Sunday, January 30, 2011

Writing a Paranormal, Fantasy or UF Novel?

Write a Paranormal, Fantasy or UF Novel Using Existing Myths for Worldbuilding ~ SavvyAuthors will be offering this course starting on March 7th. The instructor is Marcy Weydemuller. Here's a little about the course (Copied from the site):

Do you have an interesting twist on an old myth or mystical world?Do the worldbuilding elements take over when you write and you lose the story?Do you want to learn how to better incorporate existing mythology into your worldbuilding?

Join us for this Masters Level course where you will learn to better incorporate existing mythology into your worldbuilding. Build better worlds based upon existing myths and history as you spend a year exploring your world and writing your novel with hands-on help from Marcy Wydemuller and your peers.

Through reading, writing and analysis of literature surrounding their novel's myths and history, participants will hone techniques to produce the type of myth-based novels that speak through metaphor, symbolism, allusion and echo. Excerpts from novels and movies will be deconstructed to provide workable models for your own research and story.

Writing produced during the course will be critiqued weekly in small peer groups. In addition to daily instructor feedback to lectures and assignments, authors will post a full chapter or scene weekly with professional edits during the first three quarters. A personal analysis will be returned to the student only. Once a month, the middle Wednesday, there will be an open class discussion online. During the final quarter, each student will have a private one hour, one-on-one with the instructor regarding their novel and any specific questions they may still have regarding final polish and marketability.

Course Objectives:

* to complete a draft of your novel with daily and weekly goals.
* to apply mythic impact appropriate to your narrative.
* to create a fully developed believable world for your genre.
* to deepen analytical skills through study and discussion of various myth-building techniques through assigned readings and movies.
* to develop critique instincts and revision skills in peer groups.
* to create a polished submission package.

Masters Level – Will cover topics in detail, with the assumption that the student has more than a basic understanding of the craft elements of writing fiction.

WHEN: Mar 7, 2011 - Feb 18, 2012


I've been thinking about writing an urban fantasy lately, and this course caught my eye. I used an existing 'myth' for my paranormal series, so I know how difficult some aspects can be. Remember, this is a master's course, so keep that in mind if you choose to sign up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crash Course

In the past four years I’ve read countless articles on writing. I’ve attended conferences and panels at both the Romantic Times Convention and the RWA National Conference. I’ve bought enough craft books to sink a small rowboat (Make a Scene, Creating Character Emotions, GMC by Deb Dixon, Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies, Revision & Self-Editing, to name just a few.) I’ve interviewed NYT bestselling authors, spoken personally to industry professionals, and blogged myself stupid.

After all of this information overload it’s a wonder that I can still craft a sentence, let alone write a paragraph or a chapter. There are so many rules and suggestions floating around in my noggin, it’s amazing that I’m still sitting at my desk and not stuck in a fetal ball.

Let me give you a sneak peek to what’s in this writer’s mind. I’m putting it all in one paragraph so you can *feel* the insanity. Make sure you’ve had your coffee, because this is going to be a wild ride.

HIGH CONCEPT, HIGH CONCEPT, HIGH CONCEPT. If you can’t break your story down into a single sentence, you don’t know your story. RESEARCH. Do too little and you’ll regret it. Do too much and you’ll be starting your book sometime during the next ice age. PLOTTER VS PANTSER (or, as some like to call it, ORGANIC WRITER). Should you outline? Storyboard? Start typing and hope for the best? Well, whatever you do, always start with an INCITING INCIDENT, and end each chapter with a CLIFF-HANGER. DO NOT drop back-story into chapter one, for God’s sake! If you do that you’re either a newbie who knows NOTHING or Sherrilyn Kenyon – and you, my friend, are no Sherrilyn Kenyon. HERO. Is he a bad boy? A rake? An alpha? (Are there any other types right now?) HEROINE. Is she quiet? Strong? Is she kick-ass? (Are there any other types right now?) SETTING. Some say this is just another character. Just do your homework and make sure it doesn’t talk. WORLD-BUILDING. Make it fresh. Make it original. Good luck with that. NARRATIVE. Too much can dull your manuscript, unless you’re Christine Feehan. DIALOGUE. Listen to people talk and do your best to emulate that. Go easy on the Scottish brogue. POINT OF VIEW. Stay in one point of view for each scene. Only the best can get away with head-hopping. ACTION VS REACTION. Are your characters just reacting to all the bullcrap that’s happening to them, or are they DOING something about it, which leads to CHARACTER DRIVEN VS PLOT DRIVEN. Do events drive your story, or are your characters moving the story forward through decisions and action? There are times the two combine, and that separates the good books from great books. Again, good luck with that. GMC. What is your character’s goal? What motivates your character? Is there any CONFICT in your novel whatsoever? INTERNAL VS EXTERNAL CONFLICT? Yes, there are two kinds of conflict. Deal with it. VOICE. What is it and where do I find it? Hint: could you ever read a paragraph from one of J.R. Ward’s Brotherhood novels and mistake it for another writer? I think not. DEEP POV. You’re not writing about your character. You ARE your character. Let the reader see what’s happening through the eyes of your hero and heroine. PACING. 2 slow or 2 fast for 2 long = not good. ADHESION. What keeps your hero and heroine together throughout the book? FLAWS & QUIRKS. Just because your heroine is a size two with fair, unblemished skin and long, shiny hair doesn’t mean she’s perfect. That goes for the hero, too. Give him a quirk or flaw to go with his washboard abs. SEXUAL TENSION. Doesn’t matter if Satan himself is tracking your hero and heroine by chapter two, they’d better want to hump each other by chapter three. EMOTION. Visceral emotions. Live them, love them, include them in your book. AVOID CLICHES. I’m trying to think of a cliché to put here, but I’ve trained myself so well I can’t come up with one. SEX SCENES. Remember, this isn’t your mother’s romance novel. (Even though those historical bodice rippers were OFF THE HOOK. Ever read one? And they say our books are hot. Whaaaat?) SUSPENSE. Romantic suspense isn’t the only genre that needs it. BACKGROUND. Little like back-story. Don’t bore the reader with the details, but tell us how your hero was tortured and why the heroine is afraid of bald men on rollerblades. SECONDARY CHARACTERS. Better make sure they add something to the story. Otherwise readers will be skipping some of your scenes like they do with the Lessers. (I didn’t just say that.) (Yes I did.) BLACK MOMENT. The climax. The time when the hero and heroine realize they are going to DIE. They are going to LOSE. There is NO future for them. (Until the next chapter, of course.) RESOLUTION. Time to wrap up everything that happened up to this point. Hopefully you took some notes while you were writing. HAPPILY EVER AFTER. I luv you! I luv you, too! I can’t quit you! You’re my destined mate, my one and only, my future and my life, my soul mate. THE END.

There it is – the condensed version of rules and suggestions that run through my mind every time I sit down to write. Maybe that’s why most of us wear headphones and rock to our favorite music while we write. If we thought about all the rules, plot points and must-haves when writing, we’d never get anywhere close to the HEA.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blizzard Aftermath

As you can see, that's a lot of snow, or as we like to call it in my town, a lot of bullshit. It didn't take long for everyone to dig themselves out and clear their driveways. I think people from South Dakota are accustomed to this type of weather. I'm not. I was just happy to sit inside and write. :)

I've lived in a lot of places. Northern and Southern California, Italy, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida and Illinois. Every place I've been has its own flavor. In Italy it was all about the food. Michigan was downright beautiful, and I lived two minutes from the beach in Southern Cali. Here? It's peaceful. And cold - don't get me wrong. I've never been in weather like this before. In the summer it's storm after storm. Thankfully we only had one tornado warning last year. In the winter it's freezing and white. White as far as the eye can see. LOL But I'll take it, because my kids can run around this little town and I don't have to worry.

So there you have it. My blizzard pics. I took more, but you get the jist of the situation. ;) Lots and lots of snow.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

This picture was taken BEFORE the blizzard that swept through my town yesterday, dumping seven plus inches of snow. Unbelievable. Having been raised in sunny California, I'm simply speechless. This is my second blizzard in two years. It totally wrecked my plans to drink in the new year. :P

Speaking of...Happy New Year! I didn't make any resolutions for 2011. I think I've learned my lesson at this stage in the game. From losing weight to writing more, I've tried nailing down every typical resolution under the sun. Not this time. However, I did find an awesome horoscope for my sign today. :) I think I'll take it.

Year 2011 Career

This is the year to build your resources, fatten your savings account, and stash money away for some of your bigger dreams. Don't be afraid of spending either. Money has a way of finding its way right into your humble bank account, especially this spring. You're not used to such an effortless cash flow and may unconsciously attempt to sabotage your own good fortune. Tell yourself a thousand times a day that you deserve the riches that are coming your way, because you truly do.

You've got to take your talents more seriously, Pisces. No more undercutting yourself and humbly accepting crumbs when you're worth gold. Take an honest assessment of all of the gifts you bring to the table and you'll quickly realize that you have been shamefully underpaid. But let any residual false modesty be a thing of the past now that 2011 has come to bring you the big bucks you so deserve.

When Jupiter leaves your money sector in June, in order to keep the cash flowing you'll have to work those networking skills. Make sure you've got a strong online presence and don't be afraid to revamp your image and make yourself more visible. You have a tendency to keep yourself invisible. But once people see you and all that you have to offer, they will be all over your talents. Stop doubting yourself and letting that legendary Piscean paranoia interfere in what promises to be one of the most successful and lucrative years of your career.

Nice, right? Anyway, I didn't read all that much last year. Unfortunately, I didn't write as much either, as I was getting familiar with a new job. I couldn't nail a favorite book down for the year. I had two.

I really can't say which book I enjoyed reading more. I LOVED Rehvenge, and the gritty tone of the book. John Mathews novel nearly topped my list, but thinking back on the two books made me realize I enjoyed the tone of Lover Avenged a little more.

And who wouldn't love the demon Malkom? As a writer I was enthralled with the way Cole handled a hero and heroine who couldn't communicate through most of the book.

These two authors remain auto-buys for me.

As they say, on to bigger and better. I hope everyone has a great year. :)