Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Be or Not To Be

That is the question. I've really been struggling with the decision on publishing, traditional or self-published. I've read so much on the subject the past few days I fell like I'm developing a split personality, but before Mr. Hyde takes over I had to reflect on an article I read most recently.  Kristen Lamb is the author of the best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She wrote an article that really inspired me. Her words seemed to ring true to the desires within. I've examined the reasons for my struggle and have boiled it down to this. It's my book and I like it that way. I know that sounds selfish and a bit conceited, but the truth of the matter is that I have a story to tell and I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of other people involved in that. I know that my chances of "making it big" are probably not as high, but my real goal for writing this project wasn't to be the next J.K. Rowling. I mean who wouldn't want to be one of the richest writers in the world, but still, my dreams for this project is to see it in the hands of my readers. I'm not saying that I think my work is the best and doesn't need any help. I'm far from perfect. But I'd like the chance to see it take off, the way I designed it, the way I envisioned it. Not the way someone thinks it should be just because there's a chance it will make more money. I hope that readers enjoy it and will pass it on to friends and family and I hope that it will one day be a book that people will talk about, but for now I'm content with the knowledge that I've put a lot of hard work and a lot of years into this project and I think my decision has been made. Look for more updates soon on the status of this project and if you think it's something you're interested in, please share it. Let's make this thing a huge success!!!

At least it wasn't about her period!

An article on the NPR website shed light on the all the buzz about the mysterious disappearing comma! I'd seen countless tweets about and the internet was all a "buzz." Personally, I think the Oxford Comma is essential to writing as it gives clarification to sentences. If I were going to the store with two guys, Paul and Jeremy. It would take on a whole different connotation if I were going to the store with two guys, Paul, and Jeremy. As the article points out, very well I might add, the first sentences makes it sound like I was going to the store with only Paul and Jeremy, while the second sentence shows I'm actually going with four people: two guys, Paul, and Jeremy. This holds true for many other uses of the comma and taking it away would probably mean little for writers, but in the end I'm glad we get to keep this bit of treasure!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's For Dinner?

Tonight's low-carb meal:

Grilled chicken stuffed with muenster and prosciutto atop a bed of steaming spinach. paired with avocado slices, peppers and green beans.

I marinade the chicken breasts in a large zip-loc bag with zesty italian dressing and some fresh herbs. We usually keep a small herb garden which  is the best way to have fresh herbs on hand. If you can't use fresh, just throw some of your favorite herbs in the mix (basil, garlic, oregano, tarragon) or any other tickles your fancy.
I usually let this marinade for at least an hour or two. Then throw the breasts on the grill. Don't overcook them, many people leave chicken on the grill too long for fear of getting sick. Remember: you don't need to cook it until it's jerky!

While that's cooking (be sure to check on it often, and don't forget to turn those chicken boobs!) you can steam your green beans (hopefully you got steamables, SO much easier) drop some fresh spinach in a pan with some butter, couple dashes of lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook until the spinach just begins to wilt. (again, not too much. No one likes mushy spinach. Well, maybe Popeye.)

Once off the grill, slice the chicken in half longways and put the cheese and prosciutto in the middle. Lay the breasts on top of your freshly prepared spinach. While the cheese melts, slice some avocado, sprinkle with diced peppers (different colors for visual appeal) salt and pepper your green beans and you're ready to eat!

I've decided that since I can't get to the gym yet after foot surgery, I needed another way to lose some weight. I'm back on a low-carb diet and I'm going to do my best to stick with it. If I come up with some interesting ideas for a meal I'll post it here. I'm not big on recipes so I tend to just pair things together myself but I'll try to get some pics up of the meal after it's finished.

Are your characters truly diverse?

There's one thing that all author's should not overlook. The importance of diversity in their characters. Whether we intend it or not, many people look up to or despise the characters in our books based on their qualities and realism, even when that realism is quite obviously embellished. One thing that all authors should consider is, does your story involve enough character diversity? Look at the world around you. While you may find one "type"  of person or another within your social circles or even within the neighborhoods you live, look at the world around you  at all times. When you're writing scenes and interactions with characters, even those in the background, should be meaningful in a way that displays the real world. This becomes even more important when you're writing novels intended for younger audiences. What better way to open minds than to portray the world as it really is, diverse. People of all cultures, faiths, race, religions, philosophies, etc, live together. Make sure you consider that the next time you add a new character in your novel. Perhaps adding one from a culture you're not familiar with, may even add the spice to your writing you were looking for!

Young Writers

I'm considering a column for helping young writers. It would be a place for young writers to submit questions about the craft and possibly critique or encouragement to give them some helpful advice and guidance with their writing. I've taught Reading and Writing  for 13 years and love to help young minds bring new ideas to the world. Writing is NOT a dying art! If you have an interest in this project or think that it is something that would be helpful for you or someone you know, drop me a comment and feedback. I'd like to see how much interest there is in this.

Technology and Writing

One of the best things about being a writer today is all of the fascinating gadgets and tools that are out there to help shape your craft. A lot of people are stuck in the old paper and pencil trap and feel that is the only way to truly get any writing done. Since the advent of computers, it has transformed writing. For the first time, writers didn't have to worry about rewriting and carrying around hundreds of sheets of paper. Writers can now edit on the fly with word processors and move details around at will.

The most recent piece of technology that I have found to be useful is the iPad. I've read a lot of things about how horrible the iPad is for writing, but I beg to differ. For the past two years, I've worked mostly on the iPad to write my current project. It is especially useful for editing and revising. Rather than having to be stuck at a desk or table with your bulky laptop (assuming you haven't purchased an ultra-light laptop), you can sit comfortably in bed, on the couch, or even at the coffee shop and browse through your story, making necessary changes along the way.

It's most useful for those spur-of-the moment ideas that tend to hit you when you don't have your laptop with you. I'm notorious for popping up in bed in the middle of the night and wanting to make a quick change that I just thought of. The thought of opening my laptop and waiting for it to boot in the middle of the night is agonizing. With the iPad, I just pop it off the stand, make my change, and drop it right back in. Done! It truly has been a lifesaver for me and my writing.

The other complaint I hear is that people don't like to type on the iPad. I tell ya, I had a bit of trouble at first, but now I've gotten to where I can type on it pretty well and if typing on the screen is uncomfortable, there's always that nifty Bluetooth keyboard. There are so many tools on the iPad that I've found is helpful in organizing my thoughts, planning scenes, keeping track of plot points, and even throwing together some rough ideas for artwork. If you have any thoughts on the iPad or other technologies, please share! Perhaps you can inspire a writer to try some new tools!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It has begun...

Ok, so I've started sending out queries to agents, which has been the most nerve wracking thing I've ever had to do. Here's where you start to doubt yourself and question why you started doing this in the first place, I mean it's only been ten years of my life I've devoted to developing the story for this thing and the reality is, even after all that work it could still suck and not go anywhere. Writing is a profession you do because you love it! If you write only with the expectation of being the next J.K. Rowling then you've missed the point. It takes a lot more than just a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of time, energy and dedication. Only then will you truly be a writer. I have a lot of people to thank for all they've done to provide encouragement throughout the development of this project. I hope to have a nice printed page with all their names on it when my book rolls off the press! Here's hoping!

Monday, June 27, 2011

This is the Worst Part

Ok, so my first novel is complete. I know, I can already hear some of you saying, "but you said that last year!" Well, I've learned a lot since then that I decided to put into practice before releasing it to the world. (I mean that completely figuratively since I still have a LOT of work to do to get an agent. The good news is that I'm already several chapters into the second book and I'm really excited where the story is headed. The process now begins for me to find an agent and build a fan base. I hope that my three or four fans that I have now will get the word out there if you know others that might be interested. I will keep you posted on my progress. The last few months have been rough, but I have high hopes that it will make it to the presses. Wish me luck and now that I'm back, look for new updates here!