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NaNoWriMo: Lessons Learned

Posted by Rachel on November 30, 2014 in current event, nanowrimo, outline, planning, plot, writing |

Winner-2014-Square-Button

Another November has come and gone! This time around, I was able to prepare a few ideas for the month and spent the first several days testing them out. Shortly into writing, I knew my Underground Railroad Alternate History (think Civil War and Rip Van Winkle retelling…kinda) would be the best bet. On the 28th of this month, I reached 50k and celebrated another NaNo win!

I learned several lessons throughout this experience I thought they might be helpful to share:

Don’t Force It. Even if you have a goal of writing 1k, 3k or 5k a day, if the words don’t come out easily and writing feels like a chore then stop when you need to. In my experience, forced words usually get deleted later, so only write what feels right.

Embrace Change. I went into NaNo expecting and wanting to write one story. While I had the idea of the novel I eventually wrote, it wasn’t the one I expected to finish. By shifting goals, I was much happier throughout the month. The same went for changes in my plot or concept. Just let the words happen.

Use Support. One of the biggest benefits of the writing community is the helpful support. When I got writer’s block, or felt drained or needed a boost, having a support group kept me on track.

Try Not to Edit. I much prefer editing, so drafting is tough for me to do without wanting to make changes as I go. The tactic that I find works best is swearing off editing until the draft is done. Write down all the edit ideas you want, but don’t do them until the end.

Take Breaks. Everyone gets burnt out and drained up when writing. Factor in jobs, friends, family and all the other craziness of life and it can be exhausting. When you aren’t feeling charged to write or excited, do what you can and take a break. Watch a movie, read a book– anything that clears your head.

Most Importantly: Just Write. It might be an overwhelming goal to write a novel in thirty days, but at the end of the month, even if you didn’t “win” you still got words down. That’s what counts.

If you have any lessons or tips you’ve learned from your NaNo experience, feel free to leave a comment :)

 

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Why I Wrote My PitchWars Novel

Posted by Rachel on November 1, 2014 in current event, inspiration |

People always ask, “What’s your book about?” But the question often ignored is, “Why did you write your book?” That’s where this blog hop comes in!

I think it’s fair to say every writer decides to put words on paper because the story speaks to them in some way. If you’re like me, you can hear the characters in your head and you know their tale must be told.

For my novel, The Bootlegger’s Bible, which was chosen for PitchWars by epic mentors Stephanie Garber and Stacey Lee, the nagging thoughts in my head to write this story came mostly from my childhood. My parents come from different religious backgrounds and for my entire life we’ve celebrated the holidays of each faith. I grew up immersed in both cultures, the traditions, the viewpoints and seeing how they weren’t always fond of each other. From that, my characters started to emerge until I could hear their voices and their old fashioned slang.

Now, to be fair, my youth didn’t exactly consist of an alternate version of the 1940′s, like in my novel, where the Second World War and Prohibition coexist. But I have always been fascinated by the gangster era. So when I thought about these families and when their story should be told, Prohibition seemed like an obvious setting. Especially given the warring neighborhoods and the everyday man turning on their friends and family.

Starting with those basic building blocks, my novel blossomed from (what I consider) a pretty cool idea into a fully fledged world. I loved exploring all the alternate history possibilities and watching my characters transform into people. It’s been such an incredible ride and I honestly have never loved this story more.

I know I’m not alone in having a great “behind the book” story, so be sure to check out all these other awesome PitchWars participants and learn about their journeys.

Carleen Karanovic: HOPE ON A FEATHER

Heather Truett: RENASCENCE

Tracie Martin: WILD IS THE WIND

Susan Bickford: FRAMED

Rachel Sarah: RULES FOR RUNNING AWAY

Amanda Rawson Hill: GRIMM AND BEAR IT

Charlotte Gruber: CODE OF SILENCE

Kip Wilson: THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN

Mary Ann Nicholson: CALAMITY

Nikki Roberti: THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES

Anna Patel: EXODUS

K. A. Reynolds: LE CIRQUE DU LITERATI

Susan Crispell: WISHES TO NOWHERE

Ron Walters: THE GOLEM INITIATIVE

Rosalyn Eves: THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

Ashley Poston: HEART OF IRON

Mara Rutherford: WINTERSOUL

Janet Walden-West: Damned If She Do

Kazul Wolf: SUMMER THUNDER

S. D. Grimm: WITCHER

Kelli Newby: THORNVAAL

Tara Sim: TIMEKEEPER

Elliah Terry: POCKET FULL OF POPPIES

Alessa Hinlo: THE HONEST THIEF

Rachel Horwitz: THE BOOTLEGGER’S BIBLE

Whitney Taylor: DEFINITIONS OF INDEFINABLE THINGS

Lyra Selene: REVERIE

Natalie Williamson: SET IN STONE

Robin Lemke: THE DANCE OF THE PALMS

Stephanie Herman: CLIFF WITH NO EDGE

Shannon Cooley: A FROG, A WHISTLE, AND A VIAL OF SAND

Ruth Anne Snow: THE GIRLS OF MARCH

Elizabeth Dimit: PHOEBE FRANZ’S GUIDE TO PASSPORTS, PAGEANTS, & PARENTAL DISASTERS

Gwen C. Katz: AMONG THE RED STARS

Jennifer Hawkins: FALSE START

Kelly DeVos: THE WHITE LEHUA

Gina Denny: SANDS OF IMMORTALITY

Natasha M. Heck: FOLLOW THE MOON

Esher Hogan – Walking After Midnight

D.A. Mages: THE MEMORY OF OBJECTS

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Fall TV Round Up

Posted by Rachel on October 8, 2014 in characters, cliches, current event, musings, review |

Every Fall I get way too really excited about the new line-up of potential hit shows. Why? I’m always on the lookout for a new obsession and I tend to tune into every and any new show I might remotely be interested in. However, if the time slot is in the middle of a series I have already committed to, I likely won’t check it out. But I still try to give things a chance. With all that in mind, here is a list of the shows I caught this year and my review of them a few episodes in:

Gotham

How could I pass up a show about Jim Gordon? Oh, that’s right– I couldn’t! I was very excited to see how they handle this “prequel” of sorts and while I love the idea of seeing Gotham from Gordon’s PoV, the opening episodes felt very rushed to establish a whole slew of well known villains in their younger years. I would’ve enjoyed having this teased out more, but it’s still reasonably entertaining. I’ll keep watching but I’m not sure for how long.

How to Get Away With Murder

From the get-go, I loved the diversity and honesty in this show. It had a fun concept of introducing the kids to law as well as interestingly developed characters who are wildly different but tied together by a crime. At times I think this show is trying too hard to set itself apart by being so bold, but it caught my attention. And coming from someone who does not like crime drama, that’s saying something.

Manhattan Love Story

This show is so incredibly quirky it sets itself apart from all other finding-love-dramas. The characters are realistic, fun and being able to hear their thoughts gives this show an edge over others like it. I have a feeling it might be too unusual for audiences, but I hope it sticks around.

A to Z

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just because I got so invested in The Mother character that it’s hard for me to separate the How I Met Your Mother persona from Zelda. And Andrew even looks like Ted! And there’s a voice over! If they’re going for copy-cat, they got it. But I’m not amused enough to stick around.

Scorpion

This pilot had a ton of potential when I first saw the trailer, but after viewing the show, it didn’t exactly stand up for me. The characterization and dialogue of all these genius kids was constructed in such an overt manner that I couldn’t believe they were actually super-smart. I was very aware they were acting. And that’s not good. The plot is clever and I liked the romance that was teed up, but it was like watching the man behind the curtain the entire time. I’m out.

Madam Secretary

Political thrillers are my weakness, so even though I didn’t intend to watch this, I got sucked in. Let’s be real though…it’s basically a fictionalized story about Hilary Clinton. I suspect given it’s ripped-from-the-headlines plots and the underlying mystery it will run for at least a season, but as of now I’m not convinced it has legs. But it makes for a fun show to watch nonetheless.

 

Did you catch any of these shows? What were your thoughts? Were there other premiers you enjoyed? Share your thoughts!

 

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Tribute to a Master Storyteller

Posted by Rachel on September 3, 2014 in characters, current event, dialogue, emotion, idols, inspiration, voice |

I’ve been struggling to write this blog post ever since the news broke. Robin Williams might not have been a writer, but he was a master storyteller. He had perfected the art of character and voice and played such an influential part in my childhood and path towards writing that I felt it was only right to pay tribute to what he meant to me.

His Characters: Robin played some of the most dazzling characters during his time with us. They stretched your imagination and helped explore parts you maybe you didn’t even know you had.

Genie- He’s lovable, hilarious and blue! The Genie showed us what it means to be not only a good friend, but a great friend.

Mr. Keating- As a word nerd, I only wished I had a teacher like Mr. Keating and some of mine came very close! This character inspired me to look further into books at all the gorgeous meanings behind simple words.

Peter Banning- A grown up Peter Pan trying to be young again? What could be better??

Alan Parish- I’m always a sucker for the kid in adult body trope, so Robin’s portrayal of long lost Alan in Jumanji was nothing short of perfection.

Sean Maguire- While the Good Will Hunting role might have been his most serious, it also showed us a mature, jaded, cathartic side to Robin that really hit home in recent days.

Mrs Doubtfire- Anyone who is anyone has seen Mrs. Doubtfire and it was a beautiful role that demonstrated what a dad’s love really means.

In stories, your characters have to grow and change, just like all of Robin’s did but most of all they need to teach you something without ever saying it.

There are many more I loved and I regret to say many more I haven’t yet experienced, but in a way that will help keep him alive for me– always discovering new characters of his :)

 

His Voice:

Just like writers hope to achieve different voices from their varied characters, Robin had a way of making each of his personas unique. Every character he played had a different way of speaking whether it was their tone, the inflection of their voice to certain questions, the cadence, or even unique phrases and words.

He put on a clinic in each of his films about how to create and execute voice. I would go so far as to say he is one of the few blessed with the ability to create the perfect voice each time and sometimes on the spot. If you ever get confused about how to differentiate your character’s voices or what makes a voice stand out, check out any of his movies. Seriously. That’ll clear it up right quick for you.

 

His Humor:

This one goes without saying, but I’ll talk about it a bit anyway. Robin knew how to make people laugh. Plain and simple. A lot of the foundation of his humor came from the characters and voices he created. I would list some of his best lines but then I’d have a whole new blog post on my hands. Everything he said was funny in some way or another and I try my best to include humor in fiction, but none can do it quite as well as the master.

Do you have a favorite character he acted or voiced? What’re you favorite memories of the late, great Robin Williams?

 

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