Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Formatting Before and After

link to original here
This one may be a no-brainer. You may have figured this out years ago? And if so, definitely let me know how the tip has gone for you, how you’ve since adapted it, etc.

But no one told me (maybe because it’s such a no-brainer? I don’t know).

I’m telling you so you don’t have to waste your time trying to figure it out like I did.

Here’s the tip:

Take some of your favorite authors – ones you’d like your writing to look a little bit like, because somehow their words sing to you – and type them out into whatever writing program you use. How their writing looks on the page is often very different than how it looks in Word or Open Office, etc.

Likewise, your writing will look very different when (or if it already is) published versus when it’s staring you in the eyes on your computer screen.

Three different genre examples:

Here’s an excerpt from Jane Austin’s classic, Pride and Prejudice

The book
Typed out in Word

Here’s something a little more up-to-date and literary from Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

The book

Typed out in Word

And last but definitely not least, a little mix of romance and urban fantasy with Kresley Cole’s A Hunger Like No Other

The book
Typed out in Word

You see what I'm saying? The formatting looks very different when it's printed. It's more chunky, in general, so I used to think I needed to write these long, arduous passages of prose to get it to look like it needed to in a book. Not so much, as it turns out.

Now it's your turn -- if you haven't done this exercise already, go find a few of your favorite books and type out a page or two. Make sure to use pages where the writing varies, because dialogue will look different on the page than the more blocky-looking description and story-filler. (And just because I wonder, what are the books you've chosen? I'm a cat when it comes to curiosity.)

If you have done this before, what was your experience like? Was it helpful for you to do this, or no? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Though things are really good now, Hubs and I have had our hard times. 

link to original here
I’ve recently been going back through some of my old journal entries to find a short excerpt I could share here to illustrate my point, but it hurts too much. It hurts to re-read them, it hurts to think about putting a spotlight on them, it hurts to up-chuck those memories and piece through the acidic remains of last year’s dinner.

It hurts to remember what bellow-bottom looks and feels like.

So instead I’ll revert to telling you about why I was going back through said journals. 

Peggy Strack, from this interview, mailed me a copy of her debut novel, A Stop in the Park. Obviously it hit some soul-chords if it sent me metaphorically crawling into my dusty attic (I don’t have an attic, but that’s where I’d hide my journals from that time period if I had one) to retrieve my erratic scribblings.

Michael Stolis and his wife Jamie are the main characters in her book, and they’re having a hard go of it, to put it lightly. I know what that’s like. I was hooked by page two. 

Almost immediately I was deeply connected to her characters. They do things in the story that make you go, “No, no! Don’t do that!” But then they do, and then they learn and change, and you learn and change with them. You feel the things they feel, because Strack is so good at pulling out the emotions of the reader as we live vicariously through these people. 

On top of that, her dialogue is awesome. Spot on every time. I kept wanting to rush to the next conversation, but knew I’d be missing out on all this delicious detail if I did. Even now when I think back over the explosive images Strack created, there was always some detail or color to help keep you grounded in that moment of the story. The orange splatter on the wall, the color of his “prison,” the topaz sky…

Now, I am an avid fantasy reader, and because of this I’ll (shamefully?) admit that even though I knew from the start this book wasn’t written to fit into the sci-fi/fantasy genre, I kept wanting some element of magic to pop up and fix everything. Sorry folks, there are no fairy godmothers or magic wands. But? 

But. As the story unfolded, a certain sort of magic did sneak in. No one wore cloaks or had elven ears, but a certain man, and a certain set of mistakes and circumstances, help the characters evolve and grow as individuals. I won’t spoil the end by telling you whether they grow closer together or farther apart as a couple, though, because you have to get the book yourself to find out.

Here’s the link to where it’s available this Thursday (September 20).

As far as my journals go, I’m glad I went through them. Painful, yes. But buried deep in the midst of all that hurt was a little treasure I would have completely forgotten about otherwise:

A note Hubs wrote for me while I was at work
When you buy the book, I'd love to hear what you think. Did it bring up any gut-thoughts or memories for you? What are your relationships like? And do you keep your little treasures too?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Filling the Emptiness

Alright, my friends. Are you ready to have a very small adventure? Shall we go looking for trolls and treasure?

Here are the things you need to grab before we start:
  • A small stack of 3x5 cards, or a post-it pad, or take a sheet of paper and cut it into eight pieces. I use all of the above, plus the backs of envelopes, napkins, cardboard boxes...
  • A handful of pens, sharpies, pencils, crayons, or whatever it is you prefer to write with. 
Do you have them? Then let's begin.
link to original here

Once upon a time...

Okay, so I'm retelling a simplified version of a fairytale, but I'm going to be interjecting a lot. Putting my own spin on the story. Let's start with 'Once upon a time,' and let's imagine the time is now, rather than long ago.

There was a young woman named Ella. She was beautiful and intelligent, but after the death of her father, her step-mother and step-sisters took over the household and treated her like a slave.

Now let's imagine that Ella is you and me. As children we knew we were strong, smart, brave, quick to learn. It felt like we could do anything. But then things happened to us. Situations and circumstances we could not control. Even though we knew we were beautiful and intelligent, worthy of love and encouragement, some people treated us as if we were not.

Because they made her sleep in the kitchen, where it got very cold at night, Ella would curl up near the fireplace. By morning she was dirty from the soot, and never really got the chance to wash it off. Her step-sisters would mock her, calling her Cinderella.

I don't  know about you, but when someone tells me negative things for a long enough amount of time, it's hard not to believe those things myself. It gets to the point I start thinking, What's the point of washing the soot off? Am I even worthy of being clean and happy?

The young girl's life was very difficult. 

Pretty sure I don't need to elucidate on this, much. All our lives are difficult, in very different ways, for each one of us.

But then there was a call for all eligible women to come to a ball where the prince might pick out his future bride. 

Oh lovely hope. Here is a reminder that we are not stuck in our current circumstances. If we have a hope, a dream, or even the hope of a dream, we are not entirely empty. What are the chances Ella will be picked to be the next queen? Her's is a hopeless situation, if there has ever been any, and yet? And yet... (click here to continue)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Privileged Perspective, Etc.

What's that you say? It's Tuesday? *glances over at calander*

link to original here
Oh my, I was supposed to post this morning. I'd planned in my head all sorts of glorious things to write, about outlines and fairy tales and treasure hunts.  Maybe I'd throw in a troll or two.

But that would all take more time than I'm allowing myself this evening. Does it take anyone else out there at least an hour to create a blog post you're somewhat happy with? At least an hour, if not more...bah. It's all worth it, though, right? Right.

Well. Can I appease you this week with some poetry I created a couple years ago, and then let the suspense build all week for next Tuesday's post? It will include all the aforementioned things, and I'll try to add some other sniggly stuff to boot.

Meanwhile, here are some goodies to snack on:

Privileged Perspective

It's like when the lid falls on the ground,
but lands right-side up.

Glory, glory.

It's like when you know you were going ten over,
but the cop lets you off with a warning anyway.

Glory, glory.

It's like when the kid asks you how to make soap,
but you don't know how, cause you've never had to.
Because you're that privileged.


And we sing it.
But what do we do with it?


Owning Me

This mess is mine.
I will claim it.
I could plant something,
if only I could find a seed.

Not just any seed. That could prove dangerous
in this society.
Layers upon layers
of mess.
Just right now, though,
I could care less.
I've got a bigger picture in mind.
If I've got to swim through shit to get there,
any muck getting stuck on me will be fine.

Big, this confusion is big.
But my picture is bigger.
The hope, alone, gets me through.

Day by day,
eyes up and forward,
slowly wading is how I move.


For Elisha

Who has power over you
my friend?

The little one didn't get it,
and I don't have to guess why:
even though she's smaller than you,
she has more power than you.
She's not like you
and me.
She hasn't had to fight.

Even I don't get it -- not really.
Not like they did.

We are our mothers' daughters.
And we are all fodder
for our daughter's daughters.
I hope they won't need to get it
because they will already have it.
Meanwhile, you and I?
We will fight.

And for all of them, and for ourselves,
we will survive.

Moment of Magic today:

I love this part of the day.

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