Sunday, May 29, 2011

Life is Like That ...

I grew up living on a lake. From as early as I can remember, my dad taught me to skip stones--how to find good skipping stones, how to hold your wrist and fling it for the most amount of skips over the water, before it sinks in. To this day, when I see a nice flat stone, I think, "Now, that's a good skipping stone."

My son is six. I've tried teaching him to skip over the years, but he's never been able to get down the wrist movement. He tries really hard, but in the end, he clunks it into the water with a plop. But, you know ... he's six. No big deal. He's got plenty of time to learn.

Thing is, he gets really frustrated with himself. He wants to be able to skip those stones. He wants it really bad. He tries really hard. But since he's been trying, it just hasn't happened. A couple weeks ago in Germany, we were having a picnic near a stream, and there were lots of pebbles and stones. He was wading in the water and pulled up a nice flat stone the size of a small pancake.

Right away, I said, "That's a perfect skipping stone."

His eyes widened. He turned it over in his little hands, examining it. And then he gave it a good fling. That stone skipped at least six times across the surface. It seemed like slow motion--the way it danced across the placid stream in tiny splashes, then finally sunk to the bottom. My son's face was pure and simple joy. So poetic.

Of course, I cheered like any mom would. I was so proud, and it was such a great moment. He was proud too and had to make doubly sure I saw exactly what had happened. All that time, he'd been trying so hard to skip stones and it just wan't happening. Til the one day, he was relaxed and enjoying himself--happy and content--and not trying so hard. And it happened.

Life is like that, I think. Sometimes we just have to ease up on the reins ... stop trying so hard to catch that butterfly, so that it comes and sits right on your shoulder.

Do you have any moments like that? Please share ...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The O Effect

So do you like my new blog design? It was time for a change. Anyway, the O effect.

I'm talking about the uber inspiring Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Did y'all see her last show? Not the surprise spectacular, but her last show dedicated to the viewers. If not, I highly recommend finding it and watching it. Oprah takes the time to let her audience know what she's learned throughout her amazing life journey.

I know, some of you are thinking, so what? She's just a lady. But not really. She's a lady that pursued her dream and did the best she could at it, and in the process became one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. That's pretty darn remarkable.

And for her to take the time to pass that knowledge and wisdom on to the peeps of the world, is so indicative of the type of person she is. I was moved by her words to us yesterday. Some of which were...

"Nobody is responsible for your life but you."

"Find the spark that lights your world."

"Everyone wants to be heard."

"Everyone needs validation."

"You are responsible for the energy you bring into this room." (requoted from Dr. Jill)

Those are just a few that stuck out, but the whole show was awesome. Her message was one of love and grace and encouragement, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Why do I care what Oprah says? Because she has had the honor and privilege of interacting with peeps from all over the world--from powerful to poverty stricken, from brilliantly minded to barely able to get out of bed.

She has dedicated her life to the people of the world, and gained a wealth of wisdom from each and every one of them, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. I respect and admire her for that. But what's more, is she encourages peeps to find their passion. Doesn't have to be about fame or money, but about what makes you feel that deep sense of purpose down to your toes.

This is her message to us.

Watching her last show yesterday, I felt the effect she was going for. She inspired and motivated me. She encouraged and challenged me to be a better person, and take charge of my own life. We all have our skeletons and adversity, but it doesn't matter. We are still in charge of our own life. No one holds us back but ourselves.

So in feeling the power of the O effect, I pass the same encouragement and challenge on to you. Listen to those who need you. Find a way to help others. Find what you're passionate about and latch onto it. We all deserve to be in control of our own lives.

And what impressed me most of all about Ms. O's final words to us, is that she takes very little credit for outstanding accomplishments. She gives the credit and glory to God. I know everyone has their own opinions on faith and whatnot. But I say, Bravo, O!


 What if everyone did start following these suggestions? Do you think it'd make a difference? Do you think the world would be a better place? And did you watch the last O show? What did you think?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Do You Critique?

With my latest story complete (yeah right) and anxious for feedback, I'm  in the throes of critiques and beta reads once more. Personally, I love critiquing a story if it fits my preferred genres. And, of course I love getting constructive feedback that helps me improve. No matter how many times we read our mss, we will always miss something.

Roni Loren posted a few days ago on writers critiquing other writers and being too nitpicky. There were some good debates going on. Many writers want total honesty, no matter how harsh. Other writers want honesty with some kind of encouraging words included. Roni brought up a great point on how ...

"Writers need to support each other and worry about their own writing--not waste time trying to chip away at your fellow authors.  It only makes you look bad in the end.

And remember that no matter what level of success an author reaches--she's still sitting down and slaving away at her keyboard like you are, she's still as passionate about her characters and story as you are,  and she still feels just like you do when her creation is criticized."

This is so true. I mean, we're all at different levels and all trying our best to succeed with our dreams. I've been lucky to have awesome CPs who aren't afraid to be honest, but genuinely helpful. And I really think it's important to find a good match. Not everyone is a compatible match, for a variety of reasons. From anything to genre to level of writing.

But bloody hell, if you find yourself with a CP who has nothing positive to say, then drop them.
As writers we have enough rejection to deal with.

So on the subject of critiques, here's how I do it: Naturally, I line edit. I note dialog that doesn't sound believable. I suggest rewording on sentences that are not structured well. And I mention anything that leaves me with a question. I also give a final summation at the end of each chapter.

Even if someone's work is in need of lots of repair, I think we can still be encouraging. We all started somewhere, and *shudder* my first novel length story is indubitably cringe worthy. So why not take the time to encourage others while on our path? We all have different strengths and weaknesses.

So tell me how you do it? How do you critique others’ work? Is there something you’re particularly good at? Or something you especially want in a critique? Or just tell me where you are in your writing endeavors ...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Writing Your ABCs

No, no, no ... not  the A to Z Challenge. LOL. I mean using your ABCs to remember the elements of creating a great story. This is a technique from the ever inspiring Anne Lamott.

A  is for ACTION : set the scene and launch the events early

B is for BACKGROUND: put it in context, but don't let the reader get ahead of the MC

C is for CONFLICT: the MC's impetus to achieve his goal cannot be easy. The tension produced must come from the MC's desires, and be sustained by obstacles

D is for DEVELOPMENT: this is the bulk of the plot, or the journey. It should bring the MC closer to resolution and elevate suspense

E is for END: this is the final crisis when MC must decide how to resolve. This is the tipping point, the consequences after the climax. How has the MC and his world changed? The end should include the final release of tension

There, you see? Easy as ABCDE. Right? Uh, yeah, not quite. Crafting stories is darn hard. And anyone who tells you differently is probably not creating very strong stories.

Thanks for stopping by here! I always appreciate your visits and comments. Hope you're having a delightful weekend. Do you find it easy or difficult to implement this kind of structure in your stories?  I've found I prefer a formulaic way of thinking, even though I love the free creative flow just as much. Combining the two is what works best for me.

HAPPY WRITING!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There and Back Again ...

By PK Hrezo


Well, my adventure wasn't quite as exciting as Bilbo's, but I'll share a bit with you anyway. First off, I'm catching up with blog visits, so bear with me. I was wondering if there really is any way to fully catch up, and I believe the answer is no. But hey, that's life, right? Right.

Ten years ago when I first visited Europe and had the pleasure of gallivanting around London, I met some Germans staying in my hostel, who were also on holiday. We hung out and got to know each other, exchanging addresses and keeping in touch via longhand through the years.

I visited them in Germany a few times and they visited me in the States once or twice ... all of this before marriage and children. As you truly start to embrace adulthood and develop families, you tend to neglect friends, to no fault of your own, but because of family demands. I hadn't seen my German girlfriends in eight years or so .... til just this past weekend.

They have kids, I have kids, and to my delighted surprise, all the kids got along smashingly. Their kids speak only German, mine only English, but it didn't matter. They were thick as thieves.

My friends live in a little village in south Germany called Siefersheim, amidst rolling green hills and vast vineyards. It was quiet and picturesque, with cool breezes and warm sunshine. A little rain here and there, but no worries. It is Germany, after all.

My friend's hubby is originally from Romania and built their house entirely out of wood he cut and hauled from Romania. Impressive? Uh, yeah. Totally. Here's a pic:

My hubby learned how to hunt and slayed three deer in three days. LOL! I kid you not. Now, I'm no advocate for wasteful hunting, and this was anything but. The skilled hunter we stayed with hunts only for what he needs--cleans, cuts, and stores meat for meals. It's really rather remarkable.

Anyway, we enjoyed the great outdoors, yummy homemade sausage, jerky, and schnapps, and most of all, great friends! Seeing them again was a reminder of how geography can never truly separate kindred spirits.

Here I am with my dear sweet girlfriends and our daughters:


Peaceful day at the river:


And just because I'm so proud of my little world travelers:


They did so great on their first trip to Europe. They just meshed right in. *sniff sniff*

But you know, I got absolutely no revisions done on my WIP. I lugged my laptop around determined to get a lot done, but the revision gods were not smiling upon me. I did, however, finally read The Hunger Games. So. Darn. Good. Wow! Suzanne Collins is a genius. And while the writing was not perfect, the story was so good it didn't even matter. I flew through it. Truly unputdownable.

So thanks for stopping by and sharing my little adventure with me. If you're new to my blog, thanks for following and I'll be catching up with you over the next few days.

So tell me, what's new with you??

Monday, May 16, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine!


Yep, it's another blogfest! Love them! And this one should be fun with all the writer jokes. Click on the pic above to be whisked away to laughter HDQ on Leigh T. Moore's blog. 

Here's mine:

How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb? 

Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.


And since I just got finished writing a fantasy story with strong sci-fi elements in it, this one cracks me up.

Thanks for stopping by! I should be crossing back over the big pond while your reading this. Wish me luck! ;) Can't wait to read everyone's funnies!! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Abandoning the Armor

Uh, no not me, lol.... I'm talking about our characters. I read an awesome post from author Lena Coakley on character development and it was like BAM! whacked me in the head and said, "Hey, here's what you need to make sure you did!"

Read the full article on the link above, but here's the gist of what I needed:

1. What is the character's wound?
2. What is the hero's belief?
3. What is the hero's identity? (false self he shows the world)
4. What is the hero's essence? (what's left when identity's dropped)

The actual character development is the pull between the strong desire to remain in his identity, and the need to live in the essence. The hero can only reach his goal if he abandons his false self and embraces the true one.  ***** Abandoning the armor, and living in essence to face the climax of the story ************

I just love that. Wow. Again, check out the full article. You'll be glad you did.

Cliff Claven moment here: .... Ever wonder why dialogue is spelled dialog too? I even get spellcheck on it. But "dialogue" is the original English spelling. Once Americans started their own dictionary, they dropped the "ue," which is now why we recognize both spellings. :)

I'll be crossing the big pond tomorrow so my blog rounds will be minimal, but I'll be catching up next week. Oddly, I'm looking forward to the seven hour flight so I can get some revisions done. lol... you know you're a writer when, right??

Don't forget about Leigh T. Moore's blogfest on Monday. Still time to sign up.
Thanks for stopping by! I love it when you do.

Found any great links or posts lately? Please share....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Meme and Winners!

Recently I  was tagged by Ms. Florence Fois of Ramblings From the Left  on her Meme post.

What is a Meme?

"Meme is for memory, which is part and parcel to life in cyberspace, the phenom of the blogfest, the rolling thunder of tweet and retweet and the inner workings of how something becomes Meme."




So I answer some questions, then it's YOUR turn. Either answer them in my comments or post on your own blog and link back here. Can't wait to read your answers. here's mine:


If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be? I'd probably be a kid again, like age 10 on a summer day in the pool with my brothers and just fully in the moment of swimming without a care in the world. Gosh darn those were good times.


If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? I'd go back to my wedding day and stop mingling long enough to eat. No kidding. I missed out on all that catered food because I was too busy socializing and too excited to eat. We ended up raiding the vending machines at the hotel late that night because we were starving. lol


What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality? Polly, from Along Came Polly. Remember that movie? Well, that's me. It's uncanny just how much that character is like me. 


If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be? Tough one. I don't wish death on anyone, but man, ask me when I'm driving in traffic and I may have a different answer. lol


Name one habit you want to change in yourself: I have this nasty habit of consuming mass amounts of dark chocolate when I'm bored at work. Need to nip that one in the bud.


Describe yourself in one word: dynamic


Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word: impressive


Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence: It started out as a requirement to building a platform, but now I love it so much, it's just good fun getting to know bloggers around the world who share my love of literature and life.


Enough about me, though. Let's hear it for the winners of my Spring Carnival Giveaway:


Seven random names:


LindsayWrites       The Wednesday Sisters    
Coreena McBurnie   Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
Megan McDade     Possession bookmark
SassySasha          Posession bookmark
Madison               Charlie Joe Jackson bookmark
Nadea Ruzman    Charlie Joe Jackson bookmark
'Anji Beane          Charlie Joe jackson bookmark


Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone who participated! I even won a book myself on someone's blog at the carnival. Woohoo! Winners, I have your emails and will be in touch soon! 


Now, my lovely readers, how would you answer the above questions? Tell me here, or make a blog post out of it. You can even steal the meme kitty pic. :) 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Salute to Moms!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!


To my fellow moms around the world, I salute you! If you're celebrating in America today, enjoy your special day. If you're elsewhere in the world and you're a mom, you have a wonderful day anyway. 


Peace and love!

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'll Have Mine with a Twist ...

Nope, not talking about cocktails, though twists there are nice as well. I'm talking about throwing readers for a loop and making something happen that wasn't expected. I love books and films with a twist, because quite honestly, everything is so predictable these days. I mean, we've seen and read so many stories ... been there, done that. It's too easy.

Probably why when a story does have a twist, we fall head over heels for it. Ex. Shutter Island, The Sixth Sense

I just worked a few twists into my latest story, and hoping they come off how I planned. I'll be counting on my trusty beta readers to keep me in check. But I stumbled across this article from Writer's Digest the other day and wow! It rocks. If you didn't get a chance to read it, I'm posting the link below because I think it's totally worth five minutes of your time to read if you're a fiction writer.

TWIST ENDING TIPS FROM HARLAN COBEN


So how's it going my bleeps? I've been out of the blogosphere for a few days for some much needed R & R. I'll be catching up with you through the weekend. For my fellow moms out there, wishing you a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. I'm hoping for some breakfast in bed and some personal time for my special day. We'll see if Hubby delivers. *wink wink*

I'm sure I missed lots of good stuff while I was offline, but on the flip side I just revised an older story from last year and tweaked it to the point I can finally say, "It is finished!" Amazing how much my writing has improved since last year.


How about you? If you're a writer, have you noticed significant improvements over time? How do you like your twists? Can you think of some books and/or films with super twist endings? Please share ...

If you're looking for SPRING CARNIVAL post click here. Still have til May 8 to sign up for the giveaway. :) Happy Friday!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on A to Z and Spring Carnival!

Would you believe I almost titled this R is for Reflections??? lol I'm probably speaking in alphabet in my sleep. This post is a brief reflection on how I did the A to Z Challenge. There's a list of other bloggers who are participating in the A to Z Reflections, you can find on Arlee Bird's blog here.

If you're looking for my SPRING CARNIVAL giveaway, it's the post below this one, or simply click here.

First of all, I found it really enjoyable. There was never a day where the obligation felt tiresome or boring. It was much easier than I thought it would be. Plus, seeing other bloggers out there on the same letter was just a lot of fun. The navigation buttons were awesome and I kept mine for just random blog hopping. I didn't get to nearly as many blogs as I wanted, but with well over 1200 blogs, I don't think anyone did.

I loved how Alex J. Cavanaugh picked actual bloggers from A to Z and each day mentioned a blogger and linked to their site. I also loved Nicole Ducleroir's and Jessica Bell's idea of writing an emotion for each letter and having the readers guess by their writing skills. I came across another blogger who did films A to Z and thought that was pretty cool.

Mine were pretty random, but I tried to stay in the realm of blogging and/or writing. Here's what I did: Right before the month started, I made a list A through Z and jotted down some words for each. When that day came, I chose the word and just wrote. Sometimes I'd schedule the post from the night before, but mostly I wrote them bright and early. I focused on keeping them short, because with all those blogs to read, nobody had time for long ones. Sometimes words would change or I'd get a better idea for a future letter.

Almost every day, a new blogger popped by to say hello or start following, and I found some  started following without commenting. Both are cool for me, but I've found it makes it much easier for me to find and follow back when they left an actual comment. I don't always have time to go through Google Reader, so I usually scroll through my comments section to visit blogs. Anyone else do this? I find it the easiest way, and of course I want to return visits to my top commenters before anyone else.

I basically treated the A to Z thing like a job, just added it to my daily duties to make sure it got done. But it was a job I loved doing. It got my creative juices flowing and was just a ton of fun.

I really and truly thank each and everyone of you who stopped by and left comments and supported my endeavor. It made all the difference in the world! I read and savor each and every comment, so thank you so so much!

Now, I'm taking a few blogger days off to refuel and revise some stories. But I'll be making rounds visiting your blogs and catching up with those I've missed. The Spring Carnival giveaway lasts til May 8 so be sure to leave a comment on that post to be entered.

Do you have any comments regarding the challenge and how it worked for you? Even if you didn't participate, what did you think of the whole thing? I'd love to hear them....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

SPRING CARNIVAL



It's here! The Spring Blog Carnival hosted by the folks at Pure Imagination.

It's all about books, books, and more books! over 200 blogs participating, all with their own theme and reading related giveaway.

Consider my tent one of Miscellaneous Uproar ....

 So welcome! See what's up for grabs. All you have to do is leave a comment and you're entered. Giveaway runs through May 8. And if you're not already a follower, I'd love to have you, but it's not required to win. :) Also, if you'd be so kind as to LIKE the FLOAT (For Love Of All Teens) page on Facebook by clicking here. Help spread the word and encourage teen self-esteem.

First up:

Women's Fiction novel, THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS by Meg Waite Clayton

A delightful read about, well, women who read. Imagine that!

Women's Fiction novel, ANGRY HOUSEWIVES EATING BON BONS by Lorna Landvik

Another story about women who read, and it's a lot of fun.

I also have two official bookmarks for the upcoming release, POSSESSION, by Elana Johnson

as well as

Three official bookmarks for Tom Greenwald's upcoming Mid-Grade release, CHARLIE JOE JACKSON'S GUIDE TO NOT READING.

So leave a comment by May 8 on this post for a chance to win one of these prizes. Open internationally.

On a side note, a big thanks to Elizabeth Mueller for awarding the A to Z bloggers with this lovely commemorative piece :

 If you participated, stop by her blog and get one for yourself. Everyone wins! Tomorrow's post will include my final thoughts on the A to Z challenge and will be left up for a few days for the A to Z Reflections bloghop, as well as the Spring Carnival giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you're having a lovely Sunday, and many wishes for an outstanding week. :)