Sunday, September 30, 2012

Extroverted Writer Links


Useful links on writing, extroversion and overcoming self-sabotage:

Five Signs You May Be Sabotaging Your Own Writing Career: Guilty of all five at one time or another in the past year.

What's Your Writing Personality?: Introvert? Extrovert? Mixed?

7 Ways for Extroverts to Increase Their Writing Productivity: good tips on making inherent personality traits work for, not against the writing. I can't admit to #10, but the others do sound familiar.

The Problem of the Extroverted Writer: Holmes and Watson help an extroverted writer figure out his most perplexing predicament.

The Challenges of Being a Writer and an Extrovert: YATopia offers some excellent suggestions. on Extroverts: Really good definition, easy and accessible.

The "Silent Treatment" vs. the Talking Machine: Understanding Introverts and Extroverts: Introvert and extrovert styles of processing thoughts and feelings.

Ten Myths About Extroverts: This Truth About Sushi blog entry tackles some generalizations.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday at the Movies #96 - Anna Karenina

First, it's a historical drama that is not a fictionalized biography. That alone would get me in the theater. Can't use the "it isn't Tolstoy" argument to fault the story because, well, it is Tolstoy. Anna Karenina. Then stick Keira Knightley and Jude Law in the same movie, produced by Working Title no less...yeah, I am going to be in that theater seat multiple times. All I ask is that they not mess with the ending. Please please please please. Not the happiest of endings, but I'm a proponent of staying true to the work.

Not getting on that soap box today, as time's a-wasting, so I will leave you with this gorgeous trailer from FilmTrailerZone. Will you be watching?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #110: LMAFO and character theme songs

Quick drive-by post this time, but rest assured I haven't forgotten about dueling "Addictions" and I haven't even started to blabber about All The Right Moves.

LMAFO's "Sexy and I Know It" is on my WIP playlist, as it's pretty much the song playing in my heroine's ex's head at all times, and the current scene is is his first appearance. A past-his-peak dancer, this guy is more in love with himself than he ever could be with anyone else. It fits, and it puts me in the right frame of mind to know where his head is in this scene.

As an aside, would this not make an awesome flash mob idea? Have to admit the initial shot of a whole horde of black-clad dancers taking the floor at once makes quite an impression. May have to file that away for later.

LMAFO's song bumped the previous choice of theme song for this character out of the playlist. (Sense a theme here?):

How about you, writers? Do your characters get theme songs? Readers, do you assign theme songs to your favorites?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

So. Writing. I do that.

So. Writing. I do that. Secret tip #2: “So. X.” works along the same lines as “here’s the thing.” That’s a good thing because it always helps to have a backup. Which is pretty much the whole point of doing these morning pages. The brain has to do something, and it doesn’t matter much what the starting gun sounds like, as long as it sounds.

Right now, it sounds like looking at a big blank white wall. Which is normal for the start of a writing day. Some days are great; the characters pull the writer out of bed, march her (or him) to the computer or crack open the notebook and they’re off and running. This is not one of those days. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad day. It only means it’s a day. Butt in chair and fingers on keyboard, same as usual.

The worst time-waster, for me, isn’t Facebook (even with SimCity Social) but doubt. Don’t ask me when the doubt monster (DM for short, as we’re that well acquainted) posed as a pizza delivery person and barged in to take up residence. I’m guessing DM used that particular disguise because, really, what writer is ever going to not open the door for a pizza? At any rate, it did, and while, as with any writer, there’s the obligatory trial and error of finding the right weapon to hit DM where it counts, most days the best way out is through.

So. Writing. There are days when any writer will do anything but write. That’s because writing can be scary. It’s at once intensely personal and meant to be shared. Kind of funny that way, but that’s how it goes. For someone who is both a writer and an extrovert, it can be a delicate balance. Still working on that, since I’m pretty sure I’m going to be both for the rest of my life.

The thing about extroverted writers (see what I did there?) is that we need the energy of others around us to get our own motors running. I can stare at the blank page for hours, go around and around in my own mind, but put me across the table from another writer and I can blabber out pages worth. Which brings to mind an interesting experiment; would it work to try speaking the day’s work into a recording device? Not sure on that one, since I’m a wuss about hearing my own voice in a recording. I’ve heard that’s pretty common, and it’s because we can’t hear our own voices within our heads the same way they sound to others, and the how-it-sounds-to-others is how we hear it on a recording.

That’s it for me today. What’s your favorite weapon when fighting DM?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here's The Thing....

Test Here’s the thing about making a challenge to oneself and putting it on the internet; it takes away the anonymity of weaseling out. Which, I will have to admit, I was tempted to do. Let’s face it; sometimes, writing is scary. I’ve described it to writing friends as sticking an ice cream scoop in the writer’s gut, grabbing an generous portion, plopping it on a plate and offering it to strangers.

That’s moi, by the way, for today’s picture, photo taken in a church reception hall bathroom and then fiddled with in Photobucket. Because I do those sorts of things. Click to embiggen.

So, anyway, writing. Secret tip #1 – I can make myself go from nothing to write about to being able to get something down by starting with “here’s the thing…” I don’t know why that works, but it does. Not the most useful thing when writing on an actual historical romance manuscript, but when it comes to freewriting, “here’s the thing” does it every time. Don’t ask me where I got that turn of phrase from. We writerly sorts are master eavesdroppers and that’s where I’m assuming it came from. Somebody used it in public and then it stuck in my mind forever. Thanks for the inadvertently useful trick, dear stranger, whoever you are.

The thing about the thing is that it fits in with something said by the facilitator of a writer’s group I attended years ago. In that group, we wrote to timed prompts, and were to keep the pen moving during that time. It didn’t matter what we put on the page. The goal was to get something down. Anything. We didn’t have to share if we didn’t want to, and we didn’t have to use the prompt, but we were to keep the pen on the page. As the facilitator said, the process begets the content.

There’s only so long one can write “I have no idea what I’m writing” or the like before some exasperated character will push themselves to the front of the writer’s consciousness and decide their story is more important than counting the number of lines left on the page, or venting one’s spleen about whatever real life annoyance has one’s knickers in a bunch. Sometimes, though, there has to be that bloodletting first, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Same thing as clearing the junk off the floor before attempting to dance on it. Only way to do it is to do it.

Two more days to complete my week. Got a question about writing, reading or the romance genre in general? Shoot it at me in comments and I might blab about it in days to come. Now go be fabulous.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Workings of a Writing Mind

Freewriting today to get the pump primed, our illustration courtesy of Gunther from my Sims 3 game. Pretty accurate for the writing life, I'd say. Though this is the day of the week when I generally meet with writer friends, life happens, and thus it’s me and me and me.

Which is fine. That’s how writing goes, isn’t it? One writer (two or more if we’re talking a collaboration, but we aren’t at the moment, so move along, nothing to see here) with butt in chair and fingers on keyboard. While it’s important to keep in contact with those of our own kind (especially for those of us who are extroverts, but that’s for another post), writers are not people who talk about writing, without actually doing the work. Writers are people who write. We tell stories. We interpret what’s unfolding in our heads and put it in a form that allows others to enter these worlds of our own creation and get to know the characters who inhabit them.

This morning, I told the woman behind the counter at my local Panera that I have crossed the bar into fall and my usual beverage is now hot tea rather than iced. I wore my fleece vest, a knit hat and matching mitts while on my once-again-customary morning walk with a neighbor. My brain gave me the signal that it’s time for fresh tunes on my mp3 player. Since my brain gave me that signal immediately prior to the device asking me to reformat it, I’m going to consider that confirmation that I’m on the right track.

When I was but a wee princess, my mother used to tell me that the more I did, the more I would want to do, and that holds true with writing as well. I’ve called these random babblings ‘morning pages’ if I want to be writerly, ‘priming the pump’ or ‘freewriting’ most of the time, and if I’m angry/upset/stabby/etc, ‘bloodletting.’ It’s that whole bodies in motion tend to stay in motion sort of thing. We like motion.

Which is why, today, you get this. I am giving myself a challenge. One page of freewriting every weekday morning this week, posted here. That’s the goal. If I tell the interwebs I’m doing it, then I have to follow through. Pictures may be present, but do not count toward page count. Happy Dance Friday will likely count toward fulfilling this challenge, unless faithful readers like you want a double post with extra rambling.

What goes through your head before you get down to business for the day?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Saturday At The Movies #95 - The Beauty Inside

No, you're not seeing things. It may be Monday, but Saturday at the Movies is back. Though I'm excited about the new TV season, today's feature is a Saturday at the Movies first - a web original.

I first stumbled onto The Beauty Inside by accident , when it came up before the video I'd meant to watch. Average guy gets out of the bed where his female companion still slumbers and furtively dresses in clothes that obviously do not fit. In voiceover, he introduces himself as Alex and mentions he has a condition- every time he wakes up, he's a different person. Literally.

They had me right there. Alex, played by, well, many different actors, never knows if the body that gets out of bed the next morning will be male, female, old, young, pretty, ugly, fat, thin, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, etc, etc, etc. Alex supports himself (voiceover is always male, and Alex seems to identify as such) by restoring antique furniture and doing business online. One gets the impression Alex knows how to handle this, and though it's far from normal, but normal for him. Work, one night stands, and a daily video diary so that he can keep track of who he's been. His bodies never repeat, so each diary entry ends with the same phrase, "that's it for me."

Now that we have the Ordinary World part of the story established, it's time for our protagonist to find his complication, and it comes in episode two, which introduces a love interest, Leah. Alex meets Leah when he ventures into the antique store where she works. He and Leah share the same passion for antiques, Alex is physically attracted to her and the chemistry is palpable...but how can he pursue a relationship when he doesn't know who he'll be tomorrow?

All I'm going to say is that there is a happily ever after. For those who love watching actors do this thing, this is a smorgasboard. While a couple of the Alexes will be familiar to the casual viewer, most will be new, which fits the character and the story. Since this film was cast on the internet, with an open call, there's a huge variety of Alexes, consistent with the single character.

The love story is gorgeous, one perfect night of sneaking into a museum to indulge their mutual love of the past, capped by Alex's bittersweet voiceover that he would see Leah again, but she would never see him. Or is there something he could do about that? Leah's journey to discovery and acceptance of Alex's condition is beautifully acted, and if this were made into a traditional television series, I can only imagine the dazzling array of Alexes we might encounter. There are only six episodes, and Alex and Leah's romance is complete, but I do have to add them to the list of couples I ship. This is one love story romance fans won't want to miss.

First episode here:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #109 - SYTYCD Season 9 Finale and Hypothetical Publishing Ramblings

If I ever come into possession of a publishing house (and in this day of digital publishing, I can't gaurantee that will never happen; no plans in the works, just saying) I already know what the first anthology would be. Bad Boys of Dance. Or Bad Boys Who Dance, if Brava owns the Bad Boys of... thing.

It's all built in right there; passion, music, the physical, emotional and spiritual natures of dance, which, in itself requires a connection between partners, as does romance. Which is one of the reasons that, when a dancer clicks with my creative mind, they really click. Which is one of the reasons I was, to put it mildly, pleased with the results of SYTYCD season nine. Loved that there were both male and female winners, and Eliana absolutely deserves a post of her own, but we'll stay with Chehon, aka "that guy who was really really good" according to my DH (who insists he doesn't like watching dance, but asked if the town to which we are moving has a ballet company as we watched Chehon's final solo -it does- and came out of another room when I alerted him to the Cyrus/tWitch animation routine, which is for another post. No, I have not learned my lesson from the Mia Michaels theme week and have not forgotten about the final part of that.)

But I digress. There really was no bad way for the vote to go with the final two guys, and I would have been happy with a Cyrus win. The inherent conflict of classically trained vs never took a class in his life prior to the audition, that's compelling viewing.

Still, there was part of me that really wanted to see a ballet dancer win, so double the pleasure with Team Ballet.

What about you, faithful readers? Are you satisfied with the SYTYCD winners this year? Romance readers, would you like to read a book with a dancer hero or heroine? Dancers, why is your dance form perfect for inclusion in a romance novel? Leave a note and weigh in.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108g - Dueling Benches

Happy Dance Friday comes early this week, as I'll be away from keyboard for most of the day tomorrow. This entry could almost stand on its own, because both performances affected me very deeply, but each has their own unique flavor, so onward we go.

There's nothing like the first time, really and seriously. As soon as I saw Travis and Heidi on that bench and the first few notes of music sounded -shoot, before that- I knew this was going to be something special. I wasn't wrong. This man and this woman try to connect; she comes closer, he can't help but move farther away, though reluctantly. She leaps at him, he catches her, they spin, but there's a poignant ache.

When they touch-but-don't-touch, through the freaking bench, people, it's no wonder the audience goes crazy. This depth of emotion, this is what draws me to stories that have that beautiful heart-hurt. Gorgeous. Though this is by now a moment dance fans know well, the first time I ever saw the man walk away at the end, leaving the woman with her outstretched flower, made all the more poignant by Heidi's presentation as an ingenue, it was a powerful surprise.

Have to admit that I was excited to see Chehon and Witney would be interpreting this story. It's interesting to see that the woman would be played, again, by a blonde ballroom girl from Utah (and they do tend to rock, so no complaints) and while Travis and Chehon are very different types, nobody does those leaps and spins like the ballet boys. Can I say there was a certain European flavor to this interpretation? I think that worked favorably, both in making this a distinctly different performance while still keeping the feel of the piece, and fitting Chehon and Witney's unique stregnths. Nice acting as well, with the facial expressions. When Chehon melts off the bench, it still packs a punch, even though we know the man is going to walk off, leaving the woman alone.

Verdict: Apples and pears. Both delicious, like spending time with two members of the same delightful family. Well done.

How about you, dance fans?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Of Unexpected Intermissions, Getting Back on the Metaphorical Horse and Other Oddments

Life happens. I could leave this entry at that. Full disclosure: part of me would like to. I'm two dances behind on what should have been a week-long series of posts, behind two whole episodes of SYTYCD, and wth happened to Saturday at the Movies? Plus all of those writing and reading posts that need to be up here, yeah, behind on those.

So why not throw hands up in air, say I'm too far gone to fix things and slink away (preferably to a gallon of Cherry Garcia and a rewatch of Moonlight?) I've thought about that, too. Would I like some cheese with my whine? Yes, I would, thank you; a nice Swiss, with some lean ham, on rye, with mustard, toasted the tiniest tad, would be great. Yes, life happens to everybody, she's been this route before, and may be this way again. That's part of the territory. The trick is how to respond to it.

Have I found the perfect solution? Not yet. Though I will be teaching an online workshop, Save the Writer, Save the Book, with longtime writing friend, Melva Michaelian, in October. More on that later. Right now, the important thing is to get this post up because A) it's on my list, B) I could use the advice myself, and C) to quote my mother, the more you do, the more you'll want to do.

Saying "I'm tired" is not a sign of weakness. It's a statement of fact. Look at it this way; how far could you drive the best car in the world, without refilling the tank? Those of us who write and read historical romance know that no matter how eager our characters are to get from point A to point B, they are going to have to stop and change horses because the beasties can only take so much. Plus it affords the opportunity for inn scenes. I like inn scenes.

I also like historical romance. No, scratch that. I love it, and making sure I take in things I love is essential to my well being as a writer and a person. Which is why, a couple days ago, in the midst of a morning where my attention was needed here, there and everywhere (or so it seemed) I hunkered down on the couch with an afghan (yay for cool mornings) and read a chapter of The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle. Best thing I could have done for myself at the moment. I am now carrying it in my purse because I am one chapter away from the end and reading feels good, and if I have to shut myself in a public bathroom stall to get my dose during today's multitude of errands, so be it.

How do you find time to nurture your creative self when life happens?