Monday, January 30, 2012

The Consensus is...

First, let me say that I'm thrilled with the response to my last post on back story. Not because you told me what I wanted to hear, but because so many weighed in on the discussion. In case you missed it, I posed the question: What is the deal with back story? It seems the majority of you think back story is fine (even a good thing) in small doses. You can read the post and the comments here.

Now, you may be wondering what today's picture has to do with back story. Well, it really doesn't. I chose this picture today because the thing that thrilled me most about the comments on my last post was that they renewed my excitement about blogging. They reminded me that I am not alone in this journey to publication. Sure...some of you are already published or at the very least a few steps ahead of me on the journey. Others are a few steps behind. And we may or may not be following the same path. But we are all walking in the same direction.

Most of you know that my paying gig is as a contract Accountant. I even posted about how the left and right sides of my brain battle against each other. I enjoy both crunching numbers and writing, but sometimes, numbers feel safer. You know why? Because there is a definite answer in numbers. There is a definite right way to do things. There is no gray area. Okay, sometimes there are loopholes or exceptions, and some might exercise a certain level of creativity (for lack of a better word) to save on taxes, etc. But for the most part, Accounting is a black and white process. Writing on the other hand, is mostly a gray area. There are so many different opinions out there about the "right" way to do things that it's hard to know which direction you should go in. Blogging provides a forum for discussions on these gray area topics. That's one of the reasons I spend so much time doing it.

So, I thank you all for your openness to express your opinions about these topics. It's like our own little pool of research participants.

Anyway, returning to back story... I have done quite a bit of research on the subject over the last several days, and I thought I'd share with you what I've found in my next few posts. But, as with everything else in this business, remember that what I share with you will purely be industry professionals' opinions. Remember...there is no black and white when it comes to writing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Now that's just bad luck!

You know last week when I mentioned I tend to use the same shoe picture more than once? Well, this is one of those times. I remembered using this picture back in 2009, and I thought it would be perfect for what I wanted to talk about today. What I didn't remember was what that older post was about. Funny thing is, it was not all that different from what I'm going to post today. If you're dying of curiosity, you can read it here.

Back in 2009, I used this picture to initiate a discussion about inner conflict. Sure, we can see that the woman's heel is broken, which is an inconvenient external conflict. What we can't see, is what's going on inside of her. Why might this broken heel be such a horrible thing for her? Today's post was supposed to be about backstory. What in this woman's past has made this broken heel such a crisis? Were these the much beloved shoes of her dead grandmother? Did her ex-husband give them to her? Did this very heel save her life when she used it to bash in the skull of the man who tried to rape her?

What I'm getting at today (as I was in the 2009 post) is this: Why do we care that this woman has broken a heel? On the surface, it's just a piece of bad luck. Yes, if it happened to me, it would be an inconvenience so I might feel sorry for her for a moment. But if I passed this woman on the street in the morning as she struggled with her shoe, I'd probably forget all about her by lunchtime because I don't know her. And since I don't know her, I don't care a whole lot. Certainly not enough to read a 200 plus page book about her.

I've had some issues recently with making my MC likable--someone the reader will care about--so I re-read the first chapters of some of my favorite books with characters I loved immediately and could not stop thinking about long after I finished reading the book. You know what they all had in common? Backstory. Not only in the first chapter, but on the very first page. This goes against everything I've learned since I actively began pursuing novel writing. So, as things often do, it's got me thinking...what is the deal with backstory? Why is it so frowned upon? Wouldn't you be more likely to read a book about this woman with the broken heel if you knew right away that the shoes were special to her because they saved her life?

Now, I'm not saying I'm going against the grain and want to start some kind of pro-backstory protest. I just want to hear your thoughts on the matter. And if you have any appropriate links on the subject, please do share. I'll be posting more about this in the next few days, but for now, I'd love to know what you think.

Monday, January 16, 2012

300 Pairs of Shoes

Really, I'm not sure how many shoes are in this picture, but I do know that my blog has 300 pairs of shoes on it. Well... maybe not exactly 300 because there are a few pre-shoe posts, some of the pictures are of bare feet, and I have been known to use the same picture more than once. But still, it's close to 300. You know how I know that? Well, because this is my 300th post. That's a lot of posts. It's hard to believe I've actually come up with 300 posts of things to talk about. Granted, they weren't always intriguing, inspiring, motivating, humorous, heartwarming, etc., etc., etc. Nevertheless, I have written 300 posts.

To celebrate, I've decided to look back at what things were like for me 300 posts ago compared to what they are like now. So here we go...

300 posts ago, I was stupid excited about my future as a New York Times Bestselling author and all of the fan mail I would be receiving about how incredibly awesome my book is. 300 posts later, I'm stupid excited about receiving feedback from my amazing critique partners about how incredibly NOT ready my book is.

300 posts ago, I was casting the leads for the movie Hollywood would no doubt make based on my bestselling book. 300 posts later, I'm recasting the same movie because the actors I chose before are all way too old now. I'm looking at toddler actors because there's a good chance that by the time my book sells (and it will) and the movie is made, those toddlers will be teenagers.

300 posts ago, I was certain millions and millions of dollars would be rolling my way soon. 300 posts later, I've taken a day job because I've learned that even when my book sells (and it will), there's no million dollar guarantee.

300 posts ago, I was happy spending hour after hour with my characters without ever needing real human interaction. I guess some things never change. This is still true. But 300 posts later, I do realize that real human interaction is imperative. Not only for my own well being, but also for my muse. Without real human interaction, I become cranky. And my muse doesn't like it when I'm cranky, so she leaves me. And then all those characters I love to hang out with, well, they just sit around doing nothing, and I get bored.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit here, but to a certain extent, it's all true. The bottom line is that 300 posts ago, I was naive about the publishing industry and my talent as a writer. I don't mean this post to be negative because it isn't. Quite the opposite actually. I'm thankful I've learned so much and come this far. I see growth, not only in my knowledge of the industry, but also in my talent as writer. For me, this is satisfaction in and of itself. Not to mention all the fun I've had blogging in the process.

So, what about you? Does this little exaggeration sound familiar? No worries. I'm confident we'll get where we want to be. We just have to lean on each other and keep on working hard. Here's to what we've learned and to what lessons still lie ahead!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Take A Walk...

...On over to Jill Kemerer's Place. I'm being interviewed there today. If you don't already follow her, you should. It's always a pleasure stopping by to see what morsels of information she has to share. And while you're at it, stop by K.M. Walton's Place and hear all about her CRACKED launch party! The book came out on January 3rd, and I'm so excited for Kate! So what are you waiting for? Go congratulate Kate and then head on over to Jill's. I'll be here trying to repair the damage I did to my blog while trying to get my sidebar back to the side instead of the bottom. Anyone know how to do that?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!

I know I'm a little late with the New Year's wishes, but I've been preoccupied with two new distractions. And, no, unfortunately, they aren't two shiny new ideas. One is the Nook Color, and the other is a boxer rescue puppy, both of which Santa brought to our house on Christmas. Since then, when I haven't been chasing the puppy around, I've been mesmerized by the Nook. Sad thing is I'm not just reading on it. I'm also playing Words With Friends. It seems I've become addicted. And believe me, the last thing I needed was another procrastination activity.

So, I've decided enough is enough. It's time to make some changes. Otherwise, I may never get any writing done. The Nook has been banned to my nightstand. I will exercise discipline and not touch it until my nightly bedtime reading. And, as for the puppy...well...she's going to have to learn a little discipline too and sit quietly by my feet while I go about my writing business. Hmm...I wonder which one of us will prove to be more disciplined. My bet's on the puppy. :)

What about you all? How's the New Year going so far? Santa bring you any new distractions?