Yep, that’s right, surgery. My gallbladder decided it wanted to come out. After 3 days of pain, then another 3 in the hospital I’m healing up. Sadly it will mean a lack of posting for a bit. But stay tuned, I will be back.
I decided to start a series of new projects. I’m not going say exactly what those are, but you will know soon enough. Anyway, as with all projects you need to start with an idea. I could sit at my desk, plot out fresh, new thoughts, create brand spanking new characters, and think of wonderful new scenes to set them in. I could, but I won’t. Why? I get one day a week to myself to actually write, any other time is stolen during nap time, and only if there’s no house work that needs to be done.
So this is where my word hoarding comes in handy. With all the files and note pages I have kicking around I could easily write 4-8 projects, with storyline and characters already hashed out, and that’s without ever needing to go into the files of deleted scenes or re-worked stuff from published work.
Recycling these old ideas was something that I thought I might do one day, but was more concerned with simply saving so I could look back and go “wow, this is what *insert story* was in the beginning? My how it’s changed.” Yet here I am, going through all these bits and pieces, setting what I currently think are the gems and reference or outright using them in the stuff I’m working on. It’s probably good for the little creative environment that’s set somewhere in the back of my brain, which much like my hard drive probably holds every single idea I’ve ever tapped out on the keyboard for possible future usage. It may even help new ideas to grow and flourish when I finish these projects I’m working on (and/or when I get more time to write than in between dishes and diaper changes.)
Do you hold on to ideas? And if you do, could you ever recycle them?
Once upon a time (almost 2 years ago) I went to a writer’s group that was hosted by a couple of guys from the publishing world. We were talking genre when one of my fellow writers mentioned Fan fiction. One publisher guy looker writer man straight in the eye and said “Don’t bother writing Fan Fiction. You’ll never sell it.”
Boy was he wrong.
Fan Fiction, it seems, is the new way to get yourself some recognition, a publishing deal, and maybe even have some movie rights sold. All you have to do is write a good one based off a super popular book, be a fan favorite, have someone say “Hey, let’s change some names and make some money off of this” and presto! You become a bestseller.
Personally, I just don’t have it in me to go that route. I’ve read a few of the ‘original’ bestsellers and easily thought I could do better, but I never emulated them to the degree some people have. And while most of the time I don’t really mind that all these unknowns are hitting it big because of their emulation of what was already made popular, it does bother me when it’s so bad that I know exactly what book it came from. Even more so when looks like the publisher took on the author and did absolutely nothing to the manuscript, simply copying and pasting the text from the website without doing any grammar or spell checks, put it in an eBook (or worse, print) and slapped on the $9.99+ price tag.
I’m not sure if it’s simply the publishing world riding the waves of whatever the current fad in reading is, just trying to make the quickest buck possible, or if they’re genuinely trying to give someone a chance, but it hardly seems fair to those authors who have tried for years to perfect their craft, come up with original stories, and then feel the need to go the Indie route where they get lost in the shuffle (and no, I don’t count myself among them.) Yet it seems if they really want to get their foot in the door, checking out the Twilight or Fifty Shades fan fiction boards and seeing what they’re up against might be the way to do it.
What are your thoughts on this new trend?
I write to playlists. Each one composed of songs that inspire or really relate to the story I’m working on. But I find a really good song, with well written lyrics, makes me want to write.
Whether it tells a story itself, or just has amazingly emotional lyrics, I’m always in search of a great tune. If I’m lucky, I find one that I can listen to multiple times a day, everyday, for months on end and never get tired of it.
For instance, a catchy song like “Call Me Maybe” may find it’s way onto my playlists, but it will never stay around because it’s just beaty filler that doesn’t do much more than give me energy. Better for a long walk than a writing marathon. But “20 Good Reasons” or “Good to You”, songs that have some power behind them may make their way on a permanent playlist, retired from future projects but can still be listened to on repeat without issue.
And of course there are songs that I’ve stumbled across melodies that I have yet to tie to a story but I feel desperately need to be. I feel like I’m wasting a good tune if I can’t find a project that it “fits”. I feel worse when there’s an artist that has a lot of these and I can’t seem to use them properly.
Maybe I’m the only writer out there who feels this way, or maybe there’s a ton of us that have a folder filled with amazing pieces of work that they just don’t use. But then again, I may be the only one that uses a song only once. Either way, I hate feeling like I’m doing an injustice to something that is trying really hard to plant the seed of a story in my head, but it just never seems to be ready.
I’m not a girly girl. I haven’t worn a dress since my wedding day almost five years ago, I don’t wear a lot of makeup (when I wear it at all), and my least favorite color in the entire world is pink. I pretending to be Princess addicted when I hung around with girls that liked them, but I wasn’t really a willing participant. Unless I could be like princess Zelda, that girl isn’t so lady like (after 1996).
But I write Chick-lit, and despite not being a girly girl I love to both read and write it. It was the niche that I somehow fit in more comfortably than any other genre I tried my hand at. In college I swore I would write Fantasy, but looking back I can see that, even then, I wasn’t as good at it.
The problem is Chick-lit is not a dark colored, edgy world. It’s pinks and purses, shoes and sweet script, flowers and fancy cupcakes. It’s not really me (except for the cupcakes. Mmmm, cupcakes).
So what’s a (tomboyish) girl to do? Well, I’ve been out there for almost two years now, and the one book that did the best had a pink cover. Not my favorite color scheme, but hey it worked. It prompted me to take a look at the other covers I had. Once I changed them to a more girly feel – ie, making them more pastel- They seemed to do better. Go figure.
It made me take a look at my website, as well as my Facebook page, and I noticed the dark undertones I kept trying to use. Not very good for branding. So I did it, I took a leap of faith and embraced the pastel. I still can’t bring myself to do the whole shoe, purse, and flower thing. I mean, it’s not me. My purse is a diaper bag, I own 2 pairs of shoes, and I’m allergic to flowers. Okay, the reason not to use flowers is a lame excuse. But still, I’d rather use images more applicable to my characters than fashionistas. Maybe I’ll change that later, but for now I don’t see the point.
And I didn’t cave to the pink. Not all Chick-Lit authors have pages doused in the color of baby girls, and I’m proud to be one of them.
Admit it, as a writer you sometimes picture people (actors, musician, models, the guy who works at Starbucks) as characters in your work. They aren’t the exact some people, just a player to picture, someone to fill the role of the person. No one will ever know who it is (unless you tell them), and your readers are going to come up with someone else entirely.
But knowing who you’ve casted, do you ever repeat your physical muses? The thought crossed my mind when I was watching a show where I could sit and point to actors that appeared in the creator’s other works. Almost never as the same character (unless it was a cross over or a cameo), but to me they’re still, say, “Mer’s Dad’s”, “Rick’s ex-wife”, “The guy that shot everyone.”
I also had trouble separating the mental casting of Tom from Unscripted Transformations and a character in a yet to be published novel. It drives me nuts that the characters kept crossing over, even though I described him to look different. I think that’s one reason I skipped over it and edited my fifth piece instead.
So could you ever reuse a physical muse, or would you be unable to separate the characters you created.
Every single parent says they don’t have a favorite child. Maybe this is true, as I only have one little cutie, but I know as a writer I do have a favorite “child” of sort.
Whether you consider your entire novel or just your characters as your brain children, you know you have a favorite. Just like you have a favorite book as a reader. I know I do. I’ve never been afraid to admit it either. I have no issues saying An Altered Ending is still my favorite piece, and considering that I have quite the stack of finished pieces (most which will never see the light of day/the internet) that’s saying something. It’s still the one I’m most proud of, that gets me giddy happy, and that I can reread and not feel slightly bored because I know the story so well I can recite it in my head. Oddly enough, the playlist for this brain child is not my favorite, and is actually comprised of some of my least favorite songs and artists. But, hey, what ever gets the juices flowing.
And, admittedly, if I had to say only my characters could be my favorite children, it would still win. Why? Simon. After writing How We Began and getting much more in his head than I had while writing him the first time around, I like him even more. Though Mister Eddie Lansky is a close second. Why none of my female characters? They are the narrators and all important player in these tales, so why don’t I have them as a favorite? Well, they’re seconds. They’re up there, but I think it’s because I’m a woman creating fantastic men that I tend to favor their male counterparts.
So what about you? Do you have a favorite “child”?
I’ve noticed my taste in music has changed lately. I think it’s because I have a kid. Not that he’s changed my music taste, but he’s what’s made me notice. You see, I get two small twenty minute periods a day where I’m gaurenteed time to myself: the shower (where all good ideas happen), and doing the dishes (where I wish I owned a dishwasher). In that time I can listen to music without interruption and with full enjoyment as Dad takes over the cuddling, changing, entertaining, ect. I noticed that I listen to the same 3-5 songs each time.
And holy crap they’re country songs.
When the heck did I start liking country again? The last time I was a fan of that genre of music I was 10, and I grew out of it by 11 because country wasn’t cool and the Spice Girls were the only thing that should be listened too.
Now, I don’t know how long this will last, because when I like a song I listen to it to death. But it’s still weird to think that I’ve rebranched into a genre of music I royally disliked for so many years, making exceptions for certain songs or artists as the years go by. Maybe it’s a need for something different to inspire my next book, or perhaps it’s just that it’s changed enough since my teen years for me to enjoy it again.
Have you ever found yourself liking something you once hated? Like documentaries or brussell sprots?
Do you reuse characters? I’m not talking in a series, I mean do you take a character you used in a story and place them again in one that’s totally unrelated?
I attempted to do that in Unscripted Transformations, but wound up having it be a sort of sequel to Heart Pulled to Pieces. In a first draft for a story that has yet to be published (I’m still working out the kinks) I brought in a pair from An Altered Ending, though since they don’t relate to the story I’ll probably hack them later on. But now I have an idea for a new tale, and I’m thinking of bringing in one of my characters that I love but who didn’t last long in the story they were in.
You see, I believe if a character is awesome they should have their story told. You know, if they haven’t already. Or maybe, like in Eddie’s case, the story that’s yet to be told. I’m also a big fan of when other authors do it. One that brings characters from their other books into their stories quite often is Emily Giffin, and it’s always a treat for me to read who she’s brought in from her other books. Maybe some people get annoyed by this, or think it’s cheating. Maybe it is, but who cares. I like the connection, the six degrees of separation that is so true to real life that doing it in story telling seems to make the world real.
What do you think? Do you love or hate seeing characters from previous books appear (either as major roles or supporting) in an authors other works?
Parting is always such sweet sorrow, especially when it’s with characters you love. Last week I released How We Began, a story that (in reality) was in the making for 3 years. Being the prequel to An Altered Ending meant that I worked with characters I already knew and were fond of, and though I didn’t start to write the story until late 2011, the possibility of working with them again had been around since I finished writing AAE back in 2010. I guess I just figured that if these characters were still lingering in the back of my mind then they weren’t finished.
Well, now their story has come full circle, and while there is still a big space in between one tale and another I can’t honestly say I think it would make a good story to say what happened. Still, as I sit here writing this post, listening to some of my favorite songs from the playlists of both novels I realize how much I’m going to miss these characters. Could they make a cameo in another book? Maybe, it’s a possibility, but it’s not as fun as diving into their lives. Do I know what comes next for them? Yes, except (again) it wouldn’t make a good story.
I’m sure this is the same feeling most writers get. It’s like saying farewell to a good friend who, though you’ll be keeping in touch with, won’t have nearly the contact you once did.
So, fellow writers, is this the case for you? Or perhaps you’re a reader who feels this way after finishing a book?