Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Uncovered Gems

Since my main WIP is in a contemporary setting and is about a foster child, I find a great number of wonderful nuggets that inspire all sorts of ideas for my plot. Sometimes all it takes is a newspaper article, a TV news report, or stray conversation among the people I see at church and the grocery store. My notebooks are full of varied jewels that I've uncovered.

Here's some of the latest tidbits:
  • A newspaper article concerning the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims--Since many of the victims don't report it for decades, the perpetrators go unpunished. The crimes against my character Samantha are nearly lost to this reluctance to talk.
  • A newspaper article that older mothers with daughters are living on a powder keg of hormones--As the daughters hit puberty, the moms are entering menopause with the possibility of major combustion. My two main characters fit this dynamic and my back brain will make something of it--I just know it will. ; )
  • A local TV news crew reported on a group that paid for the funeral of a homeless vet with full military honors--The retired Marine among my characters is itching to use this quote from the story: "No one should go on their last mission alone." Something tells me that this will come up again in some way in Cherry Hill Book 2--LINE OF FIRE.
  • A newspaper article about the result of a court case that requires a reduction of the case loads for child protective services personnel in the Fulton and Dekalb counties (Atlanta). All the other counties in Georgia have had to increase the caseloads to make up for personnel and funds moved to Fulton and Dekalb. This was confirmed by a discussion with a local Department of Family and Children caseworker. She has 33 active cases right now. My story isn't set in Fulton or Dekalb counties. I think you can figure out the rest of that line of thinking.
  • Some of my friends were bemoaning the loss of their children's boy and girl friends. The quote was "But they didn't break up with us!" When a child falls in love with potential mate who then disappears, what happens to the hapless parent who made the friend welcome to the family? This one will be allowed to ferment. I'm sure my characters have something to say about it. ; )
Where do you find your uncovered kernels and hidden gems?
But more importantly, how do you record them so you don't lose them?

The delightful Denise Covey's A to Z Challenge posts have covered Bloggers Were Children, Too this month and I'm Z. ; ) Go HERE to read my interview.

If you want more info on my strange and wonderful name go to my post: "What's in a Name?"
It's been fun following Denise at L'Aussie Writer and Deniz at The Girdle of Melian, and Matthew at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. Check these great bloggers out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Self-censorship comes in all manner of shapes and sizes. Two weeks ago, I described one form in Censorship. Here's another you might want to watch out for.

My scenes usually start with dialog. I can hear the words that the characters are saying, but dialog isn't everything. When I start worrying about the other necessary parts of the scene, I slow down. My ears lose their focus on the matter at hand. I start thinking about how to write the words smoothly with no cliches. Stage direction, body language, and description become obstacles to the free flow of what I can see at the moment. The truth is, when I don't stop to think and let description flow naturally, others notice it and praise it as poetic prose.

So, what stops you in your tracks, slows down your words? Do you have a usual obstacle to your first words? How do you go back and capture the fire of the scene, that kernel that caught your attention at the beginning?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Importance of Frustration

How frustrating can writing be? Enough to make you quit? Sometimes. But according to Jonah Lehrer, frustration is what makes creativity work. Think about it. How many times have you been told that it's the hard work that makes the job valuable?

In "The Talent Myth" Barbara Baig (The Writer April 2012) says it in a slightly different way. Baig says that talent really is the result of deliberate practice, not a gift. Without hard work, the constant reaching for objectives just out of reach, we can't become better. Writing well requires a constant striving for improved craft skills and not accepting "good enough."

But do we really want to be frustrated? Looking back to Lehrer, I think we have to accept the frustration to get to our goals. His equation is:

                                          problem = frustration=creative breakthrough

So, we should be thrilled when we're frustrated with the problems we face--when the book's plot sticks, a character refuses to behave, or a sentence baulks. Frustration is good for us. Really! ; ) Don't believe me? Check out the following video illustrating Lehrer's point.

What do you do when you're frustrated--give up or buckle down? Here's to persistence and deliberate practice!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


(While I'm not attempting the A to Z challenge, I'll try to match the letters when I post, so C is for censorship.)

No. I'm not talking about the perennial battles over books like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, I'm talking about self-censorship.

In my attempt to be either fish or fowl, I've become neither, and have stopped the free flow of words. My current work in progress is women's fiction and my main character and many of the other characters are Christian. While implementing new ministry for foster children at their church, they run headlong into the carnage of abuse.

The two main book markets are the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). In the ABA, voiced prayers and church references, even when they flow from my characters' cores, might not be saleable. While in the CBA, most publishers will not accept swearwords and no graphic violence or abuse--physical or sexual. And yet, that's at the core my main storyline.

I've decided that instead of limiting myself to either mindset, I'm going to let it all out--prayers and curses--and stop censoring myself before I start.

Okay, words, come on in. ; )

There's lots of other ways to self-censor yourself, but I'll save those for other posts.