Research Part 1- Use All The Tools

I research constantly. I question everything. For every fact, I challenge myself to find the opposite. My journey has been a learning one, and I use my research to write, to create fantasies.
Part one explores the basic tools to get started in your research, no matter what you're building, it's nice to have the right tools.

Use all the tools at your disposal

I start my search here. I'll find an assortment of articles and books to research further. Use; Internet, google search, archives, articles, newspapers, databases of all kinds, follow blogs, subscribe to newsletters. Ask around for specialised sites. Here are a few that get my search started.

The important thing to remember is to BEGIN here, not let it end here. Follow links, make contacts, find those specialists to answer your questions.

Our local library allows us to go online to order books from every library in the province. That's a lot of books, and they come to me. Perfect. Order fiction and non-fiction ones. Drown yourself in your new world.

Local newspapers have archives you can search. Go prepared, these archives or not like a virtual search, they take time to hunt through. Know what you want. I'm not sure about provincial newspapers, I've never used these archives, since I've found them in the library historical archives.

Don't limit your research to provincial or library archives. Both come in handy. I've dug around virtual data bases and driven three hours to search them hands on, but the best archives I've found, were hidden ones.

Don't limit yourself to your own language. If the language in your area was different a hundred years ago, find someone to help you translate documents.

There are so many boxes lost in attics, churches, old stores. Visit people, let them know you're researching.

A gentleman brought me minutes from a school board meeting, dated back from 1904. Wow, school teachers were underpaid! It supported a few other facts I'd been researching about discrimination in the area at that time. Strangely, it was the opposite of what I'd previously found. Interesting... I dug deeper.

Not saying you have to go to jail,
but if you did, now that would help.
Visit the scenes that will be in your book, even if you plan to rewrite them, make them fiction. You'll be surprised what little details stick with you. 

Take pictures for inspiration. In fact, travel with your camera, you never know what you might see.

I spent a day in a cemetery to get inside my characters' heads. What were they feeling while they stood in this cemetery a hundred years ago? What smells came to life? The emotions? Why were there 20 stones dated the same day? Got me curious. I dug deeper.

I explored tunnels, toured a jail, went horseback riding... things a klutz like me, really has no business doing.

I have an incredible imagination, but visiting these places made things come to life for me that I would have missed. I had no idea tunnel walls would crumble under my touch and leave my fingers smelling... yucky. I had no idea making ice cream was so hard.

Writers are generalists by nature, we know a lot of weird things, but everyone, anyone, can be a specialist. These guys and girls rock. They know everything about a very specific thing.

Ask them questions, go with your gut 
What started out as an interview about a threshing machine, turned into an hour discussion about a bedroom in 1936. It was the perfect room for the series I was writing. The walls, the smells, the curtain down the middle of the room... It came to life for me, and he was thrilled to tell me about this room he had to share with his 13 siblings.

Ask family and friends the more personal things
Friends will discuss more intense things like how much blood is at a scene when someone slices off a finger, to date rape. Shockingly, people need to talk about these things I don't ever want to experience. They are happy to answer my endless questions. I use their emotions, their facial expressions to build scenes in my fantasy world. Let them read these scenes if you need feedback.

Everyone loves talking about their experiences, knowledge
Know who to ask for help, let them know that you're writing a book and have questions. I haven't met anyone yet who turned me away, and I've asked some strange things.

"Did that tattoo hurt? For how many days was it swollen? Did your parents like it? Did you feel the needles? Where did the artist buy their ink? Can I come watch you get your next one?"
They look at me strangely. "You need to know this for a book?"
I need to know everything.
Even if the scene reads like this;

Damn, that hurt. Mable said it wouldn't hurt. I knew she was a blasted liar. It hurt. How could it not? This guy was shoving soot under my skin by candlelight with a needle that looked as old as him.
He wiped the soot off roughly, reached for a jar of ink, then he ran his leaking nose on his sleeve while he settled in again. Great.
He was too close to me, so close I could smell his gross breath, rancid like... oh crap, was that dizzy cigarettes I smelt? Was he stoned?
Why was I doing this to myself?
Oh yeah, to piss my brother off.
"Got a joint for me?" I asked, afraid he might say yeah.

What tools do you use in your research that might help others?

Oh, So You Think You Should Write, Eh?

Someone actually told me they were planning to write a book, but they hated reading. It'd be a book for those who hated to read, which in their opinion, was everyone. 

For those of you who are new to my life, I've been writing in secret for too many years, but since I announced to the world that I have a writing addiction, and I'm ready to find an agent to support it, I get strange comments like that.

To me, writing is like hockey. You can't sign up to play 42 games this year if you hate the game. It'll show if you aren't passionate about it, and you'll give up as soon as someone sends you into the boards-- and they will, hard, often. It hurts, and you have to get back up and do it all again tomorrow, sometimes friends help you up, but usually, you're alone.

I firmly believe you have to read to write. You have to read EVERYTHING, and you have to make writing an everyday habit, not a one time thing. Practice your craft, it takes time. That first book might be good, but the second will be better, the third, wow... slowly, you'll get to where you need to be. No one is born a writer. (That would be nice.)

Unfortunately, this conversation didn't end there. To spice up my disgust, this happy person said, "I'm not worried about being published, I kinda know a guy who got published. I'll write him and ask for him to endorse it." 
I kinda know a guy? Endorse it? Do people do that?

I work for my success, and I don't rely on the success of others. I write diligently. I never miss a day. Not one. It means, I write in the car, at the dentist office, that I sacrifice TV time, sleep. I gave up a lot for my novels. I study the craft. I research everything, three times.  No one can say that I got lucky because I knew a guy. I know lots of guys. geesh.
I might never be published. But damn it, I earned it anyway. And, I'm proud of that.

Do you get these types of comments? Should I encourage someone like this? It's my nature to want everyone to succeed, support the team-- but writing is hard, and they clearly had no idea how hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. Honestly, no amount of money will justify the time and work I've put into my writing addiction.

The conversation got worse, when it turned to exactly that-- making money off novels. (I mean, they planned to make a fortune selling books to people who hate reading... Even someone with no marketing experience knows that won't fly, don't they?) 

This is how the conversation ended;
"A book for people who don't read. Who the hell is gonna buy it?" At this point, I was annoyed.

Wanna know the answer? The big secret?

With a wink, they said, "Audio book."

Next time, I'll nod and smile, and avoid asking for details. I have fun writing, but it's still a business I take serious, and comments like that, insult me. How do you handle people who think writing is just that easy?

Stick To The Truth, Liar

I double checked, and I am following EVERYONE. 217. Done.
All new friends, welcome to my home away from home, I do a lot of nothing here, it's where I procrastinate, dream, gab, share stories-- in no order. Please, make yourselves at home. Bienvenue chez moi!

Now, onto the lying...
Wow, I read some real whoppers in this contest. Nicely done, crusaders. So, three SOMEONES guessed my lie, well... close enough that I'm proud of them, because really, we just met.

What we choose to lie about is very revealing to our character. How we choose to lie, even more so. I studied the art of lying briefly, because my characters in the Notebook Chronicles like to play a little game that involves lying to each other or not lying. Like cubs, wrestling to learn, they push each other to their limits.

Now, I am not a liar. Not even a little bit. I love the truth, and if I can't tell you the truth, for whatever reason, I'll keep my mouth shut. You can read my silence, as you want. Still, I'll share with you, a few of the points I learnt about lying, or not lying. I've included examples from my last post.
  • Exaggerating the truth is not a lie, if you warn everyone that you do this. (Ok, so the blades were not exactly flying at me. I warned you that I exaggerate for flare, so that's not a lie.)
  • Telling the truth, but not ALL the truth is not a lie. (I did write 11 books, but they aren't all ready for representation, only 2 are. 5 need work, 4 are shelved in my written word cemetery.)
  • Being sarcastic is not a lie. (The witty remark. I still can't discuss it without giggling, sorry.)
  • When you do lie, surround it by distracting truths. (I was in fact printing a newsletter with the music blaring.)
  • Most importantly, believe what you say to be true, and others will too. (I really am a storyteller.)
I suck at lying, in real life, probably because I hate it when people lie to me. So, I practiced on my puppy for the entire summer, and this was her reaction to my efforts; (true story)

When you said the water was warm, I assumed
you meant warm enough for me.
This sucks.
Why do I believe anything
you say?
(Witty, I know, I know.)

The lie in my crusader challenge?
Anyone who knows me would have glanced at that page and snorted.
"No one's gonna believe you baked!" 
Congrats to Julie, L.A., and Liz who sorta detected my lie!
I was eating chips with yummy dip (a rare treat- it would normally be chocolate but I'd already finished it off while writing the newsletter), not a cookie I baked myself.
I have no ingredients to even bake a cookie. Sad, I know. The last time I baked, it was to teach my daughter how not to burn things. We failed, but ate them anyway. Yum.

"I like the lie better. Let everyone believe you're at home baking cookies, it's safer than admitting you torture yourself by trying to write. No one would believe you're that stupid anyway."-- my conscience.

NEVER EVER Judge a Blogger by Their Site

Today is the First Crusader Challenge!! I must reveal the following:  one secret, one lie, one interesting quirk, one annoying habit, one of my best character traits and one of my favorite things in the whole world. All while using a few fun words. And so I've written a piece about my blogging experience so far:
Here it is

NEVER EVER judge a Blogger by their site

I know, I know, I shouldn’t judge a blogger by their site, but I must confess; it's instinct.
If you have stars, rainbows, or rabbits around your name, I'll be by when I need a virtual hug. Not a doubt.
Sites with blades flying at me and in my face script, (oh, yeah) are my new source of inspiration. See ya, soon.
Those specialists using interesting words like bloviate or fuliguline, well… I will be back for help. I have tons of questions, about both.
The butt kickers write with a GET HER DONE attitude. They don't pause at swear words, and their sidebars mean business. I’ll stop by for motivation, promise.
Then there are the quiet sites, where I gab about life. Home.
Like it or not, voice shines through in our choices. I reserve the right to change my opinion as I get to know my new friends, but first impressions count, like it or not.
Got me thinking... How do others see me? I've been called witty three times. I don't even know what that means. Does it mean almost funny?
I love telling stories, it’s my favourite thing, and I don’t mind sharing my experiences as a writer. I just finished my eleventh book. I must have learnt something, right? They took research, and focus. (I generally do several things at a time, a little quirk I can’t break. Even as I write this, I'm listening to music, copying a newsletter, and eating a cookie I baked.)
I wrote this piece as part of a challenge, and something I wrote is an outright lie. Sorry, I don't normally lie. I might stretch the truth for flare, a habit others find annoying, but I am a storyteller, after all.
What is the lie?

Stylish Blogger Award

Thanks to E.C.'s Ramblings for this STYLISH award.
I am so new at all this blogging, that I'm sure I bring a real idiot-style to the team. It's all good, and everyone is patiently nice to me. THANK YOU.

Still, in one month I've learnt a lot. To receive this award I must confess 7 things about myself.
So, these are the 7 things I learnt or experienced in my first month as a blogger.

1. The pay is EXACTLY the same as I make for writing my novels, so I steal time from one habit to pay for the other habit. What a sweet deal.

2. I am so stylish, baby, I won the same award twice. Yeah.

3. I received an Honorable Mention in the Pay it Forwards contest for my Mid-grade novel, I Whisper Alone. (yes, I'm bragging, everyone who knows how wonderful that is, scream hooray for me!!) So far, no one but me is excited about this. No one. Nothing but a nod and a pat on the back. Still, I really really am tickled pink. Honorable Mentions are cool. I printed it up and framed it and everything ;)

4. I know more about people I will never meet than I do about the neighbors I've lived by for 15 years. I cried with my new friends, I laughed, I teased, I learnt from them, I taught them the weird things I know, and I can't wait to come back tomorrow and do it all again.

5. I joined a crusade, something I vowed to never do, I mean they rarely end well, and I hate dying for things I believe in. I mean, I really hate it. Yet, I'm excite, and it's fun so far. Weird.

6. I got an email asking my opinion on a WIP from a really cool doctor, and one asking if I was interested in a long distance romance (my husband thought it was funny that it was a woman asking this- he's still giggling about that too ;)

7. I learnt this week how to manage the 150 plus blogs I follow with google reader. (HERE) Thanks Rachael. Gee, I even learnt what BTW stands for. (By the way.--- last thing I expected it to represent.)

7 1/2. (that's right, and a half, my blog, my rules, suck it up buttercup.) I'm easily distracted, and have too many ideas. In fact, I have over 30 drafts waiting to be posted, and never get around to posting them because of contests, awards, and other really wicked things I just have to read.

I'm passing this award to a few of my new favourite stylish bloggers. Now to me, every blog has it's own unique style, but it would take too long to give it to everyone, so we do this the old fashion way. I went through 100 plus blogs, searching for who to give this award out to. Don't feel left out, you all rock, but well...  these stood out for a few fun reasons.
Check them out.

If you are the winner, to accept this, do these things, and be happy:
1.) Thank and link back to me, pick up your award and post it on your blog. Email me if you need instructions, I was clueless, and made a step by step checklist.
2.) State 7 things about yourself in a post
3.) Pass the award to 10-15 recently discovered bloggers

Oh and then, visit all the other winners, you won't regret it! (Ok so that's my rule, but I am giving you an award, geesh)

Approaching Utopia  ok, so Charlie's been blogging for longer than me, but he's recently discovered in my world, and I love his site, it always makes me think, or rush out and try a death by chocolate coffee. Yum. Now that's style you just can't buy at Timmy's! (or Starbucks for you non Canadians ;))

Writing and Living by Richard P. Hughes ok, so Richard's been blogging for longer than me too (I really am the new kid, eh?) but again, his posts have always hit home. I love visiting his site, and have made it a habit I hope I never break. Ah, to sit among friends and chat about writing-- that's just my style.

Magick, Alchemy and love Autumn's style is so wicked. Makes me feel all tingling inside, and she writes about things I enjoy reading. (Who am I kidding, I'd read anything with words.) Still, check it out.

Writer's Blog  I only discovered Gina's site this week, so she's new in my new world. I really enjoyed her voice, her style of writing. Bet I visit her blog often.

Windchaser's Journey Norma's site jumped out at me. It's very stylish indeed, and she talks about life with a wonderful stylish voice that lures me in, which I love.

The Writing Garden Stephanie has a beautiful blog. It's probably the prettiest garden I've seen this week. (too be fair, there is about five feet of snow outside). Ah, just trust me and smell the daisies while you read, very unique, inspiring.

Porch Swing Chronicles Lisa's site is worth checking out. I enjoyed my visit there, and felt right at home. Well, the title alone lured me in, there's something homey about a porch swing, no? Home, that's my style.

The Open Vein I stopped by E.J. blog this week, and was so glad I did. I loved it! It's well made, with fun stylish sarcasm that rings true to me. Loooooved it and will be a regular, I'm sure.

The Insect Collector ok, the name of Katharine's blog says it all. Now that's style. It was so original, I stalked her for about half an hour, curious why her site was called that. It was time I should spend writing, but I don't get paid for that either, so it's all good.

The Guardian Writer I was at home at Melissa's site instantly. It's a fun place, she has a very creative style, and I'll be back to stalk her too.

Deborah Burns Deborah's posts usually jump out at me, with their fun style.  Pick up a writer's badge while you're there. Wear it with pride ;) Now. That alone is style I adore. Ah, fun.

Congrats to all the winners. Hope you have fun passing this award on, and checking out each other's sites.
Thanks for making me cry, laugh, or just for being a friend while I torture myself with my writing addiction.

Did You Muck Up The Timeline? On Purpose?

Placing scenes out of chronological order can be done for several reasons. Perhaps your character time travels, perhaps memories return, a flashback is needed (it happens), or maybe, your muse is Insane. Whatever the reasons, it still has to make a fluid, balanced read. Every scene must serve a purpose, and must push the story forward. Everyone with me so far?

I like things in order, who doesn't? Chaos just gives me a headache. So, here's a visual-- We'll pretend each scene is a crate. Sometimes, they're long, sometimes they're tiny. All are important.

When I build a book, I pile one crate on top of the other. But sometimes, I create a smaller crate, then several bigger ones, and my awkward tower topples. What then?

Time might be irrelevant in these cases, it's the shape of the crates that need order. Make sense?

I got thinking about this when I wrote Breaking Cupid. It was in chronological order in about my twentieth draft. It had all the elements it needed;
1.the search for each other (small crate)
2.the romance (long crate)
3.she goes missing (tiny crate)
4.he saves her. (huge crate)
Simple. Yet, every time I read it, it was out of balance. Too much romance at the start and too much action at the end. It drove me nuts, yup summoned Insane. The timeline wasn't working for me, and it was the actual order of things. Finally, the entire book toppled into the trashcan.
I liked it there.
My muse, Insane, did not. "Fix this you idiot."
The problem was that huge crate at the end. I needed to start the story there.
Okay. Now what?
What kind of idiot starts the story at the end?
Well, since I'm normally the idiot who will try anything once, and Insane wouldn't shut up about it, I did it.
I saved everything and rewrote it for fun. If I didn't like it, at least I tried. And, who would know but me, Insane, and now you?
I loved it, and it took very little work, since I had all the crates built.
Now it reads; he's off to save her, but doesn't know why she's missing. (the huge crate) The memories return as he searches... some, moments too late. (all the other crates are piled in it neatly, and come out, one at a time).
I didn't even use flashbacks, only magic.

Ah balance.

Since then, I wrote three more stories that break the timeline. I'm not sure how it happened. They're still in revision stages, so things might change, but I actually wrote them that way.

Why for the love of all things written would I do that?
  • My two MCs experienced the same things on different days. So I was dealing with the same problem just on two different days. (Same stack of crates, different towers.)
  • Some demon is erasing his memories, and she has to figure how, why, when, and the triggers. She tells her story, he tells his, different times, same solution. (One big crate, just had to dig in it for all the tiny ones.)
  • She soul swaps with past lives. (Just a heap of crates all messed up.) Fun.
You getting a visual yet? Still with me or has Insane shoved me in one of my crates?

There's just a kinda magic at play that makes me tingly inside.
 I've reread them several times, even put them in chronological order to make sure I didn't miss anything, and I have to say, I like them that way. It works for me, for now, we'll see where the revisions take me. 
And guess what?
It's my fantasy, I can write it any way I want.

As a reader, does it annoy you to read things out of sequence? Do you break the timeline when you write and for what reasons? What tricks do you use to keep your readers from getting lost? Give me something to think about.

Kiss Already Blogfest

Happy Valentine's Day

There was a tie, so I posted both kissing scenes, but I kept them real short, no... ah.. foreplay?
Read the one you want, and thanks for stopping by.

THE PLEADING KISS from Surviving the Storm.
Short and sweet, this is the exact moment where they cave. Up until this point, they've been fighting it, but now, they're about to die.
This is fantasy and he's a storm whisperer.

“Make me a storm before you leave.” My lips grazed his. It was all the push he needed. Thunder echoed through the entire house as we gave in.         

THE DAMNED KISS from Finding Balance.
Sly has just phased into She-devil. After trashing the room, the seducer gets her pinned long enough for one brief kiss.

   Claws teased the scars on my shoulders, entrancing me. Her growl deepened, but the tip of her tongue sneaked out to wet her lips. My God woman.   
Her lips... they were Sly’s, and they begged for a kiss. Like the heroin, the morphine, they sucked me in. Slow at first, but I felt myself stumbling, melting into them.
    She tasted like Sly.
    I was lost in her. A final overdose to numb the endless pain.
    Blissful heaven.
    Her claws sunk in. Maybe hell wasn’t far off.

blog hop

What Type of Kiss Do You Like?

Here's how this blogfest works. Hosted by write-brained and STINA Thanks for the fun ideas!!
1. Sign up on the hosts websites.
2. On February 14th (Valentine's Day), post an excerpt from either your own work, or another's authors work you admire (give them credit, though).
*But* make sure the excerpt is no longer than 250 words (it's tiring to read long excerpts). And if there's an intro to the scene, please, keep that short too!
Oh, and *don't forgot*, this is an actual KISSING SCENE! So go crazy :D
3. To make this *really simple*, we won't require you read everyone's entry (that's exhausting)! How about just 3-5 other entries?

Sounds like fun, eh? Bet I read more than 5.

This will be the biggest excerpt I've ever posted!
Now, which one will I pick.... dum dum dum...
I've narrowed it down to 5! **I had no idea I wrote so many kissing scenes, but I had a few dozen to chose from**
How about a vote to let me know what type of kiss you want to read about this Valentine's:
(Rules for voting; pick one or two that intrigue you, and leave your choices in the comments. Sucker with the most interest by the 13th at supper, I'll post on Valentine's Day. Thanks for the help, it's not that I'm indecisive, I just can't ever make up my mind.-- so what type of kiss do you like?)

In no order whatsoever;
1. THE PLEADING KISS. These two are about to die, and they've been fighting this moment. -- from Surviving the Storm

2. THE DAMNED KISS. The seducer isn't normally shy around women but his demon girlfriend is a real beast - just for the record- if you pick this one, you're as sick as I am-- from Finding Balance

3. GETTING BUSTED. These two just got busted in the broom closet. He's a dead man anyway, might as well finish that incredible kiss, right?--from Whispering to Spirits

4. THE IMAGINARY KISS. Yup, these two shouldn't be kissing, so they don't, again. -- from Finding Balance

5. THE DARING KISS. The first time they kissed, the cupids just about killed each with their out of control magic, now they're back for seconds. -- From Breaking Cupid

blog hop
code blog hop

Using Technology To Its Max

Writing Crusaders
Are you a writer trying to get out there with the best of them? Do I ever have the link for you. DEADLINE FOR THIS IS SATURDAY--- DON'T MISS OUT! See below.

There I was, pounding my head into my keyboard, hard at work, trying to make heads or tails of a document, when I got thinking about how computers should make writing easier. Be it by actually doing a proper spell check or automatically hooking me up with the agent of my dreams, you know, basic skills I could actually use.

Shouldn't there be ways to use all this technology to its max? Because at that moment, it felt like it was just giving me a headache.

Anyway, as I popped some Tylenol for the headache I made myself, and tried to put the letter h back into my keyboard, I snooped around my dashboard for answers. As usual, I found one among my hhhhhhome (there got that h in there again, all's good)  away from home.

Rachel is gathering us together to build a platform, a network for writers, crusaders. Wow. Genius. Talk about using our tools, banning together, forming a faction, fighting the demons... I sidetrack. Those were good meds, my headache's gone, and I'm ready to roll.

Yeah, let's do this!

You want to join right? So here's the link. Have at 'er.

Why Do You Write?

Really, why do I write? It eats up all my free time, I spent sleepless nights working through plots only an idiot would dream up, very few respect what I do, and let's be honest, the pay is actually money I dish out.

So... basically, I'm torturing myself for what? What motivates me? It must be something HUGE!
It's not.
It's something so stupid, that I've never admitted it to anyone except my sister, but if you keep reading, I might share it with you, since I'm in a confessing mood.

Every time I pretend I'm quitting, my husband sits me back at the computer and tells me to suck it up and do it. "Only way you'll fail is if you don't do it." He's right, but if this is what success feels like, I really should get out before it kills me.
I should.
But I won't.

I have no reason to write fiction. I get my fix at work-- writing reports, articles, grant requests... yeah booorrring.
I have no deadlines, I can quit tomorrow. (Not today. I have to get my MC out of a serious pickle first, can't leave him like that.)

Yet, here I am. Still writing, still as addicted as ever. Everyday. I won't quit tomorrow despite the threats, or the chances of overdosing.

Do you want the TRUTH? Why do I write?

This is my dirty secret--
Stephanie Meyers did an interview, and someone asked her why her characters were so hot.
She said, so nonchalant, "Because I wrote them that way."
Damn. I can't wait to say that to someone, all smug like that too. It'll be great!
That's it.
That's my secret.
That's my motivation. Sucks eh?
Bet you were hoping for some heroic reason, but nope, that's it.

Let me explain.
My books are full of silent themes, things I was happy to get off my chest, make others think about, rethink, but when I want to quit, deep down, it's that one moment I can't wait for, and it's really not like me to want something like this. In fact, I feel sinful just admitting it, but it's the push I need when I think, why???

It's so out of character for me. I don't search for self-validation, because I'm living the dream-- I write when I want, what I want, and I have everything a gal needs and more. Yet... Deep inside, I can't wait to say that.
It'll be the moment that says-- I did it, I made magic happen!

It'll mean, my world came alive for my readers, that they forgot it was something I spent years working on, editing, cutting, rewording, writing, and repeating in no specific order. Readers will actually want to meet the characters I created. It'll be my magical moment, when my superpowers will shine through.

Because I wrote them that way.
Damn. I can't wait.

Magic like that, is what life is all about.
I write because I love my world. It's full of magic, happiness, romance, and despite the horrible obstacles, it always turns out just the way I want.

When a reader says, "That was great, got another one?" .... oooohhh it's the push I need to keep my magical world alive. No one else will. When I stop writing, my world dies, my rush is over. The very idea make me sick.
Feel the magic? The power?

Why do you write? What motivates you, I mean really pushes you when it's 3 am and you know you should be sleeping? Be honest.

Those Tricky First Lines

Wow. I survived my first blog fest. Honestly, a month ago, I had no idea what that was, but I would have guessed it involved a little more beer than it did. My fault, I ran out.

So? What did I learn? Wow. I found some incredible new blogs to follow, and see a few more talented writers are following my life. Welcome home, I missed you.

I can't believe the talent that is out there. I never made it through all 130plus entries, but I did read over 30. They all impressed the words right out of me. Clearly, the world needs more agents and publishers to give us all a home.

Now, as for my comments. The feedback was amazing and I took everything into consideration. Now the fun part about playing God is that I know what comes next, and no one else does, and so, my first sentence became two.

Here are my first sentences, revised based on the comments I received.
Unlike my son, I liked the idea of not knowing who I was in past lives. I was a man firmly planted in the present, in fact, oracles were out of the question.

What surprised me the most was that everyone thought my MC was a woman. Looking at all the other entries, male MCs aren't that common, so I need to establish that from the get go.

Also, it was suggested to tighten it by removing, the idea, but as god of this piece, that is sadly the key words, it's the idea of something so innocent that he's holding onto, thanks to his son and his meddling.  
What do you all think of these revisions? Any feedback is welcome-- I have to enter that first sentence today.
Thanks everyone, especially Brenda Drake for such a fun contest!

A Dark and Stormy Blogfest Entry

Brenda Drake is hosting a contest for the best first line.
Prizes from Weronika:
1st place — a critique of the first 50 pages + query
2nd place — a critique of the first 25 pages + query
3rd place — a critique of the query
Post the first line of a completed manuscript on your blog between the 7th - 8th February and invite criticism. I'm coming in late, but I'll do my best to catch up.
Then post your improved first line on Brenda’s blog on 9th February.
Name: Tanya Reimer
Genre: Urban fantasy
Unlike my son, I like the idea of not knowing who I was in past lives, and I certainly never asked oracles for their predictions.
Thanks guys! Keep them coming.

Unlike my son, I liked the idea of not knowing who I was in past lives, and I certainly never asked oracles for their predictions.

How Do You Know You're Famous?

In my line of work and in my choice of hobbies, I meet a lot of famous people. Even out here in a prairie oasis. It got me thinking about what famous means. How do you know you're famous?

Is it publicity? Nah, I do plenty of interviews, and trust me, I'm not famous, just annoyingly opinionated.

Is it about the money? I doubt it. Some famous people have chosen to hide out in our little piece of heaven, and trust me, they were broke, yet they had fans-- screaming, overexcited, in your face fans. Sure, some of them make more money in an hour than I do in a week, but really, I know what it takes to be good at anything. And they did/do a lot of  excruciating, painful, impossibly hard work for free too.

Is it the fans? I have fans and they blow cool air on me in the heat of summer, but that's about all they're good for. In fact, in the winter, they just take up space, and I keep bumping my toes against them.

Is it the stalkers? Yikes, I have those too, who doesn't, eh?  Yeah, you know who you are. Think a little, gee, I get enough spam, don't need it from you.

Is it that you're recognized when you go out in public? See around here, everyone not only knows you, they know your entire history, what you drive, and when the last time you bought birth control was. Saskatchewan is huge, but the faces are familiar. It's rare to go someplace and not meet three or four people I know. Doesn't mean they're famous, just friendly, family, same passions as me, curious, stalkers, whatever.

Is it that you can humbly sign an autograph and not ask why for the love of all things written someone wants your john doe on a napkin? I've seen gracious musicians smile politely and sign away. But! I've seen some look around, expecting a bit more screaming and clearly disappointed when all we did was stare back slightly curious if they'd remember us if we ran into them at Walmart in a year, because that would be cool. Both were famous.

Maybe it's being recognized for something important? Even among the famous we have different levels of stardom. The president is famous, but so is Stephen King. And the reason I think they are, might be for very different reasons than you do. Some are famous worldwide,  and some among a much smaller pocket of people. Still, fame is fame. What is that deciding factor that makes you cross that line from me, to famous me? And can you ever go back to being not-famous, does it just grow until you explode or standstill until you forget you're famous?

Gee, do they even know they're famous? I've gotten Xmas cards from people who I think are famous. Think about that. Really think about that.

What makes a person famous?

So Close To The Project You're Stupid

Editing your own writing is hard.

Having just found out about this really awesome new blogging contest, I'd like to thank my latest writing hero, by paying her tribute. Do the same to your inspiration, muse, you name it, by following the contest rules hosted by Shelli at Market my Words: PAY IT FORWARD CONTEST.

So here is my story;

There used to be a time when I thought I would never be satisfied with what I wrote. I know differently now. When a piece is ready, I feel it. I won't settle either. I refuse to rush it. I have no time frame, and no boss breathing down my neck, telling me to hurry. I know good writing when I see it, and if I'm not seeing it in my own work, there is a problem.

The trouble is; what's the problem? Make sense? This close to a project, day in and day out, you get stupid. You KNOW something isn't right, yet can't see the culprit.

It took two years to find the problem haunting me, forget the solution. To be fair, I did keep writing, but each new book had the same problem I couldn't identify. Just a nag in the back of my mind that I wasn't on the right track.

First, I tried to pull myself away from the piece and imagined it was someone else's work. I'm good at finding fault in others, after all. Yet, nope, nothing. It was fine, but I could do better. I listened to every nagging voice in me and fixed those problems. It was an improvement, but still...

I needed to reeducate/refresh myself with the written world. So, I read books about voice, style, rhythm, balance.... I attended every workshop in our area, which turned out to be one. It was fun, but that was about it. Still, all this new information enlightened me, and I found new things to fix that made my work stronger.

The result? An entire rewrite. I deleted half my work, rearranged it in a new order. I felt like a genius on crack. Did it work? I liked the new rhythm, it had balance between the romance and the action. It was a fun read with incredible voice.

Yet, there was still A Problem. What?

I wrote a query, in case that sparked something. Yeah, the query took 36 tries. All different, yet they all sucked. Clearly, I had issues. So, again I tore it to pieces, studied it. Came up with nothing. Not-a.

I have no writing group in my area, and my beta readers didn't see a problem. Yet... Something BIG bugged me. I just couldn't put my finger on what. So, I did what anyone would do. I clutched my work tighter and vowed no one would read it until I found the evil thing that had me obsessed.

Not once did I consider shelving it. Yet, I'd shelved other manuscripts over the years. This one had potential. It was good, it just wasn't ready.

I needed professional help.

I turned to my peers; on-line writing groups, on-line contests, sharing first chapters with others (even if I was queasy the entire time, I mean, these were strangers I was trusting with my baby). Still, I was desperate. In the process, I somehow ended up blogging. Yup, here I am!

I got confusing feedback too; I was starting the story too soon, not soon enough. I was deep in the action, and it was confusing. I was over explaining and needed more action. Argh. This was only the prologue I was sharing. A prologue! Who put this much effort into a prologue? This should have been my first clue, but by this time I was so close to the project, I was just that stupid.

Finally, someone pointed it out. My new hero, Lydia Sharp, hosted a contest where everyone received a free critique. Wow. I was happy to be alive that day. There's no way I can ever pay her back. Her advice was dead on. I doubt she has any idea how brilliant she is. So what was her magical advice?

Ask yourself, why did I choose this character to tell this story?

So I did. I asked it in my sleep, in the tub, while I pounded my head into the pages, my fist into the computer screen. She only saw the first 500 words of my prologue. She had no context for asking me this, yet she hinted at a problem with my choice of character. And when I looked at it through her eyes, yeah, there was a problem. I quickly checked the rest of the manuscript, but it didn't have this problem. Why was my prologue character refusing to share her incredible story? WHY?

And it hit me in the dead of the night.

I was starting inside a character's head who I didn't want anyone to really meet for another five books. She was a plot twist. Why? WHY would I do THAT? WHY for the love of all things written would I make a mistake that bizarre and not pick up on it for two years?

Here's why-- I was blinded by the entire project. I forgot to look at each book as its own life force. I was so worried about bringing the series together, I forgot it would bring itself together. I felt like an idiot. Why did I think I could write?

So, after the pity party, I scrapped my prologue from each book, and rewrote them from the hero's POV for that novel. WOW. I mean, HOLY !\$#\ WOW. That was the problem. The series still ties together, but the voice is consistent in each book. Plus, they stand alone! When I bring in my secret character, she can introduce herself properly.

Now it's ready for people to read, even better, the query wrote itself.

Laughing at your own stupidity is easy. Editing is hard. Knowing who to ask for help is harder. Repaying them, is impossible. Thank you Lydia. My God, THANK YOU.