Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chapter 5 is up!

Chapter 5 of "A Demon Born" is now available for your reading pleasure!

I've been disappointed that I haven't had any comments, but it is nice to know I'm getting reads. I just hope that I'm doing a good enough job entertaining! This chapter is slightly longer than the last four, and this is because I am hoping that by having more descriptive action in the chapter I will get more responses from readers who might notice the change in writing. We shall see.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mid-week update and the art of serialization

Today was a wacky day. Due to a wind storm, my kiddo didn't have school, so I wasn't very productive. I have three days to finish chapter 5 and I'm having trouble fleshing out where I want to end it. So, I am now awake while the rest of my family is asleep, pounding out the rest of the chapter.

As I'm doing this, I come to the realization that writing serially is downright difficult. I think about the manga artists in Japan that have to come up with fully formed chapters with words AND images each week. Never mind the fact that I can't draw, even with the rough outline I planned, filling in the blanks and coherently blending each chapter to the one before (not to mention - as a prequel - it should match the original novel as well), it is still a last-minute rush to the Saturday finish line.

I could say that I'm complaining about the short writing time, but really I see it as an amazing challenge to improve my writing. After all, this serial novella's deadlines are self-imposed, so I have no one to complain to but myself. The only disappointment I have so far is that I have not gotten any feedback on my chapters, which is a way I could gauge where my strengths and weaknesses in the storyline are. How do I know I'm getting better? Or, am I getting worse?

I chose to serialize a short story on Wattpad for roughly the same reasons most authors serialize their work: to satisfy current readers of  Circles who asked for more, to attract new readers with something entertaining, and to engage readers in a conversation about what works and doesn't work in the story. Of all the reasons, I was most excited about the third one. I wasn't expecting extensive critique, but I certainly wasn't expecting crickets chirping.
Hear those crickets?

So, I conclude that the absence of feedback means my current work is not engaging enough. As such, I must turn up the volume. I don't know how I will do that just yet (as I have no commented compass to guide me) but I do know that I have yet to successfully grasp at the art of serialization.

And you may think, dear reader, that this is a ploy to guilt you into posting commentary about "A Demon Born" (it is), but it is more an acceptance of the silent gauntlet thrown at my feet. I accept your challenge to give you something worth commenting on!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writing romance is a gift

As Valentine's Day approaches and I frantically put together little gifts for my son's classmates, find the right greeting card for my husband, and set a reminder to tell me it's Valentine's Day on Friday, I am forcefully brought to face a discouraging fact - I am not a romantic.

I have never wanted roses for Valentine's, or any occasion (although I'll take a box - or a bag - of chocolates any day), I can't do fancy romantic dinners because I end up choking on the cost of an entree, and as much as I believe I am a good writer, I can't put romance into words.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good snuggle in front of a fire and write love post-its on occasion. But when I think of romance, I think steamy passion. I think Harlequin Romance novels. I also think cliched "girl-meets-boy-and-love-is-more-complicated-than-it-needs-to-be." This is because that is what my romantic premises turn out to be.

Writing romance is a gift that I sadly do not have. It just isn't my voice. I will never be Nora Roberts or Heather Graham. Which is why you don't see very much (well, none) hot mess going on between the main characters of my novel. But what I, hopefully, have a voice for is the expressiveness of love. My characters may not be romantically involved, but there is a love between them nonetheless. It is expressed in the concern and respect that they come to have for each other, and shown in the acceptance of who they are and choosing to work around the difficulties that comes with acceptance. If they happen to get intimate later, as some of my readers hope for, it might not be steamy Harlequin-worthy fare, but it would be romantic.

Love is a spectacular thing. It starts off small, has it's ups and downs, and - should it survive all the downs - becomes something larger than one's self. You are no longer just "you," but "us." And often that love grows to include more of "us." And because of this, love has to include compromise, acceptance, and respect. Yes, it can be shown in a bouquet of flowers, a fancy dinner, and romance-novel-worthy sex. But long-lasting love must go beyond that.

On Valentine's Day, and any day you feel like it, do more than produce a display of gifts. Show someone you love that you care by sharing the days trials and tribulations, rejoicing in the triumphs of goals reached, making a simple meal and enjoying it with conversation instead of a TV show. Extend that love to your friends by dropping them a note, or a call just to say hello. (Or write them into your novels!) Let them know that they are in your thoughts.

I may not be a romantic, but I do know about love. I am reminded of it every moment I spend with family and friends. I may not be able to write a romance novel worthy of the New York Times, but even the quiet moments between characters will stir the heart. That is what I write - the quiet moments between two people that create an unbreakable bond. There is my voice, and it comes from experience.

Happy Valentine's day to my family, to my friends, and to all who give me the means to write with joy...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

4 reasons why Pete Carroll inspires me

Now, I am not a fan of football, I would rather watch soccer or hockey. But ever since the Seattle Seahawks organization took a chance on USC coach Pete Carroll, I have been inspired as a writer by the happiest coach in the NFL. Well, what does an NFL coach have to do with writing? Let me give you four reasons.
From, look at that smile!
  1. Coach Carroll is a writer. He did write a book, Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion. But that isn't what I am referring to. He is the author of a young, undeterred team that big names in the NFL said would not make it. The Seahawks took a coach no one else believed in and basically told him to have at it - write the story of a new team. And he did.

    He chose his characters with as much care as any author looking to tell a great story. He picked a quarter back that was too short, a legally deaf fullback, and other "inexperienced" players. This band of misfits (to loosely quote Richard Sherman) became the driving force of the story's plot - players that other teams didn't want, coming together with chips on their shoulders and ready to prove something.

    There were the requisite hardships that the characters had to overcome, like injuries and not making the first cut. And then there was the build up to the climax: an exceptional 2013 season that took them to the Super Bowl and did what everyone thought they couldn't - they won. Pete Carroll wrote a story that had all the elements of a must-read novel.

    Every writer starts off as undiscovered talent. A few get noticed by the big names in publishing, but many accomplished writers make their living in the "little leagues" of small presses and self publishing. And a few of them, most often having been passed up by the big names, do so well that it takes the publishing world by surprise and the big guys are left to wonder "What did we miss?" Pete Carroll is my inspiration that one day, I will have a story that will make everyone notice.
  2. Coach Carroll is enthusiastic about his story. From the first day I saw this man through my TV, I was captivated by how different he was from other NFL coaches I observed (when I was actually watching a game). Where other coaches have severe looks permanently plastered to their faces, or throw the biggest fits that put my 8-year-old to shame, this man always had a smile on his face. Even when he looked concerned, he never looked angry at his team. And when he spoke to his players, he always seemed encouraging rather than demeaning. When things were going their way, he jumped and whooped and celebrated with the rest of them.

    It soon became clear that Carroll thought of the Seahawks as family. And like any fatherly (or motherly) figure, when you are proud of your family's accomplishments, you want to share them with others. I would see snippets of pre- or post-game interviews on the news and I just could not help emulating his contagious smile! Even when a game did not go well, this man never disparaged his team or ever looked angry - just disappointed. Even in the face of defeat, he always found something positive to say.

    Writers should be enthusiastic about their craft. You worked hard to create a compelling story. You suffered through the butchering edits, the harsh critiques, the late nights of writer's block to make a plot work or a character believable. Share the experience of your story with everyone! It's your baby, your family member, and it has grown and changed and ready to make you proud. Carroll has inspired me to be able to share my experience as a writer and introduce my work to people with as much enthusiasm and positivity.
  3. Coach Carroll embodies perseverance. You have to believe in something so wholeheartedly that you would be willing to stick to your guns even when the road is difficult and the reward seems so far away. If forming a team that "experts" said would never make it, and standing with that team every day until every one of them believed they deserved respect, and then proving the "experts" wrong in spectacular fashion isn't the embodiment of perseverance, I don't know what is.

    The first time he became a head coach for the NFL, first for the Jets then the Patriots, both teams eventually fired him after short stints because he did not produce immediate results. After a successful run at USC that ended badly, Carroll was hired on by the Seahawks and given a second chance. And four years later, look at his accomplishment. Through the difficulties and triumphs he went through in his coaching career, he made it to the end result he was looking for. And he isn't anywhere near done yet.

    A writer must believe in the story he or she has to tell. Writing the story isn't always the hard part, but rather what must be done after the it is written. You have to make readers believe in your story just as much as you. There will be times when no one is listening, times when someone gives you bad press. But if you believe in the world you've built, others are going to believe in it too. I want to be like Coach Carroll, to persevere through the difficulties of being a writer so that I can be recognized for my work.
  4. Coach Carroll has a following. Since its first use in 2002, Centurylink Field has been considered one of the most difficult stadiums to play an away game in because of the noise. There are a lot of die-hard Seattle fans out there, many of whom have been season ticket holders for years. But when the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll, the team wasn't the only thing evolving.

    I only started seriously watching Seahawks football just to see the happiest coach ever do his job. But I did notice that the stands gradually seemed more crowded, more Seahawk blue, more vocal, and more into the game. In 2011, I got to watch Marshawn Lynch make an amazing 67-yard run that caused fans to shake the ground so hard it registered on the seismograph at the University of Washington. But all I cared about was how Carroll walked the sideline giving every one of his offensive players high-fives and then giving Lynch a hug. He was happy and you knew it. And I became a 12 that day because I wanted to see this team and the coach that believed in them succeed.

    honoring the 12th man
    The 2013 season was the year of the 12's. Never before have I experienced an entire community of fans so ardent in their support for a team. But I believe it is because the team acknowledges that they are nothing without their fans. The 12's have their own page on the Seahawk website, and they are publicly thanked at the end of every game. As a writer, I don't want just a bunch of people following me on Twitter or Facebook. I want to engage with them, hear from them, and feed off their energy just like the Seahawks and their happy coach feed off the 12's. I am inspired to acknowledge the contributions of my fans, no matter how small, so they will continue to be my support. 
So, there you have it, four reasons coach Pete Carroll is my role model as a writer. The story he has written for the Seahawks franchise will always be a memorable one. His real-life characters inspire me to create characters of my own that readers will want to root for - to become my story's 12's. He has taught me to be patient and push through, to "always compete." Thank you Coach Carroll, and congratulations on winning the Super Bowl!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chapter 3 of A Demon Born is out!

Just a quick little blurb that I have pushed chapter 3 of A Demon Born out on Wattpad.

Pumping out a chapter a week is so hard for me because I want it to be perfect, both grammatically and stylistically. But with really only 4 1/2 days to do it (I can only write when I'm not doing my wonderful full-time job of being a wife and mother!), it gets pretty dicey coming up with stunning dialogue and engaging plot points.

I always have to keep in mind that this is just for my reader's entertainment and a way for them to collaborate with me in making my writing better. Unfortunately, no one seems to want to collaborate with me at the moment...(come on baby, give me criticism!!) I hope that this will be a great way to not only introduce myself to readers, but also provide me with a way to improve my craft.

Thank you for reading. ^_^