Friday, November 30, 2018

When the Muse Dangles the New Shiny

We writers have enough problems focusing on whatever we're currently writing. Invariably, our muses like to tempt us away from the current file/page with some awesome new idea.

The temptation often happens when we've hit a sagging middle, or worse, when we're near completion of the current work-in-progress. My muse is no different than any one else's.

So of course, I dream a story last story. I mean it's tons better than the nightmares that have plagued me for the last three months. But still, the last thing I need is another story when I've got a ton of partially finished manuscripts THAT I MUST FINISH! I mean, the readers have been patiently waiting for these stories for the months I've been dealing with my cancer.

What's worse is this idea is not even fantasy. It's a weird combination of This Is Us and A Million Little Things, two TV shows I don't even watch.

Normally, I write a page of any new idea, just to get it out of my head, before I return back to my wip. But this crazy idea isn't even in my wheelhouse! And worse, the muse cast the idea with several actors from the cast and guest stars of Friends as a further method to tempt me. And no, it wasn't funny, not funny at all, but the type of serious drama the other two shows I mentioned above would do.

And this idea will not leave me alone!

GAH! I wasn't joking when I've said my muse/subconscious was a bitch!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Perseverance

There must be something in the air this month. Kris Rusch blogged about it. Anton Strout talked about it with Sherrilyn Kenyon on his The Once & Future Podcast. And I've talked about it with other writer friends.

How do you keep going when you've hit a bad spot or a low in your writing career?

I'm not the only one who has had health issues this year. Some folks have had financial problems. Others have had family troubles. It's hard to concentrate on writing when your life is going to hell in a handbasket.

But to remain a writer or be a writer, you have to hang in there. You have to keep going. You have to persevere.

That's not to say you can't take a break. It's not any different than the yearlong leave I had to take from law school when DH was diagnosed with cancer. But you have to keep your eye on the prize. I knew I was going back to school as soon as DH was back to work, despite what a couple of my professors thought. You have to believe in yourself. In your skills. In your vision for your art.

It's real easy to get caught in the trap of comparing where you are and where other writers are. But as both Kris and Sherrilyn have pointed out, they've had their ups and downs. They've even had major downs after they both became bestsellers.

However, in any business, hell, even in life, there are cycles. No low is permanent. Neither is any high. But so many writers hit a low that is so bad, they think it will never end. They let the down kill their creative spark, and they quit writing. Or painting. Or playing their guitar.

That's where your determination has to kick in. You don't know how long a downturn will be.  You don't know when it will turn around. If you have the power to know this, please contact me. I'll front the money for a ticket and split the next Mega Millions jackpot with you.

In the meantime, I'll persevere and keep plugging away at my writing. I need to write fifty more books to catch up with Sherrilyn.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Needing a Day Off

NaNo is usually a major blast for me, but with the insanity of Thanksgiving last week, I've stumbled getting anything done. I realized I've been writing like crazy for the last four months, and despite loving my projects, I was on the edge of burn-out.

Since DH has this week off, I took off a day. We slept in, got some breakfast at Starbucks, and headed to the Lima mall. I'm not a mall person, but the Monday after Thanksgiving is usually pretty quiet. Today was no exception.

DH wanted some sweatpants, and I needed a couple of long-sleeve overshirts since the weather's finally getting colder here. I picked up some peppermint bath gel because the store at home only had lotion left. I raided Yankee Candle for holidays scents. At DH's eyeroll, I pointed out I hadn't been there in two years. And I bought him a Christmas Cookie-scented candle as a bribe.

Finally, we put in our pre-order for cinnamon rolls at Cinnabon for the holidays. Well, we also got a six-pack to take home today. Those rolls taste so good, but are so bad for you at the same time!

GK ordered a 32" TV for himself on Black Friday. It wasn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow, but apparently, USPS has its shit together. It arrived while we were out and about, so the postperson left the box with our complex manager.

Not long after we picked up the TV and unloaded the rest of the car, the UPS guy showed up with the books I ordered, which weren't supposed to be here until Wednesday.

I'm impressed the delivery people are on top of things this early in the season!

It's snowing, and we're settling in for the night (though I really should go out and walk off that Cinnabon I just ate). I'll make cheeseburgers and steamed veggies for dinner. We'll watch the Texans play the Titans.

It's been a necessary mental health day. I'll jump back into my imaginary worlds in the morning.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holiday Madness!

It's the day before Thanksgiving here in the U.S. We have a bizarre relationship with holidays and family in the country. All the pressure and weirdness and lack of manners comes out, often causing problems with the people we claim we love the most.

Even though I publicly stated I have breast cancer on this blog a few months ago, I hadn't told anybody else beyond a close circle of friends. And DH's family can be...a little clueless.

Even though we've had dinner with the extended family more than once, they didn't notice I'm missing a body part. It's funny and a little sad at the same time.

Seriously, we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant two weeks ago, and DH's youngest sister, aka Princess Cindy, tells me I can use her kitchen to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

No, she didn't ask. She stated.

Now, Princess Cindy and her husband have hosted many holiday events. I don't have a problem contributing, but I had no plans to cook this year. Not even for my own household. I'd already told DH I was playing the cancer card for the holidays this year.

So I told Princess Cindy I'd bring chicken tenders and a veggie tray from Kroger. (I love their deli section! So many delicious choices!) Since she was planning a game day (the family loves board games, and not the usual Hasbro ones), I said finger food would be the perfect accompaniment. We placed the order on the 15th.

And DH got text from her on that same day, asking again if I would cook.

I'm still not sure what's really going on. It wasn't like they are huge fans of the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, yadda, yadda, yadda. The in-laws' idea of Thanksgiving is ham loaf and a store-bought pie.

So guess what Princess Cindy did yesterday? She ordered a ham dinner and pie from a local restaurant.

We'll have more than enough to eat tomorrow, but if Cindy wanted ham, why did she ask me to cook? She knows I don't make typical holiday foods.

This is what I mean about pressure and weirdness. I though I'd escaped the psych games with my side of the family, but apparently, every family has them. Cest la vie!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Writing vs. Any Other Non-art Job

Dean Wesley Smith was on one of his rants two weeks ago about how writing should be fun. I don't disagree with his basic premise. What was weird was all the justifications from other writers for, well, doing something that makes them miserable.

One guy, because it's always a guy, said Americans have this wishful thinking that a job should make them happy and they need to find fulfillment in other aspects of their lives.

Here's the problem with that thinking--art is in the top half of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

If your writing helps or does fulfill the bottom half, then HUZZAH! That's awesome!

But when you're freaking out about the bottom half, you know, the stuff like food, shelter, clothing, etc., it can seriously fuck with the part of you that likes to create stories.

My observation doesn't apply to everyone. There's a lot of people who get a thrill out of balancing on the knife edge of survival.

But for the rest of the writers, there's no point in making yourself miserable to prove some bizarre point. There's no shame in working a day job either if that's necessary to provide food, clothing, etc.

To me, there's no sense killing the part of you that finds joy in writing. Especially since there's a ton of other, easier, ways to make money. And a lot more of it, too.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

My Favorite Movie Soundtrack

If we're not watching Highlander, then we have the soundtrack playing in the car.


Friday, November 16, 2018

Buying Other People's Plots

Okay, I admit it. I don't get people who can't come up with new ideas. I'm not trying to judge or preach. I simply can't comprehend it because I literally cannot shut off my own mind.

My husband can tell you when my story hamster is in her wheel.

But I meet or hear of so many other writers who can't seem to come up with story ideas. Maybe they are putting too much pressure on their hamster. Maybe they expect their hamsters to find the perfect story for them. Maybe they accidently killed their hamster.

So they turn to others to come up with story ideas for them. Maybe they turn to a critique partner. Maybe they buy an app like the Story Plot Generator from the Microsoft Store. Maybe they take a writing course on plotting or buy a how-to book.

But then there are the underground places where someone will sell you an outline for a novel.

Is this a good plan?

It really depends. Why are you doing it? Are you trying to jump start your hamster? Or is your hamster perfectly fine, but you don't trust it to win the race?

Here's the bigger problem, as I see it. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but if you're buying an idea from someone else, I can guarantee you'll pay more than ten cents for even one story idea/outline. Would that money be better spent on cover art, editing or formatting?

But the core of if the problem is something most writers don't consider. It's not the idea itself that gets people to buy your books. It's the execution.

Are you making your reader feel the feels? Or are you doing some paint by number schtick?

What made Harry Potter work when there are thousands of orphan books and boarding school books and magic books?

If you say it's that particular combination of subject matter, I'd say think again. Siegel and Shuster did it with Superman decades before J.K. Rowling. The creators made both Clark and Harry relatable while giving them fantastic powers.

So why would  a reader care about characters that you didn't care enough to invent them?

Or are you using someone else's ideas to insulate yourself from disappointment?

I get how rejection feels. The bad reviews. The low sales. If the idea you bought fails, well, it isn't you fault, is it? It had to be the fault of the person who sold you the outline.

Whether or not you use an plot outline you bought from someone else is totally your decision. But please know yourself well enough to figure out why you're doing it instead of coming up with your own ideas. In the end, I think you best bet as a writer is trusting your own hamster.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Let It Snow!

I'm a little late today, and I didn't write too many posts last week, because I'm trying to finish reviewing the print proof of Sacrificed. That's in addition to working on my NaNo project.

Tomorrow should be a good writing day. We're expecting more snow.

Yep, more snow. It's one reason DH and I love working from home. No more commutes. Not through heavy traffic. Not through inclement weather.

The storm has just reached the outskirts of Cincinnati in its roll north. We should be getting flakes around three in the morning.

So tonight, I'll make sure everything's charged and ready to go in the morning. We have plenty of coffee and tea. And I'll charge ahead on my wip!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Bohemian Rhapsody

If you love Queen, you'll probably love this docudrama. If you're a nitpicky fact Nazi, you won't. The writers rearranged the timeline a bit for dramatic effect. And the rearrangement was with Brian May and Roger Taylor's blessing since they were executive producers of the flick, so part of me wonders how much was truly changed. The band was incredibly private about their personal affairs. It's entirely possible Freddie knew he was HIV positive prior to the Live Aid concert and had told the rest of the band.

But any rearrangement of the timeline doesn't take away from the band's, or Freddie Mercury's, history. It gives equitable treatment of the four members' contributions to their musical legacy.

This movie really doesn't qualify for a SPOILERS warning any more than Titanic does. (Hint: The ship sank.) The guys obviously wanted a tribute to their friend at the height of his career, so the movie ends with Queen's performance at Live Aid in 1985. But I will give you a list of my favorite parts:

1) Rami Malik owned the part of Freddie Mercury. I'll be very upset of he doesn't get an Oscar nod in a couple of months.

2) Gylim Lee captured Brian May's bemusement with his friend's antics perfectly.

3) The story doesn't shy away from the infighting that occurred between the four guys, especially between Roger and Freddie.

4) The best line? "This band only needs one hysterical queen."

5) The new tidbit I learned? John Deacon has an electrical engineering degree.

6) The recreation of some of Freddie's most iconic stage outfits.

7) Dexter Fletcher, who actually directed the film after Bryan Singer's firing, and the actors did a marvelous job of acknowledging the faults of the men without glorifying them.

8) Second best line? "If you think six minutes is long, I pity your wife."

9) They acknowledge of the importance of Mary Austin and Jim Hutton in Freddie's life.

10) THE MUSIC!!

This is one of those rare movies I want to see again in the theater before it's run is finished. Overall, I give it 11 stars out of 10!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

This One Makes Me Hungry

Want some mashed potatoes and gravy with that fried chicken?


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ah, Memories!

November will be Queen month in honor of the release of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. This was the first Queen song I heard. We chanted it on the school bus at the top of our lungs.


Friday, November 2, 2018

NaNoWriMo Has Started!

National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo if you need to go even shorter, started yesterday.

I stocked up on chocolate and caffeine. I had my fun project ready to go. And I hit the ground...

...kind of crawling. I overslept thanks to the dark, rainy day. I had to do some transferring of funds because GK found his dream car at the dealership down the road. There was paperwork to do, and we still need to contact our insurance agent this morning.

However, I did get words down in the midst of the chaos. And I'm going to keep ploughing through. I have to admit this is the first book I've started since all the testing and treatment for cancer, and I'm not sure how it will change my voice.

But for now, I'm going to have some fun!