Tag Archives: aspiring author

From the Archives: Had to Rush My Baby to the ICU.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

Had to Rush My Baby to the ICU

“Oh my God! No! No! No!” My heart hammered in my chest as I watched my baby turn blue. I laid my fingers on her and tried to recall the technique. “Okay, on three. One, two, three!”

I pressed CTRL+ALT+DEL on the keyboard and held my breath.

Ctrl+Alt+Del (webcomic)
Ctrl+Alt+Del (webcomic) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nothing.

“C’mon baby!” I tried it again.

Still…nothing.

Why hadn’t I signed up for that CPR (Computer Performance Restoration) class? My baby, aka my laptop, had turned blue and no remedy was working.  I cradled her in my arms and rushed to the closest ICU (Inactive Computer Unit).

With my baby protectively held to my chest, I threw open the door and yelled to the man behind the counter, “I don’t know what’s wrong with her! I haven’t heard a sound from her in hours! She turned blue! Please help!”

He smiled and placed a hand over his mouth. Wait, was he trying not to laugh?

“Ah, the dreaded ‘blue screen.’ Let’s have a look.”

blue screen
blue screen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I gently laid her on the counter and watched as he worked. I drummed my fingers on the counter as I awaited the diagnosis. He was so calm. What was that noise? Was he humming? Seriously? How could he be humming at a time like this? My baby’s life was on the line! I couldn’t stand it any longer.

“What do you think it is?”

“Uh, the hard drive may be going out.”

“What?” I covered my chest with my hand. “But – but she’s only two!”

He seemed to notice my apprehension and said, “Or it could just be a virus.”

“Do you think she’ll be alright?”

“Don’t know. We’ll need to run some diagnostics. It’ll probably take several hours.”

“You mean I can’t take her home with me?”

“We need to keep her overnight, just to be sure.”

“But – but I’ve never left her with anyone overnight.”

He laid a hand on my shoulder and said, “It’ll be okay.”

If you’re a writer like me, you can relate to the fear of something happening to your laptop.  Without it we feel like a bird without a song, a bull without its horns, a cowboy without his boots, a jockey without a horse…you get the point. For writers, the laptop is our lifeblood. Fortunately my baby received a heavy dose of antivirus meds and now she’s as good as new.

Special thanks to James Ramsey’s post, Inspiration. I guess she was right. You can find the inspiration to write by surfing the net. Her post reminded me of the trauma with my laptop last week and inspired me to write this post. Check out James’ website. She has a new book coming out next month which I can’t wait to read.

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From the Archives: IT’S ALIVE!!! Creating Characters that Come to Life

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

IT’S ALIVE!!! Creating Characters that Come to Life

Do the characters you write about become real to you? Do you sometimes find yourself wondering what they’re up to as if you could simply call them up and chat? I must admit I have done that once. Okay maybe more than once.

Sure, they’re a figment of your imagination, and you’d do well to remember that, but creating good fictional characters involves more than mere physical description. In fact, some authors don’t provide a physical description at all; they leave it up to the imagination of the reader. What I’ve learned is that physical description is the least important part of good characterization.

If you want your characters to come to life, to know what they would say or do or feel, you need to get into their heads. You need to understand what motivates them. To do that you need to know where they’ve been. What has happened to them in the past? What was their childhood like? What environment did they grow up in? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their hopes and fears? What have they experienced that would give rise to any quirks, phobias or disorders? Do they have any special talents or abilities? Do they have any unique expressions? How do they treat other people?

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”  ―    Anonymous

Of course, all of this is up to you. The answers to these questions come from your imagination. When you create a character that goes well beyond physical description, it is as if you have brought that character to life. They not only become real to you but they become real to your readers. The reader becomes invested in your book and that is the main goal.

“I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.”  ―    Berkeley Breathed

From the Archives: Words of Wisdom on Writing from the King

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

Words of Wisdom on Writing from the King

Yesterday I published, Reading Fiction: Guilty Pleasure or Worthy Pursuit? In that post I stated that I only read fiction. Well it’s just one day later and I must retract that statement.

I received a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing in the mail yesterday afternoon. Yeah, it’s obviously not fiction but it’s a book on writing fiction so cut me some slack, okay? I’ve read several excerpts in the past but decided I needed to read the entire book. Well, I couldn’t put it down.

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...
Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

It’s a book on writing but it doesn’t read like an instruction manual and that, is a lesson on writing right there. It felt like I had sat down with a wise, yet fun-loving uncle as he imparted nuggets of wisdom, but first hooked me in by sharing funny anecdotes from his childhood.

The section where he offered advice on writing is a must read for any aspiring author. There are many great tips but I’ll highlight just two (sorry, but you’ll have to buy the book to get the full benefit).

King believes “plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.” His advice was reassuring because I’m not big on plotting and I’d wondered if that was somehow a weakness. I have a general idea of the story I want to tell and create very detailed character bios, but they are mostly for my reference only. Once I’ve completed the character bios it’s almost as if I have breathed life into them. They become real and end up telling me what comes next and it’s often different from what I had originally imagined.

He also believes that factual information belongs in the background of your story unless you’d like your book to read like a user’s manual or history text. He mentioned a couple of authors who are a little heavy on the factual information and then made this statement:

“I sometimes think that these writers appeal to a large segment of the reading population who feel that fiction is somehow immoral, a low taste which can only be justified by saying, ‘Well, ahem, yes, I do read {Fill in the author’s name here}, but only on airplanes and in hotel rooms that don’t have CNN; also I learned a great deal about {Fill in appropriate subject here}.’

It’s interesting that I just published a post on this topic yesterday. I love it when that happens. It’s like the moon and stars are aligning for some future event.

At the end of the book he tells about an accident that occurred during the time he was writing it. While going on his afternoon walk, he was struck and almost killed by a reckless driver. This part was mesmerizing because I was almost killed in a car accident too. Then he said it occurred the third week in June. Hmm…my accident did too. What are the odds it was on the same day? Well, what do you know? We were both almost killed by drivers who couldn’t control their vehicles…on the same day, June 19th, but eleven years apart, mine occurring in 1988 and his in 1999. But there was another similarity: the driver who caused his accident was reaching behind his seat, trying to prevent a dog from opening a cooler full of meat and the driver who caused my accident was reaching behind his seat, trying to open a cooler for another beer.

As he talked about the long road to recovery, I recalled my own. Maybe I’ll write about it? No, not today.

Instead, I closed the book with a smile on my face and thought, “That was a good story. Thanks, Uncle Steve.”

From the Archives: How the Life of a Writer Resembles a Bee

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

 How the Life of a Writer Resembles a Bee

On this journey to becoming a published author, I’m discovering that the life of a writer resembles a bee, a very busy bee. I’m not referring to a queen bee or a drone, but a worker bee.

Honey Bee in Sunlight
Honey Bee in Sunlight (Photo credit: Scott Kinmartin)

The worker bee buzzes from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen to make honey, but that’s not her (yes, a worker bee is female) only job. She builds the honeycomb and keeps it clean. She makes wax. She cares for the babies and protects the hive. When she finds a good source for nectar and pollen she buzzes back to the hive and communicates the good news. She is a social creature that shares her discoveries for the benefit of the hive. She collaborates with others to make something sweet. She is a very busy little bee.

So how is the life of a writer like a bee?

The days when a writer could simply collect thoughts and ideas and write a novel (as if writing a novel were simple) are long gone. No, writers, that is not your only job. You need to do your homework.

  • Read books on the art of writing.
  • Read books on formatting your manuscript, query letter and synopsis. I’ve read a dozen or so over the last few years and recently ordered several more.
  • Read the top rated novels. I started a project over a year ago to read the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels and recently merged it with Time Magazine’s Top 100.
  • Read current bestsellers.
  • Read books within your genre.
  • Read books outside your genre.
  • Research the submission process.
  • Research agents too. Read their blogs and get to know their likes and dislikes. After all, you hope one will represent you some day.
  • Read the blogs of authors they represent.
  • Read those authors’ books too.
  • Read…A LOT.

Of course most of you know that already, but did you also know that you are expected to market and promote your work? I’m sure visions of book tours and interview flash across your mind as you think, “Uh, duh. I knew that.” Let me rephrase that then. Did you know that you are expected to market and promote your work before your book has been published?

I didn’t know that. I neglected to read anything on social media. I skipped those chapters in the books I read. That comes later, after you’re published, right? Wrong. A writer needs to create a buzz, a following, prior to becoming published. In this technology driven world the best way to do that is through social media. Agents are more likely to take a chance on you if you can show that you have a presence on the internet.

Take a lesson from the honey bee. She visits several different sources (species of flowers) to make honey. Writers should do the same when writing and publishing a book. Don’t trust just one source for information. Read about the mistake I made doing this in my post, Word Count for Novels. Be social, like the bee. Flutter among the cyber flowers (blogs, online forums, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, author and agent websites, etc.) and make friends. Collect all that you have learned and create something that, like honey, lasts. Then go back to the hive (the internet), do the crazy bee “waggle dance,” and share what you’ve learned.

If you don’t have a blog yet, start one. I know. It’s a little intimidating at first. Creative people tend to be more introverted so this “social media thing” can push us out of our comfort zone. You may wonder if anyone will be interested in visiting the microscopic spec in cyberspace that is your blog. If you are like me, you may feel more like a bumble bee: poorly designed for flight. Sure, it may be a little difficult to get off the ground at first and you may wonder if your paper-thin wings can support your awkward body. You may fumble a bit, but remember:

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash

Defy physics and reason and soon you will be soaring high. Plus, I’ve learned that writers, by nature, are generous people. The followers will come.

Oh, and by the way, my name means “honey bee.” So, you see, I have been a very busy bee, indeed.

Against Idleness and Mischief

How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!

How skillfully she builds her Cell!
How neat she spreads the Wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet Food she makes.

In Works of Labor or of Skill
I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
For idle Hands to do.

In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
Let my first Years be past,
That I may give for every Day
Some good Account at last.

Isaac Watts

From the Archives – Writers: What Was Your First Story?

 

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

 

Once upon a time

The first story I remember creating came after my first nightmare, or rather, the first nightmare I remember. I’m not even sure how old I was, maybe 4 or 5? I must’ve fallen asleep while one of my parents read Goldilocks and the Three Bears to me because my nightmare was a twisted version of that fairytale.

Illustration by David Merrell
Illustration by David Merrell

Mama Bear and Papa Bear had captured my parents. They were restrained outside the bears’ home with thorn bushes. I looked on from a secret hiding place in the woods as they lit a fire underneath a giant black cauldron. Flames licked at the sides and steam rose from the center of the cauldron as my parents struggled to break free. That is where my nightmare ended.

I woke up in a panic. To a young child their parent is everything and both of mine were about to be boiled like lobsters. I calmed down once I realized I’d been dreaming but something tugged at me. I suppose this was the moment my internal storyteller was born.

What offense had my parents committed to deserve such treatment? Had Mama Bear and Papa Bear suspected my parents of eating the porridge, breaking the furniture, and destroying the neatly made beds? Or worse, was it something I had done? Where was Baby Bear? Had I done something to upset him? Were my parents paying the price for failing to discipline a naughty child? How could I save them?

I couldn’t recall the events in my dream that led to my parents being selected as dinner. All I knew was that my parents were in danger. I had to rescue them. I had to finish the story and it had to be brief; after all, my parents were about to become the main course for two ravenous bears.

Somehow I knew Baby Bear was the key. I searched and found him wandering in the woods alone. He was lost and scared. I gave him a cherished toy for comfort. It was a little crocheted doll that my grandmother had made for me. He seemed to understand the value it held and hugged me. We arrived at his home just as my parents were being lowered toward the boiling water.

Mama Bear and Papa Bear were overjoyed to see Baby Bear. After learning I had rescued him they decided I wasn’t a naughty child after all and released my parents. Porridge was warmed over the fire instead of my parents and we all sat down for a scrumptious meal. Mama Bear and Papa Bear swapped stories with my parents and after a while Baby Bear rubbed his eyes and yawned. Seeing that he was tired, I walked him upstairs and tucked him in bed. He fell asleep with my cherished doll held tightly to his chest. I was the heroine of the story and everyone lived happily ever after.

I have created hundreds of stories in my mind over the years. I don’t know why this one has stayed with me while others have faded. Maybe it’s because it was my first story. Maybe the simplicity of it makes it easy to remember. Maybe it was the thought of losing my parents. Who knows? I’ve discarded so many stories over the years because they were “too this” or “too that.” Maybe it’s because this one, at the time, felt…just right.

Do you remember your first story? I’d love to hear it.

From the Archives: WORDLE: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up:

 

Wordle: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

I stumbled across this program a while back and recently tried to recall the name because I thought it might be a useful tool for writers. Well, I was reading through the comments on Kristen Lamb’s blog (if you haven’t been there you must check it out) and, what do you know, there it was: the name of the program that had eluded me.

So, what the heck is Wordle?

Wordle is a program used to create word art from text. Words that occur more frequently are visually amplified (displayed in a larger font).  While this makes for some pretty cool art (just explore Pinterest and you will find all kinds of creative art using Wordle), there are other benefits too. For example, you can summarize survey results to see the most popular answers or pinpoint the main idea of an online discussion.

I’m sure by now you can guess the benefit for writers. It will magnify the words used most often in your writing. This can help you find words you are overusing, like those pesky little adverbs!

After I came across the post with the reference to Wordle, I jumped on the internet to find it. You can find it here: www.wordle.net. You may need to enable JAVA applets in your browser (the website provides instructions), but it’s fairly easy to use. Just paste the text into the window and press the “go” button.

I pasted my MS into the application and generated the Wordle. I discovered that the main characters in my novel were the most prominently displayed words. The next largest word was “back.” Huh? Do I really overuse that word?

I toggled back to my manuscript and read back through the document. I glanced back and forth between my MS and the Wordle. I was puzzled. Okay, not really, just surprised. I had no idea I used that word so often. I went on a search and destroy mission and discovered that in all but a few instances the word was unnecessary. UNNECESSARY! Wow, what a helpful little tool.

I wondered what the Wordle of the work of a famous author would look like. Well, there was no way I was going to type War and Peace into a document but I did happen to have a digital copy of one of Tolstoy’s short stories. I pasted A Spark Neglected Burns the House into the window and waited for a visual representation. Here is what it looks like.

Tolstoy Wordle

Hey, there’s that word again: “back.” It’s in yellow font next to Gabriel. It’s somewhat prominent in his story. I don’t feel so bad about my overuse, but don’t regret removing it either. I generated a few others for comparison purposes.

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The main characters were the most prominently displayed words in all three Wordles. You can get a general idea what the story is about by looking at the remaining jumble of words. Okay, well, maybe not, but it looks cool! If anything it would be an artistic way to display your creative work once it’s published. 🙂

Terrific Post on Beta Readers

Even Alpha Writers Need Beta Readers

This is a terrific post by Tiffany Reisz on Janice Hardy’s blog at The Other Side of the Story .

She submits her manuscript to five beta readers, each serving a different purpose  that gets her closer to a final product with each review.  The first reader does a macro level review and points out things like plot issues and “little darlings” that must die. She ends with a reader who focuses on the little things like grammar and punctuation.

I think it’s a great idea to put your manuscript through this type of beta reader “funnel” which prevents issues with your writing from making it through to the final manuscript. Now I just need to find beta readers with each level of expertise.

A Long Overdue Thank You on Award Nominations

This post is long overdue so I want to apologize to those bloggers who nominated me. Please know that I appreciate the nomination and mostly my interaction with YOU very much! I was nominated for the following awards:

I’ve already been nominated for the Wonderful Team Member Award and the Best Moment Award. If you are interested in reading my responses, just click on the link.

L. Marie is a children’s fantasy writer who has an innate curiosity about everything and is a huge LOTR fan (like me). I knew there was a reason I liked her so much 🙂

Patty (Petite Maguique) is a YA fantasy book writer, poet and photographer. A beautiful soul who bravely allows her feelings to bleed onto the page.

Daniel (Sairyou) is a deep thinker who pens some incredibly insightful posts. I could say finding his blog was serendipitous but I have a hard time believing in happy accidents. I believe that things happen for a reason and it’s up to us to find the meaning in it. His blog really makes me ponder things.

Lauren (Paranormal Perspective) is a paranormal fiction writer who, like me, shares an appreciation for stories about good vs. evil. Her favorite book is Paradise Lost which, if you haven’t read it, is a book of poems based on the biblical story of the fall of man.

Please take the time to visit their blogs. You will be glad you did.

liebster-blog-awardliebster-award

The Liebster Award/Liebster Blog Award

The aim of this award is to spotlight up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers. There are no set rules for the award, but the guidelines are as follows:

  • Copy and paste an image of the award onto your blog
  • Write a post on your blog to thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  • Nominate some blogs for the award. There is no rule for the number of blogs you nominate, but the general recommendation is at least 5 blogs that are similarly up and coming with fewer than 200 followers.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you in your post.
  • Ask at least 5 questions on your blog for those you nominated for the award to answer.
  • In addition to the questions and answers, list at least 5 random facts about yourself.

ANSWERS to Daniel’s Questions:

1. If money were a nonissue, what would you do?

Write, of course, but I’d travel the world with my family while doing it.

2. If there were a giant DELETE button, what would you erase completely off the earth?

It’s said that money is the root of all evil, but I believe it is greed. Money can be used for good (see # 11). It is the intent behind the acquisition or utilization of it that can be the real evil. Greed is the insatiable desire to acquire wealth, power and/or possessions far beyond what is necessary to be comfortable. Greed leaves an endless trail of crimes such as slavery, child labor, deforestation, poaching, white collar crimes (fraud, insider trading, embezzlement), war and on and on.

3. Name anybody famous, living or dead, whom you would like to have dinner with.

Abraham Lincoln.

4. What would you talk about with (3)?

Not only was he the greatest American president in history but he was also a writer. Unlike most presidents, he wrote his own speeches. He didn’t look to someone else to put words in his mouth. I’d ask what inspired his speeches. I’d ask him about perseverance. He didn’t let past failures stop him. He kept trying and preparing. He fought for what he believed in, regardless of popular opinion. He put much at risk, even his own life, to bring about great change. He didn’t take himself too seriously. He used humor to weather the bad times. He kept his priorities in order, even as the leader of the free world, by taking time out to spend with his family. How can you read these words and not be moved:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

5. Summarize why you write in one or two words.

Longing fulfilled.

6. If you had one one-way ticket to live in outer space, would you go?

Absolutely not. We are not meant to be alone. Relationships give life meaning.

7. If all books were to disappear from the universe but one, what would you want it to be?

For me it is the Bible. I’m drawn to stories of good vs. evil and so many writers have been inspired by it.

8. Describe your writing routine.

I write while my kids are at school or when they’re asleep.

9. How do you get inspiration?

I run or listen to music (usually concurrently) and read.

10. If you could be anybody other than yourself on Earth, who?

I can’t think of anyone. I know that sounds incredibly narcissistic but I’ve never wanted to be anyone else. Sure, there are people who I admire or respect but they inspire me to be a better version of myself. We each have our own set of talents, abilities, life experiences and perspectives. I believe we should embrace who we are; otherwise, we waste everything that makes us unique by wishing we were someone else.

11. What was the kindest thing you have ever done to a complete stranger?

I sponsor an adorable little girl named Kimberly who lives in Columbia. I send money every month that allows her to attend school and have hot meals. I send extra money on special occasions like Christmas so she can have new shoes, clothes or toys. I write to her and have received some of the sweetest letters and pictures that she has drawn for me in return.

ANSWERS to Lauren’s Questions

1. How did you become interested in blogging?

When I decided to become a writer, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the craft of writing. Eventually I came across a book that referenced blogging which led me to writer blogs. Those blogs recommended that writers become involved in social media like blogging.

2. What’s your favorite food?

I love green apples and pretty much anything with lemon in it. I also love chips and queso.

3. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m an aspiring author.

4. What is one thing you wish more people knew about you?

I had a friend tell me that an acquaintance thought I was a snob because I didn’t talk much. Fortunately, this friend came to my defense. I’m generally shy and reserved with people I just meet and would rather listen to you talk than myself. If we’re not involved in a conversation then I probably have a story swirling in my head.

5. What’s your favorite book?

It’s hard to pick just one so I’ll name a few: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Great Expectations,  and Pride and Prejudice.

6. What’s your favorite movie?

Again it’s hard to pick just one. I’m not much for chick flicks. I love stories about good vs. evil, the unlikely hero, or one who is granted power without seeking it and doesn’t use it selfishly but for some greater good. I also love stories about the power of the human spirit,  overcoming insurmountable odds. Here is the list, in no particular order:

  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Braveheart
  • Harry Potter
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Gladiator
  • Cinderella Man
  • The Pursuit of Happiness
  • Seabiscuit
  • Lincoln
  • Pride and Prejudice

7. What do you watch for TV?

I got hooked on The Walking Dead and have recently discovered Downtown Abbey but I don’t watch much TV. I’m sick to death of reality shows and unfortunately that’s what is popular. Toddlers and Tiara’s? Honey Boo-Boo? Jersey Shore? Housewives of…whatever? Teen Mom? Seriously, what is wrong with our society? But I guess there is an upside. They can give you ideas if you’re looking for flaws to blend into your characters but I can’t bear to watch them.

8. What advice would you give to fellow bloggers?

Be yourself and for heaven’s sake, don’t fret over things like stats or the number of followers you have. Enjoy the authentic connections you’ve made. That’s the real treasure of blogging.

My Questions for the Nominees:

  1. Name anybody famous, living or dead, whom you would like to have a conversation with. What would you talk about?
  2. What is your favorite book?
  3. What is the one thing you’d like most to change about the world?
  4. What advice do you have for writers?
  5. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do with your newfound wealth and how would you spend the rest of it?
  6. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  7. If you had six months to live, what would you do with the time?
  8. Do you have any regrets?

The Nominees:

Alice Huskisson Author

Author A.J. Adwen

Book Marks

Where Do I Go From Here

Destiny Allison

Disregard the Prologue

Lauren Sapala

versatileaward1The Versatile Blogger Award

The Rules

Thank and link to the person who gave you the award.
Tell seven facts about yourself.
Pass it on to seven other bloggers.
Link to specific posts on their blogs so they’ll be notified by pingback

7 Facts About Me

  1. I have implants. No, not those kind, silly. Dental implants. I had perfectly straight teeth without ever wearing braces and then four of them were crushed in a car accident.
  2. I still have my tonsils and wisdom teeth but had my adenoids removed when I was losing my hearing at age five
  3. I am taller than average at 5’8”
  4. I love to draw, paint, and create.
  5. I owned a scrapbook store while working full-time at my former job (no, I didn’t sleep much).
  6. I don’t like to cook. In our home it’s often said, “If it ain’t burnt, it ain’t Mama’s!” (No we don’t normally talk that way). I just don’t have the patience to stand at the stove. I’m easily distracted by things I’d much rather be doing (i.e., writing) but I’ve found that a glass of wine can keep me in the kitchen.
  7.  I do love to bake, though and am often told that the creations I make are better than store-bought, which bewilders me because the creation generally originates from a box cake. I won the award for best creation at the neighborhood cookie swap. Don’t laugh. It was a highly coveted award (LOL). I didn’t know what I was going to make until just before the party. I found out later that the women in the neighborhood spent weeks planning and scheming, even finding out the favorite flavors of the judges. When I won, it was highly contested that my creation of chocolate covered, caramel filled cherry mice didn’t qualify as a cookie, but it was all in good fun. 🙂

The Nominees:

Christa in New York

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

Destiny Allison

Disregard the Prologue

Sairyoume

The Other Side of the Story

The Write Niche

Another Reason to Add Imperfections in Your Character

You Need More Scoundrels in Your Life: How to Write a Han Solo Hero in Six Easy
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I came across this post by Tiffany Reisz on Janice Hardy’s blog and wanted to share since it relates to the point I made in my post What the Perfect Face Can Teach Writers About Characterization. While I only made a general reference to building flaws into your character’s behavior, Tiffany’s post provides six tips for doing just that.

Why do we need such flawed characters to become emotionally invested? I think it’s because we can relate to those imperfections.  We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. We all falter. We root for them because if they can persevere, even change, then there is hope for us as well. They inspire us to get up, dust ourselves off and try again.

“I don’t think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret.  I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled.  Their virtue is lifeless and of little value.  Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.”  ~ Boris PasternakDoctor Zhivago

What the Perfect Face Can Teach Writers About Characterization

Recently on the show Live with Kelly and Michael they presented the picture of the perfect face. The idea behind the “perfect face” was to take the best features from some of the most beautiful people in the world and combine them to create the image of the perfect face.

the perfect faceI couldn’t find a copy of the picture they displayed on the show but I found one that is similar. I apologize if anyone reading this bears a close resemblance to it but combining the perfect features of others make this image a little freaky.

jennifer-grey-nose-job-before-afterThe little imperfections in people are what make them interesting. Without them a face becomes boring.

Think of Jennifer Grey from the movie Dirty Dancing. She had rhinoplasty some years after the movie and when she appeared on a TV sitcom the public didn’t know who she was.

The image on the left shows her before and after rhinoplasty. She was adorable, right? After rhinoplasty she lost that unique quality that made her recognizable. She’d become ordinary.

Here are some images of famous people who are known for their “perceived” imperfections.

Michael Strahan: gap between the teeth.
Michael Strahan: gap between the teeth.
Martin Scorsese: bushy eyebrows
Martin Scorsese: bushy eyebrows

Adrien Brody: prominent nose
Adrien Brody: prominent nose
Seal: facial scars
Seal: facial scars

Now imagine if these features were modified. Would these people be as memorable? If Jennifer Grey’s transformation is any indication, then the answer is, “Probably not.”

The same goes for the characters in your book. Don’t create what is known as a “Mary Sue” or “Marty Stu” which is a character that is too perfect to be interesting or memorable. Without unique characteristics the reader loses the ability to distinguish between characters.

Add things other than facial imperfections or unusual physical features. Give them a unique expression, a phobia, or an annoying habit. Throw in those little oddities. Make them endearing. It’s what readers love and it’s what they remember.