Awards! Who Said Living In a Fantasy Wasn't Fun?

HOLY TRACTORS! I won two awards. TWO. For being stylish while I sit here in my long johns, my toenails blue from the cold!! Yup baby, that's style.       ok, so I'm not in my long johns, but it is chilly, I should be.

Vicki Tremper presented me with this stylish blogger award. Thanks Vicki!!!Her site is so much fun. Vicki has been on incredible adventures. I love her stories, her ideas, her fun love of life, and her writing is an inspiration. Be sure to stop by and visit my new friend. It'll be fun, she always has a tale to tell. Ah stories.
Witless Exposition at Cerebral Lunchbox presented me with this styling award.
Jessica is a fellow crusader and we landed in the same group, which means we have a few things in common. That we do. We love urban fantasy, video games, great books, and our dogs-  despite their drooling faults. Check out our Interview here! Her site is one of my homes away from home, so be sure to check out my new buddy, and share in her discussions, she brings life to everything with great photos and details. Thanks Jessica!!!

OK. So on to accepting these awards. I made two lists, about myself;
turns out they were exactly the same so here they are, summed up in one list.

1- War. How is this fun?
2- Competitive sports for kids. Why is this fun?
3- Parents who take sports for their kids tooooo seriously. Who forgot this was for the little gaffers? Cripes.
4- Query letters. Why did all my fun end here?
5- Dogs that bark in the middle of the night. Why for the love of all things written don't they sleep?
6- Socks with holes. I just don't get why one always wears out before the other. (I always wear two socks. It just doesn't make sense and frustrates me.)
7- The fact that everything I cook burns. I just don't get how I burnt mac and dogs. I really don't.

And now. I pass this award onto 15 unsuspecting stylish bloggers. Again, I did this twice, turned out to be the same ones! 

They all deserve a peek if you aren't following. If you are; yay!
All winners-- pick up your award and pass it on, give me praise and tell us 7 things about yourself. Go.
Life of Lois
Write on
Reading, Writing, Romance
The Girdle of Melian
Life, Love & Living in France
Literary Coldcuts on Toasty Buns
Ali Cross
Imagination Investigation
The Queen of Procrastination
Making It Up
Conversations with Self
Pensive Sarcasm
Carrie Keeps Typing
My Comfy Chair
Chris Phillips - Slushpile Savant

Research Part 2- Know What to Look For

Now that we have the tools, let's take a look at how much data to collect.

Sounds easy, but be specific, know exactly what you want to do, otherwise you're looking for a fact in a sea of world history.

Once, I wanted to write about farmers barricading the tracks in protest of low grain prices in 1917, in Southern Saskatchewan. I had no idea if this had ever happened. If it had, I needed facts. If it hadn't, I was free to create. I needed to know my boundaries, the walls around me. I didn't want to jump into this scene blind. Knowing the state of the farmers for that time would help. Were they frustrated? Did they have good crops that year? Were they expecting better prices? I had a list of questions I needed answers for.

Can I pop the hood?
I searched for weeks to find proof. Some questions had no answers, others had conflicting answers. hmmm... How did I know it was time to stop looking?

You ever heard of the golden rule to research? Yeah, me neither, but at a workshop, the writer in charge told me there was one, and it was her show, so I let it go. Besides, it's a decent rule, that I have fun breaking.
Her rule was:
That's right boys and girls, prove each fact you use three times.
"Not for fiction?" I said in disbelief.
"Well," she was so smug, ready for my innocence. "When your editor tells you not to call it a chop pail, but a plain old bucket, will you bend?"
Oh. She was right, of course, I'd need facts in hand if I was to argue with anyone that powerful.

Prove it three times, from at least two of these sources;
The Internet
Confirmed by a specialist
Hands on experience
Keep track of each in case someone comes knocking.
Now this is good advice, especially if you write non-fiction. Get it right, keep it straight. Check.

Now for fiction, I do bend her rule. Sometimes three times is enough, too much, not nearly enough. Sometimes, we just need an idea about what people are thinking, how they dressed, we don't need all these extra details. Sometimes we do have to talk to specialists, crawl in tunnels... sometimes we don't. That's why knowing WHAT you want and WHY you need it is so important. You'll know the minute you've found it, your scene will come to life.

ok, so I did draw the line here.
I happen to seriously like
my washing machine.

My rule is to gather enough facts to;
1. Create a visual
2. Support the scene (make it believable)
3. Juice up the imagination (to fill in for the missing facts)

I'll go into these points in other posts, for now, let's just collect enough facts.

1. Know what you want and why you need it.
2. Get it in enough detail so you can get creative with it.
3. Know your limits, your boundaries so you can feel free to create "real" scenes.
4. Be prepared to prove it. 

Ever Feel Like a Little Gaffer Getting Yelled at by a Princess?

Whenever I see this photo, I think about my first and only year as a freelance journalist. It was almost 15 
Ever feel like a little gaffer
getting yelled at by a
 years ago. I was treated like crap by people I had up on a pedestal. Yet, my experience taught me some valuable life lessons.

We were called freelance writers because the local paper couldn't afford to pay us properly. I was the only one with education or experience, yet I was treated the same as the others, and often, I did all the grunt work, while they got the story, because I was at my real job. (my real job-- they actually told me that. yikes, did I ever not feel like a writer that day.)
First lesson- you start at the bottom, buttercup. 

Honestly, I just wanted to write. I'd never not written. I had a diploma in journalism, it seemed senseless to waste it. So, I worked full time, and did this gophering on the side, taking the abuse weekly.
Second lesson- I'd starve if I relied on writing, yet I had to write.
Now, I have few complaints about the first editor of that paper. He bought every story I wrote for him. He applauded when I stirred up the entire town with the truth about smoking in the local schools. (It was his idea, but he'll deny that to the grave--I took the heat.) He submitted my work nationally because he believed in it. (I won him an award I never saw-- how does that work, eh?) The more letters to the editor he got in complaint about my articles, the happier he was. "You're selling me papers! Now go, get, find out what you can about this lunatic."
Third lesson- People like to read about things that piss them off. Editors like to make money, they care nothing about soiling your good name. (This might not be true for all paper editors, but so far, none have changed my opinion, so the lesson sticks.)

I made 25 bucks a story. I usually turned in one a week. It was a lot of work I did in my spare time. Interview expenses were not refunded. Writing and editing took hours. Yeah, I edited my own work, the owner called himself and editor, but was not. Make sense? 
If my name was going on it, I wanted it to be worthy, so I paid it extra attention.
Fourth lesson- Don't put people with fancy titles on pedestals, they are only human too.

I did this for months. Went in treacherous condemned buildings, got yelled at by angry parents, buttered up by politicians who couldn't remember my name, ignored by a police officer. (It did get me out of a ticket; the minute he saw my name on my driver's licence, I was free to go. I never hounded him again. It was a mutual agreement; I let you go, you let me go.)
Still, it was actually costing me time, money, my good name, and sometimes I risked my life. This couldn't continue.
Then the paper sold. I lasted one month (if that). It was the most horrible month of my life. Not one of my stories was printed. I worked extra hard too.
You see, the new owners had a different approach. They did not like controversy. They wanted peace in the kingdom. I could respect that, but they had few ideas. I was on my own.
If I brought them a story where someone said no comment, they refused to print it. "No need to disrupt the kingdom. This is happily ever after land."
I watched article after article hit the trash. 
Hit the trash. Right in front of me, as if my time was worthless.
I was not paid for a story in the garbage, even if one was their idea. $000.00 Nothing. not a. zip.
They told me people were unhappy with my quotes.
"Ah, you haven't printed anything yet??" I was so stupid to say.
"Of course not. They came in here and wanted to retract their comments. If we have to change your articles, we aren't printing them. You're the reporter, get it right." I was getting it right, I even had it recorded to prove it. I knew how to cover my butt, it was the first rule I learnt. Not my fault people changed their minds, gee, that happens. As the editors it was their call if they ran with the changes or not. I did my job. What did they expect for $25? -- apparently, they expected my to keep these thoughts to myself.
I no longer had paper owners on a pedestal. My opinion of them was in the trash with my articles. zip. I told them to find another writer, I had better things to do with my time, princesses.
Fifth lesson- My time is worth something, respect that princess.

It turned me off freelancing for years. Now I submit an article or editorial a week that I write for my work where I am well paid. The local papers pay me nothing, but get articles, photos, and such, of all the fun things I do in a week. I get my name out there, free advertising for my cultural center, and I get to write.
Sixth lesson- There are other ways to channel my creativity where I don't feel like a little girl getting yelled at by a princess.

Your turn. Ever feel like a little gaffer getting yelled at by a princess? Sucks, eh?

A Peek Into Your Life Jessica Cassell

Well. Here I am. A few weeks into Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Crusade. I'm following everyone's blog. I LOVE my group, and I'm making friends from many of the other groups.

What a fun bunch of writers. (Well... we're all here for a good time after all.) 

Today, I'd like you to meet Jessica Cassell over at Cerebral Lunchbox, a fellow crusader, a group member, and a cool gamer girl. Be sure to stop by her blog, for a chat, she's full of unique ideas and always has a fun discussion going. Yup, another place to call home.

What genre do you write?I've written a little of everything through the course of time, but these days I'm mostly sticking to urban fantasy.  I'm excited about the rise of popularity in the genre, because before the genre came along I never knew what to call the things I wrote.  Some of my stories do have a stronger horror bend than others, but I think that blending genres is a lot more acceptable now.

Where are you in your writing career?I'm published, but only with non-fiction.  The more research I do, the more I'm leaning to self-publishing an e-book when I finally get to that stage.  I'm about 90% done with my first novel, which I'm hoping will be the first in a series.  I have several short stories finished and polished ready and waiting for the right market to come along.

What advice would you give to a new writer? What advice do you wish someone had given you?
I used to fear making outlines, because I didn't want to "stifle" the energy I felt while I was writing.  Now I know this: Plan, plan, plan, and be completely ready to throw it all away in the course of writing. 

To keep from stalling out, you really do need to have your ideas fleshed out, but your characters will evolve as you write, and you may need to revise the plan as you go along.  If you're willing to evolve than the writing will still feel dynamic and alive, even if you have it planned to death. I've adapted the Snowflake Method for the planning stages, and have used yWriter to help me move scenes around, etc.

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found yourself writing? Your favourite place to write?
I guess the strangest place I've written was in class (both high school and college).  In high school, I would get in trouble in math classes, because I would be scribbling away, and then passing the pages to my friends.  Even though looking back the writing was laughably bad, it was pretty fulfilling to get instant feedback.

My favorite place to write is at my desk in my corner of the bedroom.  It may not be a room of my own, but it is my own area.  I can get much more done there than anywhere else in the house.  Probably because it's far far away from the comfort of the couch.

What inspires you, motivates, or simply pushes you to be your very best?I'd love to have something wonderful and unique to say here, but I fear my answer is pretty standard.  Two things really push me, the first is the movie in my head.  I imagine my stories and see them playing in my head, and I desperately want to capture the images and translate them to paper.  As good as my writing may be, I always struggle, because it's never as good as the reel going in my mind.

The other thing that pushes me is my husband.  We met in junior college, when I was taking a creative writing class to round out my hours so I would be full time.  I would always let him read what I'd written and he loved it.  When we moved and I was unemployed, he was the one to really push me to begin seriously writing again.  Letting him read my work and the (sometimes pushy) encouragement he gives me helps me keep going.
And... Let's take a peek into your life. Tell us about yourself.
Oh gosh, these are the types of questions that I hate!  Let's see how this goes.  Well, I have a sailor's mouth, and I live in mortal fear of letting something slip in front of my family.  I've also decided that when I publish, I'll have to keep it secret from my family, because most of them are a bit...uptight.  They probably wouldn't dig the violence, language, and most definitely the sex I sometimes include in my stories.

I have two dogs that I love (even when they destroy the toilet paper and tear up pillows).  Don't ask me what breed they are, because they're both pound puppies.  I have a strong conviction about adopting from shelters instead of buying my dogs from breeders.

I have a very hard time creating brand new ideas.  Instead, it's often just a phrase or a legend that gets me going.  I never have several stories or ideas going at once, but I tend to hold on to the inspirations until I get them just right.  One of my two WIPs is based on a short story I wrote ten years ago that has been nibbling at my mind for all that time.

Thanks Jessica!!

Figured You Out

Oh this song is driving me nuts! (Yeah, I'm listening to it right now, if you have it, put it on too, so you can feel my pain.)

Have you ever heard a song that instantly gave you a visual? This song is a loud, in my face version of my current WIP.
I'm getting nothing done.
That's right. Every time I hear it, I feel as if the artist snuck into my computer, read my script and wrote a song about the poor bugger I'm making suffer. I'm sure it has nothing to do with a seducer in love with a demon, (I watched the video- it doesn't) but it's my dream.

Figured You Out.

It's not a new song, but it fits with my work so well. I have to listen to it. Over and over again. I know every word, every beat, even the tension is just right.

I don't write when it plays. (no, it's not procrastination, it's inspiration.) I don't edit. I sit and dream about my poor bugger, all in agony over this dame he thinks he knows. He's sure he knows. This close to death, he prays he knows.
Then I see her.
Twirling around him, all innocent. No idea she's killing him. No intention of letting him survive.

Figured You Out. By Nickelback.

One day, (still my dream) I might have to sell the CD along side of my book. ;) So readers can get the full effect, ya know?

Any music you'd team up with your current WIP?