Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Monday, December 31, 2012

What a Wonderful Year It's Been!

Let's take a look back!
At this time, I'd like to thank each of you for the best first year a blog could have.  What an amazing year it's been. From the first-ever flash fiction contest (Spring Into Action)

to interviews with both rockstar authors
Roger Smith, author of DUST DEVILS and many other international best-selling thrillers

and authors we'll soon find at the top.

There have been giveaways and contests, but above all, I hope that my love for the art of writing has given you great inspiration.

And I'm looking forward to 2013, because it's the year my evil little manuscript will hopefully sprout wings and fly!  Sometime in January, my itchy-trigger-finger will hit 'send' on the keyboard and the first batch of my queries will go whizzing through the internets, so that hopefully the THE DEATH BROKERS and I can find the perfect agent.
2013~the year of THE DEATH BROKERS!  Thanks to my friend, Revo Boulanger, for 
bringing my story to life in this design he made.  Awesome writer and c.p.  Thanks Revo!

I hope you'll stick around to find out what happens, but that won't be the only fun we'll have, for in spring there will be another flash fiction contest for you to enter! I gave it quite a bit of thought, and while I won't divulge the deets just yet, I will tell you the name of the contest, which I'm calling "Rock-N-Write" and  it'll be even more fun than the first contest.

There will also be more author interviews and next week I'll kick off 2013 with a piece on what I love to call info-faux-mation, and I'll give you the scoop on what it is and when to insert into your manuscript.

But before 2013 rolls around, I'd like to leave you with a few giggles and a song.  First, the giggles courtesy of the "You May Be A Thriller Writer" segment we did a few weeks ago.

Now if you will, please sit back with me and imagine my Georgia neighbor Jeff Foxworthy reading these hilarious responses, and of course mega-props to these scintillating scribes for the end of the year giggles.  I tip my New Year party hat to you.

~You might be a thriller writer... if you stake out Goodwill boxes as possible body stash places.

I'm not weird, I just write. (Michelle4laughs)

~You might be a thriller writer if you...1. Buy furniture that looks like the ones Agatha Christie described in her novels and sit on it for inspiration.2. Write letters to Sherlock Holmes even though you know he is not a real person to ask how he does "it". 3.Attend all James Bond movies on premier night without failure for inspiration.4. Read all of Ian Fleming's novels and waited impatiently for him to resume writing.5. Find yourself quoting James Bond's onscreen and in-the-novel sayings in normal, everyday conversations.6. Are in love with Alex Cross, the first Alex Cross--his height, build, and mannerisms--and wish you had created the character first. (Frances Ohanenye)

From my family to yours, we wish you love and happiness in the coming year.  

And now,  I'll leave you with a song perfect for our New Years' Eve.  Look out 2013, here we come!

"Wonders Never Cease" by Morcheeba

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

A Christmas Card to you~

Thank you for your support and friendship this year.  We will have an end-of-year Friday Funnies next week to start off 2013 with a smile.  Please hold the families of Newtown, CT in your hearts and prayers on Christmas and throughout the new year, and remember those in need as we celebrate tomorrow with our families and count our blessings.

Together we'll have more exciting adventures in 2013, and I hope you'll join me as I begin a new journey this January moving closer to my goal of becoming a published author.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nefarious plots, villains & heroes & the suspension of disbelief!

Okay, I had to write this post after just watching The Dark Knight Rises.

And yea, I know it's a superhero movie, which means we're to check our suspension of disbelief as a viewer at the door as soon as we walk into the theater or open the book, but seriously, at some point your brain wakes up and screams, "This simply can't be happening!  I've paid good money for this and you want me to believe this load of bull-puckey?"

Then that same little nagging voice says to you that although this is pretty good, that although the character arcs are decent, the plot can simply never ever really happen in real life, and it is at that precise moment that the viewer or reader is forever lost.

For me, that particular moment came when Bane, the super-villain revealed his over-reaching goals and takes over Gotham City and holds its citizens hostage.  Now I understand Gotham is supposed to be part of the U.S.A., but seriously, would America let a massive city the size of New York fall to a crappy terrorist wearing a stupid mask?  I think not.

Suspension of disbelief is the norm in fantasy worlds where evil overlords like Darth rule the galaxy.
And from that moment forward I began to look for more flaws and the movie meant less to me.  Granted the ending was decent, with the self-sacrifice of the m.c., but the absolute best part was the insertion of an excerpt from a truly great novel and old film (A TALE OF TWO CITIES) during Batman's funeral scene.  Only then could the emotion flow, and it was due to borrowed words .

You see, my thoughts on suspension of disbelief are subtle.  I want to believe throughout the whole film or book that the plot could happen.  Could is the operative word here folks.  This imho, applies to almost every genre except perhaps high fantasy where the story world is completely fictional (think DUNE).

But the whole story concept actually exposed to me an even bigger flaw and another error that I must recognize as a writer, and that was the fact the main character, the dark dude himself~ Batman, is confined to Gotham City.  It's like a prison without walls for the masked marauder who rarely leaves Gotham (except in this film where he really leaves Gotham and is sent to a prison.)

However I hope that the screenwriters will realize this flaw and have him break out of his little Gotham-cocoon and interact with the rest of the world, because if Batman is released into  the world, then the wilder plots can be embraced, thus giving suspension of disbelief a little nod.  A small token of writerly respect, if you will, and maybe a tip from a Bond villain might exemplify this concept.

I always wanted to rename Blofeld "CrazyEye".
So if you've got a dastardly dude, the ultimate bad guy, and he wants to take over the world, then what do you do with your main character?  Give the main character the world (or even the universe perhaps) as their playground!

But know how far to take things...or else you end up with this kind of scene.  Know where to draw the line between fact, fiction.

So what did we learn today?  

  1. We must artistically harness the power of the suspension of disbelief, but respect that power in knowing where to draw the line. Don't take the power for granted. 
  2. Create characters who can move about freely in a story world.  Freeing the character gives the writer more wiggle room and larger scope.  Allows us more leniency in the area of suspension of disbelief.
  3. When we give the aura to our readers that the plot could indeed happen somehow, we give them room for thought and for discussion.  That creates fans and readers.  We want both.
So in wrapping up, remember when people leave a theater or read the last paragraph of a book, we want them to be talking about the subject matter of the book.   We want them to be in awe of the experience they just had.  We don't want them to feel cheated out of the cost of a movie ticket or Kindle download.  We want them to be telling their friends how amazing their experience was, and that it could happen in the real world.  In the end, this creates what is known as a fan or a reader.

A good book or film that respects the notion of suspense of disbelief will be the one that's talked about nonstop around thousands of water coolers the next Monday morning after it's release.

Respect this subtle power and we create art.

It's the simple stuff that we must keep in mind when writing, and while I'm guilty of this, I definitely plan to learn from my mistakes.

So take it from a friend, when writing we need to keep that simple concept of suspension of disbelief carefully in check.  But don't give up hope if your manuscript's antagonist, an evil villain that plans on taking over the world, that can be okay.  He or she need not be written out or the entire story scrapped, but what it does mean is you should weave in ways the plot could actually happen.

Later on here we'll talk about the insertion of info-fauxmation (what I like to call fake but plausible information) to make your subtle twists in plot blur the line between fact and fiction to make your story plausible, but for now we're just going to respect suspension of disbelief.

 Let's hear from you:

What elements in your manuscript make the reader/audience engage in suspension of disbelief?  But be careful in answering this last question folks, because it's the most disgusting, jagged little pill as a writer you'll ever swallow, but tell me how and why your reader be able to move past the point of no return in the plot, where they must decide if they can truly believe what you've written and keep turning pages?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Find Time to Write During the Holidays

Dear Santa, 

All I want for Christmas is to finish this darn manuscript. Can you swing that?  

I've been a good writer this year, and maybe if you're not too busy, could you also arrange for me to sign with a great agent after I finish it? Pleeeze?  

But if you can't swing either the finished manuscript or the agent, then could you share the secret of how you fly around the world in one night with me?  I need to make more time to write and could use some holiday magic.

Did I mention I'm leaving you some fresh-baked cookies? I may be a starving artist, but I'm not above offering you a sugary bribe.  I'll even throw in a glass of milk.

A Frustrated Writer

Yes Virginia, you can find time to write during the holidays!
We rush around to and from work and have (happy) obligations at home, but when you add into the mix shopping, cooking, wrapping, decorating, and holiday gatherings, the time we once used for writing has *poof* disappeared.

And we're left shaking our heads, wondering how we'll get to re-work that last chapter or write the ending.

What's the answer?

We MUST get more creative.  And as writers, we're a pretty creative bunch.  Below I'll give you my tips on how to create more time to write and revise during the happiest yet busiest time of year and you can submit yours too!

Tip #1:  Get up earlier than usual on the weekend, but not crazy-early.  Make coffee or hot tea and say good morning to your laptop.  Now I love this time and feel early weekend mornings are magical, quiet, and peaceful.    While everyone's still asleep with sugarplums dancing in their heads, I wake a little earlier than usual to enjoy my favorite Christmas coffee (Barney's Santa's White Christmas) and the silence.  I've done some of my best work on weekend mornings.

Tip #2:  Lunch break!  During your lunch break at work, re-read your manuscript online or look at a hard copy.  Great time to use to take a look at the flow and the pacing.

Tip #3:  Bring along a composition book no matter where you go!  I purchased a few of them back when an office supply store had them for a dollar each.  These are great to carry around with you and you can jot down plot ideas or outline.  After all, when the creative muse taps us on the shoulder, we need to pay attention.  How many times has a great idea dawned upon you, only to forget about it later?  The ol' trusty composition book is the cure for all of that!  There's always a composition book in my s.u.v.  That's how I roll.

Tip #4:  The television is your friend.  A secret and sneaky friend (insert evil laugh).  If you've spent the afternoon searching for the perfect gift for your hubby or wife and now you can't find the time to write, just excuse yourself gently from the time you spend with them watching their favorite show on t.v.  Give them a hug and maybe a warm blanket, and sneak off to your computer and type away!  I do this while my hubs and my sonwatches NFL games.  Now as a family, we love to watch S.E.C. football games together, but I let them have a little male bonding time and go write.

These are a few of my favorite tips to create more time to write.  What super-secrets do you have?  If you share them with us, I'll bet you won't end up on the naughty list this year (wink).

Happy Holidays~