Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: May 28

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. What do you mean it's Wednesday already? Where did the last week even go? 

What I'm Reading: 
Still Son. I'm supposed to return this stack of books to the library in the next week or two so I should probably get on that. I miss the days when I used to be able to roar through a book in a matter of days, even hours.

What I'm Writing: 
The holiday weekend threw a wrench in my plans to have Weredragon's polish done before today. I do only have six more chapters to go, though, so it shouldn't be much longer. After that, I'll take a look at the three trunked manuscripts I have in need of revisions to see if those spark anything and I do have a new idea if I can figure out how it starts. 

What Inspires Me: 
My mom and I went hiking over the holiday weekend and the deep valleys and thick trees reminded me of the inspiration being Weredragon. It was another hiking trip, up north, where Weredragon is actually set. We came across a deep valley with animal bones scattered around it. All it took was the thought "What if a dragon lived here?" and I had a story.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
I watched The Normal Heart, an HBO movie about the early years of AIDS, on Monday. I highly, highly recommend it but be aware that it is not by any means a light movie. I made the mistake of watching it just after I woke up and cried the rest of the day. Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer are incredible.

Also, I did watch X3: The Last Stand last week and I think it's negative reputation is overstated. I don't really want to watch it again because pain but it's not a bad movie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: May 21

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
Still on Son and Unprotected. I miss the days when I would read all the time and go through multiple books in a week.

What I'm Writing: 
I'm halfway through Weredragon's final polish and I'm very happy with the changes I made in revisions. I feel like it's a much stronger novel for them. I already have my next project in mind, if I can get a good feel for the characters and inspiration for the beginning.  

What Inspires Me: 
I was going to post videos this week but Blogger is being extremely uncooperative so I guess I'm just going to have to link them up. 

First up is Amy Purdy and Derek Hough's quickstep performance from Dancing With The Stars. It's definitely one of my favorite performances this season (of which there are a lot). I'm going to miss watching her dance. Len put it best when he said, "Watching you inspires me to do something. I don't know what."

Second is Charlie Day's commencement speech at Merrimack College. It's surprisingly beautiful and inspiring.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
I'm totally blanking on anything for this one. I've been trying to get things done early in the day so I can have afternoons for watching things. Yesterday I marathoned the first two X-Men movies to gear up for Days of Future Past. I'm hoping today to watch X3 (which I've never seen) and First Class (which was the first X-Men movie I ever saw and I didn't love it as much as I should have for that reason). Now that finale season is over, I'm hoping to get back to watching Stargate SG-1 because I miss it.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Seven Things to Look For in a Final Polish

This is it. Your manuscript is done except for one last read to make sure that everything is clean. You've probably read it so many times that you're ready to just shove it out the door. Here are seven things to keep an eye out for in that last read. If you use track changes, you may want to turn it off at this stage just to make sure everything is in order.

1. Multiple punctuation
Sometimes there are two periods at the end of the sentence, sometimes it's a period and a comma, or sometimes it's something else. It can be easy to skip over there so check carefully.

2. Missing punctuation
On the other end of the spectrum is missing punctuation. Under this umbrella is missing quotation marks. Keep a close eye on the beginning and ending of dialogue.  

3. Extra spaces
It can be so easy to insert an extra space between words or sentences. Between words often gets caught by spell check, but sentences is easy to miss.

4. Missing words
Sometimes, in editing, a word gets accidentally deleted or isn't added in the right place.

5. Extra words
Opposite problem is extra words. I find this happens a lot when proper or common nouns are replaced with pronouns, but the original noun wasn't deleted.

6. Switched words
For instance, they're, their, there. Spell check often doesn't pick up these switches as being wrong, so they can be missed.

7. Consistent spelling of character names
Make sure the spelling of character names is always the same. This is especially true with characters with exotic names. If it helps, keep a record of all first and last names to check easily.

Friday, May 16, 2014

When Drama Becomes Too Much

I have what I call a "drama threshold" also known as the point at which there is so much drama involved that I can no longer handle it anymore. I should probably note that this applies to books, TV, and movies, not life. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, how much drama is just enough and how much is too much.

One of my favorite shows of all time is Castle. I started watching it my freshman year of college when season four was airing and I fell in love instantly. I marathoned the entire show over the course of about three weeks and then continued to watch at least an episode a day for the next week because I didn't want to let it go.

Fast-forward two years to where we are now: season six. I haven't seen the last two episodes and I never intend to. From here on out, I'm done with the show. What changed?

The show crossed my drama threshold. (I'll try to be vague in the interest of avoiding spoilers.) There was a main conflict that started all the way back in season one that just continued to escalate all the way up to now until I'm tired of hearing about it and I just want it to go away. Increasingly implausible things have happened and I can't handle them.

The most important thing is to know when to quit. Long arcs are okay, but they have to keep escalating for a reason, not for the sake of continuing drama. If the words "This is bigger than you realize" are used, I'm automatically out. If there is one thing Burn Notice taught me, it's that those words are a dark hole that no one comes out of. Whether those reasons are new information or new characters, there has to be a reason. When the arc is done, let it go. Find something new to cause conflict for the characters.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer toe this line perfectly. The drama continued to escalate with each new season and sometimes old plotlines came back to haunt characters, but it was never too much.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: May 14

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. I thought it had only been a couple weeks since I did one of these last. Turns out it's been almost a month. Whoa. Between finals, coming back home, and then the whirlwind of activity that comes with being home, the time flew by.

What I'm Reading: 
I'm midway through Son by Lois Lowry. I've pretty much been waiting for this book since eighth grade when I read the rest of the trilogy, so no pressure. At the moment it's living up to my expectations. I'm also reading Unprotected: A campus psychiatrist reveals how political correctness in her profession endangers every student by Anonymous. It's very interesting, but I find myself disagreeing with some points. It's not the easiest read so I've been making my way through it gradually.

What I'm Writing: 
Actually getting Weredragon ready to submit to agents hopefully before the end of the month. I've spent the last few days writing up a synopsis and today I'm going to start reading through the manuscript to give it a final polish. As soon as that's done, I can turn my attention to what comes next.

What Inspires Me: 
Thunderstorms. I'm not sure what it is, but I always find myself inspired to write when a thunderstorm goes through. We've had a lot of them going through the past few days, though a couple have arrived with tornado warnings and those don't inspire much relaxation to write.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
It's TV show finale season again so I've been catching up on the shows I'm behind on and watching finales. Finales also tend to be the things that either cement my love for a TV show or are the final tipping point to crossing a show off my list for next season. I watched the Agents of SHIELD finale this morning and I loved it so much it was a dream. I won't say anything more on risk of spoilers, but "Phil Coulson" almost went under "What Inspires Me" this week.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Grammar: Because It's Storm Season...

It's one of my goals for this summer to start blogging regularly again. I haven't been doing very well at that for a long time. To help me do that, I'm also going to be starting a weekly series on grammar and mechanics advice.

Storm season has arrived (though I have yet to actually witness a thunderstorm because I slept through the last one) and with it a common mix-up.

This is lightning. The brilliant flash of electricity that accompanies thunderstorms. If you're on Facebook talking about storms coming in, this is probably the word you want.

When something gets lighter, it's lightening. 

Some examples:
The lightning lit up the sky.
That's just heat lightning.
Lightning rods are meant to protect buildings from strikes.

Lightening dark blue paint can be done by adding white.
I am lightening the color of my jeans. 

They don't have the same meaning and they shouldn't be used interchangeably. This has been my grammar-related rant for the week.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Check-In

Last month I said the next time I did one of these it would be finals week and here we are. It's been a very busy month but a good one. Also, I'm hoping that once I get home I'll be able to start blogging regularly again.

Word count: 17,455 words
I still don't have an official WIP, but that didn't stop me from easily setting a new word count record for the month. Hopefully that will be another thing that changes as soon as I get home. I do have some ideas.

Books read: 4 
I did not, in fact, step up my game this month. The math says I'm going to have to read about 10 books a month from here on out to make it. Among those read this month were Battle Dress by Amy Efaw, which was easily my favorite for the month, and In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

Watched: 3
Much better this month than previous but still not great. I finally watched the Veronica Mars movie and it was everything I wanted and more. I'm dying for it to come out on DVD so that I can watch it again. Then there was Captain America: Winter Soldier which is absolutely fantastic and probably my favorite Marvel movie after Avengers. And finally there was Mean Girls which for some reason I've never actually seen. It didn't blow me away or anything but I did really enjoy it.