Week Twenty-One: Creating Characters and Connecting with Writers

May 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

May 28, 2012

Read
“ . . . the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s.” —Stephen King, On Writing

Just reading about how King came up with the idea for Carrie is harrowing. He described two downtrodden, outcast girls he remembered from his school days that he drew from to create the character of Carrie. It reminded me of an incident from my own childhood. A quiet and unassuming boy showed up at school one day with a new haircut and new clothes. The smile on his face and the bounce in his step showed he felt pretty spiffy. Until a boy and a girl sat at his table, surrounding him, and, right there in the classroom, picked on him until he started crying.  I will never forget that. I admit I have seen the movie Carrie but never read the book. I started it and couldn’t get past that opening shower scene as only King can write it. It was just too awful.

On a brighter note, I stared reading Fly Me to the Moon by Alyson Noël. One of the published authors at the LERA meeting recommended reading a lot of books in one’s chosen genre when re-writing, so . . .

Write
I finished typing the second draft. I didn’t even have to get out the ACE bandages. Yay!

Now for the rewrites. Help! The serious work begins. Four different writing experts, including Kirt Hickman (Revising Fiction) and Doug Eboch (Sweet Home Alabama) say you must write bios for all your main characters. Now I can’t believe I didn’t do this before; I thought I knew my characters pretty well and didn’t have to. But they have also changed over the course of two drafts and now it’s clear there are a lot of inconsistencies. Completing the character bios will fix all that, and guess what? It takes forever! I spent two hours figuring out the hero’s astrological sign. Good thing, too, because her original birthday, that I had come up with to suit the plot, was totally the wrong sign for her.

Alyson Noel and Me at Alamosa Books

Bliss
I went to Alyson Noël’s book signing for her Soul Seekers series at Alamosa Books last Tuesday. Book signings are a golden opportunity to talk to and get great advice from stars: published writers! Alyson Noël talked to us one-on-one as if it were a given that we would be successful writers. When I told her I had just finished the second draft and that I was now beginning the process of making it tight and publishable, she said to enjoy that process now that I have the time. Because when I start having deadlines and am going crazy, I will look back on this stage of my life fondly.

Duly noted.

Week Twenty: Alyson Noël, Typing Pains, Nikita, and the Solar Eclipse

May 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

May 20, 2012

Read
I finished The Temptation by Alisa Valdes, a tale of star-crossed kindred spirits caught in a battle against pure evil. The images and emotions this book evoked stayed with me long after I put the book down. I am really looking forward to the second book in the trilogy! Click here for my post on Valdes’ book signing.

I started and finished Faking 19 by Alyson Noël, a young adult novel about a girl who flees the suburbs to L.A. with her best friend to escape her crumbling academic and home life. I love Noël’s writing style, and she is doing a book signing this coming Tuesday at Alamosa Books here in Albuquerque! Noël is promoting Fated, the first book in her new paranormal series, set in New Mexico!

I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. Everybody’s talking about it, even Marlos Thomas. A friend of mine said she had to take a lot of cold showers when she was reading this book. We’ll see . . . I haven’t made it to the juicy section yet; this book actually contains story and build-up.

Write
I should take my friend up on her offer to transcribe for me—she types 95 words a minute! But she’s a single mom and a schoolteacher and has plenty on her plate already and I hate to impose. Besides, I can’t have somebody reading the end of my novel before reading the beginning. So my right arm will probably end up wrapped in an ACE bandage by the time I finish typing. Did I mention I suffer from repetitive motion disorder? The sacrifices one makes.

Bliss
The Nikita season two finale aired on Friday and thank God it’s been renewed for a third season. Show runner Craig Silverstein has created a modern day myth with his super-cool spy thriller. One of my gushing post-finale-watching tweets (I am @shannonymoreau) got included in a blog post by Pop Culture Nexus—how cool is that? Here is an interview with Silverstein on TV Line about what’s coming up in season 3. Warning, it does contain spoilers.

Sunday my friends and I went to the University of New Mexico Observatory to watch the solar eclipse. Albuquerque was right on the central path so we had a perfect view. Click here for ABQ Journal photo gallery. I couldn’t resist trying to take pictures with my digital camera. I’d look at the eclipse through my solar glasses, hold my camera up (which completely obliterated my view), then my friend would hold her glasses in front of my camera lens and I’d snap the picture, hoping for the best. I had a lot of misses with this method, but a few pictures came out pretty decent for an amateur. When the ring of fire appeared in the sky at 7:33 pm everybody started cheering. It was pretty freaking awesome.

My pic of the ring of fire taken with my Canon Powershot and solar eclipse glasses held in front of the lens.

Book Review: The Vampire Diaries: Dark Reunion by L. J. Smith (Book #4)

May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Bonnie is having disturbing dreams. Elena made the ultimate sacrifice in The Fury and is trying to tell Bonnie something from the other side. But in the dream Elena’s words are riddles and her body is decaying and unspeakable things are crawling out of the ground. Before Elena can utter her warning, Bonnie wakes up screaming. I would, too.

Dark Reunion begins with Caroline planning a surprise birthday party for Meredith. Bonnie has serious misgivings about this plan and for good reason. The festivities culminate in a shocking event that sends Bonnie and Meredith on a nightmarish mission to stop the malevolent entity that is preying on girls in Fell’s Church. Using her psychic powers, Bonnie summons Stefan and Damon for help. But when the Salvatore brothers arrive, it becomes horrifyingly clear that the evil force they are facing might be undefeatable.

The fourth book in The Vampire Diaries series is told almost entirely from Bonnie’s viewpoint. It works. I’ve been curious what the hapless, reluctant sidekick who channels spirits from the other side thinks about all the craziness going on around her. Bonnie is empathetic, which we already knew, but she also shows a surprising splash of wit—

Bonnie felt control of the situation slipping away from her. This is a bad idea, this is a very bad idea, she thought. But Caroline was going on, looking dreamy and almost romantic as she talked about the good old days. Bonnie didn’t have the heart to tell her that the good old days were as dead as disco.

—and spunk:

“For God’s sake,” Bonnie whispered, outraged.

“What do you think we’re here for?” Stefan hissed back. But his fingers paused on the second button.

Bonnie watched a minute and then made her decision. “Get out of the way,” she said, and when Stefan didn’t move immediately, she gave him a shove.

Dark Reunion is, well, darker than the previous three books. It is a return to the sinister creepiness of The Awakening and The Struggle, yet its themes, such as helplessness, terrorization, and sadism, are more grim. We travel into dark underworld territory here: bargains with the devil for ultimate power and selling of the soul to boost a damaged ego. On the brighter side, signs of a fresh and exciting new connection emerged between two of the characters that is outside of the Stefan/Elena/Damon triangle. I hope this plays out in the next segment of the series, The Return.

One problem I had with Dark Reunion is that a crucial development at the end of the book came out of the blue with no groundwork or explanation and did not fit in the context of the world L.J. Smith has created. Hopefully, more will be revealed in the next book, Nightfall.

Week Nineteen: Books on Mom’s Day, LERA, and TV Season Renewal

May 14, 2012 § 4 Comments

May 13, 2012

Read
I had my mom over for Mother’s Day and I was babbling to her about something, then realized she wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention because she had started reading my copy of Darynda Jones’ Third Grave Dead Ahead, which I had sitting on my coffee table. After I gave Mom her Mother’s Day present, I lent her First Grave on the Right. She’s got to start at the beginning, after all.

Cover of "The Power of Myth (Illustrated ...

I now own a copy of The Power of Myth, the transcripts of the Bill Moyers interview with Joseph Campbell that aired on PBS in 1988. I am so stoked. I have wanted this book for a long time, and I won it at a Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) meeting, which leads me to— 

Write
“With symbolism, we create myth.”—Sarah Shade, at her talk “The Secret Language of Words”

I attended my first LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) meeting, and the speaker for this month, Sarah Shade, talked about how symbolism creates powerful universal connections that turn stories into myths. So when I was watching Howl’s Moving Castle on Sunday for the fifth time, I saw all kinds of symbolism. The fire demon! The doorways! The boy! The dog! The bird! The scarecrow! The tunnel in Sophie’s dream with the monster at the end of it! I must get a book on symbolism.

Many of the LERA members are successful, published authors who know the business, and they enthusiastically answered my shop questions, even though I was a first-time guest. I got to sit next to Darynda Jones, the New Mexico author who writes the wonderful Charley Davidson series, and I ran into a fellow writer I hadn’t seen in months. The meeting discussions were lively and interactive and encouraging. I do believe I have found my new writing group.

Bliss
In TV news, I am so excited:
Nikita—renewed for season three—yes!
Scandal—renewed for season two—awesome!
The Vampire Diaries—a killer season finale with lots of twists, turns, and tears. Read this article on TV line about TVD writer Julie Plec crying onto her keyboard. I know how she feels.

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