Friday, August 31, 2007

The Legend Of Justin Bobby

Okay, if you're not a fan of The Hills the title will probably mean nothing to you. For the uninformed (hah!), it's basically a reality show that follows a group of well-to-do twentysomethings on their quest to.....ummm.....that's a reality show about a group of rich young people as they try to.....well...... see there's this young group of people who.......uh...actually I don't know what the hell the show is about. It's a show about nothing but not in the same cool way Seinfeld was about nothing. Literally, they sit around and stare at each other.....a lot........ in between a lot of boy/girl, girl/best friend, boy/girl/best friend drama. That clear it up for you? Oh well. All you really need to know is one of the secondary characters (though it's a reality show, characters are definitely what they are, in my opinion anyway) Audrina is going through her own boy/girl drama with said drama starring the aforementioned Justin Bobby. Think about the really cute guy who used to live next door to you....okay now picture his slightly creepy, dirty-haired, younger brother. That's Justin Bobby. His only good points so far are the ability to burp at inappropriate moments and dispense fortune cookie wisdom to an enraptured Audrina. Poor girl. I don't think she could get a clue if Colonel Mustard himself hand-delivered it to the conservatory......with a candlestick.

So, you may be wondering, what has this got to do with writing? I'm so glad you asked. Besides Justin Bobby's other obvious talents, he did get me to thinking about secondary characters and their relevance or lack thereof in a good story whether it be television, movies, or books. They can serve to balance out our hero/heroine by shedding some light into a side of their personality we might not otherwise see, other times they can help drive the main plot along, or sometimes they even star in their own subplots. Ah, but here is where Justin Bobby comes in. What if instead of helping all they end up doing is inviting themselves over, cleaning out your fridge, and running up your cable bill ordering WWE Smackdowns? Okay, I have no proof that Justin Bobby is guilty of such things but I can only imagine what happens when the cameras stop rolling. But I digress. I've thought about my own past manuscripts...okay one completed manuscript and several in progress, and wondered how well my secondary characters held up under close scrutiny. To be honest, most of them were not really all that well thought out. They just inserted themselves into the story as I went along and before I knew it had gone from bit player to bona fide sidekick/secondary character. One of them even ended up becoming a significant plot point for one of my main characters that I hadn't intended in the beginning. This worked well in some cases and in others they are in apparent need of some fleshing out. There is at least one definite Justin Bobby in the bunch that should I ever decide to continue on that manuscript again, I would have to rethink.

And so what have we learned at the end of this somewhat rambling post? Clearly I'm in desperate need of some Masterpiece Theater.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Think I Need to Get A Life

Over at Christopher Park's blog he was discussing the importance of constructing an author's bio. He linked to Anne Mini's website where she breaks down what actually makes for a good bio. Yikes. I hadn't seriously thought of this before mostly because I am nowhere near to sending out a manuscript to anyone who would care how witty and articulate my life has been thus far. But still, seeing as how I'm currently not writing on my WIP, I thought I'd take it as a form of writing exercise. Here's a few of Ms. Mini's (I just love saying that) points:

  1. A bio should be an entertaining overview of the author’s background, an approximately 200-250 word description of your writing credentials, relevant experience, and educational attainments, designed to make you sound like a person whose work would be fascinating to read. Uh, I grew up in a small town in Ohio, went to community college, and write under the pseudonym of Nora Roberts?
  2. Start with whatever fact is most relevant to the book at hand...... Seeing as how my current WIP is about monsters, I suppose I could mention my lifelong romance with Bigfoot. I'm not sure it's going to work out though. Ever since The Enquirer outed his lair in Butte, Montana, he never calls anymore.
  3. You will also want to include some of your quirks and background oddities, especially if they are relevant to the book. If my quirks and oddities aren't apparent by now, I'm certainly not going to list them.
  4. Mention any past publications (in general terms), columns, lecturing experience, readings, as well as what you were doing for a living at the time that you wrote the book. Well, there was that letter to the Editor I wrote for the Sunday paper extolling the virtues of chocolate as a medicinal vitamin and how it's about time the health care system started paying for it.
  5. You need not limit yourself to your professional achievements, either, in your quest to sound interesting. Adding a quirky hobby often works well, as long as it is true....So I guess it's okay to mention my weekend forays into iguana tossing. Hah! I knew I wasn't disturbed....just interesting.

Upon further reflection, I don't suppose I'm quite ready to write my bio quite yet.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nicholas Cage....Bear Suit....Oh My!

Warning: The following post was written well over a week ago and most likely makes no sense whatsoever. It's been a long few weeks here in anotheraspiringauthor land and I'm frankly too tired to think of something else. You have been warned.

It's been some time since I've posted one of my famous (okay, maybe famous only to me) hopelessly outdated movie reviews. And boy is this ever a doozy. I watched The Wicker Man last night and now can only wish I'd listened to my inner voice and turned it to the Paint Drying Channel instead. I have six words for you: Nicholas Cage in a bear suit. That pretty much sums it up. Oh, you need more? Well, I suppose if I must, though I seriously doubt I'll be able to do justice to this truly horrible movie. And what's so sad about the whole thing is there was some definite potential for a good story. Nicholas Cage (hereafter dubbed Bear Man) plays a California cop who pulls over a station wagon for the terrible offence of a baby doll accidentally falling from the roof of their car. He stops them on a dangerous hill and proceeds to lecture the mother and daughter about safety, blah, blah, bratty blonde girl tosses the doll back into the street, blah, blah, blah he goes after it and then the station wagon is creamed by a semi-truck for no apparent reason. And let me tell you, the blah, blah, blahs were probably the best part. He mopes around for several days until out of the blue he receives a letter from an ex-fiancee begging him for help to find her missing daughter. Though he hasn't heard from her in many years, and though anyone with half a brain, let alone a supposed experienced police man, can see that not only is the daughter in question his daughter but the letter is also an apparent set-up, he drops everything and rushes up to Washington State where he has absolutely no jurisdiction to help his damsel in distress. He flies out to remote obviously female-dominated island where he proceeds to flash his badge around and yell at anyone who will listen to him. Okay, frankly I'm boring even myself. Cut scene to annual festival where offerings are made to "The Goddess" to provide good crops for the coming year (apparently grocery stores are in short supply here) and everyone running around in animal costumes (hence the bear suit) and the errant daughter finally being located. Bear Man eventually figures out what we've known for hours: ex-fiancee has tricked him into coming to the island to become the "real sacrifice" for the ritual. The only true satisfaction I received at this point was watching him burn to death inside the head of the 10-story "Wicker Man" as he screams like a girl for several long minutes. Now, normally I'm not this bloodthirsty but take my word for it: He had it coming. I read on IMDb that this is actually a remake of a 1973 Edward Woodward (loved The Equalizer) movie. Maybe I should have rented that instead.

And so at the end of all this what have I learned? I had to walk away from this bad movie with something didn't I? Naturally. It did make me think about my current WIP and making sure it contains no Nicholas Cage in a beart suit moments i.e. plot twists that just scream slap me upside the face with it why don't you? This book is my first "real" attempt at a carefully thought out plot and I'm not sure how adept I'll be at gentle foreshadowing, etc. In the meantime, I've officially sworn off all Nicholas Cage movies. I still haven't forgiven him for Ghost Rider, but The Wicker Man was definitely much, much worse.

Monday, August 6, 2007

How Another Aspiring Author Got Her Groove Back

Well, no, as nice as it would be there unfortunately was no hunky, obscenely, younger man involved. Give me a minute to lament that fact for just a while ::time passes with some truly woeful sighing:: Okay, got that out of my system....for now anyway. And truthfully I haven't gotten my groove completely back but I'm working on it. I've been slowly making some changes in my work life that I hope will be more conducive to creativity in my writing life. This is taking some time, but I can feel freedom already starting to tickle my brain (maybe that explains the random outbursts of laughter that have strangers giving me wide berth lately). I know I can't wait for the perfect situation in which to write. However, I certainly can do my damnedest to make life a bit easier on myself. I want to write. I need to write. I've just felt so spent lately emotionally I barely have much left to give even to the blog. Well, hell. That was certainly dramatic wasn't it? I need to get over myself and just do what I know I need to do. Sitting around waiting for things to change have done nothing to further my writing or further myself as both an author and as a person. I know this. Maybe saying it out loud, yet again, will finally get it through to the other voices in my head. They could even stage a group intervention and kick my ass into gear.

Btw, a huge congratulations to Tessa Dare for signing with an agent! Here is a wonderful example of an author who has not only the talent but the perseverance and drive to become a bestselling author. I have no doubt in a very short time, we will be seeing one of her books gracing the shelves of our favorite bookstores. Way to go Tessa!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover - Unless It's Harry Potter

I've seen a lot of reviews lately about one of the paranormal romances I'd recently read that had a heroine I just didn't care for. The book is actually getting good reviews for the most part, but that's not what caught my attention. It was the fact that they referred to it, not as a romance, but as urban fantasy. Okay, color me befuddled. Maybe this distinction doesn't matter to some people but it makes a big difference to me. I like romance. I even like romance mixed in with vampires and other of the walking undead or not quite human whatnots (I think that's the technical term anyway). But urban fantasy is a horse of a different color (what do you know - I got to work in a Wizard of Oz reference). And I don't mean by that that I wouldn't read it. However, I would have different expectations going in than say a traditional or semi-traditional romance. In my opinion, most of their worlds are a darker place to roam and accordingly their heroes/heroines are too. The rules of romance -- or at least the ones I personally like to read -- are also sometimes different. Boy + girl = happilyeverafter isn't the case as much anymore. Of course a big part of that might be the increasing number of series we now have following the same character in a several book arc. Personally, I don't get it. After investing a few days of reading with these characters I want, no demand, my happilyeverafter. I don't like to be kept dangling. I love when other characters from the book get their own spin-offs but the main hero and heroine need to end up on a happy cloud of floating bliss. Call me an optimist or a dreamer but damn it that's why I read in the first place. I realize I'm probably in the minority on this as it's purely a matter of personal preference. And of course they're going to shelve these books under the Romance section where they'll get the most notice. I suppose as an aspiring author I should be more aware of these distinctions. *sigh* Here I am 30+ years old and still have to do my homework.