Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween and Counting

It's almost impossible for me to fathom that it's hours away from October 31.  Where has the time gone?  I admit I've been busy and time passing seems to be the bane of adults the older we get.  But this is ridiculous.  Time has found a broomstick of its own making and headed off to that caldron in the sky.

So with only hours standing between me and my trick or treaters, I have to admit that I haven't even considered what ghoulish attire I will don.  Not that props are a problem.  I have my trusty stack of makeup that can make me look like road kill in a matter of minutes.  But I have no vision - unlike most years.  So I'm hoping inspiration hits me as I pull out the skeletons and rats that adorn the front step, to come up with a spooky theme that the neighbourhood kids have come to expect.

It will be different this year.  I think instead of going all out on decorations there might just be a little more drama at the door, after all it is all about the effects.  Later, when the outside lights are all out and the kids have gone home, well there's a bevy of movies befitting of the season from Halloween to all three episodes of Poltergeist. 

I'm sensing that with this massive injection of horror, the black moment might be no trouble in any of my stories over the next little while.  Seriously there's nothing that takes us into that secretive world of the imagination better than a horror movie.  It's scene after scene that's just not reality in any of our lives and yet we sink into it as if this is a realistic occurrence.  Horror movies leave reality at the door and we're happy to do so even without the promise of the happily ever after.  This may sound contrarian but for a romance writer, that's worth studying. 

And you - any ways you're doing Halloween different this year?

Ring of Desire
From the Dust

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Finally - A Snow Day

It was a day to pull out the heavy socks, close the door and stay inside.  A sudden and unseasonable blast of winter, that one news report referred to as the weather bomb, had spread massive fingers over the prairies.  And as weather is key to my current novel it definitely fired my imagination.  So I headed downstairs to toil away out of sight of the rising wind and driving snow.

On the prairies it's rare for anything to shut down within a city's limits over such a mundane thing as snow.  Blizzards, weather bombs, doesn't matter, we all get to work or school.  So today this was my first ever snow day.  I can't tell you what a great feeling that is to watch the ever worsening weather and realize you don't have to go out in it.  Not if you don't want to.  Only if you're crazy enough to say - want to walk the dog.   And I did - despite the weather bomb.

The bomb - it's not something you want in a weather system but as an opening for a book - maybe.  Possibly - okay I raise my hand I want the bomb, something to make the reader sit up and notice or just keep reading. 

Now, what was that I heard about this type of weather system not usually developing over land?  Hmmm.   Truth or speculation - what ifs are ringing loud.   Do I have a use for such information?  Is that a story I hear rattling at the window or is that just the wind?

Looks like I'll have some time to consider, the weather isn't turning for a day or two.

In the meantime, any offers on a snowed in lawn ornament?


Friday, October 22, 2010

Another Take on Success

Construction workers, Thailand
While on a break from the WIP (work in progress) I found something I thought I'd share.  The break this time, unlike a few days ago, was legitimate - my fingers were sore.  For a writer this is a good thing.  So in another foray into the web I discovered an interesting post at the Crime Fiction Blog.  It's the brief story of various crime writers and their journey to success.

We all know that succeeding at anything usually equals hard work.  But every once in a while it's nice to be reminded that overnight success is not the norm.   Click here for Overnight Success?

Ring of Desire
From the Dust

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Play Outside Your Genre

I'd forgotten how liberating it is sometimes to go backwards.  In this case, backwards to my roots and where I started as a writer, short stories and poetry.  I still write the occasional short story but the poetry - I seem to have left that behind.  So yesterday, with the early morning writing hours donated to other things, I was left with the afternoon.  But I don't write in the afternoon my subconscious whined.  My head kept going to the unseasonably good weather that I was missing, the recent book I had been reading, the grocery list I hadn't finished...  The current WIP (work in progress) was not humming forward, the writing wasn't happening.
It's been ages since I went horseback riding - alas no inspiration here

Desperate I procrastinated and cleaned up files.  It was there that I tripped on poetry.  I began reading works of days gone by and mentally air brushing a verse here and there.  But curiosity soon won over nostalgia and I began writing - dabbling really and was completely surprised.  By now the current WIP had been shelved in an e-drawer as I admired my latest creation.

I discovered something, poetry reminded me of my love of words.  Not that I usually forget but it does get hung up in the background of the every day must dos.  It's been ages since I've scribbled bits of muse inspired phrases along the edges of exercise books while sitting in a lecture hall.   In the days before cellphones and classroom laptops - monotony was cured by a bit of creative writing on the edge of a binder.  At least for me.  Anyway, back to the poem - yesterday's poem that inspired me to get back at my WIP.

Dabbling in poetry gave yesterday's mid-afternoon blahs a jump start. Okay, it inspired this morning's run at the WIP and a good run it was.  That poem inspired me to dig deeper than I might have normally for that's the beauty of poetry. 

Play regularly - and the muse just might start waking you up at night. 

Hmmm - does one really want that?

Ryshia Kennie
Ryshia On Twitter


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Idea of a Novel

Over at the Romance Studio's Halloween Party Spookapalooza where I'm spending the days leading up to Halloween, one author left a question.

How do you find your ideas and what does it take to develop it into a story?

I had my finger hovering over comment and then I realized that this was a much more complex question than I thought.  The first thing I realized was that the idea portion of things was easy.  That was something that came to me by stumbling on an obscure news article to an incident in life, a comment from a friend, a dream or even a walk in a graveyard, a great view, from any number of places.  Often my ideas come from my travels and evolve from a setting.  But the idea is only a small kernel.  There are no characters, no plot, no black moment, no nothing, just that one idea what would happen if...

The Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan Oct. 2010
If the setting didn't generate the idea than the next step - setting.  After that I  create and connect with the characters.  Taking a walk or two or three and some fresh air prods the characters to make that first tentative appearance.  Not all of them, of course but the primaries have to be there before I can even start.  After all it's their story.  When they appear that's when I'm anxious to get at that blank screen.

But not before the title.  That's the easiest part and of course it's subject to change at the end and sometimes a number of times. 

The Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan Cemetery
The process of writing the novel has changed for me with each book.  I used to just sit down and write, okay I still do - but now it's through chapter one only and just to get the feel of where I'm going.  Then I write a short synopsis that is subject to change and these days I create a chapter by chapter outline.  Very sketchy I have to admit and not followed to the letter for I'm still a pantser at heart.  But it's something to keep my creative spirit in line so that rewrites are somewhat curtailed.  So now I have a plot - a rough blob with a trajectory, a black moment and a happy ever after with a bad guy or two thrown in for good measure.

Then I write - and I stop and pause as one character disappears and I realize I've lost their voice.  So I have to listen - if I keep writing I force them to be who they shouldn't be.  It's up to the character to direct their version of the story and that comes from somewhere deep in my subconscious.  I know all that sounds somewhat airy-fairy but that's the way it is.  The writing isn't always a straight line and as I now write romantic suspense, I have to go back and connect the dots as the secondaries create havoc with the hero and heroine.

It's an evolutionary process.  Writing is as much a craft as an art so there are mechanics that must be learned.  Grammar, character arcs, techniques of all kinds become the tools in the writer's toolbox.  The more tools the better equipped the author to write a good book.  That aside, the tools are just that tools, alone they can't create a living, breathing story.  There has to be joy and passion in the words.  Maybe that's the crux of the whole thing - love writing every moment of that book no matter what your process and do it every day, and in the end you'll have a novel.

And that's it - what it takes for me to write a novel. 

So short answer; an idea, knowledge of the craft, discipline, imagination and a love of words = novel.

Now I'm off to walk and get some more ideas.  You?

Ryshia on Twitter

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Multi-Tasking - a Fine Line in a Story

Thanksgiving at the lake - not a bad place to give thanks.  It's not often that I get to the Qu'Appelle Valley these days but it never disappoints.  So there I was in the valley on a beautiful fall day that was still hanging tightly to the edges of summer.  And like usual, the conversation ranged in a multitude of directions.  So when exercise seemed to be on everyone's mind, my SIL mentioned that the  stationary bicycle could drive a multitasker like her over the edge.  That is if you pedaled with nothing else but the non-moving bicycle to hold your attention.  So we got her hooked up with the idea of an ipod audio book and laughed over the image of a multitasker driven over the edge with only one task to focus on.  But that comment hit pretty close to home and my current story.
I too am a multitasker.  Even a dog walk isn't just a walk for the dog, it's exercise for me with a short jog worked in the middle and time to think, plan, resolve any number of things while watching for the inevitable trouble spots; other dogs and squirrels. 

So it dawned on me.  The solution to what was wrong with the latest story.  If you're thinking how did I know something was wrong?  Well the flow that had me anxious to get to the keyboard every day had trickled away - the urge was gone.  Temporarily I know, disconcerting none the less.  But my SIL's comment had me thinking. 

Was it possible to focus on too many things even in literature?  Had I multitasked my protagonists into corner stage?

It was a completely unexpected revelation and it was true.  I was enjoying the secondaries so much they slipped into the limelight a moment longer than planned and the story lost focus.  So it's time to dance those characters into a quieter role in the sidelines. 

The good news, at least for me, since I came to that conclusion I can hear my hero in the background beginning to direct his destiny.  A destiny that got lost for a moment in other characters taking the stage when it was supposed to be for him alone.  

And I have to say that a walk on the hill with nothing but nature, lake, hills and beautiful warm fall air, I didn't do anything but enjoy the walk and it was blissful.  Sometimes multitasking is just more unnecessary noise.  And sometimes it's necessary, or is it? 

Multitasking - bane or necessity? 

Dress me slowly, for I am in a great rush
—Napoleon Bonaparte

Ryshia on Twitter

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last Chance - For All Time

It's the last day to enter my Halloween Contest and a chance to win a great package of movies and books, For All Time.   If you haven't entered or you want to take advantage of an opportunity to enter again - check out the rules.  Remember, just entering twice on the entry form won't do it - you need to be a tad more creative than that.  But it's not that difficult either.  If you're in the mood head on over to For All Time.

Yesterday I burned the last dregs of "work".  Isn't it interesting that if you love doing something, it's not work.  Writing for me is that something.   What's your something?

Ryshia on Twitter

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Delay Tactics - Promotion Qualms

I was up early this morning - set to begin the WIP (work in project).  But first I had to head on over to the party room at the Romance Studio and post for the Spookapalooza party that starts today and goes to the end of the month.  Then - well there were e-mails to deal with, a bit of playing around with my blog - and my story sat open, waiting.  Disasters are happening, killers are on the prowl and a romance is pushing for room amidst it all but none of that was grabbing my attention this morning.     

Today I've been faced with a fact that most days I don't consider.  The market seems to be overflowing with romance books.  It might be a tight market as far as the big houses are concerned but there seems to be no shortage of books.  How does an author not become like the telemarketer that you feel for but you still aren't buying a thing that they're selling as you push back annoyance that they even bothered you in the first place.  Bothered you for the fourth time that day!  Of course on a bad day - you just hang up.

The noise of promotion, is it me or is it gaining momentum?  As a reader I find it overwhelming and as a result I've bought a few duds and unearthed a few gems, so far I'm batting about 50/50 on unearthing previously unknown authors.  As an author I find it incredibly frustrating.  How does one get seen above the noise? Selling my "first born" is not an option - besides I don't think he'd approve.

Promotion - some days you wake up just a little hoarse and a tad jaded when all  you want to do is write that darn book.  A better book than the last one and hopefully not as good as the one that will come after.   In the trajectory of a career, each book should teach the author something that will improve the one that follows.

Selling - it's a gift that few of us have.  It reminds me of the door salesman and if you ever watch the Walton's you'll know what I'm talking about.  Some people just have that gift.

It was one of those days when reality poked it's grumpy little nose right into my writing space.  So I stopped and considered my promotional dilemma.  It's probably nothing that money and a good promotional agency couldn't solve but right now that's not an option.  So it's do it yourself all the way and I'll forge on.  There's always a unique idea, a new twist and I've tried a few myself - some with great success.  Today is just not the day for that light bulb moment.   So while I wait I think I'll have another cup of coffee then continue on writing what I hope will be a better book than the last.  In the end, what else is an author to do?

Oh and I'm still on the path of change.  Yesterday in my quest to change gears I made stew.  This might not be monumental for some of you but for someone who has always sworn she doesn't cook it was.  Not only that, the stew was edible.  Hey, it was a virgin recipe - anything could have happened.

When the road gets bumpy do you delay?

Ring of Desire 2009
From the Dust 2007

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shifting Gears

Change is in the air.  Actually its been in the air for awhile but now I feel like it's time to put some momentum into that feeling.  The summer is over and it's time to get serious. I don't know about you but I get bored with routine.  And the fall is the perfect time to change things up just a little bit.   So it began with a new exercise plan, an addition to the daily walk. 

Day 1 -Took the usual three mile dog walk and added an extra few blocks for good measure.

Dust off the roller blades that haven't seen use in two years.  There I find a pair of socks that I thought had been swallowed by the dryer ages ago.   Let's say I carried those puppies gingerly to the wash.  Although to be fair they didn't smell - really!  So I was off,  only to discover that the time of year with leaves and twigs everywhere, as well as the city street repairs - soft fill that stops a skater dead, weren't a good combination.  Although I remained upright, it wasn't without avid concentration on the road.  I really regretted not grabbing that bike helmet.

One hour later -  I still need to get some photocopying done.  So it's off to the library on my bike.  After all, when changing routine it's best to move forward full throttle.  So I'm off, into the wind and the traffic with a few shortcuts and a jaunt down a boggy easement that reminded me that I might be sporting a skunk trail by the time I arrived.

Two hours later - There's leaves to be raked and the dog is still full of energy and wants to be chased a couple of laps around the yard.

Three hours later - My roller blades are resting downstairs - preparing for next year's jaunt, the washer is running and I've discovered muscles that were previously undetected.   Apparently one is supposed to ease into exercise programs. 
Note to self - when shifting gears - take it one gear at a time.  So change is still in the air - it's just going to take a bit more time to settle. 

Change - one gear at a time or full throttle ahead?

Looking for some Halloween fun - authors - books and prizes?  Check out The Romance Studio's Spookapalooza begins October 6 through October 31. 

And don't forget my contest For All Time - you have until October 7 midnight CST to enter.

Ryshia On Twitter