To all, may your Christmas be merry, may your New Year be happy, and may your holidays be a time to gather and celebrate!
I will be letting the blog rest for a couple weeks. Catch you all next year!
Oh boy. Less than two weeks until Christmas. And the solstice.
I think I’m looking forward to the solstice more; the thought of more minutes of daylight per day sounds better than Christmas music on every single radio station all day long.
Kids are home from college for the next month, so the house has suddenly gotten smaller. Funny how that works 😉 The week before Christmas (man, do I have all my Christmas shopping done??) will be a blend of work and baking cookies, doing whatever shopping I have left (I better check my list 😮 ), and trying to fit in some writing. Oh, and the ever-present cleaning, which I neglected all through NaNo, and the past few weeks due to trying my hand at creating FB covers, and blog headers, and twitter posts, etc in preparation for when I get my final cover.
In fact, all I want for Christmas is my cover. (Don’t get me started. I’ll be nudging my publisher on Monday.)
Also, I’ll be jumping into the rest of the fray when it comes to book stuff: email list, newsletter, website, and all the other stuff that goes with it.
So, short post this week, and next week will be a holiday post, so enjoy this time with family, friends, pets, and hey, take some time for yourself. There’s nothing like a quiet walk in the woods to soothe a creative soul. And the hoarfrost we had earlier this week was that quiet sort of beauty.
Have a great week!
Blue goo drips down the brainstorming wall like a slime creature suffering from
That could work. I peer closer. I’m pretty sure that will work. Still following the pattern on the wall, I reach back for another idea.
No bucket. Damn. I know I left it …
“Looking for this, love?”
I swing around so fast I lose my balance and catch myself against the wall. My hand slips across the mosaic of ideas. I flail, scrabbling against the slick wall.
My Muse catches my arm and hauls me upright before I hit the floor, his other hand occupied by my idea bucket. “Still clumsy, I see.”
Steady now, I move to wipe my hands, until I see the mess. Like finger paints, only brighter and a bit more slickery. “Geez. It’s about frickin’ time. Glad you found your way back.” Seriously. I’m glad he found his way back. Grumpy was starting to get on my nerves. For the past two weeks.
He hands me a towel he pulls from his back pocket. The texture is odd, like velour but scratchier. It does the trick, though. While I clean my hands off, I notice his five o’clock shadow has an extra 12 hours on it. He’s wearing a Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt from Surfer’s Paradise, wherever that is, sleeves shoved to his elbows. His wearing-them-well jeans and flip-flops complete the ensemble. Then I notice his blond hair is lighter on top, and his skin has acquired a bronze tint.
“Queensland,” he supplies, even though I know I didn’t ask out loud. “And yes, I did enjoy some sun. It’s summer there, you know.” He scratches at the stubble on his face while he checks out the brainstorming wall. “Progress, I see.”
I finish cleaning off my hands and dangle the towel–now looking like a rainbow vomited on it–toward him. “Some.”
He sets the bucket on the floor and snaps the towel at it like a shower room gotcha. The colors shoot from the towel into the bucket, each hue reclaiming its ball shape as it hits the target.
Damn, he’s good.
“Grumpy said you made NaNo. Congratulations, love.”
“No thanks to that killjoy. You know, he’s worse than you are. I am sooo glad you’re back.” Then I plant hands on my hips. “Don’t do that again.”
His blue eyes sparkle. “You progressed on your WIP and you won NaNo. And you worked some things out.”
I poke his distractingly-solid chest. “No excuse. Isn’t there a rule against wagering time with your writer in a poker game?”
He just grins.
Damn distracting. “Anyway, you heard the news, right?”
He tucks the towel back into his pocket. “Which news? The news where you’ll be starting your term as VP with the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime? Do you have your panel ready for the January meeting? How about the workshop about using Word and track changes?”
I roll my eyes. “No. Well, yes, but no.”
He raises an eyebrow. “The news where you’re getting more visibility at the Writer’s Institute in April? Two presentations, a panel, and two half-hour sessions with other writers. Plus selling your book. You are going to be a busy woman that weekend.”
“Well, yes, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.”
“You should be. You know it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there.”
“I know, I know. It’s on my list. I have to work on my presentations.” Sheesh.
“You got your cover?”
*Grumble* “Not yet. I have seen a draft of the final. Don’t get me started on that.” It’s out of my control. Besides, my agent is looped in on that. She knows what’s going on.
“You’re at the three-month mark.”
“I know. I can’t do anything about it.” Except grumble. “Okay. Here it is. I’ve got an offer for the audiobook version of Murder in Plane Sight.”
A smile brightens his face. He wraps his arms around me and gives me a huge bear hug, forcing my face into his shirt. Mmmm, smells like the sea and coconut.
“Congratulations, love!” He releases me. “Well done.”
“I have to give my agent credit. She’s awesome!”
“So, when the book comes out, you’ll have Book 2 ready to go.” It wasn’t a question.
Figures. “I’ve got promo stuff to work on. And I have to revamp my website. And get a newsletter going.”
“Book 2,” he says again, this time adding a scolding finger. “At least you found the plot issues during NaNo.” He rubs his hands together. “Now, about this wall. Needs something over there.”
It’s the last weekend without kids before Christmas break. My plan: writing. Lots of writing.
How about you?
You remember those, right? Okay, nerd cap on for the refresher of Newton’s Laws of Motion:
So, what exactly has this got to do with writing? Well, I was thinking (I know, scary 🙂 ) about characters and reactions.
Earlier this week I subbed at the library, because their high school staff member has basketball practice after school. And because it was after Thanksgiving, it was time to decorate for Christmas. Lexy (the high schooler) set up the tree already, so all I had to do was find stuff to put on the walls, etc.
The decorations are stored in the basement. So the staff member I was relieving led me into the basement to show me where things were. And one of the first things I noticed was this:
If you saw this in your basement, what would be your first reaction? Scream? Find something to hit it with? Or calmly say, “Hey, did you know you have a bat hibernating in the basement?”
Because the little guy wasn’t bothering anyone, and I knew it was sleeping, I picked the third option. (Honestly, bats don’t bother me because I know they eat bugs. Lots of bugs.)
Anyway, that (and every Sunday night’s America’s Funniest Videos episode) made me think about characters and how they react to things. A lot of our everyday activity is based on actions and our reactions to them. A character returns home from errands and finds the door to her apartment–that she is absolutely certain she locked–is unlocked. A character arrives after a call from a friend frantic about a break-in, and finds said friend on the floor unconscious and bleeding.
For every situation a character will react in a particular way. Does that character freak out when she finds the door unlocked? What about finding the friend? How does she handle the situation? Does she enter the apartment anyway? Does she run off to find help?
Characters should react the way we expect them to. An exterminator will not jump up on a chair when a mouse scurries across the kitchen floor. A firefighter will not run around frantically when they find their garage on fire.
Then again, sometimes it works to have a character react in an unexpected way. The nurse who retches when a patient vomits. Or, as seen on AFV, the mom who can’t bear to prep a raw turkey without gagging (no, she didn’t throw up, but it sounded like she usually did).
If a character reacts in a way the reader doesn’t expect, there must be a good reason for it. Is the nurse sensitive to odor? (of course, if he is, why on earth be a nurse?) Maybe he is going through chemotherapy and is extra-sensitive to odors. Maybe the mom who can’t stand to touch raw meat had to prep the turkey this year because her sister just got a new job and is working over Thanksgiving.
Sometimes it’s fun to have a character react differently than expected. It keeps things interesting, but it also has to fit the character. Case in point: I used to be an aircraft mechanic, and the only female aircraft mechanic where I worked. So one night I’m walking across the hangar and someone calls my name. I look, and this thing is arcing through the air in my direction. So I calmly stand where I’m at and watch a dead mouse hit the floor a few feet away.
I don’t know what my co-worker was expecting me to do, but I think he was disappointed, because I didn’t react the way he expected, i.e. like a girl. Another example is when one of the guys I worked with (same place) reacted to a moth fluttering around in the crew van we took to the gate. Imagine a little kid reacting to a moth–they dance around and swat at it. The next night, someone glued a dead cecropia moth to the top of his toolbox. Moral of the story: don’t let your fellow mechanics know you’re afraid of moths.
Make sure your characters react to situations in a way that fits their personality. If they react otherwise, give them a reason to do so. In case you were wondering about the bat, someone came the next day and removed it. And I found out that was the third bat they had found in the basement. Methinks a bat house might be a nice alternative.
And I made it for NaNo! Of course, I didn’t finish the story, but I’m a lot closer to the end than I was before. This weekend is forecast to be snowing and blowing, so I have a great excuse to hunker down and write.
Have a great weekend!