Friday, February 25, 2011

You're Lying!

~~And now to come clean about my First Crusade Challenge. Amanda M. gets the award for reading between the lines successfully and figuring out the lie. I think she read all the comments and used elimination to figure it out.

~~The Truth:
-I love words and dictionary sites. I go to them nearly every day. Thanks to all of you who suggested new ones for me to explore.
-Zan is my daddy's fifth-grade girlfriend's name and it's not short for Alexandra, Suzanne, or Zandra.
-Momma didn't like Marie, but used it because the two names sounded good together. She had a classmate by that name who she just didn't like.
-I do use both names, but answer to just Zan, too.
-Among my many nicknames are Jamboree, Zana Banana, and Zanimo-Mechanimo. For more details about my name go to this old post HERE.
-I do hunt every little good thing about others while holding myself to an unobtainable level of perfection. As my hubby says, "Why don't you cut yourself the same breaks you give everyone else?"
-My worst villain--the evil incarnated, child sex abuser and murderer--has no redeeming value, but he's more of a boogyman until the climax. I may have to rethink that, but I can say the lesser antagonists do have redeeming traits.

~~The Lie:
-I absolutely hate Zanimo-Mechanimo! It doesn't help that King Jerk of my high school saddled me with it to make fun of my ability to organize. Yep, even as a teen, I was obsessive. ; )

~~I have a story published on WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty. Go HERE to find out what's surprising about my puppies. ; )

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ARRGH! February, Go Away!

~~February has been a lost cause when it comes to writing my wip. After November's 19,248 words, December's 13,863 words, and January's 16,427 words, I took it as a given that February would follow suite. But, no. It hasn't. I could give you the litany of excuses from health issues (myself and family) to planning and teaching a class at church. Add the wonderful Second Writer's Platform Crusade at Rachael Harrie's Rach Writes and my desire, no obsessive need, to follow the other 216 blogging crusaders and you've got a good list of the external reasons I've had not to write.

~~To be honest, they are just excuses for something much deeper and more insidious. Steven Pressfield calls it resistance in his book, The War of Art. Resistance is anything you let stop you from writing (or other creative endeavors). I've been so resistant this month, that I haven't been able to finish reading The War of Art. Once I finally made myself finish reading part one, I got back to work. That very day!

~~One of my best resistance blocks is perfectionism. It's a flavor of obsession that makes,  no, requires me to stop working, because I know how much has to be done to write the book. And I know I can't do it right in the first draft. So I just don't do anything. Or I struggle to write a scene knowing it's horrible because I'm only writing that specific scene I think I need it, but can't explain why. It's all head writing vs. heart writing. Check out Rachael's excellent blog post HERE on this very subject. What's true though, is what Steven Pressfield and Anne Lamott in her excellent book, Bird by Bird say--If you write everyday, your heart starts to take over and run the show.

~~So, February, check out, pass the baton to March, and let me get back to work!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Catch Me If You Can!

~~Kristina Fugate is hosting the Catch Me If You Can blogfest March 7 & 8. Be sure and check it out.

~~Also catch my fellow crusaders in the three groups I'm in by checking out my new page button. All of them are great blogs.

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Crusade Challenge

~~Rachael gave us a great first Crusader Challenge, didn’t she? Check out the info HERE.

~~I love words. Any words. All words. My most used bookmark is the One Look Dictionary Search. Check it out HERE. I can spend hours going down the rabbit hole of looking up words one after the other. All those who claim the blogosphere is just a vast way for us to bloviate have it all wrong. What’s not to love when wordsmiths do their best to entertain and inform. Though the challenge added a new one—fuliguline. Sea Ducks? I looked at that one and headed you know where. ; ) I guess I’ll have to make do with the Canadian geese flying overhead going home since I’m six hours from any sea or ocean.

~~I’m named for my daddy’s fifth grade girlfriend. Zan isn’t short for anything. Marie came from Momma. She didn’t want to use it, but it sounded good. I use both names since Zan is usually seen as male. I guess the unusual name is a magnet for nicknames as well—Jamboree and Zana Banana and high school added my favorite one of all—Zanimo-Mechanimo.

~~My lips turn up at the corners naturally so many people can’t tell when I’m sad or mad. That is until I open my mouth. It’s defused a lot of tense situations, so I’m not complaining. Unfortunately, gravity is starting to turn them down.

~~If I could take a blade to my bad character traits, I’d do it in a heartbeat, but I can’t dwell on others’ negative tendencies at all. I always look for the good in others. There is good in everyone, right? Must be. So why do I have a villain in my wip with absolutely no redeeming value at all?

~~There's a fact here that's not strictly true. Do you know which one it is?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where To Begin

~~Writers are told to begin their stories with a hook or in media res (Latin for “in the middle of things”). I’ve read that we should write our novels and then cut off the first four chapters. This is attributed to Chekov, but I haven’t been able to find the reference. If all this advice is giving you an attack of nerves, I’m with you.

~~There’s something to it though. I recently read a novel by a best-selling author and I was stunned to realize that the story didn’t really begin until a quarter of the way in. Everything before that was backstory that should have been sprinkled in like salt. I almost put the book down. Almost. But I couldn’t quite do it. The story was good and the characters intriguing…and I’m a bit obsessive. ; ) Why would the author of over sixty titles make this mistake? I imagine she thought we needed all of the backstory to fully appreciate the plot.

~~Two different sources finally made the advice hit home for me. One is an article by Victoria Mixon on “Four Mistakes of Fiction Writers” and number two addresses just this issue—“Misplaced Backstory.” Here’s a bit of Victoria’s advice:

Unfortunately, we don’t read in a chronological world. We read for excitement. We read for the thrill of our blood pressure being inflated, soothed, then inflated again. We read for the roller coaster ride. (emphasis—Victoria Mixon)

Check this LINK for the full article.

The other great advice comes from Beth at the Forum. She has a great blog post that describe gangplanks, doors, and bridges. Gangplanks are for writers to help them get into the scene and they should be ditched later. Doors are for readers and bridges are to let readers make transitions between scenes. Check out Beth’s entire post at this LINK.

~~All this thinking about where to begin has made me reassess the starts of two of my works-in-progress. FRIENDLY FIRE begins when Laura Grace first sees Samantha, an abused foster child and that’s the right place because it puts into motion everything else in the plot. If I’d begun a year earlier at the funeral of Laura Grace’s husband, Tom, I would have spent pages telling you about her slide into depression, day by day, and you’d rightfully put the book down, bored to tears.

~~THE DAWN AND THE LION, my SciFi work-in-progress, is another story altogether. The many handwritten pages I have squirreled away on this story are largely backstory, and I’ve got to cut them severely to make the beginning hook you into the story. I will use all the info I’ve learned, but as sparing detail to flesh out main character Canda as she negotiates Patria with its very different culture and mores. Susan Edwards, one of my writing buddies, has always said I started THE DAWN AND THE LION in the wrong place. You know what, Susan, you’re absolutely right! It took me reading a book by someone else to really internalize the advice.

~~So here’s to finding the right place to begin. May you all find it easily. But, then, when was writing ever easy. Enjoy the hunt!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Second Writers' Platform-Building Crusade

~~To all my followers: We are going to connect across the web to help each other out when agents and editors ask if we have platforms to promote our writing. So follow this link to Rach Writes for more info.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

And Now--Something New in the Shade

~~Just when you thought you understood how this blogging stuff works, you learn something new. It was only last month that I figured out how to change my template for a updated look. I still love it, by the way. Though I have tried on a few more for size, this one suits me for now. Then my Forum buddy, Tara, added the neatest page to her blog--My Writings. Check her out at Feel of Something New or use the blog roll on the side. I tried to think through every possible way to do it and nearly gave up. Then it hit me--just ask Tara! And it's easy. By the way, Tara's a great writer!

~~Here's how you do it--When you start a new post, check out the tab that says Edit Pages and voila there is an easy to use box to create up to ten free standing pages. As many blogs as I've seen with these nifty additions and it takes me until my seventieth post to see the tab before my eyes...You have to wonder about my powers of observation. ; )

~~Armed with Tara's helpful and clear directions, I've added four new pages to my blog in the last week. So check them out. I included:
My Books--descriptions and background about my two devotionals and a little about the two church histories
Works In Progress--about the three novels I'm actively working on--Friendly Fire, Line of Fire, and The Dawn and the Lion. The first is on the front burner, but sneaky little scenes and ideas for the other two slip in here and there. There is a devotional gestating as well, but I'm not far enough along to describe it yet.
About--Which includes a brief Bio, Awards, Events, and Articles
Photos--Which is what you think--photos of events and etc. from my journey as a writer

~~The Shade of the Cherry Tree is like a mini website all by itself now. So check the new pages out and let me know what you think. And let me thank Tara one more time. ; )