I do, however, set goals for the New Year and I usually set those over the first week of said year. I try to be as specific as possible and I write them all down where I can go back and look at them. Sometimes, on this blog. Sometimes, the goals are written before January, after the crush of Christmas is over. But this year Maine has had a bunch of snow storms in a row and work has been unusually crazy, leaving me and my goals until New Years Day. So, tomorrow I'll be posting goals.
Got any you'd like to share?
Check out this posting Adding meta tags to blogger(blogspot) blogs,websites-SEO
For me, this was the year of rejection slips. Tough when you've sold before, but certainly not a new story. There are plenty of us facing the same fate after one, two or even twelve books.
Our Goal? To be published (again). To see a return on a major investment of heart, soul and time.
Our Motivation? Well, duh! We've worked really hard on our stories. They are our lives transposed onto sheets of paper and computer screens. Of course we want to see them published. And along with that goes the unspoken rewards. Money is good. I'd certainly not turn any down if they wanted to offer it to me for a book or books. Money is not the dirty word that every writer secretly covets, but some refuse to acknowledge. Money can be a powerful motivator and justification. There is also recognition both from family and peers and from those who have yet to read your books. That, also, is powerful. And there is that need to get that story on paper. To exorcise those characters haunting your brain.
Conflict? There are plenty of them. Time. There is never enough of it and it always seems that there is something waiting to just rob it from us. There is self-doubt that makes us write and rewrite continually and never actually submit in fear that some unseen person will reject us. There is a tightening market and an the skeptics and analysts that say this will be the roughest publishing year in recent memory. The shrinking midlist... the death of a genre... heck, anyone can find a reason if they try hard enough....
And that's what it comes down to... isn't it? Have you tried hard enough to see your goals realized? Did you take those chances that were offered you, no matter how small the offering? Did you sit your butt in your chair and write... no excuses? Only you can answer it. Me, I'm no stranger to the conflict. But I am always honest enough to know that there is always a chance, even the smallest... And it's up to me to take it.
Chocolate Cherry Bars
350 Degree Oven
Cooking time: 25-39 Minutes
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Preheat oven.
Mix by hand: 1 pkg Chocolate Cake Mix
1 21oz. Can Cherry Pie Filling
1 tsp. Almond extract
2 eggs, beaten
Cook for 25-30 minutes.
Five minutes before pulling the cake out of the oven combine the following in a saucepan.
1 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Milk
5 tbsp. butter
As soon as you pull out the cake you can set the heat under the saucepan medium heat. Stir with a whisk until it comes to a full boil and then keep stirring for 1 minute after it comes to a full boil. After that pull from the heat and add 6oz chocolate chips. Stir until melted and then pour over the cake. Let the cake sit until it is completely cool. Cut and serve.
Hint: I sometimes double the chocolate frosting amount so that I have plenty to go around. Just make sure that you have a pan with higher sides in order to accomodate.
So, from now on... whenever I see a frog Prince (and in my line of work I see quite a few) then I'm sure I'll be thinking of my husband... and laundry.
Challenge yourself. Is your first paragraph worthy of a second look?
Now, don't stop breathing out there just because you're a new author. This doesn't mean the doors are closed to you, but it would behoove you (egad! Did I really just use that word?) to produce tight books with highly intriguing plots and an eye to the future. Does anyone really know what the next hot thing is going to be? Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt anyone to study the market right now.
Those of you who are already publishing within the ebook arena are already aware of what it takes to sell books. The authors that I see in these lists, at least the ones that do well, are a combination of great story tellers, avid marketers and determined individuals. It takes a strong constitution to survive in a hard market. And the ebook writers have been fighting a battle since their inspiration.
Do I have the crystal ball that tells me what is ahead for the publishing houses and the others who live there? Certainly not, but keep in mind that a recession is a trend in a downward movement... and anything that goes downward will eventually work itself back up again. Maybe not to what it once was. The concepts, strategies and systems may be different... but in the end the idea of a fascinating story in search of a willing audience will never completely disappear.
But according to Nathan Branford, an agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. (http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/) , the reports are not all bad. Some of the publishing houses are doing okay and those that are looking to the future and possible new venues are betting on coming out the other end of this recession looking good.
So, where as authors do we stand with this kind of news? Pretty much the same. It's my guess that the publishing houses are going to be a lot more selective about what they put in print and their budding authors may not get hugely fantastic advances... but the advice is still the same that it's always been. Write a damned good book and it will sell...
It's guaranteed that whenever I am short of time or resources, that's when I want to write the most. And the holiday season is the greatest example of this. Usually, by the time the presents are opened and the wrappings picked up, I'm ready to sit down with my computer and do some writing. It comes down to the things we have to do... and the things that we want to do. The writer's balance. Especially, if you have a full-time outside job, kids, and in my case, other responsibilities. I don't know of a writer out there who doesn't struggle with the writer's balance. Luckily, I've got a family that understands this delicate balance.
So, since I'm in the initial phase of my goals I'll not list them yet. But don't discount the quiet, I'm still there thinking about them...
Make that a triple life.
By day, I'm a mild mannered mom (well, not always so mild-mannered as my kids will attest to) and an assistant manager of customer service for a grocery chain. I'm also a writer. Have been for a very long time. But then, if you didn't know that you probably wouldn't be at my blog. And, occasionally at night, I'm a ghost hunter.
This new life is not so new... but the title is new. Before that I was just some chick roaming cemeteries and talking to people who weren't visible to most.
Sounds confusing, doesn't it?
Sometimes, it is. But the more that I do each of these things the more that I realize how well they mesh together. And how each serves the other well. The daytime job is not something that I will probably ever be able to do without. The pay is needed. But the job offers something else to my psychy. I get to talk to people. During the week before Thanksgiving... I get to talk to a lot of people. That connection is something that I savor. My soul drinks it up as I connect with others. Even when it's as simple as telling them what aisle the stuffing is in for the five hundredth time in one day.
It's in aisle five... all the way to the back... on the right.
The writing offers me the creative outlet that I need. If I go too long without writing my husband will tell me to go write. Apparently, I become grouchy or something. Also, if I'm procrastinating over things then I tend to create projects for him. Hence, the new counter tops.
But the writing is a part of me that is almost ancient. I was born a writer. Most writers will tell you the same thing. I came from a long line of storytellers and I'm sure the line is set to continue. Storytelling is history, fiction or not. Storytelling is life. Art. Love. Inspiration. Perspiration. Humanizing. Intensifying. And most times... frustrating. But we do it because we have to.
The last part is the newest. My writing led to my newest passion... hunting for ghosts. Now, my husband not only has the challenging endeavor of telling people that his wife is a romance writer (not that he ever really minded), but he must now tell people that his wife runs around in the dark, armed with a camera, camcorder, IR thermometer and a digital voice recorder. I'm not sure that even he can believe it. And he's had a long time to become accustomed to me. I came to the ghost hunting through my love of history. In this case, Maine history. I became quick friends with Kathy and Tony at Maine Ghost Hunters and I realized that these were people who shared many of the same traits that I do. They are curious, with a thirst for knowledge, and minds that are open to the things that can't necessarily be seen with the naked eye. (Well, most of the time.)
All in all, I don't mind the split personality. I've got more than enough curiosity to go around. But should you happen to see me in the grocery store with an EMF detector, please, don't be surprised.
Dianna Love gave a workshop at the KOD Retreat in Portland on World Building. The questions that she asked were unusual and geared toward creating an entire society... complete with belief systems. So, when I heard this lecture on the television I began to look at it and ask myself... what is it that my hero is so loyal to that he would never walk away from? What is it that forms his belief system?
I'm going to add this to my list of questions that I use to create my characters. What is the question that you believe has the most impact when you look at creating believable characters?
So I went to my next best reference... my dad. He is a great source of reference for anything that had an engine, boat or otherwise, during this time. Did you know that it was common during that time for fishermen to have either a Hampton style boat? Or a boat called a Peapod, which was shaped like the vegetable? I didn't. He even went on to tell me that the simple engines that they used at that time had to be cranked to start and there was no reverse. The only way to reverse a boat when it was coming into the dock was to catch the motor at a certain point in it's workings and to throw the controlling lever. It didn't always work and more than one boat hit the wharf. The engines made a put-put noise and were loud. Very important for a story when you are trying to build atmosphere. Could they have heard over the engine? Probably not.
So, when looking for references and information, don't discount those that are around you. Not only can they tell you the pieces that can't be Googled, but you are preserving some of those details for the future.
Okay, so there are a lot of writers out there who will sympathize with me. We take our hearts and spill them out into stories, only to have to condense those hearts into ten pages or less in order to sell the stories to the editors.
But these synopsis do serve a purpose other than to torture us. They let the editor know at a quick glance that all the required elements are available within the story. The editor can see that the story progresses at a logical pace and that the growth of the characters and the advancement of the storyline is enough to make it a satisfying read.
For years, I've been judging synopsis contests. In fact, I coordinated one for Maine RWA. And I continue to see the same things represented in synopsis time and again...
1.) If the story is a romance, then the focus of the story (whether it is a suspense, paranormal, futuristic, etc...) should focus on the growth of the relationship. It seems simple enough, but the concept of condensing a storyline down can sometimes overshadow the reason for the story in the first place. The reason for the attraction, the steps of intimacy... and in this case I'm not just talking about making love. I'm talking about the steps that need to happen in order for this to become a relationship versus a one-night-stand. I want to know what it is that brings them together and pushes them apart. In short, it's about them.
2.) Put your heart into the synopsis. You wrote the story for a darned good reason. No one sits down and undertakes the telling of a story without knowing that there is something that they want to offer to the reader. Make sure that you imbibe your synopsis with this heart. It's going to make the difference between a simple storytelling and a story that catches their attention.
3.) You have just a few short lines to capture the editors attention. Don't waste them. I've been to all kinds of workshops on synopsis. There are plenty of authors out there that will tell you that they know the "secret" to a good beginning for a synopsis. Ask a question? Start off with a bang? I would suggest that no matter what you start with the character who has the strongest struggle. There is usually one main character that is stronger than the other. Tell their story and tell what it is that they want most within the first few lines. Then, tell why they can't have it. Sounds like the ingredients for writing a good story? It should. It's the same elements only in a shorter format.
4.) Your voice, the one that you've worked so hard to develop and show should be evident in your story. Show it, glorify it, but don't shove it down their throats either. Good writing should prevail and the place for long, flowery prose is NOT in a synopsis.
5.) Lastly, check, double-check, and then get someone else to check your punctuation. You may believe it to be perfect, but just a few simple mistakes like hyphenated words without hyphens can be the thing that makes the editor put your synopsis down in the rejection pile.
Will I still hate writing synopsis ten years from now? Probably. Will I agonize over it if I write 10 or 100 more of them? Most likely. But just for tonight I've got all the answers.
writing: agate, amazonite, barite, blue topaz, diopside, fire agate, graphite, kyanite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, variscite, zincite
unfortunately... I don't see any that are good for stopping procrastination.
I hope everyone is well and got the chance to get out and vote today. Me? I was at the polls when they opened at 8am. Maine has completely closed yet, but the first votes are coming in. They said the first district vote is in... but then, that town only had three voters. Surely, this could only happen in New England....
Anyway, Nina has posted an interview that she was kind enough to do with me. If you get a moment, go on and check it out @ http://www.ninapierce.com/romanceblog
Thanks to Nina for letting me chat with her! It is always fun when we get together.
Know the facts and have a mamogram. Do the right thing.
We had dinner tonight at a diner up the street from my home. They have old 45's (think compact disk before compact disk) hanging on the wall. One of them was for Electric Light Orchestra's All Over the World. And in one moment I was a teenager again.In 1980, I was 13 (again, please don't do the math) and I was a wanna be writer with a huge imagination and a teenager's thirst for the romantics and a quest for identity. Along came the movie Xanadu, featuring the beautiful Olivia Newton John (shortly after her fame with Grease) and the movie highlighted all the things that my 13 year old self loved.It was the 80's and there were an awful lot of us roller skating. Even my mom took up roller skating. There was great music, lots of fun and cool guys who knew how to do all the fancy tricks. (But I digress). I was never an expert at skating, but I could go forward and backward and earned myself quite a few blisters. I never looked as cool as Olivia did in those long flowy dresses, but chances were quite good that if I'd worn them I'd have ended up on the floor with the skirt up around my neck. I did however have a couple of pairs of nifty leg warmers in rainbow colors that I used to wear. That was the year that the movie Xanadu was released. For those of you who have never seen it, I can assure you that it can still be found. It can actually be downloaded or rented from iTunes. And in case you haven't seen it, then this is a spoiler alert
*******Don't read more if you don't want to know the storyline***********
The movie starts when a record album artist, Sonny, played by the dreamy Micheal Beck, is asked to paint a cover and finds that the girl in the picture is the same one who kissed him earlier and then skated away on the boardwalk. He knows that somehow he has to find her and he traces the picture to an old art deco auditorium (the Pan American building?). There he meets Danny, played by none other than Gene Kelly as an aspiring night club owner. Now, for anyone out there saying Gene who? Shame on you! I'd been half in love with him since the first time I saw Singing in the Rain. No one could dance like he could and make it look so effortless. (Except maybe for Danny Kaye). Together, they decide to open the nightclub of their dreams. Then along come Olivia's character, Kira. She's beautiful and soul awakening. But Olivia's character, Kira had a secret. She was a daughter of Zeus and one of the legendary Muses. She has come to earth to inspire until the time she recalled. But she falls in love with Sonny, Beck's character. Her parents are angered, but it's her impassioned plea that convinces them to let her stay with him for a moment or forever. Unfortunately, their idea of time is not the same as ours and they recall Kira. Sonny is depressed and convinced that his dreams are nothing with Kira. Opening night and the place is packed. Everyone loves it and Sonny is still upset about Kira. But he is surprised when she suddenly reappears. And... sigh... all is well in the end. All the songs were dreamy and romantic and I played them so much that they began to skip. Somewhere I may still have my copy of All Around the World. And if ELO is still out there... Thank you. So, what does this have to do with a 13 year old girl who wanted to be a writer? O-So-Much! That story had all the things that I dreamed of and inspired me to put my pen to paper and start me on my path. It wasn't the only inspiration, but it was a strong one. Many would say that the movie was nothing more than sappy fairy tale on roller skates... And I say... We all need a good sappy fairy tale on roller skates at some point in our lives. I may even go dig out a pair of skates!
Want to read it? Check it out here! And I'm making a promise to be much better about keeping up with it. I even went and updated my BookTour page. Of course, I just sent out my postcards for Obsidian's upcoming rerelease!
or the Tiny url...
In 2004 (the most recent statistics available)
73,997 men and 71,086 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer
26,881 men and 26,699 women died from colorectal cancer
Each year, more than 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. (Lung cancer is the first.)
Someone dies from colorectal cancer every 9.3 minutes.
More lives are lost each year to colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, and yet preventable, cancers.
To learn more about colorectal cancer prevention, please read Top 10 Colon Cancer Prevention Tips.
These are all staggering statistics. I've given credit for the places where I got the information and there is more on their sites. Read these statistics and take it to heart. No history of it in your family? It has to start somewhere.
For more information on Colorectal Cancer and the preventions... please check out the links I've provided. If you think you may have a problem, please be tested now... the sooner the better your chances.
Patrician side: Believe it or not, I actually come from a couple of rather well distinguished shipping families. Peleg Merriman, and yes, that was his name, was a Captain who managed to accrue himself a nice home and a lovely family. His descendants had one of the first cars in Harpswell an had done quite well for themselves. That is until the homestead burned and most of the Merriman legacy was lost. On the upside, my grandmother was in the house and the time and she managed to escape which is most fortunate for me. The other side were the Gott's of Mt. Desert Island. Most people would say Gott who? But for anyone who has seen a history of the island then you know that they were among the first settlers of the area that now encompasses Acadia National Park and the beautiful islands beyond. If there was a fortune there it's well past being passed along, but the legacy is still there.
My Plebeian side is certainly my more pronounced. Though I have long since learned to speak without the Maine accent, but there are times when it does become more pronounced. Usually, this involves a small amount of alcohol or a conversation with someone who has a strong Maine accent. I also drive way too fast and have a love of trucks and large vehicles, especially when I combine the driving too fast with the large vehicles. I had a truck for awhile, but now go the softball mom route with a nice Durango that satisfies it all. I never miss an episode of Ghost Hunters and I've been known to cry over Deadliest Catch. I love country music or even Irish Rock, especially heavy Irish Rock. And, I can swear like the best of them.
Is my Plebeian side more interesting than my Patrician side? No doubt. But neither of these alone would be a complete picture of me. The same as my characters that I write it takes both sides of myself to make me whole. Another interesting part is that there have been times in my life when I fall back on this more Plebeian side of myself. When my confidence wavered I fell back on the more unrefined part of me as a way to protect myself. I can surely imagine a character doing the same thing. Falling back on what they think people's expectations of them are as a way to protect them from the chance of being let down.
These are the things that make us human. These are the things that make our characters believable.
Stephenie Meyers has a real dilema. One that could affect all writers. Her work was stolen before publication and put out on the internet for all to see.
Any writer who reads this should be afraid. Not just the ones that garner the huge amount of marketing dollars that a book as popular as the Twilight series. Any author who is working toward publication should be watching the way this plays out. Unfortunately for Stephenie this is a saga that is playing out to national attention. Want to know more about it? Check out this link:
As a writer, I can only imagine what it feels like to know that something that you've worked so hard on, something that has taken two other books to get to... has been pulled away from her. I don't know about any other writers, but if it were me I'd be heartbroken. The choices she has in front of her must seem impossible. I know that when I work on a book, the idea that I might have to change it in it's entirety, a manuscript that I had put so much into, I'd find it impossible. The characters become so real, their heartache, their struggles, their lives are real. To have that pulled away is an insult.
I know that there are any number of young women (and young men) out there who are going to go and read the unedited last book online. They've been given the go ahead by Stephenie to do so. But something has been stolen from them as well. So much happens to a book within the final stages. Things that even as writers we can not predict. Every writer should be just a little more cautious in how they handle their own work.
After all, how much more than just a book was stolen from not just Stephenie, from her readers? Shame on you, whoever did this...
Some things I learned...
1. I do have something to say every day. It's not always the most brilliant and sometimes it's simply just a thought for the day. Whatever it was that I posted I hope someone got some enjoyment out of it. I enjoyed writing them.
2. Preparation makes all the difference. I learned to post ahead if I knew that the next day was going to be a zoo. Thank goodness for preposting. It saved me. I also knew that weekends were going to be my worst time to blog so I wrote Saturdays blog on Friday and Sundays were great quotes that I found along the way.
3. While my hits on my blog did pick up they were never "over the top" I didn't quite have the success that some of the participants had. But I had more than I've ever had. It has also increased the amount of traffic to my regular website www.TeaganOliver.com so I know that are those people out there who are reading this.
4. Don't spread yourself to thin. I twitter now. You can follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/teaganoliver There are tons of places that you can go to network online. I just joined http://www.mypara.net for those who are interested in talking about ghosts and paranormal stuff. If you want to friend me on that site I'm GhostGirl. and I'm the one lurking in the corner until I figure out how to be involved with the site. I also have let my other blog go a little, so I'm looking forward to getting http://www.paranormalmaine.blogspot.com back up and active again. I owe a few people a podcast review post. I haven't forgotten.
5. There are people out there who share your dreams. And I don't mean that we all share the same views. But we came together in this challenge and found that we had a common ground in blogging that we could all agree on.
Thank you all who visited my blog during the challenge. I appreciate your support and your great thoughts. I hope you'll continue to visit. I hope that if I've gained anything from this challenge it's that I've met some incredible people and learned some incredible things over the time.
Blessing to you all...
Achieving the Quest and Receiving special powers.
This is the pinacle of the black moment and the downside of it. The aftermath directly after the fight. This is the point where the hero/heroine would give up all the things that are dear to them in order to get through the challenge. And realize that by doing so they are getting so much more in return. This is that perfect moment of clarity when they realize just what is important in life.
And that leaves us with...
returning to the mundane life and applying those powers for the betterment of the community.
There is a moment toward the end of one of the Star Wars movies (forgive me, but my tired mom brain can't be certain which one) after Luke has battled Darth Vadar on the catwalk and ended up falling through the tunnel to hang precariously from the bottom with a damaged hand. After his hand is fixed he is distant and a bit disconected. You can see that for him, the battle may be over, but there is much more to dealt with. The look on his face says it all. You know that he has discovered the great horrible truth about his father and he must use that knowledge to continue on with his life. However he chooses.
If you haven't read my book Obsidian... there is a bit of a spoiler ahead.
But for those who have already read Obsidian, you know that when I got to the end of the book I didn't leave everything in a perfect world. Believe it or not, it was a conscious choice for him not to completely have settled the difficulties with his father. Yes, he's battled his own demons and he's avenged the wrongs. But there was a part of him that I thought needed to remain for him to fix. With the last scene you get the idea that he ready to work on it, but he knows that there are no guarantees. Kind of like real life.
Anyway, that concludes my look at the hero's journey or mythic journey. There are a few steps in between, but this is the basic idea of it. If you look at many classic stories and even movies, you can pick out the elements. Not every story contains all the elements and that's fine. The story is yours. Tell it how you want it to be. Only then, will it be your story.
Should authors who write two very different genres use two different names to publish under?
Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle comes to mind. 3 different genres, three different pseudonyms. I've also got a friend who writes erotica and a few other things and she has at least three names she pubs under. I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to call her.
I have a hard time remembering if I'm supposed to call myself by my real name or my pseudonym whenever I send out an email. I can't imagine adding another pseudonym to the mix.
And that follows that if I've built up the little following that I have already with Obsidian and Three Truths (one sweet paranormal, the other romantic mystery)... should I have a different persona for the dark paranormals that I'm writing now?
My first response would be to say no. But I've heard logical arguments on both sides. Some say that readers don't want to have to worry what kind of book they are picking up. They want to know that if they pick up a book by Nora then it's going to be primarily a romance, and if it's J.D. then it's going to be about the suspense.
But for arguments sake, let's just ponder what happens if you aren't the Noras or the Amandas? Then you are going to have to worry about two different sites, two different marketing and promotion plans, two very different personalities when it comes to gearing content of your blogs and sites toward your readers.
It's a quandry.
What do you all think? Two or one?
Please vote and help restore a true Maine symbol
Okay, so let's recap again, shall we?
This time we'll use Harry as an example:
Inciting Incident/Call to Adventure: Harry Potter, ordinary boy, living with people who say they are relatives, but have no resemblance to him and treat him horribly. One day, Harry decides that pain-in-neck cousin has done just about enough and magically conjures him behind the glass in the zoo. Thus begins the grand adventure that nets several movies, tons of readers and lots of admiration for Ms. Rowling. Harry doesn't do too bad himself. He is suddenly whisked off to a castle where he learns that he is the legendary child prophecy to fight evil.
Trials and Tribulations: Hmm, way too many to count. Certainly more than a blog post can handle. But there is danger at every turn and then there is the personal lessons that come with growing up and learning to deal with life.
Oh, Wise man... tell us more.
The obvious would be Dumbledore. But there are others that he learns from along the way. Good and bad. Teachers and students. From the Weasley's he learned family. Even Hagrid with his humble ways had so much to teach Harry about loyalty and respect.
Now, it's time for you to tell me who your favorite wiseman is?
Quotes for Writers...
We've already set the stage with our hero/heroine by creating an inciting incident that introduces them as well as illustrating to the reader just how far they willing to go for what they want. The Call to Adventure is that event that brings them to the point where they know they can no longer avoid what needs to be done. Their need is so great that they will do whatever it takes to get it.
But, oh, those Trials and Tribulations!
You know... those pesky little things that get in the way of what your characters want most. I went to see the new Clone Wars movie with my son on Friday. Before my eyes glazed over from having to watch what is basically a good movie (but, still a cartoon), I was able to identify that mythic story structure the Star Wars stories are so famous for following. Anaken and Obi Wan (please forgive me if I spell these wrong) know what they must accomplish. Their paths are set. But there are so many trials and tribulations along the way that you begin to wonder if they are in fact going to accomplish their goal. Each task becomes successively more difficult. The stakes are raised along the way. And, by the end of this there is no doubt that the characters are determined to succeed.
Currently, I'm reading Chris Marie Green's Midnight Reign. This is the second book in the Vampire Babylon series and even though I haven't read the first one yet, it's clear what the heroine wants. She wants most to find her father. And we begin to see that all these things that are distracting her from her main goal are the trials and tribulations of the mythic story structure.
These trials and tribulations are there for a reason. They up the ante for the character. They test their mettle to be able to perform the tasks. And they serve to increase their need to achieve. Every good case of Trials and Tribulations will result is self-discovery. Their greatest weaknesses are brought forth and can only be overcome by their greatest strength.
These are the things that lead up to that "God is my witness" moment from Gone with the Wind.
But be forewarned, the trials and tribulations should serve to increase the tension of the story. They should move the story forward and force the emotions of the characters to the point of breaking and determination. These are true mythic trials. Remember the minotaur in the labyrinth? Theseus volunteered to go kill the minotaur to keep the sacrifices from happening. He was added by Ariadne who loved him and helped him navigate the labyrinth and kill the minotaur. All the things that challenged Theseus in the labyrinth were his trials and tribulations.
I'm taking a break from the story structure on Sunday. But I'll be back with more on Monday.
The Inciting Incident followed closely by the Call to Adventure...
Every good book starts with one. It's that initial incidient that sets the ball rolling and gives the reader an idea of what it is that the hero... or heroine want most at the beginning of the story. Usually, this comes around the same time that we meet the main hero/heroine and we find out if they are up to the challenge at hand. A lot of writers tend to think of the Inciting incident as the same thing as the call to adventure, but in my mind they are two very different things. The inciting incident is the place where we see time stop for the hero/heroine. It's here that they feel their world shattering. The Call to Adventure would be when they make up their minds to go after what they want most.
In Romancing the Stone, Jack wants that yacht. We know that he's willing to do whatever it takes, legal or not, to get that yacht. We see him going after the birds in order to get the money to get his yacht. So, we know that Jack is desparate. It's only Joan falls into his lap (literally) that we see just what he's willing to do to make that dream come true.
In Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Indy wants to get to that Arc before his fellow archeologist can. We've already seen from the beginning set up that he's more than willing to switch from mild mannered college professor to swashbuckling hero to get the job done and the call to adventure is a mix of the headiness of the hunt mixed with a good dose of professional jealousy and the love of a good history.
In my book Obsidian, the call to adventure follows an inciting incident of a boat explosion that kills Jamie's best friend. He is shattered and frankly, he drinks a little bit too much as a way of escaping the pain. The Call to Adventure comes when no one will tell him what really happened to his friend and he decides to take matters into his own hands.
Campbell's theory was that all stories follow the same mythic story structure. That by knowing what the structure is we can pick them out of stories and use them to create our own mythic stories.
There's a moment at the beginning of the movie when she sees the flyer for the Villa for sale. She's just come out a bad divorce, lost most of her personal identity and she is floundering. A stranger observes her looking at the flyer and asks her if she is going to buy it and she tells her that she is just a visitor. Basically, that it would be a crazy idea for her to buy a Villa. On the bus leaving town they are stopped in front of a high wall and she looks out the window to see the name of the Villa on a sign set into the wall.
"It's a sign," my daughter tells me from her place next to me on the bed. And I thought, yup, it's a sign. And then, I ran to my computer to write this blog post.
Signs... they're everywhere. Whether we chose to see them or not. I am a big believer that there are no coincidences. That you are where you are supposed to be in your life because you are there to learn a lesson. Whether you learn the lesson or not is up to you.
Signs are like our instincts on Red Bull. They are for those moments when you've totally missed all the other things your body, mind and soul have been trying to tell you. I firmly believe that the more you hone your instincts and heed what they tell you, the more aware you will become of what is going on around you... inside you... to those you love... and in the books you write.
There have been too many times in my life for me to recount that I saw a sign and didn't listen.
Every character that I've written has had to undergo some sort of internal struggle, something they need to learn in order to move on and find happiness. Some sign that they were meant to see. When I'm struggling with a book, it's usually because the internal struggle for the main character has fallen flat. It helps me to go back and ask the question "what is it that the character is missing?"
Maybe they just need a bigger sign.
Dear New Romance Writer:
You are now on a path limited only by your imagination. You have undertaken a task that many endeavor to, but few ever undertake. You have thrown your hopes and dreams onto the table for everyone to inspect, encourage and even, at times criticize. And by doing so, you will learn and grow and find yourself treading paths few even know exist.
In this open letter to you I hope that you will take this advice in the manner in which it is offered, from someone who has been writing for a very long time and traversed the pothole-filled road to publication.
New Orleans is exactly everything you've ever heard about the city. The good and the bad. There has never been a city that had more of an apocalyptic, party-til-the-end-of-our-days, kind of feel quite like New Orleans. And I wasn't even there during Mardi Gras.
They call it the Crescent City because of the way it curves, caressing the edges of the Mississippi river. Flying into the airport is an experience. The plane descends endlessly over trailing bayous, crisscrossed by intersections of sparking river roadways. Here and there you can spot houses dotted among the dense foliage, stacked on poles and seeming far from civilization.
Once the plane landed I took the shuttle to the hotel. It was set on the edge of the French Quarter. It was a fine hotel, very commercial and efficient (except for two elevators and a couple thousand women trying to get to their rooms to go to the bathroom). Our room overlooked Riverwalk area and the place where the steamboats dock. But the great part about the hotel was that all I had to do was cross over the street and down one and I was on Decatur Street. The edge of the French Quarter. I spent several days traipsing those streets. I've gotten grief and a lot of assumption that I must have spent a fair amount of time drinking in the bars. But in fact, I did a lot of walking and looking and observing. After all, I am a writer.
One of the streets just across the from the hotel held antique shops. It was so interesting to look in the windows and see what other people's pasts looked like. We also found the best place to eat breakfast on that street. The Tally Ho restaurant had a fantastic Jambalaya omelet that was spicy to the tongue. All the streets of the French Quarter lead toward Jackson Square. Some are much more commercial (some downright obscene). There was one shop where if you looked just right in the doorway there was a strategically placed mirror to showcase the whomever was dancing on stage. I loved the hotels that I saw right in the Quarter. The ones that had balcony's iced in French lace railings. And, to this day I imagine what it would be like to stay there. My friend Diane and I ate at Pat O'Brien's in the patio area. It was squeezed between the high brick buildings on each side and cast with the sound of the waterfall at the back of the garden. We had fancy drinks as we sat there and watched tiny bird dive bomb the tables around us.
Another day I went to Marie Laveau's shop. The walls were filled to capacity with all things strange and exciting. I had beignets at the Cafe Dumond and enjoyed the Irish music and the sadly, now-defunct, much missed, O'Flaherty's Pub.
When I left, it was with a heavy heart. I felt as if I were leaving a large part of me behind. It's no wonder that the Crescent City continues to call to me. It looks very likely that it will be the setting of my next book. I tried placing the brassy, objectionable GiGi Sterling in another place, but she wasn't happy. So, it looks like I'll be traipsing the French Quarter once again, at least in my mind and heart.
May she live on forever...
So far, I'm on Shelfari, booktour, eharlequin forums, and Twitter. I'm sure there are some that I've forgotten. I do know I'm not on myspace, but that has more to do with the fact that I don't allow my daughter on there, so it would be a bad example if I set up a myspace myself.
Now, I realize that this is a small amount compared to the sheer number of these online communities that exist out there. But how much of the time spent is a value and how much of it is time that should be spent writing? I'm already spending time writing two blogs, GhostGirl. and this one. I'm updating two websites, mine and Maine RWA as well as keeping up with email and working a full time job. There are also the writer and reader yahoo listserves and, if I'm really honest there is another time sucker Puzzle Pirate (note: I added links to the other ones, but I won't contribute to anyone elses addiction by adding th Puzzle Pirate link. You have get that one for yourselves.)
Oh ya, did I mention I've got two kids?
The other day I came across another site that looked very interesting. It's not a writer's site, but it's a paranormal one and I'm very tempted. But frankly, I had to step back and tell myself "NOT RIGHT NOW" in my very stern "mom" voice.
Part of my problem may be that I work a very retail job. I'm with people continuously all day long. The writing was a way of getting away from all of that. Besides, I'm extremely shy (no laughing Diane and Deb!) Even at conferences I have to push myself to be an extrovert.
So, are the online forums and sites a way to really help? Or are they time suckers and a place for introverts like me to hide? What do you think?
Now, 24 hours later, I have a bit of a distance on it. I actually didn't stop for long. Soon after getting the rejection I was emailing my Maine RWA cohorts about possible places to send my much loved story. They came through with flying colors and sympathy and encouragement. All the things that I needed at that time. I've said it before, "writing" can be a solitary profession. But it takes many people to be a "published" writer.
I've never been one to reach out and ask of others. It's not truly in my nature. I tend to be the one who wants to give to others. And I do mean "want". Sometimes, the difficulty is in asking help. But there's nothing wrong with it and it doesn't make you weaker. Sometimes, it just nice to have friends who rally around you, even when there is nothing they can do except offer kind words. I'm blessed.
Rejection? Yes, it sucks. But there is always tomorrow and somebody else may just love my story as much as I do. Both of my books were rejected other places before finding a home. I can only hope that this one has the same fate.
WARNING! BLATANT SELF-PROMOTION AHEAD!
I was working the day job today when I looked at the calendar... I mean REALLY looked at the calendar... and froze. OBSIDIAN's large print edition is coming out from Five Star in less than 2 months!
Five Star markets primarily to the library market. So, when they emailed and said they wanted to re-release OBSIDIAN as part of their Clean Reads, Large Print program I was excited. This could give the story that I love so much another chance to get out to those who really like romantic mysteries set on the coast of Maine.
This one has special place in my heart because the setting is based on the place that I grew up. For those of you who are worrying about all the dead bodies? Nope, those are made up...
So far, Borders is the only online bookseller that I know of that has the large print edition listed. You can check it out here (Borders) Anyway, I'll be posting a few shorts on the book over the next couple of weeks as I gear up for the release.
Want to know more about the book and can't wait? Check out my website http://www.teaganoliver.com/ and read the excerpt.
Coffeetime Romance gave it 4 cups and had this to say about OBSIDIAN,
Suspense, romance and intrigue this story definitely has all three... This story will have you by the seat of your pants. So make sure to put it on your list of books to be read.
I hope you all enjoy it...
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