November 1

Beginning, Middle & End

Maya-Angelou-Attitude-Change-Quotes-ImagesThey say to have a great story you have to have a beginning, a middle and an end. And they are right. :-) I think it’s kinda neat that it is something that is integral to our very existence. Everything in life follows this pattern. And I think at our core we all know this but sometimes I think we forget. And then when the end comes along we wail, stomp our feet and question, ‘why?’. As if we didn’t know this had to happen sooner or later. But I get it. Later would always be our choice. :-)

Somewhere along the line acceptance of the inevitable finally sinks in and you move on. But you carry with you the memories. Your mind will pick out a scene or moment that it loved from the beginning of that journey and it will make you smile. Then you’ll remember some of those trials and lessons learned along the way that helped you grow and your smile will twist slightly maybe even turn into a grimace at times. But you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction. You learned. You grew. And you triumphed. Maybe not always in the way you thought you would way back at the beginning but you did grow all the same. So you’ll follow that memory on through knowing the inevitable is coming. We want the end. But we don’t. :-) Getting to the end means we triumphed but it also means that journey is done. And it makes us sad. Happy but sad.

Today I find myself reflecting on RWA’s latest decision on how one can be a member of the group. I don’t like the decision but instead of getting mad like I have over several of the other things they’ve gone to great lengths to implement over the past couple of years, I find I’ve gone full circle on the emotions and come to the part of acceptance. Probably not the acceptance that they are expecting but that’s not for me to worry about. Many people have tried to warn them that what they are doing isn’t right, that it will tear the group apart but they do not want to listen. They want to dice and segment and nitpick. And it makes me sad.

I’ve viewed RWA, rightly or wrongly, as a home, a family. Just those two words alone say it all to me. It was a home that accepted us all, letting us all carve out a room that befit us personally then we’d meet in the kitchen over a cup of our favorite drink to discuss everything under the sun. We’d grow in our writing and our friendships, maybe even argue once in a while. ;-) But one of the things I love about a home is that it stays steady. For me RWA and it’s Chapters have been home. Family. It’s been awesome! :-) I’ve loved it on sooooo many levels. I’ve learned so much. (I’m not kidding on this. ;-) ) Met so many wonderful people and yeah, I have a lot of great memories. I don’t want this part of my life to end.

When I joined RWA 10 years ago it was a different group then it is now. Yes, it was supposed to be for romance writers but it was arms wide open to everyone, whether you wrote romance or not. Which I always thought was kind of fitting  – romance is all about accepting and loving… There wasn’t a better type of promotion they could do then to act out what they wrote. :-) It was about writers helping writers. And I told everyone I could about that aspect of the group in particular. It was my favorite part.

So everyone joined, decorated their room in the home the way they wanted and met in the kitchen. No one cared about how the other decorated their room. So I had pink curtains and they had black. Whoopee-ding. What was important was what we discussed in that kitchen which was all about how to write better stories.

Now RWA (in my opinion) is not so much concerned about wanting to discuss how to write a better story but rather critique what color curtains we are all hanging in our rooms. Actually they don’t want to just comment on the color of my curtains they want to dictate what color they shall be. Well, I’ve got news for them. I see two major problems with this.

So they want me to hang blue curtains in my room. I could say no problem, what’s the big deal and hang blue curtains in my room. But there are a gazillion shades of blue. Which they’ve already figured out. And decided, ‘No, we can’t have a house that doesn’t coordinate. We want everyone to have the same color.’ So they have decided we have to prove it. Okay, so aside from the enormous administrative issues of handling going through and checking things, once again, I could say, no problem and prove to them that I have the right shade of blue. And then guess what? Whaala, we now have a house that all coordinates and matches.

But this is where I think they have an even bigger problem. If we all match, if we all step to the same beat, all think the same, all act the same, all look the same, we are the same. We are cookie cutter. We are boring. And our stories will reflect this. Differences are good. Differences promote fresh ideas and force growth. Not only do our stories need differences, we as writers and human beings need them. And ultimately the readers will not buy a book that bores them to death because it was the same as the last hundred they read. They will go elsewhere to find something new.

I get what’s happening with the group. I realize some people are scared by differences. This is after all what is at the root of any kind of segregating. But I miss the old ‘arms wide open’ aspect of my writers group. To me that was the very essence and coolest part of being a member of that group. :-(

 

March 21

How Bad Do You Want It?

Asian Efficiency

Okay, a while back I signed up to receive the emails from Asian Efficiency to help me become more efficient. Go figure. ;-) I love them. Today’s email was no different and I just had to share it with you all!

How bad do you want it?

Date: Mar 21, 2014

Hi Nicole,

It’s not often that we rant here but this is something I’ve been wanting to express for a while. It’s the idea that people just don’t want to put in the time to achieve something.

This idea was inspired after reading Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro. It’s about how to go from starting something to finishing it and going through the tough process of a creating your masterpiece. This book really resonated with me because I see people around me all the time struggling going from start to finish.

Nobody wants to put in hours of sweat to get that perfect body.

Nobody wants to wake up earlier or stay up later to work on their side-project.

Nobody wants to master their craft and become one of the best at it in the world.

People are inherently lazy. They always want the quick fix and immediate solution. I get it. That’s how we are hardwired.

We get a lot of emails from readers and customers. Lots of positive ones but once a while we also get emails from people who are looking for an easy way out.

Here’s an email we got a while back (I’ve edited it to make it concise):

“Hi guys,

Love your stuff. I’ve been reading your AE Primer and it really resonated with me. Right now I’m struggling with managing my time. Currently I’m full-time employed but I don’t really like my job so I started a business in my spare time. It’s about (redacted) but I can’t seem to find time to work on it. I’ve had this idea for a couple years now but it’s not going anywhere because I’m procrastinating a lot. Any advice?”

We get tons of emails like this and it hurts me to see people struggling like this. At the same time, sometimes I want to pick up the phone, call them and give them my rant.

Instead, I decided to write this.

You see, when you truly WANT something, you’ll magically find time to make it happen.

Do you really want to see that new episode of your favorite TV series? Somehow you’re able to do that even though you’re working 80+ hours a week.

Do you really want to hangout with your friends this weekend? Somehow you’re able to push everything else aside and make it happen.

Most people who struggle to find time to improve their lives or situation, just don’t want it bad enough. When you want it bad enough, you’ll find time to make it work.

It’s easy to find an excuse to not do something. It’s easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” instead of doing it now. It’s easy to lay on the couch and do nothing instead of educating yourself.

But it’s hard to wake up earlier and work on your side-project. It’s hard say no to friends on aSaturday night so you can work on your craft. It’s hard to push yourself when no one is watching you.

If you’re reading this and you struggle to find time to make things happen, you’re taking the easy route. You don’t want it bad enough.

You just kind of want it.

The person who wrote that email…he/she just kind of wants it. When you’re dabbling, procrastinating and you’re not making any progress for long periods of time…you just kind of want it.

Please don’t be one of them. Get to work. Make sh*t happen. Get used to saying no to people. Get used to waking up earlier and staying up late. Work hard when nobody is watching. Do more than you normally think you can do.

All of a sudden you’ll find time that you thought didn’t exist.

Surprise!

It’s been there all along. You just had to decide to take advantage of it.

So…how bad do you want it?
-Thanh
Asian Efficiency

February 16

Cleaning Out

b

Hey Everyone!

Yep, it looks a bit… dull. Or weird. Depending on how you’re looking at things. Someone decided it would be fun to mess with my site, which I don’t get. Its not like money is being made through this site. What a waste of their time. :-P But I’ve decided to look on the bright side of things – its been several years since this site was updated and the code was dreadfully outdated. So… with the help of my wonderful hosters (Freshlypressed.net) everything has been cleared out, new security measures put in place and now I get to make a new site! :-D

It will probably take me a bit to get things created – I’ve dived into learning a new way of creating sites. I’m thinking it’ll save me tons of time in the future for designing sites, so the time I take now to learn it will pay off in the end.  And really, when it comes down to it, its supposed to be more about the content then what it looks like, right? ;-)

On the writing front – This is the setting for my current scene. Isn’t it too perfect!?! I can just smell the rich mixture of pines, moss and fresh water. ummmm wish I was there. :-)b

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February 11

You want to be me and you know it ;-)

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You know those silly writers whose brains are never ‘there’? The ones who do crazy things like first forget they need to pick up their kids from school because they momentarily forgot they had kids – (their character in their book doesn’t have kids…) then dash out the door to pick up said kids from school only to realize when they get there they are still wearing their fluffy pink pj’s.

Oh, wait that was me. :-D

Well, today it wasn’t embarrassing it was… eye opening. 

j

My character is blind. So I’m driving along trying to imagine a particular scene from her point of view and wondering if I’m way off base because obviously I can see. So I close my eyes to see if I can put myself in her place.

 

Um… did you catch the first part of that? “I’m driving along…”

 

Yeah, no more needs to be said. Even I don’t know what to think of me sometimes.

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February 4

I Love Scrivener!

I wonder how many times I can say I love Scrivener in a title before I lose people with, “Oh, its just another ‘I love Scrivener post…‘” But its just true! And what happens when you love something? You want to shout it to the world. :-D

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Today’s Tip:

 

Collections – Its found in the upper lefthand corner of the program if you have it in ‘viewable’ mode. For some reason I struggled with seeing the point of this function for quite some time. Maybe the descriptions or examples I came across just didn’t quite capture it right for my brain – wouldn’t be the first time. My brain tends to view things off in left field, I admit. ;-) But now that I’ve finally figured it out, I just have to tell you all!

 

First I should probably say – any character or group of files can be placed in a collection and more than one collection. I started with characters and thought… ‘Well, that’s just silly. Its just repetitive of what I have in the first place.’

 

BUT I have finally come to see the light. :-D See, characters have groups they belong to. Family groups, friend groups, work groups… and there are histories, stories etc. for each of these groups!  THIS is where collections turns out to be so awesome! And I wonder, ‘How did I ever do this before without Scrivener???‘ I want to jump up and down and tell you all to try this out! Its beyond sweet! :-)

 

I’m pasting in an example and truly struggling to reign in all the things I want to tell you about this photo alone. :-)

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 11.52.36 AM

 

But to keep things simple –

 

On the top left you see the Collections.

 

Cameron – my hero fits into several collections. For example:

  • He has a family.
  • He’s part of a Tracker group.
  • He’s part of the High Court group. And more but I want to keep it simple.

 

So I made up collections for these groups. Only 1 character sheet but remember you can have that character in many collections.

 

You can see that I have the Tracker collection active both on the left and in the top middle. Note…

  • You can see all the members of the group in both places.
  • I can click on any member and see details for them without leaving my writing which is on the bottom half of the screen.
  • I can also add any data I need or want for that group alone. Like notes or photos.
  • Any data I add to the character is reflected throughout.

 

What this also means is at all times I can be scrolling through all kinds of details I might need to double check while still always having my story front and center!!! And I can ‘see’ the connections without having to create any complicated diagram, or rewrite data again and again to make sure its everywhere I need it etc.. It actually does create some of that but I won’t go into that in this post. ;-)

 

One last sidenote: VIEW: So you don’t think it ‘has to be viewed this way only’ know – you can choose whatever layout works best for you. I have a small screen and thus have gotten quite quick at the keyboard shortcuts and I have found the layout that works for my brain. :-) But know you have lots of choices. For example, you can hook up to another screen to spread things out or turn on or off 1 or all elements you see here etc… with just a click.

 

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the last sidenote. If you get Scrivener, don’t try to master it all at once! Just take it one element at a time and grow into it. I think I might just say that in every post. :-)

October 20

So I Survived!

rocksYesterday I received feedback on one of my stories from my RWA Chapter – Iowa Romance Novelists. It was good feedback. Meaning two things: 1st – They liked it. This was huge. Because honestly, they could have hated it. 2nd – They noted things I needed to work on and I actually understood everything they said. :-) Do you have any idea how big that is?? It means I actually have the power to make my story better. So YAY!!

 

A couple of thoughts from the whole experience.

 

Receiving feedback is nerve wracking. Watching what I ate yesterday wasn’t an issue; my stomach rolled and churned and did all kinds of twisty flips that I didn’t know were possible. Seriously. :-) I mean, this is an experienced group of writers/readers who each bring a differing palate of reading preferences, life’s experiences and opinions to the table. It wasn’t a shoe-in like bringing a chocolate cake to a chocolate anonymous group would have been. ;-)

 

But, I want to become a better writer. I want to be able to share my stories with other people. I want others to be able to enjoy my alternative worlds as I do. So… that means putting myself on the line once in awhile. It was totally worth it. :-) I loved hearing all the feedback and it gave me lots to consider/work on. And I can’t thank each and every one of them enough for taking the time to read through things and give their thoughts and suggestions. Thank you guys! :-D

 

Okay, so there’s nothing else to say, right? Well… funny thing… of all the comments only one bothered me. Really bothered me. The one that so closely echoed my own worry. How ironic is that? Only one person commented on it. Typically the rule of thumb is, if one comments… hear it, note it but you don’t need to feel compelled to do anything more. If two people comment on it, hear it, note it and definitely ponder it. Maybe there is something there that you could do better. But if three people comment on the same thing… most likely you have something you truly need to note/change. :-) Well, this was only one person. But as I said, it echoed something I’d already pondered many a time before.

 

The comment? I’m not starting at the true critical moment.

 

It is one of the critical moments but perhaps not the critical moment. Perhaps it comes off as backstory or a prologue. There are lots of differing schools of thought on prologues/backstory/flashbacks–I won’t go into all that more than to say; if I’m to choose between a prologue and a flashback, I’d choose prologue. Why? Because of my own personal reading preferences. I personally can’t stand extended flashbacks/replay of a memory. They irritate me. I don’t know why. I suppose I could sit here and give you all kinds of thoughts on it but frankly what it comes down to is, I don’t care. The backstory moment HAS to be blended in a way that I don’t feel like I’m going to spend an hour reading a memory. I figure… ‘Skip it, we’ll figure out what happened from what happens in the rest of the story.’

 

So… where does that leave me? Since it was something that already bugged me, I’ve decided to challenge myself; to write a new beginning. Flashbacks can be done in a manner that isn’t a three page ‘memory’ and I’m determined to nail it in a manner that even someone like me, who is very picky about how memories are shared, would read it.

 

I’m excited. I already have an idea. But I’m also nervous. I state this from experience – its easy to ‘think’ one has included all the information that was originally in the first draft in the second draft. But the mind is easily foiled here. It knows what is supposed to have happened and doesn’t ‘see’ what is lacking. I guess I’ll just address that when I get there. Which leads me to the next point; I’m a bit daunted by the amount of work I know I have ahead of me. I know how long it took me for the scenes I’m abandoning. Yikes. Oh, and yeah…we can’t forget the heart. It aches for those set-to-the-side scenes. I love them! There is definitely a part of me in mourning even as the thrill of this new scene begins to take form. :-)

 

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February 19

Inspiring

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This is so awesome! And inspiring. The above photo is of my brother-n-law and father-n-law going para-sailing. My father-n-law is 80 years old! Does it get any better? :-)

 

 

Live life to its fullest. :-)

 

Way to go Frank!

 

And you too Steve, though you are still young. ;-)

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February 17

Had Fun!

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So yesterday I traveled 3 hours one way to attend my ‘local’ RWA Chapter meeting. First time for me. I’ve always stayed with the online chapters only because of how far away they are but it was worth it. I had loads of fun and am glad I made the trip.

 

Now that I’m home though and looking at things I’m realizing my sites and photos are all out of date. Time to refresh things all the way around.

 

And then get started on my goals for this year. :-)

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