I’m not sure how long this is going to take me, but I’m determined to read every last book on my book shelf!
In the last ten years I’ve switched to reading on my Kindle, so I haven’t bought a lot of hard copy books in a while.
This last bookcase represents all of the books my husband wanted to keep and all of the books that I bought but never read.
Don’t get me wrong, I read A LOT lol. I just tend to read sci-fi/fantasy and YA. But I’ve been wanting to broaden my horizons for a while. Plus, my husband is always a trooper and reads my favorite books, so it’s time to return the favor! I can’t wait to read some of his favorites as well!
I have no idea how long this is going to take me, there’s over three hundred books here. The second row consists of entirely of graphic novels, which I’m really excited about! (I’ve been eyeing those for years!)
The first book on shelf number one is Watership Down by Richard Adams. My husband always talks about how much he loves this book, so I’m going to delve in!
Here’s a list of shelf # 1:
‘Bad guys’ make any piece of fiction great. Without a ‘bad guy’ there’s no conflict. Now don’t get me wrong, the ‘bad guy’ could be your main character and anti-hero, but either way they need to be interesting. And they need to be someone that people can connect to.
Here are three things to keep in mind when developing your antagonist:
1. Make them relatable.
Making your antagonist human is probably the best thing you can do for your story. If the audience can relate to your ‘bad guy’ and even gain an understanding of ‘why’ they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’ve succeeded.
Think of all the movies, TV shows and books that you’ve ever loved and I guarantee that a part of that love comes from the fact that the antagonist was relatable. It’s usually when a character is so far extreme with no reasoning behind their bad behavior that a story falls apart.
2. Give them some meat.
Sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your hero’s story that the ‘bad guy’ ends up being a two-dimensional shell. Give them a meaty past and backstory, put as much time in developing your antagonist as you do in your protagonist. I guarantee just by digging in deep and truly figuring out your ‘bad guy’s’ motivations will lead to great things not just in your plot, but in the interactions between your characters as well.
This one might be a bit controversial and, I admit, it’s a personal pet peeve of mine, so please excuse my ranting!
3. Be sparing with the vices.
This goes for ‘good guys’ too! Why oh why does anyone think that by giving a character some kind of addiction this constitutes depth? I hate to break it to you, but not all characters with personal demons have addictive personalities! It’s a writing crutch. And it’s cliché! I cringe every time I read a book, or watch a TV show or see a movie where the character is addicted to drugs, or smokes, or has a gambling habit. OMG! Just stop! It’s not interesting, it’s not new, it’s tired and over-played. If you want to give a ‘bad guy’ or even a ‘good guy’ personal demons, then give them depth in their back story, or in their actions, not in a writing device. It’s lazy, so stop it!
Unless your story is actually about addiction, or people with vices, it has no place in any other kind of story.
Hope this helps! And here’s to making good ‘bad guys’ great! (Like Mayor Wilkins!)
For those of you that know me, you know I love to sew. Mainly, I sew crazy nerd bags, but I also love to sew crazy nerd clothes as well.
The first project on my roster is a Time Bandits dress. A dress with a hood! I'm currently designing it now, so what it looks like will have to be a surprise!
I found this amazing fabric that reminded me of the map from the movie. To make it really 'read' as a Time Bandits dress I’ll need to add the clock trim to the hem of the dress and maybe around the edge of the hood. I’ll also need to add the colorful symbols throughout.
It’ll be difficult, but I’m hoping the end result will be worth it!
The second project I’m going to work on is adding two more dragon bags to my collection.
I found this beautiful gold/brown reptile patterned vinyl that will make a perfect Daenerys Targaryen dragon companion.
The white reptile patterned vinyl was just too pretty to pass up as well. I originally made a white dragon bag out of plain white vinyl, which turned out great, but when I saw this I knew I had to upgrade!
And finally, the third project I’m working on is a couple of Shadowhunter shirts for me and my fellow nerd girl F.M. Sherrill! We’re huge fans of the book and show and want to show our love by making clothes with the Shadowhunter runes. I designed this fabric on Spoonflower.com, and it should be coming in the mail next week!
I promise as soon as these projects are done I will post them on my blog and on my blog with F.M. Sherrill at www.2nerdgirls.com.
We all have bad habits (i.e. Internet surfing, phone addiction, watching too much TV etc.) but why can’t we have good, healthy habits as well? This is the question I ask myself all the time.
If it’s easy to form bad habits, logically, wouldn’t it be easy to form good habits?
The answer is no.
Okay, not no, but truthfully, bad habits are easier because they tend to be the things that entertain or relax us. Good habits usually include: exercising, eating healthy (which can be not so appetizing), writing every day, reading every day, or anything else you want to be doing with your life but you aren’t. (Because you’re too busy partaking in your bad habits.)
So, if you’re looking to start creating some good habits in your life these are the three things I do to make it happen:
Yes, lists can become overwhelming and even more stressful, but they can also take all the noise that’s buzzing around in your head and give it direction. Just make your lists small and doable. I try to make a list of things I need to do during the day in the mornings, then check them off as the day progresses.
Three or four things probably should be your max, anything more than that and your head might explode from feeling overwhelmed. (Remember, feeling overwhelmed can lead to paralysis of the brain, which equates to doing absolutely nothing, which equates to guilt and even more stress, so keep it simple.)
Now that you’ve got your list: add one thing on it that you want to become a good habit. For me, it was exercise. I started this fifteen years ago and I’ve been exercising ever since. It became a part of my daily routine because I added it to the list. It sounds over simplified, but it really worked for me.
2. Do it every day.
In order for something to become a habit, I need to do it everyday for at least two months. Otherwise, if I forget even one day before that time, I won’t do it for months. My brain and body need to feel like whatever it is I’m doing is permanent, or it’ll slip right back into doing nothing again. I did this with exercise and writing. For me the elliptical was the best way to form an exercise habit. I love watching TV, so I figured, if I’m watching TV anyway, I might as well hop on the elliptical while I’m doing it. And like I said, I’ve been doing it for fifteen years!
As for writing, I started small, writing five hundred words a day for thirty days. Then I upped it to a thousand, and now I’m at two thousand words a day. Once it’s a habit, I can take a day off here or there, but the impulse to write two thousand words a day is officially ingrained in my brain, which is exactly what I wanted!
3. Accountability partner.
It always helps to have someone you can develop good habits with. It makes it so much easier if you have someone you can call when the last thing you want to do is write, or exercise, or read, or any other good habit you’re trying to lock into your brain.
Choose your partner wisely though because you don’t want to enable each other back into your bad habits!
The important thing is to at least try. If you want to change your life, you can. It just takes some determination and persistence!
I wish this were an adventure to THE DOCTOR, as in Doctor Who, but no, this was my nightmare journey to my doctor for blood tests. (My doctor is pretty bad a$$ though, in another dimension he probably IS Doctor Who!)
The morning started out perfectly. I woke up early so I could leave at an hour before the appointment time. I hate being late and an hour would give me plenty of time to traverse Los Angeles traffic and make it on time.
Even though my doctor’s office is only ten miles away, this trip took me an hour and twenty minutes. So, yes, I was twenty minutes late, which for people who know me is a nightmare unto itself.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I was already in a slightly grumpy mood considering I had to fast for these blood tests, so I filled up my water bottle, fed my cats and got into my car an hour early (as stated above).
So, I’m driving, using Waze to avoid any unnecessary traffic (ha, ha) when…
A fire truck needs to pass. Okay. No problem. I pull over, as does everybody else. BUT… another one, then another, then, yes, you guessed it ANOTHER fire truck whizzed by. I hoped everyone and the building they were racing to was okay and pulled onto the freeway.
Sigalert! (For those of you that don’t know what this is it’s when the cops stop everyone on the freeway for an unknown amount of time.) Thanks, Waze, thanks. Way to give me a heads up.
I’m sitting in the parking lot that is the freeway and my eye catches a flashing light. I’m almost out of gas. In a sigalert. On the freeway.
I can’t even move over, we’re literally stopped dead. I wished and prayed I wouldn’t run out of gas while I was sitting there. Imagine how happy the LA drivers behind me would be if when the sigalert was lifted, they STILL couldn’t move. Not very happy. Kind of like I was in that very moment.
Finally, the sigalert ended and I was able to get off the freeway and get some gas. I quickly called the doctor’s office (at this point it was already appointment time!) and told them my situation and that I’d be there soon. They were very understanding (like I said, I seriously have the best doctor ever) and told me to be safe and that they’d see me soon.
After that hiccup, I actually made it to the office in less than twenty minutes, which was not great, but good enough. I was starving at this point and I went to grab my Cliff bar that I had promised myself I wouldn’t forget only to find that I had completely forgotten it. So, basically, after taking blood, I’d have nothing to eat and it was already getting close to noon. (I hadn’t eaten since 5PM the day before!) I was feeling a little dizzy to say the least and I hadn’t even had any blood taken from me!
I hurried down the stairs of the parking garage completely ignoring what floor I was on. (They mark the floors as different kinds of food, and when you’re starving the last thing you want to see is a giant picture of food!)
As soon as I arrived in the office, they ushered me back into a room where I had to wait for my doctor. I decided to fiddle on my phone while waiting. When I turned on my phone there were three missed calls and my Ring (a video camera attached to our doorbell that allows you to see who’s at your front door and talk to them) was going off and there were two cops at my door.
Apparently, my adorably naughty cat, Snake Plissken (it’s probably our fault for naming him that) set off the sensor alarm inside our house. I tried talking to the cops to let them know that everything was okay, but, of course, there was no signal in my doctor’s office so they couldn’t hear a word I said.
I tried calling and texting my husband, but he was at a work breakfast and his phone was turned off.
So, yeah, awesome.
Taking blood was the easy part and my amazing doctor gave me a power bar to eat afterwards (remember when I told you how awesome he was? Yeah, he’s really the best).
I left the office, called my husband and found out that he had taken care of everything. The cops were cool and my husband disabled the sensor that Snake set off.
Walking to the parking garage, I figured out I was on floor Grape, drove home without mishap!
I really wasn’t expecting my doctor’s visit to be such an event, but that’s how life goes sometimes. I’m just glad I’m home! Now, to eat!
How many blogs or articles have you read that tell you writing sprints are the key to EVERYTHING? Let’s just say: a great many.
They’re not wrong. I, myself, have written a blog or two of the importance of sprinting. Whether it be a ten minute sprint just to get my creative juices flowing or a two hour sprint when I’m on a deadline and need to get the words on the page. Sprints are the number one way to break yourself out of a writer’s block and get you to that finish line.
Why is this?
Why is something so simple so effective?
My theory is that it forces your brain to focus when the last thing on the planet it wants to do is FOCUS.
Procrastination is the hardest thing to overcome as a writer or quite frankly in life. I don’t know about you, but I can come up with a list of things I need to do every day before I allow myself to sit down and write. Even though writing is more important that every single item on that list.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m actually a fairly prolific writer. Not Brandon Sanderson or Stephen King kind of prolific (they seriously must write 8,000 words a day!), but I usually write about three books a year. So, prolific, but not as much as I know I could be writing.
Sprints make that happen for me. I can absolutely have writing days without them, but it’s the timed focus that helps me create my best work. If I know I only have ten minutes to write, then all my attention is focused on those ten minutes and it stops my mind from wandering, or eating things I shouldn't...
...or worse: Internet surfing! (Duhn, duhn…. Duuhhhhnnnnn)
I tend to do one hour sprints, since those work best for me and I can usually crank out a thousand words or so, but sometimes you just need that five or ten minute sprint to get your head back in the game.
So, yes, I am one of the many that have fully boarded the sprint bandwagon, but trust me, they work. If you don’t believe me, just try a ten minute sprint and you can witness the glory yourself lol!
Sometimes it may feel like you’re procrastinating by seeing a movie or binge-watching your favorite TV series, but… well, yes, you’re probably procrastinating. BUT that doesn’t mean that these things won’t help your writing.
Here are three ways that movies and TV will help your writing:
1. Character Arcs.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in your plot when you’re writing. The characters can suffer as a result. If your only focus is on what happens next, then your characters are just along for the ride and they don’t actually learn or grow from the experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes books like that work, but for the most part, readers want to experience some kind of an arc with your characters.
Television is the best example of this, simply because they have the time to really delve into a character’s life and backstory. In a movie the creators have a limited time to tell the story AND have the character grow and change from the experience. BOTH are important to observe for your writing.
TV is more like a book where you can explore much more about each and every character and really build the arc you want. Next time you’re watching a show, pick out one of your favorite characters and think back to who that character was when you first saw them in the pilot episode. Now, think of where they are now in the TV storyline. Usually, they’re almost different characters because they’ve been through so much on the show and if it’s a well-written show, big events WILL change a person.
Try to apply that to your own story, from where they start to where they end up. Watching TV can really help you create a step-by-step guide to fleshing out your characters.
Movies on the other hand do what a book or TV show can do in a matter of two hours! That takes some seriously skill! Watching movies and in particular character arcs, is a great way to see how a story can be told succinctly and efficiently.
2. Cut away the fat.
Observing TV and movies in an analytical way can definitely help you trim away the fat of your writing.
In the case of TV, admittedly, there are a lot of shows that use what I call “filler.” Filler is when there are scenes that just feel like they’re stalling for time. I’m sure everyone knows what I’m talking about. Pretty much anything that doesn’t add to the character development or plot in any way. (i.e. Terry Bellefleur's funeral in True Blood! I loved the guy, but almost 30 minutes of a funeral! Maybe if it had been Sookie or Bill, but Terry?!!! Come on!) But these scenes are great to learn from. If you find yourself bored or tuning out during scenes like these, that’s probably what your readers will do if you write something similar.
Use these observations and trim, trim, trim. Think of all your favorite shows that rarely have filler and try and make every moment count in your writing.
Movies are the perfect example of trimming the fat. (Unless of course you’re watching a Michael Bay movie, he’s the king of keeping scenes that have no business being in any movie ever lol) But overall, movies are a great example of how to tone up your story and make it shine.
Yes, this may fall into the procrastination category, but never underestimate the rejuvenating power of entertainment. I know, the guilt alone could crush you when you’re supposed to be working, but the thing is: writers are always working. Whether or not you’re writing words on a page, a writer’s brain is always thinking of their stories in the back of their minds.
Watching TV or movies can be a distraction or it can be an inspiration. It all depends on how your mind wants to interpret it. It’s up to you, really. As long as you keep on writing, think of movies and television as research. They’re the perfect examples of what to do and what not to do.
So get off your couch and start writing! Oh wait… get back to your couch and start watching!
Lately, I’ve been having difficulty writing my book. So I decided to rant.
The election threw me for a loop and I’m not exactly sure I’ve recovered yet. In fact, I’m not sure how to cope at all.
I feel like I’m living in some kind of nightmare that I desperately want to wake up from. I can’t fathom how people can look at Donald Trump and think he’s good for anything let alone running our country. People actually defend him. People actually like him. People actually think he’ll be a good president.
I can’t help but feeling extremely judgmental by thinking that these people are either stupid or brainwashed. What’s even more terrifying is the fact that they think that everyone else is brainwashed! How? How?! My mind cannot understand it at all. This is why so many “liberals” write these voters off as bigots and racists. Because that’s the only explanation that makes any sense. Only a racist would look past the things Trump has said and done. Only a racist would make excuses for him. Only a racist would turn a blind eye. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. If you don’t believe Trump’s actions and words are not bigoted and racist then you’re living in denial-land. Or you don’t fucking care, which is just as bad!
By writing this, I’m understanding why I’ve had a month long brain fart when it comes to finishing my book. I’m so angry, it’s hard to think about delving into a world of superheroes fighting evil, because in real life evil won. It fucking won!
The sad part is: if any of these Trump voters saw this very scenario play out in one of their favorite TV shows or movies, they’d want Trump to lose. No question. But somehow in reality, they don’t see it that way. Why?! It’s so infuriating and sad.
I still don’t know how to cope with this. I’ll fight every day of the four years if I have to. He’s not even president yet and I’m already exhausted.
My last hope is that somehow the Electors come to their senses and don’t make Trump our next president. I want them to grow some balls and save this country before it’s turned into Nazi Germany 2.0. Why can’t people learn from history?! They’re blind and scared and obsessed with either power or keeping the status quo.
As the late and great Leonard Cohen said: “I’m waiting for the miracle to come…”
Everyone has their favorite movies to watch during the holiday season, these are my top five!
1. Die Hard
Yes, like many others, Die Hard is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the film actually takes place at Christmas, but I watch this every year without fail. There’s nothing like a good 80s over-the-top-violent-action film to bring about holiday cheer! (Or at least prepare me for the mall lol!)
Another 80s classic. Bill Murray’s performance in this movie is amazing. It’s such a great re-telling of “A Christmas Carol,” and still holds up to this day. I usually end up watching this movie right after Thanksgiving to get myself in the Christmas spirit. In fact, I fully intend on watching it right after I finish this blog post!
3. Home Alone
I watch this with my mother and my sister every Christmas Eve since it came out on video! It’s a family tradition I love. I grew up watching John Hughes films and I know some consider Home Alone to be his big “sell-out,” but I find it a perfect mixture of fun, action and heart-warming-awesomeness! Plus, it’s always worth it to hear Daniel Sterne’s blood curdling scream when the tarantula is placed on his face. I usually rewind that at least three times!
4. South Park Season 3 Episode 15 – Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics
Okay I know this isn’t a movie, but my holiday season isn’t complete until I watch this episode. My favorite numbers being when Cartman sings “O Holy Night” and the Christmas medley sung by Jesus and Santa. I usually play this while decorating the house or tree.
5. Galaxy Quest
And last but not least: Galaxy Quest. I know this isn’t even a Christmas movie, but I watch it every year and it always makes me excited for the holidays. It’s one of those warm-fuzzy movies that makes you laugh, cry and cheer. Plus: Alan Rickman. He’s the highlight of Die Hard as well. I’m so sad he’s gone, but his movies are immortal. His portrayal of Alexander Dane was priceless. “By Grabthar’s hammer…what a savings." And Sam Rockwell! I can’t even. This movie is one of my favorites any time of year, but it’s spirit fits the holidays perfectly!
If you're like me, you are both excited and nervous for NaNoWriMo! (More excited than nervous, but it's the anxiety that gives me the feeling of being overwhelmed.)
I usually write an average of one or two books a year so NaNoWriMo is always a wonderful boost when I'm either starting a new novel, or trying to finish the one I'm currently working on. Every summer, I tell myself that I'll use the entire month of October to prepare for NaNo, then hit the ground running on November first.
Yeah, that's never happened.
Something ALWAYS comes up in October. Every. Year. This year being no exception. To make an extremely long story short: my husband and I bought a house, moved in, someone tried to break in, we moved out, then decided we'd fortify the place, and are now moving back in. Phew! A hard lesson, but we've learned it and so begins packing up all our stuff for the third time and moving into Fort Knox (aka our new house).
So, if you're having time constraint issues or life is just getting in the way of your NaNoWriMo prep time. Here's three easy things you can do to make sure you're ready for November first!
I don't care if it's in a waiting room, or in-between packing boxes, or on your lunch break at work, writing down any thought or idea you have for your book is a must. I can't tell you how many times I've thought of something that I think will work perfectly for my story and I'll swear up and down that I'll remember it. How could I not? It's such an awesome idea! And yeah. Totally forgot it later.
You can type it in your phone. There are a ton of apps that can organize all your notes. Evernote is what I use. It's priceless. It has a search option which is vital for me since I can never remember where I put anything and that includes my thoughts!
If you're an outliner like me, then puking out as many ideas and notes as possible will help you piece together a solid outline, which will allow you to write like the wind come November first.
2. Rough Outline
This is like your pre-pre-outline. It's a little more sophisticated than simply note taking. When you don't have a lot of time on your hands, outlining can be a difficult task. Depending on how in-depth your plot line is, outlines are vital to staying on target while writing your book.
If I didn't outline, I'd meander. And trust me, my meandering reads like meandering and that can be frustrating for the reader. You don't want your audience to ask the question: "Where is this going?"
So, if you're short on time, start your rough outline the same way you tackled your note taking: whenever and wherever you can. Sift through y0ur notes and circle or highlight the scenes that you feel are an absolute must to making your book great.
Make a new document, and using bullet points, place those scenes in the order you want them to be in the novel. Then put in spacers approximately where you think the natural 'beats' should go leading up to each scene like this:
3. Final Outline
Now you're ready to fill in the rest. Take the time to think through what events you want to happen to lead up to each beat. I find my best ideas come to me while I'm either driving or taking a shower. You can't really jot down anything in either case, but hopefully your memory is good enough for whenever you get to your destination or turn off the water.
Think of the "filling-in process" like you did your notes. Whenever you come up with a great scene that will help move the story to the next beat, fill it in appropriately like this:
Hope this helps! When I don't have a lot of time, I find this process works well for me!
I'm a writer of YA fiction, fiction, comics, television and movies. I try to make all my stories full of jumbly goodness :-)