Dance Me to the End of Love
Isn't that a great title? It is the name of a painting by Jack Vettriano. I was looking through my Pinterest board of Art to find a subject for the art theme a group of writers are sharing this weekend for posting on their blogs. As happens on Pinterest, I went to other people's boards for the perfect painting and found this painting that floored me.
This image is exactly like a dream I had when I was a very young child. Who knows but it might have inspired my writing because in the dream, a couple exactly like this were my parents. They were sending me to another incarnation on earth but without them. I began crying because they were leaving me to be born while they danced away, assuring me everything would be all right and they would return for me after a while.
I never forgot that dream, nor that feeling of them leaving me and the sadness. What do I write? About past lives, reincarnation, emotions and obligations left over from previous lives. And what is the name of my first novel coming out next month about this? Dance the Dream Awake.
What striking coincidences have you had?
Other writers who are joining the fun:
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
I just finished a new novel.
Again—the same one.
When I finally got the plot down, I thought, ‘I’m finished. Yeah! Now I’ll just go in and layer in more richness and I will be there.’ Did that, now I’m finished.
This could be the point at which self-published authors get themselves into hot water when they stop and publish, and fail to get their best work out. Novels take so much more to be really good than to simply slam down a story, fill in with a bit of depth and publish.
When I decided to write this present story, I knew I needed a critique group. To find the right one is absolutely essential, or at least some very good beta readers (same thing, no?) You must have outside trained eyes to tell you where you are missing the mark, because in your head you see it so clearly, and yet you might not have all of that down on the page and won’t know that until someone tells you—hopefully not after you are published.
Or, maybe you have too much down on that page, a regurgitation of all the details that should have remained in the back story and come out in the action and dialogue of the characters.
Or, you are so in love with your own words and can’t see that all those lovely phrases are slowing the story down and should be axed. Most readers will skip them anyway to get to the story—if they are patient. If not, well you might have lost a reader—many readers.
Other eyes are needed for perspective.
So, I went through this whole story with my group. It started out as a sequel to my first novel to be published in June (Dance the Dream Awake), but instead, eked its way out of that sequel (yet to be finished) into a stand-alone of the past life of two main characters in my first, and next, book. It gets complicated because I write about past lives.
Now at the end, when I thought it was ‘finished,’ the richness has to be drawn out—the criticism being focused on the details that I left out to get the story down. But I see it all so clearly in my head, why can’t you?
Uh, you forgot to put that on the page.
(Probably because I tend to write short (short story writer for many years)—focused on the facts—quick and dirty.)
Uh, you forgot to put that on the page.
(Probably because I tend to write short (short story writer for many years)—focused on the facts—quick and dirty.)
I was flattered by one of my critique partners who is so taken with my story, she left off concentrating on her own work to give me ideas for mine (you know who you are JoAnne).
So, what to do? I need to go yet deeper—live under each character’s skin and see what they see, feel what they feel, hear what they hear in that special world that informs their whole existence. The characters need to emerge from their place on the drawing board and worm their way into the reader’s imagination so they will become unforgettable. They are begging for a fairy god-mother’s touch to awaken them like Pinocchio.
I know this. Did I do this? Not as thoroughly as I thought. Not until I got to the last two chapters and ‘finished’ did the avalanche of loving critique hit me and wash over me. Only then could everyone in the group see that they wanted more and I hadn’t fully delivered—yet. They want more richness, more details to engage them—like that ATT commercial of the little girl being questioned in the classroom:
“ . . . .if there is more less stuff, you might want to have some more and your parents just don’t let you because there’s only a little. We want more, we want more because we really like it and we want more—like you really like it and you want more, you want more”
Have you given your story all it should have? Or do your readers want more?
. . . to be continued next blog post. . . . (It will not be as long a wait as this post was. Without boring you with details, life got in the way for several weeks there—sorry.)
Do you have a critique group or beta readers that help push you for more?
Do you overwrite or underwrite (like me)?
What is your process to be sure you have given your story all it requires?
P.S. I’ve been working on a website, and finally caved and put up a simpler one than the original I attempted. www.coraramos.com I still don’t have it finished but I threw up my hands and told myself, it is what it is—for now! (Critique of it much appreciated if you have suggestions.)
Posted by Cora at 8:49 AM
Friday, April 26, 2013
I am part of a rowdy bunch of writers who are writing a crazy cliff hanger series called Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story--a Round Robin of sorts (very out-of-sorts). We all have different writing styles, genres, etc., but one thing binds us all, our love of writing--anything. And this is definitely an 'anything goes' story. Now, it's my turn for a little fun.
To catch you up, read previous chapters on these blogs:
Read the next exciting episode next week here at:
To catch you up, read previous chapters on these blogs:
- Tami Clayton – Chapter 1
- Mike Schulenberg – Chapter 2
- Liv Rancourt – Chapter 3
- Ellen Gregory – Chapter 4
- Richard Monro – Chapter 5
- Kim Griffin – Chapter 6
- Jodi Lea Stewart - Chapter 7
“No, No, No, I can’t help you save Bikini Bottom. I’m not buying into any of this,” Twinkle jumped up and down. “La, la, la, la,” he sang as he bounced through the front door of his house with his hands over his ears, his curly hair bouncing like a slinky.
“And, I’m not part wooden-headed Juniperian and Earthling. I’m not, I’m not. And I don’t want any part of this weirdness.”
Jupernia ran after him. “Son, listen to me,” she hollered. “You’re freaking out. Where are you hiding? Twinkle, we have to hurry because the sappy mist over Lord Lobster’s space ship will only last one hour. Then he will come after us with a vengeance.”
She followed him through the house exclaiming, “My—oh my! This hoarding has gotten really bad.”
Twinkle was hiding under the pallets of soap and other shrink-wrapped items stacked in towering piles in the corner of his bedroom. She shook her head. Twinkle realized his mother had no idea how bad it had gotten around their house with his father's obsession.
“I am so sorry, son.” She reached her hand out to him. “Leaving you was not what I wanted to do, but I have to save my planet because if I don’t, Earth will be next. And you need to help me.” One of the spurs sticking out of her back pocket caught on the shrink wrap and tore it open. Tins of paprika fell to the ground. "What’s this?”
“Oh, that’s some of the other stuff dad collects. Paprika.”
Jupernia pursed her lips, put her fingers to her chin and looked up at the ceiling. “Paprika, Huh? This just might be the answer!” She grabbed Twinkle by the arm and dragged him to the basement and into Geraldo’s home workshop. He was sitting next to his workbench, eating a can of the many refried bean cans stored in the basement, along with his unfinished toys scattered about. He looked up.
“Well, well, my wife has returned.” He pulled out a bean stuck to his moustache and popped it into his mouth. “Why have you decided to return to our humble hovel, now, dear? Run out of trees to climb?”
Twinkle could see fire flare in him that he hadn’t seen in a long time. His father had grown some, and was pissed—big time. A fight was brewing, and he didn’t want to be around when it exploded between his father and mother.
He felt the vibration in his back pocket and announced, “You two need to talk--alone--and I need a ground-up-bark-malt to calm me down. I’ll be in the kitchen.” He grabbed a bunch of maple wood ships and bounced up the stairs.
He threw the chips in the blender, added milk and flicked on the blender before opening his phone to the text from his girlfriend, Surnia.
“Crazy here. Need to get away. Meet me at the park?” He took a big gulp of malt and sighed. His wooden-head disease eased and his head cleared a bit.
He texted back, “CU there in 5.”
Surnia always knew how to ease his wooden-head hair, but boy would she be surprised when she saw his conditioned locks today. He could almost feel her fingers running through them. He sighed before heading out the door with a plastic tumbler of the remaining maple malt, past the spaceship on his way to meet Surnia.
Meanwhile, Jupernia had calmed down and told Geraldo the real reason she left him. “We can discuss this all later,” she said softly as she touched his cheek. “But right now,” she said with a commanding voice, “we have to hurry and do something before Lord Lobstar’s minions break the sap-mist code around their spaceship that is sitting out in the garden on top of your squash plants.”
She whipped out the can of paprika. “And this is how we are going to do it. Paprika will deter ants and stink bugs, why not Lobstar? Come on.” They went upstairs and pulled out her stash of essential oils which were still in the junk drawer. She chose lavender. “Grab one of the boxes of Sparkle Soap Suds. If this does the trick, it might even smell better around here. Do you even realize what your hoarding smells like?”
What will the concoction do to Lord Lobstar—will it work to stop this invasion?
Will Jupernia’s idea save Bikini Bottom?
What exactly is her idea?
Why did Twinkle abandon his mother right now for his girlfriend Surnia? Will she play a part in saving the planet?
So many questions, so little time.
S.M Hutchins blog, Live Wonderstruck
Monday, April 8, 2013
Do you make edits to your work in progress as you write, or do you wait until the end to edit? (See Developmental Editing to clarify the editing I'm speaking of.)
After reading this post by Sean D’Souza, I realized I had to clarify my thinking on the subject of when to edit.
To give a brief overview, the brain learns in certain ways (read his article) and we can maximize how fast we learn if we understand this process and how to push it.
I have always been convinced that I make better decisions when I ‘sleep on it,’ whether I am debating on making a purchase, agreeing to do a thing (taking on a new project) or whether to change an aspect of my novel in progress.
As a writer I haven’t yet reached a point where I know and understand every aspect of the writer’s craft (and from the many books I’ve read, I’d say there are many, many more writers in the same situation than would like to admit it).
So after I go to my critique group to share what I thought was a marvelous piece of work, only to come away finding out it is full of holes (I have a good group), I have to decide on the best way to handle that new information.
One way is to set the criticisms aside for a time when I can deal with it all at once at the end (which would seem to be the advice you hear most often; i.e., ‘don’t edit until you have the whole draft down.’). But after reading the above mentioned article, I’m reviewing this directive in a new light. Maybe waiting until you reach the end of your first draft to edit is not the best advice.
I never like absolutes because sooner or later you will find the holes in the theory and have to eat your own words (or edit them out as the case may be). Maybe there is a hole in the theory of waiting until the end before editing. I myself have said it (to encourage those who want to edit the first scene ad nauseam until it is ‘right.’), yet that is not what I actually do in practice.
What appears to work best for me is to come back from critique group and sleep on it. Then, the next day make the changes I feel appropriate while they are still fresh in my mind.
In that way I learn what I did wrong, correct it and am less likely to repeat the same mistake again (or at least not too many times again) since I will be more apt to catch myself making that error in the future.
Another writer in my group puts all critique comments away, waiting until she finishes her first draft, (which is going slowly because of her life—funny how life has a way of interrupting our writing). But if this theory is right, that might not be a good solution.
If we learn best by accretion then it might be better to make those corrections right away, as soon as we see them so we are less likely to repeat them over and over, leaving room to learn other aspects of writing we haven't yet grasped.
'Skill is the systematic reduction of errors,' d’Souza points out. So maybe sleeping on it and fixing those errors right away could increase your learning curve and your work.
Do you make decisions best by sleeping on it or does something else work better for you?
I’d like to know your opinion, since I am in the middle of poking holes in this theory of waiting on editing until after the first draft is complete vs. editing immediately when you are shown there's a problem.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
When I disappear for days, you might think I’m slacking off blogging, I do that now and again (more again, lately), but that’s not the real reason this week.
Procrastination? No. Well, I do that, too, but not this week—I simply had unavoidable interruptions.
Writer’s block? No. Okay, I might be lying about that, but only because I subscribe to the belief that there is no writer’s block. It’s really that you don’t know your character(s) well enough. So, okay, I sort of had to do some backtracking there and learn my character better, but I’m still not admitting to writer’s block.
What I’ve been doing is what writer’s do. I have been hot on the trail of one of my characters and had to do lots of research that was so interesting I couldn’t unplug to do a post sooner. Then I had to have him talk to me and write down every word. It’s about concentration. I am not ambidextrous in switching writer tasks and I can’t switch gears when my concentration is focused like a laser (that means OCD to get this character nailed).
I’ve slacked off Facebook, and been missing far too many Johnny Depp
And, been missing from Twitter,
they’ve changed Tweetdeck, well, they did that a
while ago so it’s not the real reason I’ve slacked off. I haven’t
been tweeting much, but following oodles and oodles of nice people.
I’ve also been reading lots of posts (hurriedly, I admit, so I didn’t leave many comments – no footprints to prove it.
So, all in all a great week—for a writer, but not so much for maintaining a platform or promoting.
To prove it, here are a few places I have been that you might want to check out:
- Confucius quotes: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/confucius.html Here is one you may not have known was Confucius and suits a writer: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
- If Confucius is too esoteric, try Johnny Depp's quotes over at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/88280.Johnny_Depp?auto_login_attempted=true
- Chuck Wendig’s gnarly blog had one great recipe that I tried because I was in a hurry to get back to writing and it was quick. I changed it up a bit and added coconut milk instead of regular milk and cream—absolutely loved it. Even my husband said it was the best soup I ever made. If you don’t cook, you might just like to read his outrageous style. He appeals to the irreverent in me: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/03/27/i-got-your-soups-right-here-pal/
- I visited
William Doonan’s site and downloaded his new book about zombies in ancient
Peru—and the present day dig?--Don’t know yet, haven’t finished the
book—I’m hot into writing, remember? The style of the book is intriguing
and you might want to check it out. I’m not usually a zombie person, but
this is ancient curse stuff and that I love.
I could give you more but that takes me away from my writing for too long and need to get back. ‘till next week. . . .
Do you get obsessive when you write? When you read? (Yeah, I do that, too.)
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Metaphysical books of old talk of the Akashic Record where everything that has ever existed (past and future) is recorded. Those able to tap into it can bring forth information that in their logical mind they could not possibly know. It is believed that Nostradamus accessed this knowledge and was able to write his predictions for events still unfolding today.
But if you don’t subscribe to Nostradamus predictions, how about Einstein, Tesla, great prophets of the world or any number of geniuses who believed they got their ideas in some form of meditation or quiet mind activity?
I was watching the History Channel while making dinner the other night and this subject matter caused me to stop and take notes. On my blog I sometimes hint at my closet metaphysical side. You might have guessed that my mind wanders to those things in the universe that cannot be proved—yet. So when the History Channel updated what science can now prove, I was thrilled.
With my layman’s mind I will lay it out as I understand it. The zero point field—where everything exists—is now more clearly understood. The dimensions (string theory or bubble theory) are connected and sometimes overlap (they may be moving slowly into each other). Maybe when they overlap, we get a view into something so totally other from what we normally know—or maybe a peek into another time.
It is proven that space and time are flexible (Einstein) and that some people can access the grid, the zero point field (the matrix) through meditation, a déjà vu experience, dreams or some form of altered or quiet state—a transcendental moment in the mind.
Within the hidden dimensions may lie the extra-terrestrials who seem to slip in and out of view and maybe travel through time, whether through a worm hole or some other time slip we have yet to uncover.
Maybe it is not so far-fetched to believe that some people can access the Akashic Record-or whatever you want to call the knowledge of the universe.
People who claim to have seen angels, guides, or extra-terrestrials may not be imagining a non reality, but instead may be seeing a reality not yet here or in a different dimension—a form of remote viewing while in communication with some type of other-worldly energies.
Great mystics have part of their being in this reality and in another dimension at the same time in order to bring us the ideas and information we need to evolve.
Einstein’s favorite book, Madam Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled, is uber metaphysical and had a great influence on him. Using his ‘psychic’ ability he ‘found’ or formed the theory of relativity. He was adept at putting himself in altered state—remaining in that altered space for hours while exploring new ideas (Like asking, ‘if you sat on a beam of light what would you experience?’ His theory, thus gleaned, allows for the possibility of time travel).
He was able to tune into the nature of the universe, and by not limiting himself, saw things in a different, mystical way. Whether it was the Akashic Record, the zero field or some form of bubble theory, he brought the future closer. His 4 papers were done in one year. (Annus Mirabilis papers)
Einstein had extraordinary gifts, a genius by our standards, but he was not the only one.
Socrates, who was considered strange in many ways in his day, spent his time day-dreaming, caught in the grip of a thought or idea for hours on end. His peers said he had extraordinary endurance-able to access a being who gave him information; a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical realm.
Who else? Leonardo DiVinci. He looked at a candle flame while lying down for hours.
Puccini said his creations came from divine source.
Brahms believed his works came from beyond; something other than himself.
Tesla-the driving force behind today’s wireless technologies, wrote of powerful visualizations where he could envision machines in minute detail. He believed he was in contact with other worldly beings. He wrote of ‘. . . a message from another world. It reads 1,2,3.’ And he was obsessed with the number three in his work.
The universe is far more complex than we think. Einstein was said to have a different brain than the normal man, but did he have it to begin with, or did he develop it through his form of meditation?
Are certain people (geniuses), born at certain times to access the cosmos and give us the needed leap into the future, or is it possible we limit ourselves and so do not achieve our own greatness?
What do you think?
Sunday, March 17, 2013
This year, I attended a few RWA-romance writer events. For some reason, lately, I have been finding romance not only more appealing and fascinating, I have been exposed to some excellent writers of the genre. Being in a critique group of mostly romance writers might have something to do with it, too. Maybe I am getting more in touch with my emotional side.
This past weekend we were fortunate to have Jane Porter come and speak at a workshop here in Fresno. She is a romance writer with over 40 books in print. In the past I have gravitated toward the Sisters-in-Crime (now an international organization to promote and support women writers of mystery and suspense) as “my organization,” because in the past I wrote mystery and suspense.
As Jane pointed out, there is a general looking down one’s nose at the romance genre that has been around for quite a while. I have been guilty of it myself. Early pulp romance was not of the best writing, but neither were the early pulp mysteries. A good writer can be found in any genre, but Jane said some things that struck home to me about this subject.
Crime fiction (mystery, suspense) is considered to be more serious and favored by the male market—dark, mysterious and therefore “intellectual.”
Romance is considered emotional and favored by the female market, but women themselves enjoy both genres. If you think of the history of women’s rights, it’s not hard to see why this form of women’s fiction would be looked down upon. It has not been that long since women’s rights were expanded in this country. Women were (and still are by some) considered to be weak, emotional and not very intellectual—a hold-over from a time when we were considered property, didn’t have the vote and had few rights because women weren’t considered capable of serious thought and action.
That stereotype still plagues the romance genre and women writers who write ‘such stuff.’ Jane made the point that women (and now men) who write romance just need to ignore it and move forward. The “intellectual” genres will continue to look down at romance writers and the romance genre.
And, how does this affect the way writers write dialogue for women and men as they converse on the page?
Women, on the whole (and not by any means all) are more in touch with their feelings, are not afraid to be emotional and actually experience life in a more emotional way. We are more wordy, like to socialize and chat and learn about life through talking and gossiping about the experience of others—it is how we make sense of our own emotional journey.
Men, on the whole (and not by any means all) tend to be less wordy and are easily turned off when a woman gets too much into the chatter. They will relate with other men in bite-size chunks of words, not need so much talking and do not like to get in touch with their emotions and emotional side as a rule until they are pushed.
A few Jane Porter tips on writing (mostly for romance writers but it applies to other writers as well):
- To increase scene speed use sentence fragments and interrupting—forcing action, forcing things to happen.
- Be sure you have the dance, the tease, the word play to turn on the mind—and keep the reader reading.
- Women and men speak differently. Keep this in mind when writing dialogue:
Women use 10 times as many words as men do.
Are far stronger in words, language.
Use speech to connect, to create camaraderie, to build friendships.
Men tune out after the first few words of a woman talking to them.
They don’t like to defend themselves and will just walk away.
Have more clipped conversations.
Will heckle other men and put each other down.
Say things like, “this conversation is over,” as they stand up, to leave—no more words, “I’m out of here."
They command more rather than ask.
They curse more.
- We like to see glimpses of hope in the "bad boy." (He might return and check on a little sister after some bad behavior)
- Keep in mind age, background, younger, older, someone who has seen a lot of hard stuff, when creating dialogue. Be sure your voices reflect that.
Do you take a lot of care about the above points when writing dialogue?
What is your genre(s) of choice?