Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thursday's Children - It's That Time of Year

Tomorrow marks the start of NaNoWriMo.

I'm not sure how I feel about that - other than I kinda want to punch Chris Baty in the face a little bit (with great amounts of love and respect, of course)for choosing the month of November. Seriously, who thought trying to cram 50K into a month that for many of us involves cooking elaborate feasts, parent/teacher conferences, making and buying of holiday gifts and planning holiday gatherings was a good idea?

Obviously someone who didn't have to worry about those things I'm sure it's painfully apparent that NaNo isn't something I usually participate in...because I'm a fan of sanity. A big fan

 My local writing chapter does a version of NaNo, usually in February or March. We toss in five bucks to participate and for every thousand words we fall short of our goal, we owe another buck. Needless to say, it's pretty good motivation, plus it's held at a more opportune time of year.

However, this year I'm going to participate in November. Well, I'm going to participate in an offshoot version of NaNo. Part of the reason is that I have a book that needs to be written, but a more important reason is because my friend's teenage daughter wants to write a book. She's not comfortable in joining the larger internet community so she's asked that her mom and her mom's writer friends join her so we can all cheer and support each other. If participating in our own version of NaNo will help motivate my friend's daughter to keep writing, I'm in. I know that's something I definitely would have benefited from at that age.

According to the rules she's set up, we'll be checking in with weekly totals. Whoever has the highest word count for the week gets Starbucks cards from everyone else. I think she's planning on drinking a lot of coffee...especially since I'll be helping to put on my local writing chapter's conference this weekend. So wish me luck. I'm gonna need it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday's Children - Does Your Story Have a Sound?

Like a lot of people, I often listen to music while I write. Sometimes it's to drown out the ambient noises of living with teenage boys, a husband, three cats and a phone that rarely stops ringing, and other times it's to help put me in the right frame of mind for the story I'm working on at the moment or a particular scene.

Each book has it's own soundtrack/playlist, but sometimes, I'll just put a specific track on repeat. I can't say that I'm actively listening to the music - at least not past the first ten or fifteen minutes - but having it play in the background helps me keep my focus.

My current WIP involves the Sidhe, the forest, death, sacrifices and the beginnings of a romantic relationship so I needed to pull together a collection of songs that would put me in the right zone while writing. And I should mention that I don't always use music, but depending on the story, ambient sounds work beautifully, too.

For instance, most of my WIP takes place outside near Lake Superior and in portions of the Hiawatha National Forest, so depending on what I'm writing, I'll play a loop of forest sounds, thunderstorms or the audio from the video of the lake shore waves that I took this past summer.

As for songs, this particular manuscript involves a lot of Celtic or Celtic-influenced artists like Kate Rusby, Loreena McKennitt, Circa Paleo, Faun,Susan McKeown and Kate Price.

There are also some great tracks by Joseph Arthur, Counting Crows, Howie Day, Oasis, Ryan Adams, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Mumford and Sons, Tracy Chapman, Snow Patrol, Dar Williams and Brandi Carlile, Catie Curtis and Abney Park.

So what about you? Do you listen to music while you write? If so, please share! Here are a few of my favorites that I thought I'd share with you :).

Kate Rusby's take on the traditional "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" Joseph Arthur's "In the Sun"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

And I Humbly Accept...

The Liebster Award!

Given to me by the lovely Rhiann over at  A Nest of Words!

Here were Rhiann's questions for me:

1. If you were to choose a Nom de Plume, what would it be?

Maybe Bridgid...or Morgan...or Gwenden...or how about Morwyn or Tristyn? Definitely something Celtic - lol!

2. What is your favorite flower?

Lilacs - I love the colors, the scent and the feeling that if they've survived winter long enough to bloom, than I can too.

3. If you had to live prior to 1900, what century would you choose, and why?

Is it wrong that I'd want to live in the Edwardian period for the fantastic dresses and jewelry? I know, I know - totally shallow, but there it is.

4. What is your motto?

It's a quote by Maggie Kuhn. "Speak your mind even if your voice shakes."  It's not always the easiest thing to do, but I try.

5. Lake or ocean, and why?

Lake - Lake Superior in particular. It's an amazing body of water that has a different personality for every season. Actually, depending on the weather, a different personality for every day! It's HUGE and the waves never stop. It's my favorite place to visit and the home of our annual writers retreat!

6. Tell us three things about a favorite character you've created.

Right now, I'm really fond of Mellie
1. I love how her bitchtastic personality conflicts with her deep-down desire to do the right thing.
2. She's a changling trying to live her own life in the midst of someone else's.
3. Her strength in choosing to help another even though she'll suffer for it.

7. You're in a car and this song comes on the radio - you can't change the station fast enough.

So. Many. Songs. Which is why I have tons of cds in my car (Sadly, my car is too old to have an iPod jack, but the next one will!) The cds keep me from playing "Radio Roulette" while I'm driving. I hate the song Bad to the Bone" more than I can possibly express, also anything by ZZ Top. I should probably stop the list there or it'll be endless.

8. Which author influences you most as a writer, and in what way?

Charles deLint - that man blends the magical and mundane like no other and transports me to en entirely new world! Love his work! Someday, I'd love to have that same effect on people.

9. When you get writer's block, doing this helps. (If you never get writer's block I'm blowing raspberries at you).

Honestly, I don't really get writer's block. I do, however, suffer from chaotic life snydrome which often achieves the same results. But usually, a little deep breathing while listening to the book's soundtrack will get me back on the right path again. Or switching WIPS - that helps too. .

10. What movie scared you (and maybe scarred you)?

It. Definitely, It. I've never liked clowns, but Tim Curry in that movie turned discomfort into a full-on phobia.

11. What's your favorite Halloween candy?

Um...all of it?  Probably Reece's Peanut Butter Cups or Mounds.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday's Children - Inspiring Art

Okay, confession time. My day job involves overseeing several departments of a small publishing house and editing a group of outstanding authors.

Unfortunately, there are times that authors run really late on deadlines. Really late. This is one of those weeks and because of that, I'm now running really late with my post. I'm not angry at my author or anything, but I am a little brain dead in terms of coming up with a topic for today's Thursday's Children post.

So...I hope you'll forgive, me but I'm going to cop out a little and share some images with you that are inspiring my current WIP.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thursday's Children - Dress Up and Character Creation

I'm piggybacking on the lovely Rhiann Wynn-Nolet's Thoughts on Halloween post. Apparently, we're both huge fans of Halloween and dressing up. I knew I liked her. :) I'm also a huge fan of sewing - well, of most forms of crafting , really. There's something incredibly satisfying about creating something from nothing - or at least, mostly nothing.

I make mugs, bowls and wall art from globs of formless clay. I make clothing from shapeless piles of fabric. I make pictures from colored bits of thread. And perhaps most satisfying, I create people and worlds from nothing more than words and the thoughts rattling around in my head.

The people in my stories are take shape in a similar fashion to how I create costumes. I look at random assorted personality traits, memories and experiences in must the same way that I look at fabric, trim, foundation pieces. Then I fiddle around with them until they become a cohesive, believable whole - person or garment, it doesn't really matter. It's a similar process - particularly since I rarely use patterns when I sew. Part of it is knowing what works and how to put it together and part of it is trial and error. Writing and sewing are really very similar.

In keeping with the Halloween tradition, here are some of the costumes I've made - or at least ones I could find pictures of. :)

                              My husband, our two boys (many years ago) and me at a ren faire.

 A friend in the wedding dress I made her. 

 My youngest son in the Stormtrooper costume I made him (well, obviously not the blaster or the helmet...)
 My youngest son in the Jawa costume I made him. His stuffed kitty had a matching costume, too.

                                A pirate-y homecoming dress I made for a friend's daughter.

                                                           One of my favorite dresses.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday's Children - Tracking Down Inspiration

There's a great quote by Jack London about inspiration.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

To a certain extent, I absolutely agree with this. If you don't actively go after your goals, you won't achieve them. As much as I wish it would some days, that book isn't just going to write itself. I need to sit my butt in front of my computer and actually work.

However, that said, sitting down at the computer without even a glimmer of inspiration is pretty much pointless for me. And sometimes, that inspiration is really hard to come by. But that doesn't mean that I have a free pass to go do something else. I have deadlines I need to meet, and sometimes the words just aren't there when I'm ready to write, so I need to find my inspiration. To do this, I need to work with what inspires me.

My top tactics involve music, visual imagery, going for a walk or a drive and showers.

Music is a pretty obvious one. Setting up a playlist that goes with the story I'm working on is invaluable.  It can help evoke the mood I want to convey and it comes with the great side effect of blocking out environmental distractions. But there's something even more magical about music. Even if I'm not actively focused on listening to the music because I'm writing, it's still making its way into my brain and creating subconscious connections and ideas that work their way into the story. Sometimes I do fine with music with lyrics other times I need instrumental arrangements. Find what works best for you.

Visual images are also helpful when it comes to story inspiration and why Pinterest is such a fantastic tool for me. Photographs and other artwork are a great jumping off point when it comes to settings, people and objects you might be describing. Now I'm not suggesting that you troll for images and insert those exact descriptions into your story, although, you certainly could. But I am suggesting that you look for images that convey the feeling you're looking to incorporate into your story. Using those images as a starting place can help give your story depth and guide it in new and exciting directions. Keep in mind that Pinterest is a giant rabbit hole that can be difficult to climb out of, so definitely consider setting a time limit.

Sometimes the best thing I can do when I'm looking for inspiration is to get away from my computer. Going for walks or a drive in the country or out to the lake shore is great way to free your mind. One part of your brain is concerned with the mechanics of driving or walking, but it requires a differnt sort of concentration. You're basically on autopilot while in another corner of your brain, your story is tumbling over and over like rocks in a polisher and eventually the polished gems of inspiration are going to tumble out and you'll be able to set them into your story. Now, I'm not suggesting that you completely zone out while you're walking or driving - that's just dangerous. And stupid. And I'm not a fan of either, but it is possible to do both. However, if you get an idea worth writing down, please stop/pull over before jotting it down in your notebook.

The shower is another great place of inspiration for me. If I'm not rushing to get out the door, I get the best ideas in the shower. In our house, we call it visits from the shower faery. It's the same sort of thing as getting ideas while you're walking or driving - your body is on autopilot freeing your brain to roll around and make connections that it might not have otherwise made. Also, there's something about water that helps loosen the subconscious which is why I like to hang out by lakes when I'm working on a book. But the shower is a great substitute if I can't get away. I get so many great ideas in the shower that I actually have a waterproof notepad mounted to the wall in there. It's one of the best gifts I was ever given.

This isn't even close to a comprehensive list of all the things you can do to chase down inspiration (or you know, lure it close enough to club) but these are the things that work for me. I'd love to hear what works for you. How do you get inspired when the words aren't flowing?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who would you drop everything to meet?

For the sake of keeping the list short, I'm going to focus on just authors here, because heaven knows there are tons of people I'd drop everything to meet - musicians, artists and especially the friends I've met online that I'd love to meet in real life.

But author-wise, there aren't a ton that I'd drop everything to meet. Of course, there are plenty I'd love to meet, but only about four for whom I'd stop what I was doing and change my plans in order to go get my books signed and say hi.

This is the short list: Jenny Lawson, Neil Gaiman, Charles deLint and Maggie Steifvater.

I got my chance to meet Maggie on Friday night. I was planning on staying home and hanging with my husband since he'd just returned the night before from about a month overseas. I happened to check my twitter stream and noticed that Maggie was going to be in Michigan. In Lansing, as a matter of fact - only a couple hours from me.

But when he heard that my very favorite YA author was that close, he said, "What are you still doing sitting here? Get your books and go get them signed. You've got time to make it if you leave now."

I reminded him that he just got home and he said, "You don't get to meet your favorite author every day. I'll still be here when you get back. The boys and I will do FFY for supper." (In our house FFY means Fend For Yourself, and everyone makes his or her own supper.)

I told him he was the best husband ever. And he said, "No. If I were the best husband ever, I would have volunteered to drive you down there. Instead, I'm gonna sit here and play Guildwars."

So...I grabbed all my books and the GPS, jumped in the car and took off to Lansing to meet Maggie. She was absolutely awesome and didn't mind at all that I had eleven books for her to sign. Happily, neither did the other people I was in line with. And I still stand by my best husband ever comment.

Here's Maggie signing my sister's copy of The Raven Boys. (If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? It's flat out amazing!)