Tuesday, March 24, 2015

You Call This A Blog?

I know. It's like I can't get a grip for anything, eh?

Still not writing.

Still reading.

The Couch to 5K thing is still a go.

Mari is here.

That's what I'm up to.

But I guess under the SHARE category...


Here is the scoop shared by Robin Agnew, owner of Aunt Agatha's: Barbara Gregorich will speak on Thinking Like a Mystery Reader Writer at Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore, 213 S. Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, on Saturday, March 28, at 2:00. She will answer questions and engage in discussions afterwards, and will autograph copies of her most recent title, Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel: Lots of Examples, Plus Dead Bodies. With Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel, Gregorich combines her love of mystery, her love of writing, and her love of teaching. Much of what she has to say in Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel: Lots of Examples, Plus Dead Bodies comes from her experience with people who want to write a mystery but aren’t aware of the various decisions they must make as they create the story. Gregorich hopes that her book will help them . . . and result in her having more mystery novels to read. For those contemplating writing a mystery novel and those who have written one or more but are looking for fresh and invigorating insights into the approach, Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel provides an overall view of how to think like a writer in general and a mystery writer in particular.

A WEE REVIEW: The Marbury Lens

I've read a couple great YA books this winter in my quest to figure out what I'm doing. A few of them have humbled me but I just finished one that blew me away. I know I'm late to the party, but here is my review for The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

I sometimes feel guilty about how stingy I am with five-star reviews. I give them, but a story really needs to be fairly flawless AND suck me in—so both well executed AND my thing… But once in a while a book like this will come along that makes me feel like I need to go back and downgrade 90% of my fives because it is just head and shoulders above sublime.

This book is not for the faint hearted. There is swearing, a bit of sexual violence and a lot of teen deviance. But harder than that, this is very dark emotionally so it is probably not the thing for some people. But for others, it is EXACTLY the thing.

The story set-up reminded me a lot of The Talisman, one of my favorites from two of my favorite scary authors—Stephen King and Peter Straub. In both books there are parallel worlds in which people can exist in both and the MC is pushed into a position of going back and forth, but I felt while The Talisman is a brilliant show to watch externally, The Marbury Lens actually pulls us inside so we feel it. And the REAL world in Marbury Lens is more real and the OTHER world is darker… I just really feel like Smith upped the ante on the type of tale.

And last, A week from tomorrow is the start of Blogging A to Z

If you want to be a NEW blogger, or, like me, want to rejuvenate an OLD blog... this is a great opportunity. Go check it out: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2015.html

Monday, March 16, 2015

Only Half Mad, Apparently...

Pretty much...
So know how I'm meant to be madly scripting this month... then revising? I'm not really doing all that. I lost speed when that contest closed the same day it opened and have MOSTLY just been reading a lot and being a crazy squee fangirl for all the good TV that is coming up soon. But now that we've reached mid-month, it is time to kick it back in gear, methinks... I pledge henceforth to an hour a day, focused.

In BETTER disciplined news, my exercise buddy and I started the Couch to 5K program last week—did our first three days, then on top of that had an hour power walk on Saturday, so I am on track to being active again.

But the REAL madness is prep for Blogging A to Z... are you guys on board? I didn't do it last year and I think it cursed me as a blogger. I haven't been able to say anything interesting since, so maybe participating will get me back in line. It will certainly get me back in practice at writing daily when I may not have much to say...

My plan is to Drabble... 100 words for each letter (with exception of Q when I am asking Alex a few QUESTIONS for his book release)..

So that's all I got today... I could make an effort and write some more nonsense, but since I've just pledged to write nonsense almost every day next month, I think I will hold off...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Life's Cha Cha

Backward, forward, shake, dip, twirl...

So I was all set and working on my script and then learned the 1000 entry limit on the HBO contest had been met SAME DAY IT OPENED. We used to paranoidly think ABNA was going to do that, but somehow the contest always stayed open almost to the end. I guess there are more script writers with ready products sitting there waiting for a chance. THAT is discouraging. I will keep going, but I will do so at a slower, more careful pace. And then I will get feedback and make corrections and rethink and then someday I will submit it... But there is no longer a rush, so I have had a hard time prioritizing it, March Madness and all...

In the more positive...

I think I am ready to commit again to that fitness plan I got so frustrated with in January. I've spent the last month with vitamin supplements and trying to cope with some other stuff I felt like was interfering in metabolism and attitude... on the 23rd I reach 15 months shy of my 50th birthday and I think 15 months might be about the right time so instead of an open-ended start, I am going to do this as a countdown. (this would be part of that attitude thing)... the goal is to be hot by the time I'm 50... or something... (honestly, it is just to feel fit again and healthy, but clothes fitting fits in that profile, too)

Also positive...

Mari and I on a train in the UK, 2008
I have a house guest coming!!!

There is a distinct and unexpected perk to living in the town where the university library has somehow accumulated a huge number of historical letters. Mari will be my 3rd friend visiting town for the library—in Mari's case the letters are Jimmy Carters, but I have two other friends who have been here for OTHER letters... books they will scan or loan, but the letters are treated more carefully.

Now I've met Mari in person before—twice. She did an exchange in DC when she was in her grad program and came to visit on a break, and she was there when my writing group met in the UK—this officially means that my Norwegian friend is the member of my writing group I will have seen the most in person. A funny thing, considering most of us live in the US.

She will be here the last week of the month and the first of next--working, but we will have weekends. Looking forward to introducing her to the Couch to Keg team.

Also ALSO positive...

The snow is MELTING! All week we get over 45 every day!!! Man, this is HUGE for me feeling hopeful again. I hate feeling like any venture outside is an ordeal. I REALLY REALLY hate wearing two pairs of pants. And it contributes to my fatness, as I sometimes need a ride and often catch the bus for part of my commute instead of walking. My snowboots don't offer the support my feet need, the ice is slippery, the snow is an obstacle and the cold is cold, so now we enter the time of year I can enjoy it outside. I will miss my nice bus driver, but it is for the best.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Guess Who Forgot What Day It Was

HALO fine friends!!! I am late to the party, but it is still first Wednesday, so I will give a go on the Insecure Writer's Support Group...

Helpful hosts for today are: Our awesome co-hosts today are Chemist Ken, Suzanne and Shannon Lawrence! and of course always, the Awesome Alex.  

So my words of encouragement for today are these:  TRY NEW STUFF.

I am currently trying to convert A Shot in the Light to a Screenplay and it is hard, but it is also stretching my brain and making me think differently. The cadence of something I'd like to be a mini-series is totally different--I am jumping between characters more often so the watcher can feel the tension--rather than two "chapters" from each main character they are getting snippets of a minute or two here and a minute or two there... I have no idea if it's working, but I definitely feel like making it visual is a good exercise.

What could YOU do to stretch a bit? Maybe give it a try.

Monday, March 2, 2015

And The Madness is Upon Us...

So theoretically I started my March Madness project yesterday. I have PICKED what I am doing. And the thing that really helped me pick was this:

HBO Seeks Diverse Writers

(Hint: it's a contest)

You may or may not know this, but I'm a girl. And if you read last week you saw one of my project options was converting A Shot in the Light to a screenplay... and then VOILA! A contest to find script writers!!!

So that is what I'm going with. They want 30-60 minutes worth...

I have always envisioned Shot as a bit “mini-series” like, but it's funny—rather than about 10 pages per character scene, I am giving it about half a page then cycling... flashes of what is going on. That insight came from re-watching the first episode of Survivors—a BBC mini-series about... what do you know, a flu epidemic. But I think I can get all the important stuff across for the first “book” in my hour—that would make the whole thing 12 episodes, on the off chance they wanted it... I THINK they are actually identifying people to work on OTHER stuff, but that would be cool, too. They make better money than I do at my day job, and it would be made writing...

The FORMATTING for screenplays is totally wonky... I hope the reference I pulled is actually accurate and I'm doing this right, though I suspect it's a bit outdated. Still, it is getting me going. It can't have changed a TON... there are things too convenient about it (a page a minute estimation, for instance)

And because I only need this to end up about 60 pages, and because most of THIS is work at my computer, scanning the old, converting or rephrasing so the story comes out as a visual (removing thoughts, but getting across the critical stuff through action or a bit of added dialog), but I will keep going with my Kahlotus revision via hard copy... I think I can do both things this month if I really focus.

So that is my madness...

What is yours?

(don't forget—if you want to join us formally with a March Madness writing project (on Facebook), you can do so here: BuNoWriMo)

Monday, February 23, 2015

March Madness is Coming!!!

And I don't mean the basketball thing. I mean MARCH is a month for PICKING A PROJECT in your writing and GETTING IT DONE!!! Unlike WriMos, this can be editing or finishing something that was started earlier, or whatever else it is that has been hanging over your head.

The discussion and cheering for this usually happens at BuNoWriMo on Facebook. I know not everyone is on Facebook, but I am no webmaster, so unless someone wants to volunteer to form a discussion forum, there it is...

Now to pick a project...

My first two months of 2015 have been pretty much a wash, all lost in insecurity and as close as I think I've ever been to depression (which I know is not actually all that close to real depression, so no pity needed... just a deep funk), so there are plenty to choose from.

Kahlotus Disposal Site: I've been tinkering and have started here, but my ideas for a really major rewrite are finally coming together. I've been reading some ghosty YA and thinking about real life hot-button issues. Plus my MC. Helen is still my challenge. Balancing what drives her forward with what holds her back. This may be the one.

Next Ale Tale: I have been wondering if figuring out how to fix What Ales Me might be hidden in writing another—figuring out the voice I want with something fresh...

Undoing: I have a trilogy that is 2/9 done... maybe I want to work on THIS... I feel like this may be my best bet for getting back to loving writing because it is its own thing, not trying to fit something else...

A Shot in the Light: The Screenplay: I've thought this would make a great TV series... no clue how I would go about this, but maybe learning a new skill is exactly what I need right now...

I am leaning toward with Kahlotus (because it is SO CLOSE to done) or Undoing (because it seems to be the SORT of story I have not had my confidence shaken on... Mystery and YA are hating on me at the mo....

So anybody else have a project for March?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Freedom of Speech and Food For Thought

So with the release of the movie 50 Shades of Grey this weekend I've seen a few odd discussions... I've seen some HYSTERICAL critiques. This one from an Australian TV personality was brilliant.

And nobody disses the right to review something, but...

There have also been some content discussions, and THERE people get touchier. If you veer away from the “poorly acted” or “not sexy” critiques and get into the actual way BDSM is displayed, or a debate as to whether this is “romance” (or erotica)... well people can get touchy.

...Missing the point, in my opinion...
Among the discussions I've seen a lot of “Free Speech Card” calling... “Who are you to criticize? People can watch what they want and create what they want!”

And they are right. I place Free Speech very high on the list of things I value. The free flow of information is critical to a non-totalitarian society.

And everybody has the right to produce whatever they like (provided nobody gets hurt) and consumers have a right to watch, read or enjoy whatever they like.

But you know what? People are ALSO entitled to have discussions about the things put out there into the common space. Once something is put out there, it is not protected from criticism. Saying "BDSM doesn't work this way" is NOT saying "I want to censor this". It is saying “I'd like to clarify that the author didn't know what she was talking about” (which according to people far more into BDSM than I am, is the case).

In particular there was a discussion about distinguishing BDSM and abuse... Here is a post showing where 50 Shades is on the wrong side of this.

But my REAL point is just to point out that criticizing something doesn't mean an attempt to ban it. It means that a discussion and dialog is merited and whoever has posted the criticism is just trying to get the discussion going. So I hope all you fabulous people can go forward on ANY topic and consider it in that light. We will all be better off if we can talk about stuff and learn from each other.