Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Four-Legged Kid

I have a four-legged kid named Church. I named him after the cat in Stephen King’s book Pet Semtary.
 
 



This is Church. He’s a handsome boy. Don’t you think?

He’s the coolest cat ever, but lately he’s been a pain-in-the-ass. He wants either in or outside. Or he wants to go in the basement. He can’t make up his frickin’ mind. He’ll come in for a few minutes, and then he wants to go back outside. He’ll go outside for a few minutes, and then he wants back in. And he meows, and meows, and meows. However, he gets away with it because he does stuff like this.
 


He’s just too damn cute to stay mad at, and he likes to snuggle. Also, when he’s not complaining or whining, he has a cute disposition. And he’s funny. He gets big points for silliness. But he does get in his moods, and sometimes when I’m writing, he won’t stop interrupting me. Again, he’ll meow and meow and meow, or he’ll scratch at the carpet, which he knows not to do, or he’ll attack my arm. So then I’ll threaten him. I tell him if he continues with his crap, his ass is staying outside. Amazingly enough, he chills out and goes to sleep. I think I’m going to have to do that this morning because as I’m writing this, he’s banging the cupboard door in the kitchen. He likes to go in the cupboards. But see, I’m trying to write, and he’s being a brat. Now, he’s meowing. It’s a pathetic meow, like he has it SO hard. Poor baby. Kevin is making crying sounds (LOL), telling Church he’s a wuss.

Kids. It doesn’t matter if they’re human or furry, we choose to share our life with them. And even though sometimes they’re a pain-in-the-ass; we still love them.

Now, I need to go kick some kitty ass because he’s attacking my leg.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Little Girl Inside Me

When I was a child, I loved books, and fortunately my parents did too. I remember asking my sister to read to me (she’s four years older than I), but she was too busy at the time. So I went up to our room and sat on my bottom bunk bed with the book Hansel and Gretel in my lap, wishing I could read. I knew some words (hey, I was four), but not enough to read the whole book.

First grade was really when I’d learned how to read, and I was in the top of my reading class. But then I fell from a building, split my cranium straight down the middle, and was in a coma for three days. It was a miracle I’d survived, wasn’t paralyzed, a vegetable, or brain damaged, although, sometimes I wonder about the brain damaged part :). But during that time was when my class was learning how to read, and I was determined not to miss out. I had double vision for a while, but that didn’t stop me. I wanted the ability to read damn it, so I basically taught myself. My teacher was so impressed, that she gave me a T-shirt that said: "I’m a perfect reader."


 
This is a picture of my family, six years before my parents divorced. I’m the one sitting on my mom’s lap, and of course that’s my sister next to our dad. Dig the side burns Dad. Oh, and Dad, what's with the outfit? What were you thinking? Okay. Yeah, I know. It was the 70s. That’s okay, when I was in grade school, I had parachute pants, which I loved, and would still wear if they came back out again. But I didn’t wear the MC Hammer pants, so I did have some restraint. :)

The little girl on my mom’s lap didn’t think about the future, all she cared about was being loved, listening to stories, watching Wonder Women, playing with her Honey Bunch dolls, riding her big wheel (I LOVED my big wheel. I miss my big wheel), hanging out with her daddy, playing outside with her sissy and friends. Oh, and of course, sweets.

As she grew, she had many dreams, and although her life dramatically changed, she held onto those dreams. She wanted to be truly loved and to write books for a living. She started writing when she was seven, a poem about birds. As she got older, she had notebooks full of her thoughts, poems, and stories. In school, she loved to get up in front of the class and read her stories. One memorable time was in seventh grade, when she read a horror story she wrote about a monster living in the sewer (I wish I still had that story). Her story had captivated the class so much so that they all did a collective gasp during the scary scenes. After that, she was hooked on writing stories. She started writing a novel at fourteen. When she was sixteen, she graduated high school early, and started writing another novel about a haunted house. But then she ended up on her own, and had to make a living, so her writing dream withered away.

Years later, one of her dreams comes true–she finds true love. Or did it find her? What came first, the chicken or the egg? I guess we’ll never know, huh? But that doesn’t matter because YAY she now has true love with the most wonderful person in the world who loves her for her. They get married, and her writing dream begins to burn bright inside her again. She takes a writing course, but then once again, life happens. Tragedy strikes not once, not twice, but three times, and her dream is shoved aside.

Years go by, and finally one day it hits her. She rushes to grab a pen and notebook and a story evolves as she feverishly writes the words down that races through her mind. Almost two years later, she completes a novel, and her dream is reborn.

That novel now sits on my shelf, out of sight, but certainly not out of mind. One day I’ll rewrite it, but right now I’m focused on my Beyond the Eyes series.

So that dream of becoming a published author and making a living off of her books, continues on for the little girl sitting on her mommy’s lap–the little girl who lives inside me. The book (s) has been written and more will follow. That’s half the battle, a battle a lot of people never win, even though their intentions are good. And each day that I write, I become better, and my armor gets stronger. Now I’m up against another battle, and I wonder, how long will it take to fight this next one?

The little girl inside me squirms and sometimes reminds me of the hand I’ve been dealt with when I’d first opened my eyes into this world, and how beaten down I was. Those dreams don’t happen to people like you. There’s no luck for you. Remember what Dostoevsky had said: "The ruts had been laid out long before you were born. I then have the sudden urge to crawl in a dark hole and disappear. But then my stubbornness emerges, and I say to that little girl, "No. Screw that! We're not victims, and our dreams can come true. Luck isn’t reserved for certain people. We create our own path. And," I point out to myself, "you never thought you’d be truly loved, and look. LOOK! You have it, and it’s more than what you had ever imagined. So don’t give up. Don’t. Give. Up."

And so the little girl quiets down, and I go back to building my armor and learning tactics to use for the second half of the battle.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How to Write a Synopsis

I’ve spent part of the last two days working on a 750-word synopsis, and let me tell ya, it’s a pain in the booty. A synopsis (for those who don’t know) is a brief summary of your novel, hitting the major points in the story. So I had to condense my whole novel into 750 words, which is hard to do. I’ve read a lot of writers, think it’s harder to write a synopsis than to write the book itself, and I can see why. My first synopsis, was a ten-page one, and then I got it down to two-pages. That in itself was a challenge, but doing a 750-word one was even harder. Thank God for my wonderful critique partner Valentina to go over it for me.

So how do you write a synopsis? How do you capture the spirit of your story, and the prime events that gives it life and the ability to roam free in the hearts and minds of the reader to where it stays with them long after they’ve read the last line? Each scene is important, right? It moves the story forward and has a purpose, so your natural response is to compact as much as you can into your synopsis, but you can’t. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

The synopsis is a very important element to your submission package, and before you submit it, you want to make sure it’s polished to the best of your ability. But first you have to write it. Here’s how you do it. . . .

First, try not to get overwhelmed. I know it sucks ass to whittle a 90,000 + word manuscript down to a few pages–if that. But don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, take it in baby steps. Read through your novel again, and pick out the meat from each chapter, meaning what moves the story forward. Try to write it in a few sentences or less, and only pick out the key characters. The agent or editor doesn’t need to know all the characters. Once you completed that part, then take a break and hop online. Think of a movie that’s similar to your book, or a movie in the same genre. Now type it in the search engine, find the synopsis for it, and read it. I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person, and seeing a synopsis for a movie really helps me. You can also read the blurb on the back of a book. Pretend your book is a movie, and you’re describing it to your friends. How would you describe it? Of course you wouldn’t tell them everything that happened. What you would do is mesh the important and exciting parts together to engage their attention and entice them to see it. That’s what you want to do to your synopsis–engage the reader enough to want to read your whole manuscript.

When you begin your synopsis, start with the main character and a conflict. It can be emotional or physical. Now go through what you wrote when you went through each chapter and add what’s relevant to the story and summerize it. Make sure your synopsis covers all the major plot points, and ALWAYS include the ending. You also want to inject the tone of your book into the synopsis, and keep it exciting.

Before I forget to tell you–just incase you don’t know–a synopsis is written in present tense and in the third person. Also, when you introduce a character, you have to CAPITALIZE their name, but after that, you don’t have to. And remember, weaving your characters and their main conflicts in a logical order is very important. Your synopsis should be clear on what your book is about, who are the characters the reader will care about or hate, what’s at stake, and the outcome. If you get frustrated, walk away, and then do what I said earlier–read a synopsis from a movie or a blurb off of a book. That’s what I do and it seems to help.

Speaking of help. If anybody is reading this post and does need to do a synopsis, hopefully what I said helps you. I’m by no means, a whiz at writing a synopsis. Quite the contrary. I’m always questioning whether it’s good enough or not. But then again, I do that with EVERYTHING I write. Honestly, I drive myself nuts because I’m so critical of my own work. But it’s not like I haven’t said that before, right? However, what I just told you does help me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why Did Hitler Do It?

Okay, I think I’m going to post this now. I had briefly mentioned this post in my last one and thought I should go ahead and post it. Oh, in my last post I had said if I were President, I wouldn’t meddle in other country’s affairs. I still stand by that; however, if another country was bombing one of our allies, like what Germany did to England, then I’d get America involved.

Now, I will begin my post.

I love history and been wanting to do a post on why Hitler did what he did. I was warned this was a touchy subject and not to do a post on it because the wound has yet to heal, and probably never will. But I see no harm in trying to understand it.

More than six million Jews were slaughtered during World War Two. Every time I think about that, even now, I feel sick to my stomach, and my eyes start to water. I’m not Jewish, but that doesn’t matter. What happened to them was and is unconscionable, and I want to know how a human being could do that to another one. I realize, throughout history dictators around the world had committed atrocious acts toward their people. Even the church had done some horrific acts toward human beings. They thought they were doing the right thing. But it wasn’t the right thing. How could anybody burn another human alive and think it was the right thing to do? How could somebody even do that? And how could others take part in such a hellish and violent act?

I don’t get it.

Maybe if I broke it down, we could get some insight on why Hitler did what he did. But before I go any further, let me just say, what Hitler did was unjustifiable. It was sick and twisted, and nothing in the world could excuse him or the Nazis for what they had done.

Germany had lost World War One and Hitler believed it was because of the Jews. The Treaty of Versailles held Germany responsible for the war and placed huge military restrictions on them. There were also territorial changes where Germany lost control over its colonies, and reparations where Germany had to pay the Allies. I believe the total sum was around 226 billion Reichsmarks. In 1921 it was reduced to 132 billion Reichsmarks, but that was still a lot of money. So Germany’s economy took a huge hit in the Great Depression and was struggling to stay afloat. While the Germans were struggling and jobless, the Jews were prosperous and held prominent positions. With critical and damning eyes, Hitler took notice and felt the Jews were taking opportunities away from the Aryans.

So did this alone cause Hitler to have a deep-seated hatred toward Jews? I think there was more to it than that. I think he hated Jews long before World War One, but the events of World War One and what had followed afterwards may have solidified in his mind the Jews were an evil race and needed to be annihilated.

I had read, and this is all speculation, that Hitler’s beloved mother died of cancer, and he blamed her Jewish doctor for her death. He believed the doctor had given her a treatment that ultimately killed her. He was also denied entry to the Vienna Academy of Fine Art by a Jewish professor. If those two incidents are true, I wonder if they were what triggered Hitler’s hatred toward Jews. It seems like he blamed the Jews for everything bad that had happened in his life, and used them as a scapegoat for all the wrong doings in his life and country.

So how did Hitler sway Germany, to support his agenda? Well for one the Germans resented the harsh actions that were taken against their country after World War One, and Hitler in his charismatic speeches pointed a sharp finger at the Jews for Germany’s misfortunes. Anti-Semitism was already prevalent at the time, which made it easier for Hitler to demonize the Jews, and gain a foothold in the heart of Germany. He thought the Jews were communists and used that as part of his propaganda machine as well. I think he had manipulated his way into power with promises to lift the yoke off the German’s necks and to deliver them into an Elysium. I also think, not all the Germans knew or believed about the death camps, and what Hitler and the Nazis were actually doing to the Jews. But then again, how could they not know? That’s not for me to judge though. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know. I do know, after the war, Germans were forced to see what Hitler and the Nazis had done, and they were horrified when they saw the corpses of Jews that were callously slaughtered, stacked together in a mountainous pile like pieces of garbage.


I could go on and on about this, but then this post would be like twenty pages long. I just want to know what could have driven a person to commit such brutal acts, because I don’t understand it. And I know there are still Nazis out there who share the same ideals as Hitler, and if that’s how they feel, so be it. I have my own personal beliefs and wouldn’t want anybody to encroach on them. I also know there are whites who hate blacks, and blacks who hate whites, Muslims who hate Christians, and Christians who hate Muslims, and so forth. It has always been that way. I just hope we’ve learned something from World War Two and there will never be another Holocaust again. I also hope maybe someday we can stop all this hate and learn to live together in peace, learn to self govern, and take personal responsibility for ourselves and actions. There are a lot of things I hope for, but sometimes I wonder if hope is just a waste of time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Writer With Some Cold-Hearted Political Views?

I haven’t posted anything in four days because I’ve been busy, and I really couldn’t figure out what to post about. I think I’ve been walking in a fog lately, just out of it for some reason. This morning I told myself that I have to post something to keep this blog going. I do have a post I wrote, two or three weeks ago about wondering why Hitler did what he did to the Jews, but I thought I’d save that for another time because it’s kind of a somber post. So I thought I’d just get in front of the computer and start writing, see where it takes me.

I finished chapter twenty-three to Dark Spirits yesterday, and sent it to my critique partner. I wasn’t sure if she would like it because for some reason I had kind of a hard time writing that chapter. I don’t know why, but I had to walk away from it a couple times. But when I received my critique back from her, she said it was a great chapter, good stuff, and I left the reader at a good spot. I know this is just a rough draft of the book, but it’s always good to know I’m on the track I want to be on.

When I started writing Dark Spirits, I wasn’t planning on doing two, POV (point of view) characters, but then in chapter fourteen, I wrote in Nathan’s POV, and it was fun. Not only that, but I think it works and adds to the story. Also, I’ve discovered I have more fun writing in his voice than in Paige’s. I don’t know why, but I’m guessing because it’s new and in a male voice. So my next chapter will be in Nathan’s voice, and I’m looking forward to writing it.

Today is the anniversary of 9/11, and I bet almost everybody remembers what they were doing when the planes had hit the Twin Towers. I was in the kitchen, getting some coffee, when I heard Kevin say, "Omigod." I went into the living room and sat on the couch beside him, and watched a plane fly into a building. We couldn’t believe it. It all seemed so surreal. Later on that day, he told me to buy a case of ammo because honestly, we didn’t know if our country was going to continue being under attack by terrorists. And there’s one thing about us Americans that set us a part from most countries–we’re fighters. If terrorists or another country wants to mess with us, then fine, but we’re not going to fall on our knees and cower to them. Screw that. We’re Americans, and we’ll kick their ass.

This morning, I hung our flag up in front of our house and silently honored the men and women who had risk their lives to help the people who were trapped in those buildings. My heart also went out to the families and the people who had died on that horrific day. I wish I could take away their sorrow, but I can’t. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a cold-hearted person because if I was President, I would pull our troops out of all the countries, put them on our borders, and then turn the terrorists’ country into glass. I would also stop meddling in other countries affairs, take care of our country, produce everything we need in our country instead of over seas, and stop buying foreign oil (we have plenty of oil here in the U.S.). But I’d do it all in such a way (if there was one) to keep good foreign relations with our most trusted allies like England and Israel. So is that cold-hearted? I don’t know, but that’s what I would do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Cool Things About Writing a Story

What are some of the cool things about writing a story? What about when a character materializes out of nowhere, or they do something unexpected?

When I started writing, Beyond the Eyes, my character Tree was one of those characters who had magically appeared before my eyes. I wasn’t planning on having a character in the story who was six foot five with a bitchin’ Mohawk. So when it happened, I was rather surprised. In fact, he became my main character’s best friend. I didn’t have to think about what type of personality Tree had because as I wrote scenes with him in it, his personality came through all on its own. It reminds me of automatic writing when your writing is produced without a conscious awareness of the content. Some people claim it’s produced from your subconscious mind, and others claim it comes from a spiritual source. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s fun when it happens. However, I think the idea of Tree’s style, with his Mohawk and Sex Pistols sweatshirt came from a guy Kevin knew back in Germany that he had told me about. But Tree’s personality was purely organic.

Before I had started that story, I was trying to figure out what to write. I knew I wanted to write a YA (young adult) paranormal book with crossover potential, something that would cause the reader to question whether there was any truth to it. I wanted to write and tell it in such a way that the reader could actually be open to the possibility of it being real in our world. But what could that be? One day I was talking to Kevin about it and he told me to write something that totally freaks me out and is believable. Right after he said that, I didn’t have to think about what freaked me out. I knew what it was.

The Exorcist.

My mom used to play that damn movie over and over again, and it wasn’t during the day when she’d play it. Oh no. It was at nighttime, when I had to go to bed. And Mom was the type of person who had to have the TV blaring so loud; you could hear it throughout the house. I’d be trying to go to sleep and hear that freaky-ass music and the demon talking through Regan. I slept with my light on for a year after that. I also had nightmares about it for years, to where I’d wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding painfully in my chest, and my whole body felt like it was incased in a block of ice. So yeah, that’s what freaks my shit out.

Once I had that idea in my mind, I started getting busy on, Beyond the Eyes. I tried writing an outline for it, but outlines just don’t work for me. I do a rough character sketch though, but sometimes, like with Tree, characters appear out of thin air, and I have to write them in. So I started writing the story, and things began to evolve all on its own that pleasantly surprised me. I also wasn’t planning on making, Beyond the Eyes a series, but it turns out that this story could go on and on and on, like The Vampire Diaries, which by the way, I LOVE that show. Although, I was really upset when they killed off Jenna last season. I almost made a vow  not to watch it again. Almost. However, I love the show too much to boycott it.

Back to the point of this post before my mind does a continuous loop back on The Vampire Diaries, and ends up hijacking the rest of this post.

Years ago, I read that J.K. Rowling said the idea for her Harry Potter series fell into her head. Now don’t get me wrong. I’d never equate what I wrote to J.K. Rowling. I mean, she’s a brilliant writer, and a genius. I think she’s in a class all by herself. But I do understand what she was talking about. And let me tell ya, that rush of creativity is so fun, it makes up for the blood, sweat, and tears you put into the story. When you get into that ‘zone’, you never know what’s going to happen. The same goes for dialog. Half the time, I don’t even know what the character’s are going to say, and then it’ll come to me. It’s crazy. But the thing is, it works. It’s not bullshit, half ass, dialog. It fits the situation and the character’s persona. There’s this one line I absolutely love that Nathan says to Paige:

"I can’t bear to see such woes of the heart in the eyes of my beloved."

I don’t know where that line came from, but it’s fitting for Nathan’s character because of where he came from.

I was just thinking maybe this happens to us writers because we put ourselves into the story. We become our characters and live in their world. It makes sense. At least to me it does. But regardless of how it happens, it’s still awesome. It’s almost like magic. So I better get busy on my next chapter to Dark Spirits, and see what kind of cool, magical thing(s) will take place in that chapter.

Oh, by the way. Right before every chapter I write, I do have an idea on what’s going to happen. I may not have a physical outline, but I do have one internally. I don’t blindly start each chapter, not knowing what to write. I do know, but sometimes the pulse of the story beats faster, pumping amazing information to me that I cannot ignore. And that is one of the coolest things about writing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weird

The other day, Kevin was channel surfing and stopped on a movie with Christopher Walken in it. Kevin said, "That’s a freaky looking dude." And I said, "Yeah, but he fits the parts he plays." Kevin agreed, and I continued with, "I want to get that movie The Prophecy."

Later on, I went to Alco to get some things for the house. You know, laundry soap, cat food, mouthwash, crap like that. When I wheeled the cart to the video section, right there on the second shelf was The Prophecy for $4.99. I was like, whoa, that’s a trip. I was just talking about it, and there it was. But not only that, it was the only one in the store. That’s like when you’re thinking about a song you haven’t heard in like forever and then suddenly plays on the radio. I wonder how that happens. Do we create it? It is a mystery, but one I’d like to solve.

The Prophecy is a pretty good movie. I think Christopher Walken plays Gabriel well. It’s cool he can touch somebody, and they collapse when he goes, "Shhhhh." I would love to have that power. Think about it. If somebody was totally annoying you, or pissed you off, all you had to do was touch them and at the same time go, "Shhhh." And then they would collapse on the floor in a deep sleep. Wouldn’t that be cool? I think so.  :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Funny Story

Yesterday, Kevin told me a funny story I wanted to share with you. His friend’s cousin has a mentally-challenged son. He’s high-functioning, so he can be left at home alone. Well, one day he called his mom’s work and told her he had captured a gremlin and stuck it in the closet. Thinking he was up to one of his silly antics, she appeased him by sounding interested, and then told him she had to go. About a half hour later, she received a call from her husband, telling her that he received a call from their son about a gremlin in the closet. She told him that she had received the same phone call, and her husband told her he thought they should go home and check it out because he’d heard loud banging noises in the background, which concerned him. So they went back to the house, and sure enough, there were loud banging noises coming from the closet.

"I caught a gremlin!" Their son proudly tells them with a huge grin.

His parents looked at each other warily, and then wrenched the closet door open, and out tumbled a dwarf. It turned out he was a Jehovah Witness, and when he came to the door, their son thought he was a gremlin because he had never seen a dwarf before. The dwarf, of course, was mad as shit, and called the cops. When the police officer heard the entire story, he told the dwarf that he couldn’t press charges because the kid didn’t know better.

Isn’t that funny? We thought so. Nothing against little people. I mean, hell, I’m five feet tall–if that. Kevin once called me a midget (in fun), and then said, "Oh, wait. That’s politically incorrect. You’re a little person." He laughed, and then continued with, "I bet you could get special benefits from the government." Ha, ha, ha. He’s such a brat. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Is This a Clue?

You know in my previous post when I said there are clues given to us, and if we’re aware of them, and follow them, things usually work out? Well this morning on the MSN web page there was this cute video of a little girl singing over and over again to not give up. I had just clicked on the MSN web page to watch it again, and it wasn’t there. Now I’m wondering about it. Was that a clue?

It seems like lately, I’ve been pelted with one problem after the next. It reminds me of that old saying: When it rains it pours. I think it all started with that stupid tornado because it seems ever since then, there’s been nothing but upheaval in my life. I realize that’s just part of life, and eventually things will calm down, but I keep feeling like I’m walking up a mountain, and I’m getting nowhere.


I do believe things happen for a reason, and if we trust in it, things will fall into place, but it has to be at the right time for you and the people that it affects in turn. So I’ve been repeatedly telling myself that: Things happen for a reason. You are where you’re suppose to be at. Trust in it, and eventually things will come together.

So when I saw that cute video this morning about not giving up, I had to wonder if that was the Universe’s way of telling me not to give up because eventually all that hard work will pay off. I don’t know. In the meantime, though, I’ll continue doing what I'm doing and hopefully any minute now I’ll see the top of that mountain and know that my ambition isn’t a blinded one.