Monday, February 28, 2011

What Questions Do You Have?

Due to some crazy-ness and sickness in my house this last week, I never got a chance to write this week's blog post. I remembered it around 1 o'clock this morning.


I hate weeks like this.

How about we do this: what kinds of questions do you have for me? Ask, and I'll try to answer them this week in this post or a second post. They can be anything, though I reserve the right to limit personal-type questions if they're too personal. :)

Though, I really can't guarantee an answer if the question regards the founding of the universe. ;)

Until next time,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Living Research

How many times have you been in the middle of something major in your life, and thought to yourself, "Gee, this would make an interesting story"? How often do you act on that and go sit down and write your story?

While I'm no memoirist, and have actually yet to read a memoir (I've got one on my Kindle--I think,) there are times when odd things happen to me and I think it would may make an interesting addition to a story, or a story in and of itself.

With my son having been in and out of the hospital so much in the last few months (we had #4 admission last week), I find myself pondering what I've learned by being at the hospital.

Let's get one thing straight: I absolutely HATE hospitals. Up until I was 25, I'd never been admitted to one. The only reason why I ever have been is due to having babies (or complications thereof). I avoided hospitals like the plague.

Maybe not the best strategy for a mystery writer. Look at all the research I missed out on.

My son's condition doesn't necessarily mean that my experiences lend themselves to mystery writing. He's hardly been rushed to the hospital, a victim of a stabbing, shooting, poisoning (and let's hope he never is!) But, the anxiety of not knowing what's going on, the waiting, hoping that my son will get better... that's something I can draw on as a writer. Even though I try to take everything one day--sometimes one hour--at a time, and I don't worry in the traditional sense of the word, I understand.

He's never been in serious enough condition that his life is hanging by a thread, but I can understand better now how the parents of a child with leukemia may feel. And, even though I have no plans anytime in the future to write about something of that nature as a topic (at least, not in a novel format), I do feel that the experiences I've had as of late will make me a better writer.

When you get right down to it, all writers draw on their own experiences. You have to. Especially when you're writing fiction. Fiction is about an experience, whether bad, good, or ugly.

You tell me: what was the last real life experience you used to draw on for your writing? It may only be related by a smidge, but did it help you write a more believable scene?

Until next time,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love, True Love

Image from azzriel666 on
Ah... Valentine's Day. The day we celebrate romance.

Who doesn't love a good romance? The warm-fuzzy feelings, the tender looks, knowing that one special person adores you.

This month for the blog chain, the topic is--you guessed it!--Love.

I've only been in one romantic relationship in my life. I married him. But, I've been "in love" many times. Growing up, I had crushes on male friends, convinced there would never be anyone else I could ever possibly love. Even a month before my now-husband asked me to marry him, someone asked me about my future college plans and my boyfriend (I was preparing to graduate from community college and looking to go to a state university that fall.) I said I'd try to keep up a long-distance relationship. They asked about another guy whom I still had a crush on. I said if that person was interested in pursuing a relationship, I had no qualms about dating both of them.

Then I got engaged, and I didn't pursue my four year degree.

Sometimes, I still wonder how my life would have been different if I'd waited to get my four-year degree. Would I still have married my husband? Would that other guy have approached me? I don't regret the decisions I made... but I wonder.

While I love my husband and our children, there's Someone I love more, and He loves me more than my husband and children ever could. His love is perfect. He doesn't care if I slip up sometimes and do something like forget to tell TMOTH about something I broke during the day that he discovers when he gets home. Jesus cares when I'm having a bad day, a good day, or a somewhere-in-between day.

He's the greatest Lover of all. He knows me and my strengths and weaknesses better than I know them myself. I love that about Him. He knows and understands how much I try, and sometimes feel like a failure no matter what I attempt. I love that, too. He doesn't care when I can't put two sentences together in a logical manner--or two words. When I have no words, I can go to Him and He understands, even if I don't quite yet.

God is awesome like that.

On this Valentine's Day, while you're telling those around you how much you love them, why don't you take a few minutes to tell God how much you love Him and let Him tell you how much He loves you.

Until next time,

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Rant on a Recent Read

The Kindle and its free books have been a boon; I'm reading genres I normally don't, by authors (and publishers) I usually don't have time for.

However, I recently read one freebie book which left me with mixed feelings.

Generally, I enjoy the books I read. If I don't, I usually continue reading them because I'm interested in the topic (these are typically non-fiction books.)

I just had that experience with a fiction book.

The book? Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow. Publisher: Thomas Nelson.

The premise: a 24-year-old, second year law student goes from her home in rural Georgia to Savannah for the summer to clerk for a large law firm and gets a practice case for a man who knows something about a 40-year-old murder.

Sounded interesting to me.

When I started the book, I was interested because the main character, Tami, turned out to be homeschooled. Huh. I hadn't seen that in a novel before. Since I was homeschooled for a time, I was interested.

Soon it became clear that her homeschooling experience and mine were vastly different.

I'm fairly conservative, however Tami and her family took that to an unknown extreme. She had to get permission to take the job from her parents, where to live, etc.

While I finished reading the book, I walked away dissatisfied. For the first time in recent memory, I hadn't liked the main character for a wide variety of reasons: Her family's beliefs were leaving her completely unprepared for life, and as an aspiring attorney, I didn't feel the premise was realistic. If this family was so straight-laced as they put on, I couldn't see them allowing their daughter to go to law school, let alone pursuing a career of any kind.

I also didn't appreciate the fact the family was judgmental towards others. It seemed to me that if you didn't fully agree with their religious perspectives, it didn't matter whether you claimed to be a Christian--you needed conversion of some sort. This probably bothers me because I do feel like I deal with this on a relatively frequent basis from some of those in my circle.

From a writer's perspective, I actually learned a bit from this book--unfortunately, mostly on a "what-not-to-do" level. First, it reinforced for me the novelists theory (especially for mystery/suspense writers) you must not start the book to early or too late. I honestly felt this book started too early, and a great deal of what was covered could have effectively been handled in little chunks of back story. Of course, this would have dramatically shortened the book (which probably would have been a good thing.)

Having sympathetic characters was another important thing. While I realize not everyone will like or sympathize with every character (and this one definitely met my criteria), it's important you can relate to them if you want to keep readers. Other than the homeschooling factoid, I found it extremely difficult to care about Tami. She seemed weak in most areas because she was leaning too hard on her parents as a 24-year-old young woman. From my perspective, her parents were doing her a disservice. But that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, here's my question for you: Have you hung in with a book where you didn't like the story or characters? If you have, why did you? What, if anything, did you learn from the book? In the end, did you like the book or were you more like me--dissatisfied and very unlikely to read anything more from the author?

Until next time,

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