In Which Our Heroine Reflects on Her Imagination

I was raised as an only child, and I’m quite certain this is where my creativity comes from. at the age of seven, we moved into an old neighborhood where the houses were on 3 acre lots. There were fewer neighbors and they all tended to be of retirement age. For a long time, there was a limited number of kids to play with. To add to that, the stripe down the middle of our road was a school district boundary.  I didn’t get to interact with the limited kids across the street so much because they went to the other school district.

While some kids got socialization through sports teams or gymnastic classes, my parents were never the type who sought such things for me. With a chunk of land over three acres big and no built in sibling playmates, I was left to my own devices.

It should be no surprise to you that I was a big reader. books were something that an only child could devour. No other kids required like in a board game or sports related activities. Books took me to faraway places and new worlds, especially the fantasy and historical variety.  I honestly believe my childhood was proudly sponsored by Laura IngalL’s Wilder and C.S. Lewis. I often built amazing forts to accompany my epic adventures.

When classmates gave up pretend play for more junior high type interests, mine just evolved. I turned to writing, and the characters and adventures I had made up simply followed along with me.

They’re still with me today.

 

In Which Our Heroine Finds Cool Story Ideas

A few weeks ago, I noticed this article online and thought it was pretty interesting. Micro-unit apartments that vary between 250 and 370 square feet are being created in NYC. It may be the geek in me, but I promptly thought of sci-fi space stations or ships with their limited space.

If I was writing some sort of outer space story, I’d love to see a selection of these blueprints to wrap my mind how characters right live. Beds that fold up into the wall, storage built into the ceiling, convertible rooms. Those sorts of things would be perfect in those space stations or ships where space is of a very limited premium but you want people to have enough room to live. What do you think, cool idea for a story setting?

In Which Our Heroine Reflects on Crit Groups a Lot

Earlier last month, I sent my beloved Work in Progress through it’s first round of critiques. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about the critiquing process from my own experience and the thoughts of others. I have two groups of people who do my crits. Karen is my lovely dedicated critiquer. I will see all of her story and she sees all of mine. She is the one I will ask about the things I want to expand for my second draft. My other group, Mud Puddle, has a chapter exchange system that means the same people will not always read your chapters. The way I have things worked out, each of my chapters gets three sets of eyes looking at it.

First of all, I think you have to go in understanding that people really want to help you make your story better. Some of the things they point out will be harder to take than others. Some suggestions you will disagree with, some will make you wonder why you didn’t think of it first. Some of the hardest feedback you get will be what you need the most. I ultimately feel it’s good practice for having an editor go through you stuff, because they will be both an amazing supporter and the toughest judge. Or you know, getting your entire story rejected by an editor or agent. If you feel like you are in a group that isn’t trying to help but play the “I’m proving my story is better than yours” then you’re in the wrong group. Luckily, I don’t have that issue.

Another thing to keep in mind is what the other person needs you to look at. If they want a beta to look at plot and characters of a first draft, you will both go crazy if you do a line edit instead. I’ve also found that some writers are very sensitive to the language you use in comments. They want you to say “the story might benefit from this” instead of “I see you wrote this…” To them the use of “you” feels like a judgement on them while other writers feel that addressing the writer is building a relationship. Some want you to suggest grammar changes, others tell you to just put the comma where it should be but turn on track changes. If you have a preference, let your reader know up front!

Another thing to note, in a big enough group, writers may be at different points. I’m lucky enough to have published writers in my Mud Puddle group. I’ve also seen writers who are writing their first drafts of their first books. Others are in between. Everyone can contribute something. Even if you feel like another chapter is more advanced than yours, don’t let that intimidate you. Let the other reader know what you liked and why, keep an eye out for inconsistencies or things you want to know more about.

I hope this helps some of you out there!

In Which Our Heroine Discusses Fairy Tales

My BFF, the Tony to my Steve Rogers, the Holmes to my Watson, and the Kirk to my Spock made an interesting comment the other day about the concept of fairy tale stories and how people don’t really want a “fairy tale romance” in real life.

She made the comment that when most people say they want a fairy tale romance/wedding/life they mean the Disney version. You know, the handsome prince/hero and the lovely young lady who defeat evil and live happily ever after with a bunch of catchy songs that follow them on their journey. The Disney Princess line follows has followed the formula with a lot of success, but Disney didn’t event the fairy tale so much as they figured out how to make bank off of retelling them.

I mean, have you ever actually read a fairy tale? I’m talking the original brothers Grimm sort of thing where the penalty for not winning the princess’s hand was death (“12 Dancing Princesses”) and the step-sisters cut part of their feet off to try to shove that coveted glass slipper on their feet (“Cinderella”). Those stories are full of some pretty dark stuff. The Disney version was neatly adapted to a family friendly G version because no six-year-old girl wants to know how the original version of “The Little Mermaid” ended (although they have no qualms about killing off mothers as many of us have noticed). I’m really hoping that people don’t want all of that death and violence in their relationship, because otherwise, I’m going to be concerned. Like seriously.

So here’s to having relationships that aren’t fairy tales.

In Which Our Heroine Discusses Villains

January brought the return of one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

i speak of the updated version of Dallas of course. The show that created a phenomena last summer that I still describe as “John Ross feels.” i was thinking about how the show crafts it’s more villainous characters the other day, mostly because I had an upcoming class on writing villains. the one thing I already know going into the class is that villains should be complex as well as the hero of their own story. I’m trying to remember where i heard that phrase from, but it makes sense to me. Dallas really brings that out I think, especially with John Ross Ewing.

John Ross earns sympathy because his romantic life is pretty screwed up. He will always be second place to the girl he really wants. His childhood was a screwed up mess because let’s face it, being the son of the infamous J.R. does not lead to stability in anything non-financial. He will always try to please his father who has an agenda all of his own.

Of course he is a villain, and he’s willing to use black-mail, law breaking and all sorts of dirty tactics to get his way. But last season, when he was accused of splitting up his cousin’s relationship with Elena and framed for a murder he didn’t commit, you felt for him. Even as he’s plotting to take over the family property, you know he’s not all bad. When he screws up and looses Elena, you don’t blame her for leaving, but you kind of do feel for him. You don’t want him to destroy the more sympathetic characters, but you start to get why he’s so ticked off about the hand the universe dealt him. When he goes to the dark side and asks his daddy to teach him to do things the J.R. Ewing way, you’re kind of sad to see him give in. At the same time, he is so wickedly charming, good looking, clever and cheeky that you enjoy him as a villain and sometimes, you like seeing him get the victories that he does. John Ross is a scene stealer and with the passing of Larry Hagman and J.R. both, he’s going to be on deck in a big way.

Any villains out there that you love to hate or even love to love?

In Which Our Heroine Discusses Sci-Fi Collectibles…

I have promised myself that I am going to talk about other geeky awesome things on this blog. I am not giving up the writing, I’m just adding subjects. This is an aspiring author’s blog, I want a recording of my journey towards publication. If I can get there, I think it could be helpful for other aspiring writers to see what I did. However, I want to give the world of an idea of me as a person too.

A big part of that is my geeky personality and love of collectibles. I swear the Phoenix Comic Con merchants become more dangerous by the year. ThinkGeek.com and Entertainment Earth are so, so dangerously awesome. If you’re reading my blog, you likely know what I mean.

I’m not lucky enough to own something that came out of an auction (although I did meet the proud owner of one of the Captain America propaganda posters, so jealous), but I have some items I really adore.

My Pop Vinyl Avengers! So cute!

My Pop Vinyl Avengers! So cute!

One of my favorite makers of cute collectibles is the chibi style Pop Vinyl Funko line. For fandom items, they aren’t as expensive. Unless you want one of those Comic Con Lokis and are prepared to hand over your first born child, (don’t worry geek child, Mommy won’t trade you for Loki, she’s a Captain America girl). They don’t take up as much space as some things and I think they are just all adorable as heck. I have been given a lot as gifts and the next wave of Game of Thrones ones that release are going to cause a little ding in my wallet.

My favorite bigger gifts include the Mal Reynolds replica pistol I have. Perfect for space cowboys who come wearing awesome brown coats and a fondness for cheeky one-liners. I really need to find a shadow box to display it in. As a fan of Mr. Fillion and his support for kids reading, I am also the proud owner of one of his “Read” posters with his mighty fine signature. Being the Avengers fangirl I am, I was thrilled to get a set of the Agent Coulson Captain America trading cards this Christmas. I squeed so hard.

Right now, my coveted collectibles are a steel Captain America shield, more Funko peeps, and the Katniss Everdeen

bow. Anyone out there have a love of awesome collectibles or are you coveting something geeky and cool?

In Which our Heroine Squees

My two favorite entertainment writers/producers that are actithey writing at this time are Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams. My favorite Joss projects are Avengers and Firefly/Serenity. My favorite JJ projects are Star Trek, Fringe and Revolution.

But my  JJ favorites may get an addition come 2015 because he just landed one of the coolest gigs in Hollywood with Star Wars Episode VII. I was fangirl giddy when he was announced. JJ is a geek, one of us, and he’s going to want to do a movie that makes the fandom proud and bring others in. I know some people disliked what he brought to Star Trek, but the biggest Trekkies I know loved it. It also made me a fan when I wasn’t before. It should be noted that my fangirlishness for Wil Wheaton was not based off his Trek work, but his blog about geeky awesome things.

I think what makes me love this decision is that JJ is a geek himself. Just like Joss who made one of the most successful movies ever with Avengers. I wasn’t surprised Joss did well because I knew he wasn’t just in it to make a movie that made money, he wanted to make the geeks pleased too. I get the same vibe off of JJ who was originally too afraid to take Star Wars because it was such a part of his youth. He wants to make the geeks happy and unhappy Star Wars fans will make their feelings heard. I was nervous about a new Star Wars movie coming out, especially as I cannot stand the animated Clone Wars stuff. But if the franchise gets to continue in cool new ways, I get to share that with my son and he gets to enjoy the awesomeness that is a brand-new movie on the big screen. May the Force be with You, JJ, the new Chosen One. I can’t wait to see what you bring us.

Anyone else out t here excited?