside my head.

Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head? How it plays over and over and you can't seem to shut it off?

A writer's only outlet is the pen and paper. Or maybe a computer screen and a keyboard. Some have a way with words, and they can make speeches. I am not one of them. I prefer to speak through words penned (or typed) on paper.

source: Facebook, unknown


So, I may seem quiet in a crowd. People who don't know me may think I am shy or reserved. But it isn't that I don't speak. I just have my own way of releasing the tidal wave of thought and emotion in a (hopefully) somewhat structured and organized manner.

Because what you find written on the page is only half of the words running rampant in the brain. The challenge is taking those ten thousand words in my mind—the ones that play over and over like a song you can't forget—and control them into a story that can convey a thought without exploding like a busted ink pen all over the reader.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Character Sketch

Meet Dodger, aka "Dodge." His name is an alias, and so is his life. He lives in a world without memories. His life before is just a shadow. He doesn't know who he is or where he comes from. Kate says he is her "guardian angel" but disturbing dreams and visions have him wondering if he even wants to remember…

Web of Time: When Shadows Gather — Elizabeth D. Marie

I first met Dodge in a band of misfits hiding in the desert in Web of Time #2. I didn't know who he was anymore than he did, and he really didn't strike me as a man to attract attention. I didn't intend to draw him out or ask him questions. He did that for himself. He was quiet and distant, but he made his presence unavoidable just the same.

I'm glad he is a determined character or his story may never have seen the light of day. As I tell his story, I hope you will join me in his desperate search to know the truth of his past, and the man beneath the alias.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Trouble with Perfectionists

One problem writers can struggle with is our inner drive for perfectionism. We are our own worst critics. Sometimes this perfectionism can be a good thing, and sometimes it can actually be damaging to our writing. Mainly because we will never get anything done. That is why there is an editing stage. If we can't learn to let go and just write, we could spend weeks on just one paragraph and never accomplish completing the story itself.

Sure, there is always room for improvement and that will come. But how can you perfect something that hasn't even been written first?

It can be a battle of wills for the perfectionist to look at a scene that just didn't come out the way we wanted it to, and be able to force ourselves to keep writing past it. Finish the story. Fix it later. Don't dwell on it. Often, the answer comes when we learn to move past it. Otherwise, we can waste hours agonizing over one paragraph in a million others that make up the whole of the story.



I know it's not always easy. This is often one of my most difficult feats. If you want to learn how to write a novel in one month like in NaNoWriMo, learn to get past the nagging need for perfectionism.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Reality of Fiction

Being a writer can be dangerous. Sure, it has it's moments. Okay, maybe there is more danger in the penned words than in actual reality. But knowing a writer can be even more dangerous. You just never know when you'll be written into someone's story.

Okay, so I'm being a little sarcastic.

Still, I enjoyed an over-the-top portrayal of real life being drafted into the pages of a novel when I recently re-watched the show I Love Lucy.

In the third season episode Lucy Writes A Novel, Lucy writes a novel with her friends cast into the script… in some insulting ways. When her friends find her hidden manuscript and start to read it, things get a little… well, tense.

I Love Lucy, Lucy Writes A Novel (1954)
Lucy comes home after they have been reading it to find her manuscript missing and her friends sitting around the fireplace:
"We changed the name of your novel to Forever Ember." -Ethel, I Love Lucy
We writer's may threaten to use people we don't like and cast them in the roll of a character who will meet with a "horrible, untimely death" but never fear, this is rarely ever the case.

Our characters may be real in our minds, but they are just that: Fictional characters.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Cat Moment

It never fails I get interrupted when working on a story. In the rush of real life and responsibility, the time to really relax and get into the groove of writing becomes a rare privilege.

I came home from work today and Captain thought my arrival meant it was time to play. All day, I have been thinking about where I left off on my novel. I cannot stand to leave my characters in the midst of a dramatic circumstance for too long, abandoning them to the chaos of the moment! So I told him, 'No, Mommy is working, she can't play right now.'

No problem, he'll just make himself comfortable....


This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call writer's block: A cat literally blocking your hands so you cannot type. He spends hours perching on my desk, my chair, my arm, my shoulder—playing with my hair. And if that isn't enough to get my attention, he grows tired and tries my lap.

I'm sorry, characters, you'll just have to hang in there a little bit longer, because I love this little guy too much to make him move. As you can probably tell by this quick candid, he is quite pleased with himself. How will I ever convince him that the world doesn't revolve around him? What can I say? I'm a marshmallow.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Story Soundtrack

Whenever I am writing a novel, I find myself compiling a soundtrack for the story to help motivate me and keep me focused. Because, as much as I am sure silence would also help me concentrate, I have never been able to avoid hitting the "play" button on my iTunes window. Because music—like books—is oxygen. I will never grow tired of it.

So, I create a playlist and name it the title of my book, and I drag and drop in anything that helps me visualize the backdrop or scene of my story. Mostly instrumental, but I can't resist a few lyric pieces as well.

But wait! It gets even more complicated than that. Depending on the chapter or section I am working on, I'll even divide this self-created soundtrack into "chapters" for the different feel and emotion of that particular section or character. There are actions scenes and there are scenes of heartbreak… which makes for music of completely different sounds.

I remember in the bonus features of M. Night Shymalan's film The Village they were talking about the soundtrack of the film (a soundtrack full of beautiful violin music!) and how the young violinist reflected in her music the strength and grace of the main character Ivy... music that helped bring Ivy's story to life.

I love that. That's what I look for in music, something that strikes a chord in me, something that my characters would relate to. Something to make the moment real.

The same when I am composing my own music on the piano. I draw my inspiration from a specific emotion, and I take a breath and just let it out. Sometimes it doesn't turn out so well, and other times, with a little tuning and practice, I find the sound I was searching for.

Sometimes, in order to find the right words, you must first take a moment and listen to the music.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." -Victor Hugo

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Struggle

Stories can have a profound impact on our lives. They can wound and corrupt us with twisted morals and falsehoods, or they can inspire us with honor and integrity and truth.

To be inspired, you must first relate in some way—to the struggle; to some hardened questions. There is a lot of pain in this world and there is no magic cure to make it all better. My characters will go through terrible ordeals, they will suffer great tragedies, they will be tested. Just as we are tested in our lives. Who believes in a hero/heroine who has never been tested? The untested hero/heroine will always do the right thing because there is nothing to hinder them, nothing to tempt them otherwise. But someone who can endure great pain to do what is right, recognized or not… I call that a hero.

When I open a book or watch a movie, I ask myself what motivates the characters? I want to see the struggle and how they rise above it. And it has to be something real. Because life is never simple and flat. The answers don't always jump out and surprise us. It's buried beneath layers of wreckage and hope.

We all believe in something. I am not a preacher, but each of my stories has a connection with Faith. Each of my characters believes something about God. It's a journey and a struggle, as we too daily strive to understand life and the supernatural. They can say they believe something, but where are their actions leading? What does their struggle and their response say about them? No spiritual journey is exactly alike. And not one is less important than another.

Faith is not weakness. Faith is where to find strength. My hope for my stories is that in witnessing the struggle, my readers will discover some truth that will inspire hope in their lives.

So, to any of you deep in the struggle: Take heart, and remember, He has overcome the world.

"We can't pretend to see the ending or what's coming up ahead. To know the story of tomorrow. But we can stay close to the One who knows." -Love & The Outcome

Monday, March 17, 2014

After Reading a Book...

Does anybody else relate? I can get WAY too emotionally attached to fictional characters and what they suffer. I may be in need of therapy. Just saying.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

From the Archives of "The Daring/The Fortune"

So, it has been nearly a week since I have shared anything. You may be wondering if I got lost in the pages of a manuscript somewhere. Well, that's somewhat true. I am currently juggling four different manuscripts right now. While they are mostly written (first draft) at this time, I find my mind constantly jumping between story lines, from one idea and scene to the next. My one accomplishment recently has been the completion of one manuscript, which has entered its first editing stages while I continue to plunge through the maze of my other stories.

Today, I have been sifting through several three-ring binders filled with various material for past and current novels. One in which I found a stack of printed pages to my published novel "The Fortune" (The second book in my "Captain Thorne of the SS Daring" series) including my first draft notes and scribblings.

So, I thought I would take a photo and share it here (and in so doing, let you know I'm still alive). This is mild, as far as edits goes, but basically, this is what a page of editing looks like:



The thing with stories, is that some scenes have multiple possibilities. They can go just one of many different ways, depending on how a character reacts or what they say, or even changes within the setting itself. (Who likes "choose your own adventure" stories? Aren't those fun!) Working through those scenes in longhand is often the easiest way to untangle the details.

Some places, as evidenced in the photo (right hand side) the edits are just notes talking out who the character is (in this case, Captain Thorne) because the original text didn't fit the character. In doing that, I was able to make the necessary corrections, even if I didn't have the answer right then.

Now, back to writing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Save a Writer, Read the Book

90% of books are better than the movie. Everyone wants to see the movie. But how many want to read the book? As a book lover, I cannot imagine my life without books. It's like oxygen. How can you survive without it? It is difficult for me to fathom those people who don't like to read.

I enjoy movies, don't get me wrong. There are some great films out there. Yet, it deeply distresses me to see a wonderful novel turned into a movie and the storyline and characters get butchered. I see that happen way too often. The book is great! Why must you ruin it?

I will not list those failures here. Though I could, and I might even want to. But there is no use in ranting.

Granted, this is not always the case. I applaud those filmmakers and directors who can keep the heart of the story in place, even when some details are changed. Film will never be like a book. It can't be. Film is great in it's own way, just as books are great in their way.

Regardless of how true or not the movie turns out to be, you simply cannot replace a book with a film. The film, to me, is a companion to the book. Because there is so much depth, feeling, understanding, revelation, and imagination in the pages of a novel that one can only glimpse (sometimes very well, but still just glimpse) in film.

As illustrated by this photo I discovered circulating on Facebook (oh, and yes, I have a Facebook page!):



So, watch the movie. Just don't forget to read the book.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Writer's Life

This may be difficult to believe. This may shock you. The everyday life of the writer is not a non-stop exciting adventure. We are actually mostly normal. Mostly, except for the constant voices in our head and the sometimes glazed over look in our eyes where our minds leave reality behind at random intervals.

People have asked me quite often where I get my ideas from. Honestly? A good deal of the time, I can't remember exactly where it's origin began, or how it developed in it's early stages to the story it became.

I live a normal life. I work a normal job where my tasks are fairly routine with few occurrences to disrupt that routine. I hunt for groceries—at the store and at home in my fridge—organize bills, and try to keep at least one counter in my kitchen clean on a daily basis, as well as the never-ending task of trying to find those missing socks that always get lost in the laundry.

I suppose the one thing that changes all of that as a writer is an overactive imagination. You've probably heard a writer say their ideas come from life. Well, depending on the writing, you may wonder if that means they live a life of thrills and adventure.

That is where the overactive imagination takes over. A writer takes in a normal, everyday scene and throws in a couple of "what if?"'s to make it more interesting. What if the girl sitting on the park bench is really waiting for her brother to come for her, but unknown to her he has been kidnapped? What if that old, abandoned house is really the home for a group of kids who ran away from an orphanage because they don't want to get separated? Or the sailboat out past the east-coast pier has discovered a sunken ship filled with treasure and the mummified remains of a hundred year old murder? What if the man browsing the book aisle in the library is actually a spy sent to decrypt important intelligence? Etc, etc.

This is the life of a writer. Living the normal life, always asking "what if?" in every scene. Looking at a moment and wondering at all the possible outcomes. Small occurrences that trigger an idea, a thought, and letting that thought wander around a bit until it becomes a sentence, a blurb. Then, it begins to develop (and this is when the glazed look in our eyes usually happens) and a character or two grows out of it to interact with the idea, and then eventually it becomes a full-grown story. Ta-da!

And, yes, I have way too many half-grown ideas lying around. So, being faced with new ideas every day and continuing to see the "what if?" moments is not always a welcome trait. I have enough trouble with writer's block.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Problem with Villains

What makes a bad guy the villain in the story? Some stories go to an extreme, and the villain is like the devil himself, completely dark and and completely evil. He cannot be redeemed. Then, there are the stories where the villain has that darkness about him, but something in his life offers light. Hope. A hope for redemption. Whether or not that comes to pass is up to the individual story.

Whenever I am looking at a villain, be it my own story or someone else's, I ask the question: "What made him/her become so dark? Why is he/she the way they are?"

Because, everyone has a story. Everyone believes in who they are or what they are doing to some extent. They believe in their cause. Just as the hero has a story, so does the villain.

I want to know if the villain I am reading/writing about has the potential to be redeemed or not. The problem with villains is that they are three-dimensional just like anyone else. You can chose to hate them for who they have become, but they aren't just evil for the sake of being evil. If I see a villain who is evil just because he needs to be for the sake of the story, then something is wrong with the story.

The hero chases after justice. He tries to make things right in the world. He sees hope. The villain chases after something too. Maybe it's power. He once was a victim, an outcast, and he wants to be so strong that nothing and no one can ever make him feel inferior again. Maybe it's vengeance. He lost something or someone dear to him and he'll stop at nothing to exact revenge, no matter what form that takes or what it turns him into.

Was he raised to be the villain? Was he taught this behavior from a young age? When and how did his view of life become so twisted and distorted… And just how far on that path has he wandered? Too far to turn back?

Writing about the villain can be just as interesting as writing about the hero. I may not like him. I may even despise him, depending on how "evil" he is.

What it comes down to is this: Whether good or bad, every character is complex in his/her own way. Rarely does anything tend to be black and white without having a little grey in between.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Don't Hand Me That Line, I WROTE That Line!"

The longer I write, the more complex my characters can become. Sometimes I think I know them completely, and then sometimes they surprise me and catch me completely off guard by doing or saying something I never expected. I'm writing along, and everything is going great. I'm in a groove. And then, WHAM! I stare at the screen and wonder: What did he just say THAT for?! I don't think I meant for that to happen...

Have you ever watched "Nim's Island"? (The first one, not the second one. I tried watching the second one and only got through the first ten minutes before I shut it off) I love that movie. As a movie-watcher, I love it because it is such a fun story. As a writer, I love it because it reflects a certain reality for writers and their characters.

You see, Alex Rover (played by Jodie Foster) is a writer. And she is struggling. She doesn't know how to finish her novel. And through the whole movie, she has "conversations" with her character (played by Gerard Butler) and yes, she even has arguments with her character. Because her character has a tendency to say and do as he pleases.

And it is so true! Our characters do have a mind of their own. I don't want to write a story where everything is predictable. The character isn't going to do what I would do in a situation. He won't say what I would say.

"I created you, and you have to do what I say, not—not the opposite!" -Alex Rover, Nim's Island 

It's just another adventure for us writers. Letting our characters surprise us.

Oh, and seriously, if you haven't watched Nim's Island. Go watch it. Like, right now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Captain Thorne Quote


A quote from my Captain Thorne books. Original artwork of Alena, drawn by myself.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Deadlines and Writer's Block

Writing can come easily at times, when the story just seems to flow straight from the mind onto the paper. The scenes all come together and the conversations come faster than my fingers can type. Those are days I am glad to be a writer. I thrive for those days.

Then, there are the days when I can sit in front of the computer and stare at a blank document, and that's all I see. Blank. What happened? My characters abandoned me. I search for them in vain. I can't seem to form a single scene into anything more than blurry snapshots in my head.

Writer's block.

That is when a deadline can either be a nightmare, or a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, if I don't have a deadline, I make one. Sometimes I get desperate. I just need the extra push to get something written. It's not going to be perfect, but at least it's a start. Better than a blank page. And once I dig in, it gets easier.

That is one reason why I so enjoy National Novel Writing Month. It's a deadline. Granted, sometimes a stressful one. Write a first draft novel—at least 50,000 words—before December 1st. Writers join in from all over the world. We start writing November 1st (at the stroke of midnight!) and keep going until 11:59pm on November 30th.

Working together, we seek to encourage one another in our pursuits. It's an adventure!

Today, I gave myself a deadline. And I managed to pull it off. Success! I'd been struggling to finish this novel. I just needed a specific push to get the words on the page. To tell my brain to stop wandering and focus in.

I went to my local copy place this afternoon to print my first draft manuscript. Call me strange, but I just love the smell of fresh copy paper. Because, for me, it's the smell of triumph.

Now, I begin the journey of editing. Another adventure awaits!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Meet Captain

It is said you are either a cat person, or you are a dog person. I don't know if that's true, but I adore my cats. I don't treat my cats like people, because they aren't. (Though, sometimes, I swear they think they are!)

This is Captain. I call him 'Cappy' for short because he is still just a kitten and hasn't really grown into his name yet.

He is the newest addition to the family, having just come to me in November (just in time for Thanksgiving) as a tiny scrap of a kitten. He has certainly grown since then!

He likes to sit behind my computer while I write or listen to music and every once in awhile, stand on his hind legs and peak at me over the screen. 'Hi, Mom! Whacha doin'?'

Sometimes, he tries to help move my writing along by walking on my keyboard too. Or sitting on it. Or attacking the mouse. Or attacking anything that happens to move across the screen. Like the cursor.

And after all of this, he drapes himself across my lap and...
Well, what can I say? He has a tough job.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Birth of a Writer—Welcome

I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Before on paper (I was a terrible speller, and still am!) I was writing them in my head. I would fall asleep at night watching the scene unfold in my mind's eye like a movie, and the next night I would pick up where I left off, crafting the words in my head till they painted just the right picture.

Most of those stories I have forgotten, since I never actually wrote them down. But today, I have too many stories to keep track of (what did we ever do before computers?) and not enough time or space in my brain to write them all.

I love to read, which is a big reason why I became a writer. What is your favorite book? And why? Go ahead, tell me. Was it a character that you related to, or strongly aspired to be?

A good book is like a best friend. Because I couldn't get enough of reading, I started to write. I wanted to tell a story as if I was reading it. I might have an idea of where it will lead, but anything can happen. I am not a Stephen King reader, but one of my favorite quotes came from him on this matter:

"I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren't compatible... [M]y basic belief about the making of stories is that they largely make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow." -Stephen King, On Writing
A good story is when our characters talk to us. No, we aren't crazy. We just know the heart of our characters, like when a best friend looks at you and they know what you are thinking before you say anything. I'm just giving them a place to speak.

As writers, there comes a point when we have to share their stories with the world, and let our readers join in on the adventure, the heartbreak, the tragedy, the mystery, the humor, the joy.... As a writer, my greatest wish is that they will become your friends too.

Welcome to my Blog.