Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween with Two Hollywood Masters!

What better way to kick off your Happy Halloween than to spend a minute with the classic, spooky actor Vincent Price and vampire Kermit the Frog? Enjoy the frightful festivities this evening, and be safe!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Personal Peek at My Novel Prewriting Process

Don't let any writer tell you any of the following things:

"If you want to write a good book, you have to compose a detailed outline before you start!"

"In order to create a worthwhile novel, you cannot plan it out; you have to let yourself create it as it goes."

"You HAVE to write THIS way."

"You HAVE to write THAT way."

In truth, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to the process of composing a novel. I've known lots of writers, published and unpublished, who prefer to compose an intricate outline that specifically maps out where they want their story to go. I've also known writers (also published and unpublished) who get a simple idea, and then they sit down and start typing, letting the story write itself. I find myself somewhere in the middle.

I don't create a full outline because sometimes, for me, I'll get midway through a story, and the original idea I had wants to go a different route. When that happens, my subconscious is trying to guide me, so I'll go with the flow at that point; however, I do write down lots of notes. I record thoughts that I have during brainstorming, or when I get a random idea during the way. I also collect inspiring pictures and story-related research. And I keep all this stuff in one big notebook or binder.

Let me share with you some pictures of a special example of my type of writing notebook. This binder serves as the home to a vast majority of notes I collected during the process of writing Wings of the Divided and its sequels back in college.

As you can see, the scribbled notes are not all on the same kind of paper. Sometimes, I'd be out somewhere far away from my writing desk, and I'd get a good idea, so I'd grab the closest piece of paper I could find in order to store my thoughts. I've heard of writers like J.K Rowling even writing down notes on napkins because they didn't have anything else to write on. Sometimes when inspiration hits, you just have to capture it somehow so you don't lose it.

For my characters, I will often go on a hunt for pictures of people that look like them--or at least how I see them in my mind.

(Inspiration for my character Melissa)

(Inspiration for my character Noam)

And sometimes I'll even get brave enough to draw sketches of my characters, diagrams of scenery, or details of an item.

(My character Noam--those are supposed to be sai he's holding, although they kind of look like Wolverine claws here.)

(My character Laphelle--I saw some of the characters almost in Anime style in my head.)

As I wrote these books, I allowed myself to get completely obsessed with angels. I wanted to be familiar with not only the Bible's interpretation of what angels were, but also who they were in lore from other countries. Ultimately, I put my own spin on what I wanted my angels to be like, but I did contribute bits of legend here and there, and just really enjoyed learning about the history. I bought a dictionary of angels, printed out historic bits of scripture about angels, and made copies of encyclopedic references to angels. (I also gathered articles about violins and other story-related topics.)

Before I wrap up this post, I'll mention one other thing I sometimes do before I write a chapter or a certain scene, and that is I make song lists for them. Quite a few authors I know of write with music going in the background. I find that certain songs, mostly classical/soundtrack tunes for me, can help me create a movie-like scene in my head. And then that helps me to channel the right emotion that a scene needs. So I'll often write down song names and their corresponding scenes in my book so I can remember to listen to those when I'm writing that scene. (I don't have to have music going; I've also written plenty in complete silence. It just depends on the scene.)

So that's pretty much it as far as preparation goes for me! Again, some novelists don't take any notes at all, while others map out everything that's going to happen in the story before they ever start typing. I say (like so many things in life), to each his own. As long as you have the skill, the determination, and the imagination, there really is no wrong way to go about it!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Enlightenment from a Gas Pump

One of the issues I find myself gritting my teeth at these days is watching folks continue to make really, really bad choices. They come to me for advice when their lives are crumbling around them, and I hold their hands and yank them up and serve as the Voice of Reason. For a while, they listen, they understand, and they start to "get it." But so often, they wind up in the same situation, over and over, like a hamster stuck on one of those little wheels. It's so completely frustrating when you see people you care about act like utter fools. I was feeding my car with gasoline this morning, my mind reeling with this sort of angst, when I saw a quote that someone had written right on the gas pump:

"Time makes more converts than reason." --Thomas Paine

It was as if someone had written that just for me to see. I started laughing, cackling actually, right there in the lot, if only to stop myself from crying from the stupidity of the people I love. It was like someone was trying to tell me, You can give all the advice you want, sweetheart, but the only way people are going to "get it" is with time...and sometimes a loooong time.

I got inspired by Paine and started looking up some more of his quotes. This guy really had it figured out. Here's a good one:

"Attempting to debate with a person who has abandoned reason is like giving medicine to the dead."

And here's another:

"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry."

And lastly, because it especially resonates with me right now with the release of my angel book, is this one:

"Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us."

Chew on those...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Birthday Month Begins

October has always been the birthday month in my life because so many of my near and dear ones (including yours truly) have a birthday this month: my mother, my father, my aunt, my best friend's baby, my dog, my father-in-law, and my little brother. Today kicked off the string of celebrations with my baby bro Caleb! I got him a nifty little monkey vegetable peeler since he's getting all into shape now with his new diet and work-out regimen with his ex-Marine, hard-core trainer. (He's already lost 30 lbs! I'm so proud!)

Caleb, or "Puddums," as I like to call him, is 4 years my junior. I remember when our family first adopted him (yes, he was adopted! Kudos to adoption supporters!). I used to creep into his room and steal him out of his crib and play with him like a little, funny doll. He has always been so cheerful, constantly smiling, just generally high on life. He used to get in trouble at dinner time for being a goofball like dramatically opening his mouth to show me his chewed-up food. I would crack up laughing, and our dad would threaten us. Then Caleb would get that look in his eye like he was going to do it again...Dad would warn him not to...and Caleb would do it anyway. I'd roll over laughing, and Caleb would be taken to the back room to get a spanking.

Even to this day, when we get together, he switches into "clown mode," and I switch into "getting-ready-to-be-entertained-and-laugh-hard mode." It's as if no time has passed, and we revert back to those fun-loving kids we were growing up.

Happy Birthday, Caleb! Here's to many more in the future!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Austin Visit: A Few Pics to Show the Trip in a Nutshell

First off, can anyone tell me what kind of strange flower this is? Snapped it while walking.

Here's the little boutique hotel's lobby after dark.

I liked the random, Modern-style houses in the neighborhood.

Pastries, drinks, cheese plate, and ping pong. What more could you want on a Tuesday afternoon?

This place has some nice omelets.

If you need a costume for absolutely anything, come here.

Turns out, October's a great time for a walk along the river.

It always seems smaller in pictures, but the cap. building was HUGE!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Baby!

It's finally available. AT LAST!! I won't say much about it right now because I just got back from a trip to Austin and I am pooped. But I wanted to at least post that it was available on Kindle (and soon to be Nook, iBooks, etc.) for only $0.99! Without further ado, here it is, and you can click on it to read the blurb, which will perhaps make you curious, which will then perhaps make you buy it, and then read it, and then review it, and then tell all your friends about it, and so-on.